Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Desert Fathers (and Mothers), Sunday, December 30, 2012

Amma Syncletica said, "There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town, and they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one's mind while living in a crowd, and it is possible for one who is a solitary to live in the crowd of his own thoughts."
~ Taken from "The Sayings of the Desert Fathers"

(H/T to the New Clairvaux Abbey blog where I found this quote.  Please check out their beautiful web site and blog at

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Florilegia, Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Florilegia, Friday, December 28, 2012


Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Reading 1 Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

These readings from the Sunday Mass are intended to provide you with a starting point for daily lectio each week.  I have found that spending an hour or so during the week meditating on the readings allows me to more fully participate in the Mass, I hope they help you in the same way.  I encourage you to take time in lectio with the other two readings for the day .

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, December 26, 2012

St Nicholas of Myra
St Nicholas of Myra (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)
The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic Gods giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.
-St. Nicholas of Myra
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

FROM St. Peter's Complaint, 1595
By Robert Southwell

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Florilegia, Friday, December 21, 2012

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

Reading 1 Sir 3:2-6, 12-14

God sets a father in honor over his children;
a mother's authority he confirms over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and preserves himself from them.
When he prays, he is heard;
he stores up riches who reveres his mother.
Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children,
and, when he prays, is heard.
Whoever reveres his father will live a long life;
he who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.

My son, take care of your father when he is old;
grieve him not as long as he lives.
Even if his mind fail, be considerate of him;
revile him not all the days of his life;
kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
firmly planted against the debt of your sins
--a house raised in justice to you.



These readings from the Sunday Mass are intended to provide you with a starting point for daily lectio each week.  I have found that spending an hour or so during the week meditating on the readings allows me to more fully participate in the Mass.

7 Quick Takes on Friday, Friday, December 21, 2012


It's hard not to start off this week's "Quick Takes" without thinking about the Newtown shooting incident.  It seems there are so many instances now of disturbed young men who seem to think they have no way to express themselves except by shooting up a school or movie theater.  The one solution that so few in the media seem to have thought of is prayer.  We simply need more people praying every day for a change in the culture we're living in. 


What a difference a year makes -- for the Denver Broncos that is.  Last year, Tim Tebow was the starting QB, the team was destined to end 8/8 and, even so, win the AFC West division.  No one expected the team to beat the mighty Steelers of Pittsburgh, much less go to the Super Bowl.  This year, Peyton Manning is the starter, the team should end with 13 wins and could earn a first round bye in the play-offs.  Is there a point?  No, just gloating a little. 


One thing I've been wondering about is that I don't seem to be seeing the level of traffic around town that one would expect at this time of year.  Also, stores don't seem to be as busy as normal.  I'm wondering if this is a sign of a souring economy or the impact of more people ordering Christmas gifts on line.  What do you think?


We've had an interesting weather week here in Colorado.  It's been in the 50's and beautifully sunny but on Wednesday, we had near white-out conditions.  There is, for the first time possibly since I've been here, snow in the forecast for Christmas Day. Of course, that's 3 days out and much can change here between now and then.  I guess we'll see.  This is one place where it is certainly true, if you don't like the weather, wait a couple of hours and it'll change.


Sometimes I wonder about reviewers on Amazon, especially book reviewers.  I know of one such specimen that automatically slams any book by a Catholic author writing on Catholic subjects.  It doesn't matter who the writer is or what the topic is, if it's Catholic it's going to get slammed.  The thing that's so frustrating is that, if you've read the book in question, or know anything about the topic, it's abundantly clear that this reviewer has only a passing knowledge of said book.  It makes me question the overall quality of reviews on Amazon.


In unison with the author of the Catholic Bibles blog, I do wish there was a really nice edition of a Catholic Bible, it could be the RSV-CE or NABRE versions, but it would be nice to have it in a package similar to, say, the ESV Clarion edition in real leather.  That's what I really want for Christmas.


Finally, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, St Peter Canisius

Petrus Canisius
Petrus Canisius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining many, desire as it were, to be in collusion with the Church's enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith."  St Peter Canisius, SJ
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 16, 2012, Abba Isaac

Bose Monastery: Desert Fathers
Bose Monastery: Desert Fathers (Photo credit: jimforest)

"One day Abba Isaac went to a monastery. He saw a brother committing a sin and he condemned him. When he returned to the desert, an angel of the Lord came  and stood in front of the door of his cell, and said, "I will not let you enter." But he persisted saying, "What is the matter?" And the angel replied, "God has sent me to ask you where you want to throw the guilty
brother whom you have condemned." Immediately he repented and said, "I have  sinned, forgive me." Then the angel said, "Get up, God has forgiven you. But from now on, be careful not to judge someone before God has done so."

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Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes on Friday, Friday, December 14, 2012




Approaching year end and already planning goals and scheduling appointments for the new year.  More importantly, I'm getting even more serious about planning impending retirement.  One thing I've decided to try is to get the long delayed and fretted over mystery novel written.  I have characters, and now have a story and theme idea in place, all that's left to do is write the damn thing.  That seems much easier said than done.


One difficulty I know I'll face is my own lack of self discipline.  I've never been very good at working in a fairly unstructured environment, hey, I'm an accountant for gosh sakes, and I tend to think that writing a novel is about as unstructured as it gets.  I must develop the habit, dare I say the virtue, of working two to three hours a day and setting goals to mark my progress.  As I said, easier said than done.  Also, I think there's some virtue is working and not worrying too much about the end result, at least until it's complete.  I know this thing won't go according to my timetable, there is much to learn about writing along the way, and I need to learn to allow myself to let the project go as it goes.  If I'm faithful to the project, it'll get done in the right time.




This story was reported in LifeSite News, on their web page:


WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6, 2012, ( - Citing unprecedented challenges to life, marriage and religious liberty, the bishops of the United States have called on all the faithful to fast, pray a daily Rosary, have regular Holy Hours and Masses, and attend rallies, for the sake of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty in our country.


In explaining the reasons for the campaign, the bishops specifically singled out the HHS mandate. That mandate coerces employers, including heads of religious agencies, to pay for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives. The bishops also called on Catholics to resist increased efforts to redefine marriage.


I'm almost tempted to say, finally!  There are so many challenges to our faith, I think our only option is ever increasing time spent in prayer.  We can get active in all sorts of political activities, and those are good, but nothing will really change the course of things except to have a Church at prayer, I don't know why it's taken so long for the bishops to make this call.  Advent is a great time to start.



These are supposed to be quick takes, aren't they?  See what I mean about self-discipline?



Following up on my post from last August, "A New Way to Post," I've given up on the blogging apps, Blogsy and Blog Press.  I've started using the Pages app on the iPad almost exclusively for blog posts.  There's an extra step in transferring the post from the app to Blogger, but the format on the blog is pretty much exactly what it was in the app document.  It's a great tool.




Speaking of great apps, Magnificat has done a major update to the iPad version of their app.  The text is now larger and clearer, no longer an iPhone size view of the daily pages.  We use the Magnificat version of Morning and Evening prayer, and now that the days are so much shorter, and with the rather poor lighting set up in our living room, having the book on the iPad is a great solution to being able to see the text.  I also purchased, for all of $ 0.99 the Magnificat Advent companion which is also very nicely done.  Great job, Magnificat!




"I have a particular reason for mentioning this matter in conclusion-a reason that is directly related to this curious effect of scepticism in weakening the normal functions of the human being. In one of the most brilliant and amusing of Mr. Sinclair Lewis's recent books there is a passage which I quote from memory, but I think more or less correctly. He said that the Catholic Faith differs from current Puritanism in that it does not ask a man to give up his sense of beauty, or his sense of humour, or his pleasant vices (by which he probably meant smoking and drinking, which are not vices at all), but that it does ask a man to give up his life and soul, his mind, body, reason, and all the rest. I ask the reader to consider, as quietly and impartially as possible, the statement thus made; and put it side by side with all those other facts about the gradual fossilizing of human function by the fundamental doubts of our day."


G.K. Chesterton, The Thing



Once again, I owe a debt of thanks to Jennifer for providing the opportunity to do 7 Quick Takes every week, along with all the others who do the same.  I've discovered some great blogs that I had never heard of here and I hope you're able to do the same.


Friday, Florilegia, Friday, December 14, 2012

The Gospel for the 4th Sunday of Advent

Gospel Lk 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, December 12, 2012, Fulton J. Sheen

“It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.” ― Fulton J. Sheen, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Early Church Fathers, Sunday, December 9, 2012, St. Irenaeus of Lyons

Irenaeus compiled a list of apostolic successi...

“Error, indeed is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced more true than truth itself.”

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Friday, December 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes on Friday



Finally, it’s been a quiet week.  I think our biggest challenge of the week will be attending the Vigil Mass tonight for the Immaculate Conception.  My understanding is that this is one of two Holy Days of obligation that is never abrogated.  I ain’t a night person, but tomorrow, with things that must be done taking up the weekend, there’s nothing for it, we must attend the Vigil Mass this evening.  One thing that concerns me is that it means driving in the dark, on the I-25 corridor both to church and back; as I get a little older, driving at night is more of a challenge.  Wish us luck.




All the news this week is about the Holy Father getting a Twitter account.  I have mixed feelings about that, but if he thinks it’s a wise thing to do, who am I to argue?




I began my Advent reading with the introduction Volume 1 of Guerric of Igny’s Liturgical Sermon.  Normally, I question the value of scholarly introductions to the works of ancient works; too often, more insight is to be gained by just reading what the original author wrote without being prejudiced to some professor’s point of view which may really miss the point entirely.  Yet, there was a point made that was, so to speak, a real eye opener.  It seems, and this is borne out by reading him, that Guerric wrote from the tradition of God as light, and Advent as the season of the coming of the Light.  I think I’ve been too much influenced by John of the Cross and others who view our growth in God as a kind of darkness.  I realized I need to shake that off and am much more comfortable with Guerric’s (and John’s Gospel) idea that to seek God is, in truth, to seek enlightenment, not darkness.




Toying with the idea again, of trying to write a mystery series of books based on a group of characters I dreamed up over the last several years.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress of that.




Pet Peeve Alert!  I notice more and more often that things published on the internet, even news stories and columns from major professional writers, contain spelling errors and/or typos.  I have long been of the opinion that such things should happen, at worst, infrequently, at best, never.  I know for many of us who grew up writing drafts of papers longhand, and typing (on a typewriter!) the finished product, it’s a great temptation to write something quickly on a computer and get it out the door, and very difficult to try to proof read the thing on the screen.  But I wish more people, especially those who get paid to do such things, would try a little harder.  I worry what damage is being done to an already suffering language.



A post on the American Conservative blog, titled “Why Catholics Can’t Speak English,” covers the question of the lack of availability of a really nice Catholic Bible translation, and, for that matter, edition.  The author likes the Knox transition, newly released by Baronius Press, because it was done in the context of making the language more accessible to the English reader.  Msgr Knox used the vernacular as a prominent feature of his translation.  The AC author is arguing for a new edition that makes the Bible more understandable to the Catholic in the pew.


I’ve always taken a different tack toward Holy Scripture.  I believe any translation, and edition, of the Bible should be beautiful; the language should be somewhat elevated and majestice.  I don’t think we read the Bible only for understanding, I think we read it to open ourselves to God’s self-revelation and allow His Word, which is His, wholly Other, to enlighten us; it’s not a teaching tool but something much more.  I tend to think that making the language of the Bible more pedestrian is very often an effort to bring God down to our level, which is, of course, an impossible task.




It’s Friday!  Thanks again to Jennifer for hosting 7 Quick Takes.

Friday Florilegia, Friday, December 7, 2012

Advent wreath with one rose candle and three p...

The first reading for the Third Sunday of Advent


Third Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Zep 3:14-18a


Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.


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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Word on Wednesday, Wednesday, December 5, 2012, Romano Guardini

Romano Guardini um 1920

For the greatest things are accomplished in silence—not in the clamor and display of superficial eventfulness, but in the deep clarity of inner vision; in the almost imperceptible start of decision, in quiet overcoming and hidden sacrifice.  The Lord

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

We Are Not Responsible!

The shooting on Saturday involving the Chief's Jovan Belcher is a terrible trajedy for all of those involved and I would be among many who are urging prayers for the deceased and their families. 

It is such a personal trajedy, that I have a difficult time with those who would turn this into an opportunity for political grandstanding.  Jim Geherty of the National Review has an important reminder about this for all of us.

On the telecast of Sunday night's Dallas Cowboys-Philadelphia Eagles game, NBC Sports anchor Bob Costas got up on his soapbox and quoted a column from Jason Whitlock, declaring, "Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead. . . . Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it."

Now that we know that Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock believe that guns emit some sort of magic mood-altering or mind-controlling wave that make people more confrontational and flawed, we can all hope that neither Costas or Whitlock get their hands on a gun. (One wonders if they're secretly Carl Rowan-style gun-control advocates.)

Stephen Kruiser: "Sanctimony has always been a Bob Costas hallmark, it's just creepier now that it's coming from his Madame Tussauds face."

There's a famous bumper sticker that says, quite correctly,  "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."  Each of us is created by God in His image, which means, He has endowed us will free will.  Each of us who has all of our normal faculties, is fully capable of making a free choice between good and evil, and we are free to act in accordance with those choices.  Blaming society is a denial of that gift of free will and a delusion. 

As for guns, G.K. Chesterton made the point about not giving toy guns to little boys, that St. Stephen could be killed by stones while St. Sebastian will never be killed by toy arrows.  A firearm is a tool, not an end. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Desert Fathers, Sunday, December 2, 2012

One day Saint Epiphanius sent someone to Abba Hilarion with this request, ‘Come, and let us see one another before we depart from the body.’ When he came, they rejoiced in each other's company. During their meal, they were brought a fowl; Epiphanius took it and gave it to Hilarion. Then the old man said to him, ‘Forgive me, but since I received the habit I have not eaten meat that has been killed.’ Then the bishop answered, ‘Since I took the habit, I have not allowed anyone to go to sleep with a complaint against me and I have not gone to rest with a complaint against anyone.’ The old man replied, ‘Forgive me, your way of life is better than mine.'

From The Sayings of the Desert Father, Sr Benedicta Ward