Monday, December 28, 2015

Commemorating Childermas

Say, ye celestial guards, who wait
In Bethlehem, round the Saviour's palace gate,
Say, who are these on golden wings,
That hover o'er the new-born King of kings,
Their palms and garlands telling plain
That they are of the glorious martyr-train,
Next to yourselves ordained to praise
His Name, and brighten as on Him they gaze?

But where their spoils and trophies? where
The glorious dint a martyr's shield should bear?
How chance no cheek among them wears
The deep-worn trace of penitential tears,
But all is bright and smiling love,
As if, fresh-borne from Eden's happy grove,
They had flown here, their King to see,
Nor ever had been heirs of dark mortality?

Ask, and some angel will reply,
"These, like yourselves, were born to sin and die,
But ere the poison root was grown,
God set His seal, and marked them for His own.
Baptised its blood for Jesus' sake,
Now underneath the Cross their bed they make,
Not to be scared from that sure rest
By frightened mother's shriek, or warrior's waving crest."

Mindful of these, the firstfruits sweet
Borne by this suffering Church her Lord to greet;
Blessed Jesus ever loved to trace
The "innocent brightness" of an infant's face.
He raised them in His holy arms,
He blessed them from the world and all its harms:
Heirs though they were of sin and shame,
He blessed them in his own and in his Father's Name.

Then, as each fond unconscious child
On the everlasting Parent sweetly smiled
(Like infants sporting on the shore,
That tremble not at Ocean's boundless roar),
Were they not present to Thy thought,
All souls, that in their cradles Thou hast bought?
But chiefly these, who died for Thee,
That Thou might'st live for them a sadder death to see.

And next to these, Thy gracious word
Was as a pledge of benediction stored
For Christian mothers, while they moan
Their treasured hopes, just born, baptised, and gone.
Oh, joy for Rachel's broken heart!
She and her babes shall meet no more to part;
So dear to Christ her pious haste
To trust them in His arms for ever safe embraced.

She dares not grudge to leave them there,
Where to behold them was her heart's first prayer;
She dares not grieve--but she must weep,
As her pale placid martyr sinks to sleep,
Teaching so well and silently
How at the shepherd's call the lamb should die:
How happier far than life the end
Of souls that infant-like beneath their burthen bend.

It is easy to be so absorbed in the joy of Christmas to forget some of suffering and turmoil that was associated with the miracle of the Incarnation.

Childermas, or the Feast of the Holy Innocents, commemorates the massacre of all males under the age of two in Bethlehem ordered by Herod to preclude a rival king.

The Coventry Carol is a haunting hymn which mourns the loss of the first Christian martyrs in the form of a lullaby to the Holy Innocents. 

G.K. Chesterton on Miracles

G.K. Chesterton on Miracles

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Recalling Lunar Liturgies on Christmas Eve

Apollo 8' astronaut Frank Borman's Christmas Eve Prayer
 Three NASA astronauts circled the Moon in December 1968 on a mission to prepare for the first human landing on the Moon the next year. 

When transmitting to Mission Control in Houston, Frank Borman and the crew of Apollo 8  gave a Christmas Eve prayer which might scandalize avowed atheists or today's adherents to the creed of political correctness.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Rabbi's Polemic Progressive Prayer Blesses White House Hanukkah Celebration

Rabbi Susan Talve's Strangely Secular Hanukkah Blessing

On the third day of Hanukkah in the year 5776 (per the Jewish calendar), President Barack Obama hosted the President of Israel Reuven Rivlin and Rabbi Susan Talve, a founder of the Central Reform Congregation from St. Louis, Missouri. 

Rabbi Talve gave a sui generis  "blessing" in which she weaved in Black Lives Matter, immigration, fluid sexuality, Islamophobia, homophobia, justice for Palestinians with barely an allusion to anything in Jewish scripture.  In fact, the only time that Susan Talve mentioned God it was the Islamic Arabic expression "Ins'Allah" (meaning God willing).

It is remarkable that President Obama was more clear in invoking the origins of the Jewish festival of lights than Rabbi Talve.  Perhaps this proves Mr. Obama's excited utterance from last year's Hanukkah celebration, when he declared "I am [Jewish] in my soul." 

As to an outsider, it sounds like Rabbi Talve is more dedicated to leftism than the the Torah.  But such a progressive bent is currently being mirrored in other creeds, as the Vatican has been prominently pushing the Paris Climate Change agreement under the debatable auspices of Laudato Si.

Appreciating Advent

Sunday, December 13, 2015

St. Théophane Vénard on Rejoicing

St. Theophane Venard on Rejoicing

The third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday (from Latin meaning rejoice).  Advent is a penitential season in which the faithful ought to prepare for the Coming of Christ.  As Gaudete Sunday marks the halfway point of Advent, we are urged to rejoice as the Lord is near. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Remembering the Feast of St. Juan Diego

Juan Diego was a simple aboriginal American who had converted to Catholicism.  On December 9th, 1591, Juan Diego saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary, who asked that a church be built on that hill. Juan Diego conveyed the message to the bishop, who wanted proof for his incredible apparition story.  Juan Diego returned to the sight and bought back a tilma of out of season roses as proof.  

When the peasant revealed what was in his tilma, the bishop and the entourage dropped to their knees as the simple garment had a portrait of a mestizo Blessed Virgin Mary, replete with symbolic Aztec hermanuetics.

Within a decade, nearly the entire Mexico people converted to the faith.  And the humble tilma, which should have only lasted for 25 years has lasted for over 400 years.