Rejoice, O Jerusalem!

“Rejoice, O Jerusalem!” That’s the Introit (opening verse) of today’s Mass. In the Traditional Latin Mass, the Epistle is Galatians 4:22-31, where St. Paul speaks of, “that Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is our mother.” That’s why in the British Isles this is known as Mothering Sunday (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothering_Sunday).

My one Catholic grandmother was wont to say, “I wish I was in Heaven,” which is a much less alarming way of telling your friends and family, “I wish I were dead.” The hymn “Jerusalem, My Happy Home,” apparently written by an English Catholic priest who lived in hiding during the Protestant Revolt, captures the same longing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ySssVj7XCs). The traditional Roman station for Laetare Sunday is the Basilica of Holy Cross in Jerusalem. For more information about Laetare Sunday, click here: http://www.salvemariaregina.info/SalveMariaRegina/SMR-164/Laetare%20Sunday.html.

Epiphany as Pre-Pentecost

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

Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve: An American Catholic Tradition

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.

oyster-stew Continue reading

Pickler of the Stars of Night

The Communion hymn at Mass last Sunday (the Fourth Sunday in Advent) was “Creator of the Stars of Night,” which is the English translation of “Conditor Alme Siderum.” Priests, monks, and nuns recite this hymn at Vespers during Advent. Reggie (Fr. Reginald Foster, O.C.D.) told us about “Conditor Alme Siderum” during our summer class in Rome back in 2007. As originally composed back in the early Middle Ages, the first word of the hymn was “conditor,” which should mean “creator, establisher,” from the verb “condo, condere” (“found, establish”). But because of the meter of the hymn, the stress falls on the second syllable (-di-), which would mean the word comes from the verb “condio, condire” (“pickle, preserve”). With that long-i, “conditor” would mean something like “condiment-maker.” Suffice it to say, don’t go to the early Middle Ages looking for stellar Latin (pun intended).
Continue reading