Each day between today (Jan. 18th, regardless of the date stamp above) and next Wednesday (Jan. 25th), I encourage you all to pray the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity. For each day’s prayers, I refer you here (http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2015/01/traditional-catholic-prayers-for-week.html). For some background on this prayer octave, I refer you here (http://church.atonementonline.com/wp-content/uploads/Octave-of-Prayer-for-Christian-Unity.pdf).
The octave lasts from the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair at Rome (Jan. 18th) until the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (Jan. 25th). You can learn more about today’s feast here (http://www.newliturgicalmovement.org/2017/01/the-two-feasts-of-st-peters-chair.html#.WIAQSGciyM9). The first day’s prayer intention is for the return of the “other sheep” to the One Fold of Christ. In honor of today’s feast, here is a photo of the Altar of the Chair in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. As I understand it, the throne above the altar is a reliquary containing the relics of St. Peter’s cathedra (chair). Continue reading
Regardless of the date stamp above, it’s still Epiphany (Jan. 6) as I type this. The purpose of this post is to draw some parallels between Epiphany and Pentecost. Why? Three reasons:
a.) Hopefully to render the Church calendar a bit more intelligible. If you don’t know what the calendar is about, it’s easy to think we’re arbitrarily and superstitiously celebrating one random event after another. This way lies Protestantism and/or rationalism.
b.) Hopefully to provide some food for prayerful meditation.
c.) Perhaps goad you to share the good news of the Gospel with others. The Gospel that was first made known at Pentecost is a reiteration and reinterpretation (in light of Our Lord’s Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension) of those manifestations of Our Lord celebrated on the Feast of the Epiphany.
I’m not being original when I say that Epiphany is a sort of pre-Pentecost. Here are a few ways in which Epiphany anticipates Pentecost:
1.) They both close the preceding liturgical season. Pentecost closes Eastertide, and Epiphany closes Christmastide. A period of wearing white vestments yields to a period of wearing green vestments.
Think of it this way: Epiphany is to Christmas as Pentecost is to Easter. Christmas and Easter are the two major feasts of the Church year, celebrating Christ’s Birth and His Resurrection, which is a sort of Rebirth in Glory and certainly effects our own rebirth. Both feasts require a sort of pendant feast to close out their respective “afterglow” seasons. These parallel feasts are Epiphany and Pentecost. Continue reading
The English-language Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” relates how St. Wenceslas of Bohemia went out upon the feast of Stephen to feed a poor peasant (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_King_Wenceslas). According to the legend, St. Wenceslas’ servant found it very cold following him through the snow, so St. Wenceslas told the servant to follow in his footprints. By a miracle, the footprints stayed warm to protect the servant’s feet.
By divine providence today (the very feast of St. Stephen, Dec. 26, regardless of the date stamp above), I came upon an alternative story of the legend that says the miracle occurred during a visit St. Wenceslas made to the Blessed Sacrament. This version comes from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, Doctor of the Church and founder of the Redemptorists. Continue reading
Today is the feast of St. Stephen, the Protomartyr of the Church. St. Stephen’s relics are preserved in Rome, in the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls. This is fitting, as St. Stephen and St. Lawrence were both deacons and martyrs. St. Stephen was one of the seven protodeacons of the Church of Jerusalem, and St. Lawrence was one of the seven deacons of the Church of Rome. Also, the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls is the titular basilica of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. Legend says that when they deposited St. Stephen’s body next to St. Lawrence’s, St. Lawrence rolled over to make room for St. Stephen.
Here is a photo of the confessio of the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, where the relics of both St. Stephen and St. Lawrence are preserved.
The traditional version is cooler than the “modern” Novus Ordo version they now read at Christmas Mass, which doesn’t specify the number of years since the creation of the world and Noah’s Flood. I guess that would sound too “fundamentalist,” so down the memory hole. Boo!
ANNO a creatióne mundi,
quando in princípio Deus creávit cœlum et terram, quínquies millésimo centésimo nonagésimo nono:
A dilúvio autem, anno bis millésimo nongentésimo quinquagésimo séptimo:
A nativitáte Abrahæ, anno bis millésimo quintodécimo:
A Moyse et egréssu pópuli Israel de Ægypto, anno millésimo quingentésimo décimo:
Ab unctióne David in Regem, anno millésimo trigésimo secúndo;
Hebdómada sexagésima quinta, juxta Daniélis prophetíam:
Olympíade centésima nonagésima quarta:
Ab urbe Roma cóndita, anno septingentésimo quinquagésimo secúndo:
Anno Impérii Octaviáni Augústi quadragésimo secúndo,
toto Orbe in pace compósito, sexta mundi ætáte, –
Jesus Christus ætérnus Deus, æterníque Patris Fílius, mundum volens advéntu suo piíssimo consecráre,
de Spíritu Sancto concéptus, novémque post conceptiónem decúrsis ménsibus,
[HERE ALL KNEEL]
in Béthlehem Judæ náscitur ex María Vírgine factus Homo.
Natívitas Dómini nostri Jesu Christi secúndum carnem.
Here in the Driftless Area, it’s still Dec. 24, so a Christmas Eve post is in order. Prior to the calendar reforms of Pope Pius XII (I think; maybe St. John XXIII?), the Christmas Vigil was a day of abstinence from meat, just like Fridays and Lenten weekdays. In America at least, it became traditional to eat oyster stew on Christmas Eve. Just like Friday fish fries, Christmas Eve oyster stew seems to have spread beyond Catholic circles to the culture at large. I remember eating oyster stew on Christmas Eve when I was a child. My mother and I had oyster stew tonight.
I propose that there is a mystical connection between Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception and Christ’s cleansing of the Temple as told in the Gospel of St. John. Unlike in the Synoptic Gospels, in St. John’s Gospel the cleansing of the Temple occurs at the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry, not long after the Wedding at Cana.* Here’s the aftermath of Our Lord knocking over the tables (2:18-22; emphasis added):
“18 The Jews, therefore, answered, and said to Him: What sign dost thou shew unto us, seeing thou dost these things? 19 Jesus answered, and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20 The Jews then said: Six and forty years was this temple in building; and wilt thou raise it up in three days? 21 But He spoke of the temple of His body. 22 When therefore He was risen again from the dead, His disciples remembered, that He had said this, and they believed the scripture, and the word that Jesus had said.”
I propose that there’s a hidden meaning to the number 46 years that explains its presence in the text. Like the Temple of Herod, Our Lord’s Body was, at this point, 46 years in the making. For that was the number of years from the Immaculate Conception to the beginning of Our Lord’s public ministry. Continue reading
Our Lady is patroness of the United States under her title “conceived without sin.” Did you know that the greatest river in the United States, the Mississippi River, is also named the River of the Immaculate Conception? That’s the name that Jesuit missionary and explorer Pére Jacques Marquette, S.J., gave the river when he discovered it. Pére Marquette (1637-1675) addressed the following beautiful prayer to Our Lady, conceived without sin:
“Hail daughter of God the Father, hail Mother of God the Son, hail spouse of God the Holy Ghost, hail temple of all the Persons of the Trinity, by your holy virginity and your Immaculate Conception, make clean my heart and my song.” (http://catholicism.org/pere-marquettes-prayer-to-the-immaculate-conception.html) Continue reading
Regardless of the date that appears above, it’s still December 8 here in the Driftless. Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the United States of America. In honor of our nation’s patronal feast day, I cite His Holiness Pope Pius XI’s encyclical letter Mortalium Animos (1928), emphasis added:
“Besides this, in connection with things which must be believed, it is nowise licit to use that distinction which some have seen fit to introduce between those articles of faith which are fundamental and those which are not fundamental, as they say, as if the former are to be accepted by all, while the latter may be left to the free assent of the faithful: for the supernatural virtue of faith has a formal cause, namely the authority of God revealing, and this is patient of no such distinction. For this reason it is that all who are truly Christ’s believe, for example, the Conception of the Mother of God without stain of original sin with the same faith as they believe the mystery of the August Trinity, and the Incarnation of our Lord just as they do the infallible teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, according to the sense in which it was defined by the Ecumenical Council of the Vatican. Are these truths not equally certain, or not equally to be believed, because the Church has solemnly sanctioned and defined them, some in one age and some in another, even in those times immediately before our own? Has not God revealed them all?” (http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19280106_mortalium-animos.html)
Today (Dec. 6, regardless of what appears above) is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, Bishop and Confessor. When my maternal grandmother was a girl, children received gifts from St. Nicholas on the morning of his feast day. The children set out their shoes on the night before. I think they filled the shoes with hay for St. Nicholas’ horses. In the morning, they found the shoes filled with oranges, apples, and nuts. That’s how St. Nicholas was celebrated in one German-American Catholic family in the Driftless Area, 40-50 years before Vatican II.
This Old World Catholic tradition was remembered in Wisconsin through the year 2000 at least. When I was a freshman at Marquette, the Residence Assistant in our dorm set small gifts of candy from our parents outside our doors on the morning of St. Nicholas’ Day. We were in the midst of finals and looking forward to Christmas break. It’s a fond memory. Continue reading