Circumcision of our Lord, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord

and Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Traditionally, January 1 is the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord - the Octave Day after the Nativity of our Lord.  The Latin Rite of the Catholic Church changed this in 1960 to the celebration of the Maternity of Mary, Mother of God.  The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God initially was celebrated on October 11 (started in 1914).  In 1960 Pope John XXIII removed all mention of the circumcision from the antiphons and rubrics of January 1.  In 1969, Pope Paul VI reiterates the celebration of Mary but also mentions that it is a time to celebrate the Newborn Prince of Peace, listening to the song of the angels one more time (though the ChristMass Season lasts at least until January 6, with Epiphany - or even until February 2, with CandleMass - which is where the last mentioning of the Nativity is made for the liturgical year.

The lectionary of the Extraordinary Rite still celebrates the Circumcision of our Lord on January, 1.

This year January 1 is a Friday, which, being a solemnity we are not obliged to our Friday penance...  for those who still observe abstaining from meat, don't have to!  It's a "Cheeseburger Friday!"

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Tonight we recall the suffering of the Holy Innocents
Matthew 2:16-18

December 28

Confession Explained

Confession Explained
Posted by Catholic and Proud on Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Active Participation

On the Facebook page of Rome Sweet Rome, one of the participants posted the following video:

The "active participation" spoken of by Pope St. Pius X (PSPX) was not the same as the "full and conscious" participation encouraged by VCII. Rather, he PSPX, encouraged Gregorian chant be added to the Mass to add to the enrichment of the temple. At some Masses in the ordinary rite, I could fully relate to the frustrations of that woman Fr. spoke of. There were widespread abuses to the "active participation" in the Mass - and fortunately most (not all) of those abuses have fallen by the wayside. PSPX encouraged a deeper, more subconscious participation of a choir chanting Gregorian chant. Certainly those who know the chants, or even if they had hymnals to follow along were welcome to join in - but the use of chant in Mass introduces a subliminal participation where just being present before the Eucharist is enhanced by holy chanting echoing through the sanctuary. It is an "active participation" of mind, body and soul.

Now, that being said, the document referred to in the video is actually PSPX rebuking the abuses which had been creeping into the liturgy over the previous decade!  He was not encouraging more abuse - as we most certainly found in the years which followed VCII!  [1]  This is not to say that everything new is an abuse, but no one can legitimately say there were no abuses in the post Vatican II era.  Just look at some of the wording from the document cited:
Nothing should have place, therefore, in the temple calculated to disturb or even merely to diminish the piety and devotion of the faithful, nothing that may give reasonable cause for disgust or scandal, nothing, above all, which directly offends the decorum and sanctity of the sacred functions and is thus unworthy of the House of Prayer and of the Majesty of God. We do not touch separately on the abuses in this matter which may arise. Today Our attention is directed to one of the most common of them, one of the most difficult to eradicate, and the existence of which is sometimes to be deplored in places where everything else is deserving of the highest praise -- the beauty and sumptuousness of the temple, the splendor and the accurate performance of the ceremonies, the attendance of the clergy, the gravity and piety of the officiating ministers. Such is the abuse affecting sacred chant and music. And indeed, whether it is owing to the very nature of this art, fluctuating and variable as it is in itself, or to the succeeding changes in tastes and habits with the course of time, or to the fatal influence exercised on sacred art by profane and theatrical art, or to the pleasure that music directly produces, and that is not always easily contained within the right limits, or finally to the many prejudices on the matter, so lightly introduced and so tenaciously maintained even among responsible and pious persons, the fact remains that there is a general tendency to deviate from the right rule, prescribed by the end for which art is admitted to the service of public worship and which is set forth very clearly in the ecclesiastical Canons, in the Ordinances of the General and Provincial Councils, in the prescriptions which have at various times emanated from the Sacred Roman Congregations, and from Our Predecessors the Sovereign Pontiffs.  [2] (emphasis added).
My point in posting this article?  Well, the video appears to be saying that "active participation" as we have it today, was really PSPX's idea - and THAT is preposterous.  PSPX encouraged sacred music to compliment the Mass, not overtake it.  You don't have to sing the chants he recommended to be more active in mind, body and spirit - as the very presence of chant in the sanctuary draws one into participation through the senses.  The Motu Proprio he promulgated goes on to limit sacred music to that which is either a) Gregorian chant or b) based in Gregorian chant.  He is not sanctioning the sort of "active participation" which came out of Vatican II.  Sacred music in the Mass is NOT there for our enjoyment!  It is there to enhance the atmosphere of the liturgy and draw us in at a deeper level, as opposed to a carnal or "pleasure" level.  Sacred music can be and should be enjoyable, but there has to be limits to that enjoyment so that it does not take us to the more carnal.

IS there a place for the sort of "active participation" which has come in this post Vatican II era?  Perhaps one can make an argument for such, but one cannot use Pope St. Pius X's Motu Proprio to support such, for if anything it comes out against "profane" abuses.

[1] Abuses post VCII:
Clown Masses, Polka Masses, "Liturgical Dance,"  

[2] Tra le Sollecitudini -

Making Life Decisions

I know it's still Christmas - but I was moved to present this teaching from the Baltimore Catechism... When we are faced with life decisions, how should we approach them?  The Baltimore Catechism, while being very basic in approach can be very useful in many other ways.  To tie this back into Christmas, consider one of Jesus' names, "Emmanuel," which means "God with us."  All our decisions, especially major life decisions, should be made under Emmanuel - God with us.  

Baltimore Catechism No. 1


1. Q. Who made the world?
A. God made the world.

We start out very basic, to get a firm foundation/premise upon which to build. 

2. Q. Who is God?
A. God is the Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things.

I believe in one God the Father Almighty - maker of Heaven and Earth, and all things visible and invisible.

3. Q. What is man?
A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.
We are made in His likeness and image.  Like Him, He has given us the freedom of the will, to choose between good and evil - to listen to and obey Him, or to listen to selfish desires and avoid talking to Him.
6. Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven. 
We cannot lose sight of this focus!  He made us so that we can be happy with Him for ever in Heaven.  Without Him, our happiness can only be temporary - and without Him, our "for ever" will be the opposite of happiness.  What good is a temporary happiness now if eternity is spent in unhappiness?
9. Q. What must we do to save our souls?
A. To save our souls, we must worship God by faith, hope, and charity; that is, we must believe in Him, hope in Him, and love Him with all our heart.
This also means that we are to take EVERY THOUGHT captive to Him if we wish to succeed (2 Cor. 10:3-6).   If we truly believe in Him, hope in Him and love Him - then every decision we make, we present to Him and proceed as He would direct us.
10. Q. How shall we know the things which we are to believe?
A. We shall know the things which we are to believe from the Catholic Church, through which God speaks to us.
God not left us rudderless, but has built for us His Church.  This Church, through valid succession of bishops all the way back to Christ and the Apostles, has given us spiritual fathers, our priests, to whom we can go to to seek counsel.  If we are making a big decision in our lives, we should not proceed without talking to our priest/confessor to ensure we're not motivated out of selfish interests - but are moving down a path acceptable to God.
11. Q. Where shall we find the chief truths which the Church teaches?
A. We shall find the chief truths which the Church teaches in the Apostles' Creed.

12. Q. Say the Apostles' Creed.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,
Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;
He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Christmas Has Begun!

Advent is over and the Season of the Christ Mass is upon us!  Don't go tearing down your tree, ornaments and lights just yet!  Christmas has JUST BEGUN!  Traditionally Christmas lasts until at least Epiphany, January 6th, which is the day we celebrate the Three Wise Men arriving to greet the newborn King and they came bearing gifts... perhaps the first gifts of Christmas which started the whole gift giving tradition!  

An even more ancient tradition has the final day of the Christmas Season as February 2nd, Candlemas (or Candle Mass).  This is the recognition of Mary fulfilling the Jewish requirement of purification (not that she "needed" it) and in the readings for Mass this day is the last mentioning of the Christ Mass for this liturgical year - Christmas is over.

So, continue to celebrate the Christ Mass!  Raise a few eye-brows and wish someone a "Merry Christmas" and when they try to correct you - you have an opportunity to gently correct them and remind them that Advent ended on December 24th, Christmas just began on that day!

And, as our on-going campaign states...  "The best way to keep Christ in Christmas is to keep Mass in Christmas!"  Please share this page and/or the memes below - and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

December 23 - O Antiphon - O Emmanuel

December 23 - The Final Day of the O Antiphons

The wait is nearly over!  Advent is drawing to a close and tomorrow is the eve of the Christ Mass, or was we more commonly call it, "Christmas."

Pray with your family: 

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.
O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.
Read to or with your family:
Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel".
Isaiah 33:22: "Indeed the Lord will be there with us,  majestic.  Yes, the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save

Sing with your family:

O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Have yourself a merry and blessed Christ Mass.

Advent is drawing to a close, and this is our last day of the O Antiphons.  O come, o come, Emmanuel - and ransom captive Israel.
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst...Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." Jn. 6:35, 49-51

God has always been with us, but the Incarnation radically changed His manner of being "with us." The most sacred item for the people of the Old Testament was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained several holy objects: the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, God's word inscribed by God Himself; a jar of the manna with which God fed them in the desert; and Aaron's rod, the symbol of his priesthood (Heb. 9:4). From the moment of the Incarnation, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is called the Ark of the New Covenant, she held within her womb the Word of God in the flesh, who is the true manna in the Most Holy Eucharist, and who is the Eternal High Priest. Emmanuel, "God with us," loves us with an intensity that is beyond our human comprehension, but we can begin to grasp it when we approach Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and receive Him into ourselves. Wherever the sanctuary light burns, He is there with us, but He is even closer to us when we receive Him, so that He can begin to transform us in Himself. He is not a God who remains distant, but one who enters into our lives, and into our very beings, bringing His infinite mercy and forgiveness. We long to be loved, and He longs for our love. As we approach the great mystery of Christmas, may He grant us the grace of deep, unwavering devotion to His presence in the Eucharist. O come, o come Emmanuel!
In Closing:
I hope this journey through "The Golden Nights" or the "Great O Antiphons" has blessed you and a piece of it remains with you throughout the entire year.  Every Mass we participate in, we celebrate the coming of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  During Advent we focus on this anticipation, but let us be eagerly anticipating receiving Him at every Mass we attend.  If we are in the state of mortal sin, this anticipation should make us all the more motivated to reconcile through the Sacrament of Penance, just as we're called to do penance in the season of Advent - to prepare our hearts and mind for the coming and reception of our Lord.  If you're not in the state of grace, go talk with your confessor!  Do not fear the confessional - it is a place of renewal, a new and fresh start.  We all falter and fall short of the Glory of God, but pick yourself up and get yourself right with God.  Be constantly reminded of Advent and O come, o come Emmanuel, and ransom our captive souls.

December 22 O Antiphon

December 22, O King of the Gentiles

Pray with your family:
O King of the Gentiles and the Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one.  Come, and save man whom you fashioned out of clay.
Isaiah 28:16: "Therefore, thus says the Lord God: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation".
Ephesians 2:14: "He it is who is our peace, and who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart".

Sing with your family:
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind,
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Jesus is not merely the King of the Jews, but also the King of the Gentiles (non-Jews).  Jesus is King of Kings, Lord of Lord, forever and ever (to steal a bit from Handel).

December 21 O Antiphon - O Dawn

Pray with your family:
O Rising Dawn, Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Read to or with your family:
Isaiah 9:1: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone". Malachi 3:20: "For you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays".
2 Peter 1:19: "Keep your attention closely fixed on it, as you would on a lamp shining in a dark place, until the first streaks of dawn appear and the morning star rises in your heart".

Sing with your family:
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

This title is variously translated "morning star", "Dayspring", "rising sun", "radiant dawn", "orient".  All beautifully express the idea of light shattering the darkness of night, of sin and death, of sickness and despair, with its brightness bringing healing and warmth to cold hearts.  Jesus is indeed the true light, the radiance of his Father's splendor. The church prays this petition daily in the Benedictus, joining in the words of Zechariah: "He, the Dayspring, shall visit us in his mercy to shine on those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death"  (Luke 1:78-79). 

And Happy Birthday, to my brother, William (Bill)! 

O Antiphon December 20 - O Key of David

December 20
Readings: Isaiah 22:15-25 / Matthew 16:13-20

Pray with your family:
O Clavis David,
et sceptrum domus Israël,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit,
claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum
de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Key of David and scepter of the house of Israel,
you open and no one can close,
you close and no one can open:
Come and rescue the prisoners
who are in darkness and the shadow of death.

Sing with your family:
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

One of Jesus' titles is "Key of David" and we also see in Matthew 16:18-19 (part of the recommended readings for this day) that Jesus gives this key to Simon Bar-Jonah, whom He renames "Peter" or "Rock."   Peter becomes the Vicar of Christ as Jesus prepares to ascend when He, in threefold command, tells Peter to take care of His sheep.  We are His sheep and our pope is the current successor from St. Peter, fulfilling that role of Vicar of Christ.  

In this antiphon we're calling for the coming of the Key of David, which is Christ our Lord.  We want Him to come again in glory.  We pray for this Second Coming and wait in eager anticipation for it.  Let us not forget, however, that while we pray for Him to come, He has already left His vicar to lead and guide us. 

December 19 O Antiphons

O Radix Jesse or O Root of Jesse (December 19)
O Root of Jesse, (Isaiah 11:1)
You stand for the ensign of mankind (Isaiah 11:10); before You kings shall keep silence and to You all nations shall have recourse (Isaiah 52:15). * Come, save us, and do not delay (Habakkuk 2:3).

Symbols: Plant with Root and Flower

Pray with your family:
Come to deliver us, and tarry not.
O Root of Jesse, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: Come to deliver us, and tarry not.
O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum, super quem continebunt reges os suum, quem gentes deprecabuntur: veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare. 

Read to or with your family:
Isaiah 11:1-11
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness.
And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: land he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb: and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: the calf and the lion, and the sheep shall abide together, and a little child shall lead them.
The calf and the bear shall feed: their young ones shall rest together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp: and the weaned child shall thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk.
They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain, for the earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the covering waters of the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.
11 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand the second time to possess the remnant of his people, which shall be left from the Assyrians, and from Egypt, and from Phetros, and from Ethiopia, and from Elam, and from Sennaar, and from Emath, and from the islands of the sea.

Sing with your family:
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
O come, O Rod of Jesse free,
Thine own from Satan's tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them victory o'er the grave

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.

What urgency there is this antiphon. Something that lies below the earth (a root) stands high unto the heavens like a banner!  Vexilia Regis Prodeunt we sing in Lent... what is a little root during Advent becomes by Lent the Tree of our salvation.  Isaiah 11:10 gives us imagery for our reflection today. The great prophet of Advent tells us that the kingdom of David would be destroyed, but not entirely destroyed. A root would remain. Jesse is David's father. David is Jesse's root. David leads to Christ. After the destruction there remains a root.  No matter what the exigencies of life present to us or how turbulent the vicissitudes of the passing world may be, when we cling to the root we are sure to be victorious in the end.

O Antiphons December 18

DAY TWO - December 18:

Read to your family:


Lord of Israel

Isaias 11:4-5
But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.

Isaias 33:22
For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king: he will save us.

Pray with your family:

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammæ rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento. 

Sing with your family:

O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai's height
In ancient times didst give the law
In cloud and majesty, and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

And this is another traditional hymn:

The O Antiphons - Day 1 - December 17


17 December: Sapientia, Wisdom

Pray with your family:
O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!
O Sapientia, quæ ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem, fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiæ.

Read to or with your family:
Isaias 11:2-3
And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.

Isaias 28:29
This also is come forth from the Lord God of hosts, to make his counsel wonderful, and magnify justice.

Sing with your family:
O come, o come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who orders all things mightily,
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
The seven "O Antiphons" (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights."

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." Those titles for Christ are:

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium

Ember Days

What are "Ember Days?"
Four times during the liturgical year we have what are called "Ember Days."  These days were originally recognized in pagan Rome and were celebrations or honorings of the Roman agricultural gods for the different seasons as there were different plantings and harvesting for each of the seasons.  After Rome converted to Christianity in the fourth century, the Church, rather than drop these celebrations entirely, converted them to have Christian meaning.  Originally there were only three Ember Weeks, which were remembered with specific periods of fasting (Winter, Summer and Fall), the fourth (Spring) was later (but still quite early) added.  All four are mentioned as early as the late fifth century by Pope Gelasius.  Pope Callixtus I teaches of the (three) seasons of fasting in the early third century (100 years before Rome became Christian).

Does "Ember" Mean a Burning Coal?
No, the etymology begins with the Latin used by Pope Leo in the mid fifth century jejunium vernum, aestivum, autumnale and hiemale and the English "ember" comes to us from the Anglo-Saxon (Germanic) heritage with the word "ymbren" which literally means a running cycle, or annual cycle - which is what the ember cycle represents.   

What is the Fast for Ember Days?
During an Ember Week, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are the Ember Days.  It is actually a partial fast.  On these days we are to have just one full meal (can include meat) and two smaller, meatless meals - on Ember Fridays we also abstain from meat as well as keeping the fast.

If you have found this article, or any of our articles, to be interesting and/or helpful - please share!  Use one or more of the icons below for Twitter, Facebook, etc., to share with your friends!

Wow! Three Weeks Into Advent Already!

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say REJOICE!  Last Sunday was Gaudete Sunday.  It is a day of rejoicing in the coming of the Lord.  It is a time for relief from the penance of Advent.  We should all pause for a moment before returning to penance and take time to rejoice in the coming of the Lord, both His first and anticipated second coming.

A reminder too... keeping Christ in Christmas means keeping Mass in Christmas - it is the Christ-Mass, after all.

The Feast of Santa Claus

OK, no, not THAT Santa Claus!  However, even though highly commercialized, the Santa image from early Coca-Cola advertisements and even the name "Santa Claus" is based in the name of the REAL Santa Claus, St. Nicholas of Myra.   It doesn't take much imagination to phonetically hear "Santa Claus" in the name "Saint Nicholas."  One of the common names for Santa is St. Nick too - why?  Because the legend of Santa Claus is based in the reality of St. Nicholas.

The tradition of the giving St. Nick comes from a story of a poor man who had three daughters for whom he did not have money for a dowry... well here, let me quote from another site:
The most famous story about St. Nicholas tells how the custom of hanging up stockings to get presents in first started! It goes like this:
There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn't get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the brides parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.

The Feast Day of St. Nicholas is December 6th.  This is the day the Church officially remembers "Santa" and is a good day to give someone a gift - especially if you have children.  As you do, you can share the story of the giving spirit of St. Nicholas - and it is that spirit which lives on in Santa Claus and the giving/receiving of gifts as we celebrate the greatest gift of all, the gift of our redemption as we celebrate the  Christ Mass on Christmas morning.  Yes Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus...

Original Founder of ACTS

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.
May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed,
Rest in peace.

A Tribute to the Original Founder of A.C.T.S.
Founded in 1966

Francis Marks founded the Arizona Catholic Truth Society in 1966 to promote the Catholic Truth in the Diocese of Phoenix. This was largely in response to the changes that were taking place since the recently consumated Second Vatican Council. The New Order of the Mass (Novus Ordo Missae) was not yet released by Pope Paul VI, but there was an "attitude" of change errupting, at least in his local parish (which I will leave unnamed here).
A story that was related to me involved a parish gathering to discuss the education in the "Catholic" school, run by the parish. Francis asked something about "Guardian Angels," and the priest responded, "And Frank, would you have us next teaching them about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?" Needless to say, that was the last parish meeting the Marks family attended. 

The Marks began attending the Ukranian Catholic Church (an Eastern Rite in union with Rome), and did so for many years - in fact my wife and I were married in the Ukranian Catholic Church in Phoenix (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary).

Francis was very instrumental in my conversion. We used to sit across from each other at his kitchen table and debate, and sometimes (actually, more often than not) the debate would get quite heated. I am not one who backs down easily from a position I am holding, I will defend it till I am absolutely proven wrong. I had the audacity to tell Francis HE was wrong! (Any family members, or others who knew Francis that are reading this,knows what that results in!) Let's just say I raised Francis' blood pressure a notch or two on many occasions. Well, for seven years I fought the Church. I raised about every question I, as a Protestant (Lutheran upbringing) could think of, but Francis always had an answer. I can honestly say that I don't recall even once that he said, "I'm not sure, let me get back to you on that one." He always could answer or knew exactly where to look for a source to support him.

My biggest stumbling block was Mary. I couldn't see the Catholic side of how she has been and is used in the Church. I had heard of the Memorare, (a prayer to Mary asking her help, and that anyone who sought her assistance, it would be granted - click here to see the whole prayer). I didn't know how to pray the Memorare, so I just made up my own version. I said, "Mary, if you are what the Catholic Church says you are, and your role is what they say it is, show me somehow." Keep in mind, I am still a Protestant at this time, so I followed up that prayer real quickly with: "Jesus, if I have offended you in any way by praying to Mary, then please forgive me." I then went to sleep, and didn't really give the prayer another thought.

Well, about a week later (by this time I had all but forgotten about the prayer to Mary) I woke up in the middle of the night, actually about 2am. I couldn't get to sleep. So I went into the living room and turned on the TV. The movie, Song of Bernadette came on. I had never seen it before. Well, I was mesmerized. Mind you, this is a rather LONG movie and I had to be up for work by 6am, but I could not stop watching this movie. It is the story of Our Lady of Lourdes - and as I was watching, I was thinking about how the Lord has performed GREAT miracles that are even recorded in secular media (Fatima too), and were confirmed by secular officials (doctors verifying miraculous or "unexplainable" cures). These things were happening through the Catholic Church and through Mary! Well, about another week went by, I kept thinking about this movie and the miracles - and how I had heard of these things even before becoming involved with Catholics. It was remarkable, you just don't hear about such things happening in Protestantism. Then it hit me! THIS was my answer from Mary! I had asked to be shown, and she found a way to show me!
Within a day or two of this revelation, I went back to Francis and met with him in our "usual spot." I had not told him about the events of the last couple weeks (my prayer, the movie, the revelation) I told him that I wanted to convert. Well, he about fell out of his chair! After several weeks of counselling with his priest, I was accepted into the Roman Catholic Church on July 1, 1988. Francis was my Godfather/sponsor.

To challenge my convictions I began "debating" local Protestant apologists on Bible Foundation BBS (bulletin board system - the precursor to Internet. This is where I ran into James White for the first time. \ (One of my thoughts back then was, "if I made a mistake in becoming a Catholic, James White should be able to show me why it is wrong and 'pull me out.'" Well, that never happened. In fact, I was now finding that every question that James threw at me, I could find an answer for - or - I could ask my Godfather, Francis, and he had the answer.
I became so involved with apologetics that in 1989, I was forming an email list and my own BBS (a subboard on the All Nite Cafe BBS in Phoenix, run by Mike Middleton) devoted to Catholic Apologetics. I needed a good name for the list and Francis said, "how about Acts?" He explained it was the acronym he started back in the 60's and I loved it, so ACTS was reborn in the electronic medium. Shortly after ACTS' new beginning, I attained an "echo number" through CIN (Mike and Sharon Mollerus) and ACTS became a nationwide "echo" and the 'A' was changed from "Arizona" to "American." Since that time we've branched out into online debates on the Internet, more email lists and the #CathApol IRC live chat channel.

Francis on the radio.
Francis Marks
I am eternally grateful to Francis, my Godfather, father-in-law, and good friend. Francis passed on on May 6, 1995. As you can probably figure out from the picture to the right, he was into HAM radio a lot, I hope he's still communicating on this new plane - helping others, as he was always willing to do while he walked this earth. The picture on top is Francis and his wife Mary, whom all in the family would agree, is a saint in her own right.

Lord, grant him eternal peace.

Happy New Year!

You might think it strange to have such a sign welcoming in the New Year, but this is exactly what we find in the Gospel readings for the First Sunday in Advent - which marks the New Year, liturgically speaking.

Gospel - Matthew 24:37-44 (Ordinary Rite)

Jesus said to his disciples:  “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.  They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.  So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.

Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.

Therefore, stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.   Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.  So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Gospel - Luke 21. 25-33 (Extraordinary Rite)

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke.
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "There shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand." And He spoke to them a similitude: "See the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh; so you also, when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away."

In both the new and old lectionaries this week the Gospel message is for the End Times, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.   Advent is the season of expectation, anticipation of the Coming of the Lord.  As we prepare to celebrate the Season of Christmas (which begins with the Christ Mass), Advent is a time of preparation and penance.  Are YOU ready for the coming of the Lord?  The Church uses this Sunday to remind us not only of the First Coming, 2000 years ago, but also the Second Coming, for which no one knows the hour.

In all the hustle and bustle of the secular observation of Christmas - let us not lose sight of the fact that Christmas is not here yet.  Christmas begins with the Christ Mass, which we celebrate on Christmas Day, December 25.  Christmas then lasts at least until Epiphany, January 6th.  These days are known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas."  I say "at least" because traditionally, Christmastide lasts all the way through Candlemas - which is February 2nd (though often the celebration of Candlemas is moved to the nearest Sunday).  Candlemas is the celebration of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin - not that she needed purification, but she needed to comply with Jewish Law, which she did to avoid scandal and sin.  During this Mass the Preface for Christmas is read, and this is the last reference to Christmas and the Nativity for the rest of the liturgical year.  The bottom line is, Christmas does not END on Christmas Day, it just BEGINS!  Leave your lights up and on through Epiphany at least, if not all the way to Candlemas!

One final reminder...   Advent is NOT the Season of Christmas - it's ADVENT!  While "the world" is into Santa Claus (which in proper perspective, is not "bad" - more on that later), we Christians are to be in a period of PREPARATION.  It is a time of reflection and penance, preparing our souls for the coming of the Lord, Jesus Christ - the Second Coming, that is.  We "use" the anticipation of the Christ Mass as a reminder of the Second Coming, which is why the readings for this week are on the End Times.  Take time to pray and meditate upon the state of your soul - and prepare yourself for "that day" which you cannot know precisely the day or hour of.

Squanto - Catholic Hero of Thanksgiving

This short video by Dr. Taylor Marshall explains, in brief, how Squanto saved the Pilgrims - and Squanto was a Catholic too!  

Thanksgiving Day in the USA is not a Catholic holiday, but maybe it should be!  The Pilgrims were not Catholic, but Squanto was - and he saved the day in showing them how to plant and gather corn and other survival methods - without which the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock would most certainly have perished.

So, I wish you all a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving, and take a moment this Thursday to recognize the hero of the first Thanksgiving celebration.

This Sunday starts Advent!  Come Lord Jesus!

Feast of Christ the King

What About the Feast of Christ the King? 
In my last entry on the Last Sunday After Pentecost, I did not mention the Feast of Christ the King.  In the "Ordinary Rite" or "Novus Ordo" the Last Sunday of the year is the Feast of Christ the King.  I typically participate in the Extraordinary Rite.  This feast is relatively new in the liturgical year, first being promulgated by Pope Pius XI in 1925 and per his encyclical quas primus, it is to be on the last Sunday of October - as it still is where the "Extraordinary Rite" or the "Traditional Latin Mass."  It was started in an answer to perhaps an over emphasis on nationalism - the Church wishing to remind the faithful that Jesus Christ is our King.  The feast was moved in 1970, coinciding with several Protestant celebrations (Anglicans, Lutherans and others using the "Revised Common Lectionary"). 

End of the Year

It's the end of the liturgical year, the Last Sunday After Pentecost, or the Last Sunday in Ordinal Time.  (I don't use the term "ordinary" because though it comes from the same root word, it has quite a different connotation in common usage).  For the end of the year we teach upon the end of the world - reminding us all that the Lord Jesus Christ will return in glory.  It also speaks to the coming tribulations which will precede His Second Coming.  As lightning comes out of the east and is seen even in the west, so also shall be the coming of the Son of Man.

The Last Sunday After Pentecost
(Readings from the Traditional or Extraordinary lectionary).

Jeremias 29: 11, 12, 14

The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace, and not of affliction: you shall call upon Me, and I will hear you; and I will bring back your captivity from all places. -- (Ps. 84. 2). Lord, Thou hast blessd Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. V.: Glory be to the Father . . . -- The Lord saith: I think thoughts of peace . . .
COLLECT - Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord, the wills of Thy faithful people, that they more earnestly seeking the fruit of divine service, may receive more abundantly healing gifts from Thy tender mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth . . .
Colossians 1: 9-14

Brethren, We cease not to pray for you, and to beg that you may be filled with the knowledge of the will of God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of God, in all things pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to the power of His glory, in all patience and long suffering with joy; giving thanks to God the Father, who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through the His Blood, the remission of sins.
Psalms. 43: 8- 9

Thou hast delivered us, O Lord, from them that afflict us: and hast put them to shame that hate us. V.: In God we will glory all the day: and in Thy Name we will give praise for ever. Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Psalm 129:1, 2). From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord: Lord, hear my prayer. Alleluia.

Matthew  24:15-35
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When you shall see the abomination of desolation, which was spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place; (he that readeth, let him understand:) then they that are in Judea, let them flee to the mountains; and he that is on the house-top, let him not come down to take anything out of his house; and he that is in the field, let him not go back to take his coat. And woe to them that are with child and that give suck, in those days. But pray that your flight be not in the winter, or on the Sabbath: for there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been found from the beginning of the world until now, neither shall be: and unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved; but for the sake of the elect, those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say to you: Lo, here is Christ, or there; do not believe him; for there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch as to deceive (if possible) even the elect. Behold I have told it to you beforehand. If therefore they shall say to you: Behold His is in the desert, go ye not out; Behold He is in the closets, believe it not. For as lightning cometh out of the east, and appeareth even in the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. Wheresoever the body shall be, there shall the eagles also be gathered together. And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be moved; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty. And He shall send His angels with a trumpet and a loud voice, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest parts of the heavens to the utmost bounds of them. And from the fig tree learn a parable: when the branch thereof is now tender, and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is nigh. So you also, when you shall see all these things, know ye that it is nigh at the doors. Amen I say to you that this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.

Psalms 129:1, 2

From the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hear my prayer: from the depths I have cried out to Thee, O Lord.
SECRET - Be gracious, O Lord, to our humble entreaties; and receiving the offerings and prayers of Thy people, turn the hearts of all of us to Thee: that freed from greed of earthly things, we may pass on to heavenly desires. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .
PREFACE (Preface of the Most Holy Trinity) - It it truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God; Who, together with Thine only-begotten Son, and the Holy Ghost, art one God, one Lord: not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance. For what we believe by Thy revelation of Thy glory, the same do we believe of Thy Son, the same of the Holy Ghost, without difference or separation. So that in confessing the true and everlasting Godhead, distinction in persons, unity in essence, and equality in majesty may be adored. Which the Angels and Archangels, the Cherubim also and Seraphim do praise: who cease not daily to cry out, with one voice saying:
Mark 11: 24
Amen I say to you, whatsoever you ask when you pray, believe that you shall receive and it shall be done to you.
POST COMMUNION - Grant unto us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that through these Sacraments which we have received, whatsoever in our minds is corrupt, may be cured by the gift of their healing power. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost . . .

Feast of the Assumption

 The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - another example of "not-so-ordinary" days! These are COUNTING days - and...