Nemo Vos Seducat


The Readings for the Day before the Nones of January,
Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton:

Filioli, nemo vos seducat. Qui facit justitiam, justus est, sicut et ille justus est. 

Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doth justice is just, even as he is just.

You know, Martin Luther didn’t like the Epistle of James because of that passage “Faith without works is dead”. He called it, rather famously, an Epistle of Straw. I’m beginning to think St John had a lot more straw in him than Luther noticed. 

The KJV will render this “he that doeth righteousness is righteous even as he (Jesus) is righteous”.  As in the Latin, and the English, so in the Greek. It’s the one who is doing these things that is this thing. We show our faith in Christ by acting like Christ. We do not sin: not because it “gets us into heaven” but rather because acting like Christ heals us, makes us whole, saves us.

Furthermore, nemo vos seducat: let no one deceive you. The Apostles only pull out that line (or cognates like “Be ye not deceived” etc) when there’s something huge on the line. And when someone had been trying to do that very deception. In this case again, as noted yesterday, we had people saying sex was not important for it was the flesh and not the spirit that was thereby polluted.

But in the Gospel the soul and the body are one: they will be reunited on the last day either for eternal life, or for hell. Be not deceived: what we do in the body bears fruit in the soul and what the soul does bears fruit in the body. 

Let no one deceive you – no one including Amy Grant:

I have decided,I’m gonna live like a believer,Turn my back on the deceiver,I’m gonna live what I believe.
I have decided,Being good is just a fable,I just can’t ’cause I’m not able.I’m gonna leave it to the Lord.
There’s a wealth of things that I profess,I said that I believed,But deep inside I never changed;I guess I’d been deceived.
‘Cause a voice inside kept telling me,That I’d change by and by,But the Spirit made it clear to me,That kind of life’s a lie.
I have decided,I’m gonna live like a believer,Turn my back on the deciver,I’m gonna live what I believe.
I have decided,Being good is just a fable,I just can’t ’cause I’m not able.I’m gonna leave it to the Lord.
So forget the game of being good,And your self-righteous pain.‘Cause the only good inside your heartIs the good that Jesus brings.
And when the world begins to see you change,Don’t expect them to applaud.Just keep your eyes on Him and tell yourself,I’ve become the work of God.
I have decided,I’m gonna live like a believer,Turn my back on the deceiver,I’m gonna live what I believe.

Cuz being Good is just a fable… we can take that to mean “I’m not going to get into heaven by being good.” 100% true without Jesus. Or – as it seems to me – we can read it as, “My being good has nothing to do with getting into heaven, I’m just going to leave that to God.” And that’s a lie from Satan.

We spend all our days fighting what we know to be the truth. Or, we can just give in. We can admit that “going it my own way” is not at all the right way to go. We can admit that where the Church Makes Me Feel Uncomfortable is where I and not the Church must change or we can imagine this has nothing to do with “being good” and everything to do with good feelings.

But St John, the “Mystic” or the “Theologian” or the “Divine”, the Apostle whom Jesus loved, the one that has visions and talks about love all the time, says we have to be doing righteousness. We must be doing the right things. We have to do it. We have to not go looking for another Christ (an Antichrist) but rather the one we have. The one we have calls us to “be perfect as our Father is perfect”, to “Go your way and sin no more”. Being Christian does not give us a free pass out of hell, nor does it give us a free pass out of being Godly. Instead it demands the latter and threatens the former: and more for us than for those who have never heard the Gospel. 

Like Peter, God does not ask us what we want to be called, or how we want to identify: God tells us who we are. He who is our Maker knows the way things work.

We are not like those who do not have the Gospel, or who have a partial Gospel: we have been given Sacramental Grace, the teachings of the Church, the Liturgy, the Tradition, the Holy Scriptures, the Saints, the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and the bodily and spiritual presence of God himself in the Holy Communion. We have been given Jerome, Giotto, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Mozart, Vivaldi, Byrd, Taverner. We have been given the Blessed Mother, herself. To whom much is given, of that same much will be expected.

We are about being good (and failing at it) we are about being holy (and failing at it): the harder we push, the less we will fail – and that by God’s grace. 

Non Solum Fides.


The Readings for the 3rd Day before the Nones of January:

Et omnis qui habet hanc spem in eo, sanctificat se, sicut et ille sanctus est.

And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.

On Sunday, Fr Joseph Illo preached an excellent sermon during which he said, “I am saved by faith, but I have a part to play: I have to get out of the way, to let God save me.” We are saved by faith. But we have a part to play in our salvation happening.

John says, everyone in this movement makes himself holy as he (Jesus) is holy. If you think this is only a matter of saying the right thing, you’re quite wrong. 

John was dealing with a class of heretics who (among other things) said that sex didn’t matter because the body was unimportant. All that was needed was for the soul to get right with God. To this John replies that we must be holy as Jesus is holy, using a Greek word translated as holy that also specifically puts forward the implication of ritual, sexual purity. How many times have you heard that Jesus freed us from concerns about sex and purity? Quite the reverse. 

We are saved by faith. But we have a part to play in our salvation happening. In the context not of just today’s reading, but of the whole passage (as we saw yesterday) John names those who disdain this purity “Antichrist”. I’ve heard some strong words leveled at Jack Spong, Nancy Pelosi, The Jesus Seminar, and My Favorite Martin, but Antichrist is a new one for me. We don’t like to judge folks… Jesus promised that job to the Apostles though: like John. 

I’ve spent a lot of time working to keep God from saving me: and I’ve used modern misconceptions of sex to to do it most, but also some drugs and rock and roll. It’s not enough to recognize we’re under the judgement of God. We have to actively come out of Babylon, to stop doing what we were doing. Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…” but he will not rudely rip them from our hands. The tighter we hold on the more he says, “let me help with that…”

But if we don’t let go, if we don’t get out of the way, Jesus is not going to knock us over and drag us off to salvation.

We have a job to do, work to perform. We have to let God save us. To do that we have to get ourselves out of the way. The music is already playing: all we need do is dance to God’s lead.

Oooo. Scaaaary.


The Readings for the 4th Day before the Nones of January:

Hæc scripsi vobis de his, qui seducant vos.
I write you these things about those who would deceive you. 
John, writing in the mid 70s (ish) of the 1st Century is already aware of Antichrist and those who would deceive Christians out of their faith. Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ is the Antichrist.
Now, I don’t mean horror movies or Satan Incarnate. Antichrist means “instead of” or “another” Christ. Yes, “Against” is implied. But it’s more subtle. Whoever denies Jesus is the Messiah is, essentially, setting himself up as that anointed of God instead of Jesus. How is this? The Church says Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, who came into the world to save sinners. If I say he is not that, that is not simply another opinion on the matter. I are presuming to judge the man that the Church says is God, incarnate in the flesh, born of a virgin, fulfilling all prophecies, destroying all divisions, ending sin. And I am judging that to be not so. Since the Church is describing the Truth: I’m saying I know better. There is only one person who could know better: the Christ.
This spirit is already in the world.
Yes, it is always prompted by Satan, but it is present even in the most “innocent” of conversations: yes, I’m Catholic, but I believe in the right to abortion. Or you should get a divorce. We’re Catholics, but you can do whatever you want. Vatican II says I can make up my own mind.
Antichrist come into the world.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. 
Those “you” words are plural. So, “What the Church has heard from the Beginning should remain in the Church”. Even if your RCIA instructor tended to the wonky extremes of the liberal or conservative sides, always refer back to what the Church has heard from the beginning. Anything else is not some B-horror-movie monster, but “another Christ”.  And, really: that is the same thing.

Cranberry Celebration Copycat Recipe

If you live near a Kroger’s or a King Sooper (that’s in Colorado) then you know what is this thing called Cranberry Celebration.

My parents love it so much that they will do a day trip up to that College Town that has neither Alabama, nor Georgia, nor even Georgia Tech in it, just to clean out the case at the Tiger Town Kroger’s. They freeze it and hope it will last. Look: it is good. It’s way better than that Orange Cranberry thing we all did in the 70s and hands down tops out the Cran Raspberry thing we discovered in the 80s.

Researching on the internet, though, there’s a lot of people out there writing recipes that clearly want to be in the 70s or 80s all over again. There’s no gelatin in this, nor added pectin. There is no Jello. There is no Raspberry. Also, people: Canned Cranberries? Ew.

So I did it myself. Mom, Dad, here’s the recipe for Cranberry Celebration that I figured out while I was with y’all this Fall… but I didn’t get to test it until today.

  • 1 Bag of Cranberries (the smaller one…)
  • 12 oz ginger beer (not Verners or Canada Dry.. I mean the good stuff. Like… Bundaberg)
  • 1 14oz can of Crushed Pineapple (only in pineapple juice. NO SYRUP) Drained, reserve the juice.
  • Enough Walnuts to make 1 Cup whizzed up.
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • EXTRA fine White sugar to taste after prep (not powdered, tho…)
  1. Put the cranberries in a saucepan, reserve about 1/3 a cup for whizzing later
  2. Pour all the ginger beer in the saucepan and set the heart on low.
  3. Cover. Wait. As the heat rises, the cranberries will begin to pop, releasing pectin into the juice, this will begin to thicken up nicely.
  4. When they start to pop, go ahead and stir in the brown sugar. This will come to a boil, that’s fine, just stir. Keep it at a low boil/high simmer for 20 mins.
  5. In a chopper/food processor whiz up the cranberries and the nuts. Yes, these cranberries are raw and they are going in the mix. It will help with the texture.
  6. When the stuff has simmered for twenty mins, stir in the nuts and berries and drained pineapple.
  7. Taste it. Add white sugar if needed. Some berries are more tart. Some less.
  8. Add some pineapple juice if it’s needed – drink the rest.
  9. Put it in the ridge overnight. Boom.
  10. Celebrate. Celebrate. Dance to the Music.

I used this as a stuffing in a pork roast. THAT’ll make you celebrate, let me tell you. Yes that is a large bit of pork in the picture, because someone forgot to take a picture before the Putting Away commenced.

Contemplata Aliis Tradere


The Readings for the 8va Day of Christmas, 
The Solemnity of the Mother of God:

Maria autem conservabat omnia verba hæc, conferens in corde suo.
But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

How does Luke know this? Because Mary told him…

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote that “Vita contemplativa simpliciter est melior quam activa quae occupatur circa corporales actus, sed vita activa secundum quam aliquis praedicando et docendo contemplata aliis tradit, est perfectior quam vita quae solum contemplatur, quia talis vita praesupponit abundantiam contemplationis. Et ideo Christus talem vitam elegit” (Summa Theologiae, III, Q. 40, A. 1, Ad 2). A translation is: “the contemplative life is, absolutely speaking, more perfect than the active life, because the latter is taken up with bodily actions: yet that form of active life in which a man, by preaching and teaching, delivers to others the fruits of his contemplation, is more perfect than the life that stops at contemplation, because such a life is built on an abundance of contemplation, and consequently such was the life chosen by Christ.” (Quote the Wiki)

I’m not going to dare an essay on the Dominican contemplative tradition here, but only note that if St Thomas is correct about Jesus choice of life, then Jesus learned it from his mother.

It is traditional on New Year’s Day (or maybe last night) for Mother Church to sing a Te Deum for all of Last Year.

Yesterday at Mass I heard a Latin Te Deum sung after Mass in this way and I was thinking of all the things that God has blessed me with in 2017.  And as I contemplatively tap danced around the year thinking of this event or that, it finally dawned on me that I was doing this in the Catholic Church! I thank God daily that it is so. Here I have found a family and it is the family I would have chosen.

For what will you sing Te Deum ?

Te Deum laudámus: te Dominum confitémur.
Te ætérnum Patrem omnis terra venerátur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi cæli et univérsae potestátes.
Tibi Chérubim et Séraphim incessábili voce proclámant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt cæli et terra majestátis glóriæ tuæ.
Te gloriósus Apostolórum chorus;
Te Prophetárum laudábilis númerus;
Te Mártyrum candidátus laudat exércitus.
Te per orbem terrárum sancta confitétur Ecclésia:
Patrem imménsæ majestátis;
Venerándum tuum verum et únicum Fílium;
Sanctum quoque Paráclitum Spíritum.
Tu Rex glóriæ, Christe.
Tu Patris sempitérnus es Fílius.
Tu ad liberándum susceptúrus hóminem, non horruísti Vírginis úterum.
Tu, devícto mortis acúleo,
    aperuísti credéntibus regna cælórum.
Tu ad déxteram Dei sedes, in glória Patris.
Judex créderis esse ventúrus.
Te ergo quǽsumus, tuis fámulis súbveni,
    quos pretióso sánguine redemísti.
Ætérna fac cum sanctis tuis in glória numerári.

[added later, mainly from Psalm verses:]
Salvum fac pópulum tuum, Dómine, et bénedic hæreditáti tuæ.
Et rege eos, et extólle illos usque in ætérnum.
Per síngulos dies benedícimus te.
Et laudámus nomen tuum in sǽculum, et in sǽculum sǽculi.
Dignáre, Dómine, die isto sine peccáto nos custodíre.
Miserére nostri, Dómine, miserére nostri.
Fiat misericórdia tua, Dómine, super nos, quemádmodum sperávimus in te.

In te, Dómine, sperávi: non confúndar in ætérnum.

We praise thee, O God : we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee : the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud : the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim : continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy : Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty : of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles : praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets : praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs : praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world : doth acknowledge thee;
The Father : of an infinite Majesty;
Thine honourable, true : and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost : the Comforter.
Thou art the King of Glory : O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son : of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man : thou didst not abhor the Virgin’s womb.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death :
    thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God : in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come : to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants :
    whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints : in glory everlasting.
O Lord, save thy people : and bless thine heritage.
Govern them : and lift them up for ever.
Day by day : we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name : ever world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord : to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us : have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us : as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted : let me never be confounded.

Mom said I could help.


The Readings for the Holy Family, Sunday within the 8va of Christmas:

Puer autem crescebat, et confortabatur plenus sapientia: et gratia Dei erat in illo.

The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Once again we find this scary concept that God is growing up.

This is the God that loves us.
That came to be one of us:
Not just with us
One of us.

How can God empty himself so deeply, so fully?

This is a divine mystery.

Yet it stands not alone: for God the Father emptied himself fully in the Son, and the Son created all of life, pouring himself out on the Universe.

And when we rejected his love,
He poured himself out yet more
Becoming infinitely small.
The smallest life humanly known
A cell.
Fully human, fully divine, fully alive.
The Conception of Divinity
The Immaculate Virgin as Ark of the Covenant
Then two cells.
Millions and millions
And Jesus.
Born of his Mother,
Held in Joseph’s arms.

And we ourselves can know this outpouring best
can mirror this emptying
By doing it.

The Letter to Diognetus says, “And if you love Him, you will be an imitator of His kindness. And do not wonder that a man may become an imitator of God. He can, if he is willing. For it is not by ruling over his neighbours, or by seeking to hold the supremacy over those that are weaker, or by being rich, and showing violence towards those that are inferior, that happiness is found; nor can any one by these things become an imitator of God. But these things do not at all constitute His majesty. On the contrary he who takes upon himself the burden of his neighbour; he who, in whatsoever respect he may be superior, is ready to benefit another who is deficient; he who, whatsoever things he has received from God, by distributing these to the needy, becomes a god to those who receive [his benefits]: he is an imitator of God. Then thou shalt see, while still on earth, that God in the heavens rules over [the universe].

This is only possible, though,
In God’s family: the Church
And today, we celebrate the beginning of that family
In Nazareth.

All is sacrifice, 
All is emptying out
And all is Joy.

God grows up.
What is this mystery?

What is the miracle that is sung at Christmas?

That God wets the bed.

That Joseph had to get out of bed in the wee hours (no pun intended, maybe)
To change bedding
To sing the child to sleep
To wonder about waiting for sleep to find him again
Wondering what had happened.

And Mary nursing the child
Life flowing from her breast
to Life himself.

And baby poo stinks.

And the first summer when there were birds
and the child – who made them –
Saw them finally as his eyes
learned to see
other things than Mom’s face
and Not the Mommy

And there was a thing
hidden in the room
that only babies can see
in the dark
and it is scary
and did Joseph have to keep a light?

Or were the stars enough?

Go and help your father.
Me? Really?
This was the first time I’d been asked to help
This was important.

What are you doing here?
Mom said I should help.
Oh. Get down here and help then…

The image ends there…. but God has done so.

And loves us the more for it
And we him.

Merry Christmas

I want that. No. Wait.


The Readings for the 6th Day in the 8va of Christmas:

Et mundus transit, et concupiscentia ejus
And the world passeth away, and the concupiscence thereof

I’m late in posting I know. Actually I wasn’t going to make a post today, then I didn’t make one yesterday either. But when these readings came up at Mass this morning, I was like wait… there’s something there, in the phrase “the world passeth away”.  

We think of “passing away” like “”yes, the world will end”.  Yet for all that we might want to see the Apostles waiting for the world to end next week, it’s throw away lines like this one that make me feel they were on to something seriously important and timely. The Greek word used for “passing” παράγω parago, is the same word used to describe Jesus passing by the tax collector’s station or the crowd blowing past blind Bartimaeus. This is the word that Paul would have used to describe a car passing him on the freeway into Thessaloniki. 

And I thought of my favourite Latin Motto: stat crux dum volvitur orbis, the cross stands still while the world turns. 

The wold is just whizzing by, is it not? Perhaps more now than every before. And Christ on the Cross is the only still point in all of eternity.

The world is passing with his lusts. 

All the things that we want today, that we didn’t even know existed yesterday, that we will have forgotten tomorrow like toys on Christmas that are forgotten by the new year, this world passes by. I’ve enjoyed, over the last three decades, watching fashion pass from the gay world in to the straight world, be that shoe styles, popped collars, goatees, whatever. If it’s too gay this year, it will be all Joe the Plumber next year. But the gays will have moved on to a new thing. Tech is this way as well. What we didn’t even imagine as possible last month is all the rage now. And then tomorrow something new will come along. 

The world just passes by.

And the cross is the center of stillness.

So, yes, the world will end at some point. But that’s not why Paul wants us to not be attached to it. This present-tense verb is ongoing. The world and all its lust whizzes along. We get torn away, tossed about on winds of doctrine. 

We are still in the center: if we cling to the cross.

A Bible Study with Godwin’s Law


The Readings for the Feast of the Holy Innocents:

Si dixerimus quoniam societatem habemus cum eo, et in tenebris ambulamus, mentimur, et veritatem non facimus.
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.

I’m reading (or listening to, rather) Archbishop Chaput’s Strangers in a Strange Land and I’ll do a full review when I’m done, but tonight, just before writing this…  there’s a portion of the book where the Author discusses M. Scott Peck’s The People of the Lie. Without getting too deep into the chapter, Peck’s point (or, rather, my take on Chaput’s take on Peck’s point) is that as we become used to telling lies, and lies to cover lies, and lies to justify lies, and lies to get by, and lies to get ahead, and lies to just get through the day, we become inured to this constant stream of lies. All parts of our culture are based on it and we cave in. We lose touch with the concept of truth, with reality, we just keep going deeper into lies.

The Holy Innocents are the result of a culture of lies.

Herod was known for his tantrums, his extravagances, and his insanity. It’s said that when he died he left orders to have pious elders killed so that people would at least seem to be in mourning for him.

Why did no one say stop when he gave the order to slaughter the babies of Bethlehem? Everyone was too tied up in their power games, in keeping clear of the king’s sword, in staying out of prison, that they decided – long before the Bethlehem orders came through – to just go along with it all. Sooner or later he’d be gone and one could live one’s life in peace. Right. Even the Magi got caught at first, giving out too many bits of info because they thought Herod was a pious Jew. Yes, killing the babies was bad, but Herod didn’t hold all the swords alone.

Why did no one stop Hitler? This question was Reagan’s bogeyman. Reagan imagined a nation of “Good Germans” who were only misled by the Madman. But everyone wasn’t misled: the Madman was elected, freely, three times before he became a dictator. People knew what they were doing. Yes, killing Gypsies, Gays, Jews, Communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholics, and women who slept with any of these… all bad. But Hitler had more than a little help. 

The icon above gets used as a symbol for the problem of Abortion in our country, and in the west in general. But abortion is only the capital sin, right? It’s not the root. A lot ot little sins lead up to it: unrestrained sexual passion, attempting to justify some or another form of illicit sexual activity, selfishness, greed, laziness, lust. What about institutionalized poverty, people saying you should get an abortion, what about experts, family members, and even counselors pushing the mother this way? Why ever ignore all that and focus on the thing at the end of this chain? Yes, killing the baby is bad, but the bad started a long time before.

Peck says our biggest lie that we tell to ourselves, over and over, is “I’m doing the right thing here” even when we know it’s a lie. I’ve wrestled with this from the time I was 12 and Mom told me to pretend to be 10 so I could get an half-priced ticket on an airline. It’s right to oney Mom, right? I wrestled with it working in retail when people would walk up to me and, to my face, tell a lie and ask for money back. One lady called from LA and said her friends all got free service on our site and she wanted it too. I said we don’t have free service. And she said, “Are you calling my friends liars? They are sitting here with me.” And I said, “Yes”. She hung up. We are an amazing people.

We have a liar for a president – although he’s not the first, he certainly is very blatant about it.  We have politicians who lie and we insist that “my side” is telling the truth but the other side is always lying. We have Catholics and Orthodox who can’t tolerate a bad thing being said about their right wing politics so they brand everyone else as sexual and political deviants – including their own religious leaders. We have gobbledygook spouted as gospel truth by clergy and professional websites.

We have a culture of lies. When we lie, it may not hurt, it may not bother anyone: but our soul dies a little. Teacher says every time I tell a lie a baby dies. And, quite possibly, Rachel will weep at the end for our actions too.

The Golden Apples of the Sun…


The Readings for St John’s Day:

Quod fuit ab initio, quod audivimus, quod vidimus oculis nostris, quod perspeximus, et manus nostræ contrectaverunt de verbo vitæ: annuntiamus vobis.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life: we declare unto you.

John’s talking in Code here about Jesus. Jesus is the Word of Life that John has seen, heard, and touched. Our faith is based on empirical evidence. John, sitting at home with the Theotokos (“Son, behold your mother…”) would have known so much more. from his own experience than so many others. And he never stopped teaching and proclaiming. He never stopped declaring unto anyone that would listen. Tradition says he was the last one left alive (and so started as the youngest of all of them). And that he taught St Ignatius of Antioch and St Polycarp of Smyrna. 

At which point should someone who made it all up just fess up? I’m sure if the last living apostle had said, “There was no resurrection” that would have been the end of all these shenanigans. If you die for something, certainly you must think it worth dying for. But if you grow old, wither, and just fade away, it must be a great mystery indeed: if it is worth living for.
This is called the White Martyrdom: to die for a faith well lived, to end one’s life in the arms of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, peacefully falling asleep, wandering far in visionquest from where were were born, maybe, but each day coming so much closer to home.

We – you and I both – can be in our life this most beloved disciple of the Lord.  John’s Martyrdom of the daily grind is available for all of us. We can know Jesus, touch him with our hands, see him with our eyes, hear his teaching, take care of his mother, and in the end, just quietly die.

The action of the Mass is a door through which we are instantly transported to heaven if we only have the eyes and heart to see. We may never have visions of the Lamb of God moving quietly through the Lampstands if we only attend Liturgical Dancing masses, the Novus Ordo has the right visuals when done properly. The Divine Liturgy of the East is close (if you could see behind the iconstasis), and so also the Extraordinary Form, the Latin Mass. 

Jesus is in our midst. He was born a child and reigns as King. You don’t have to “imagine” it. You don’t need to “pretend”. It’s real. John – and his entire generation – gave their life for the truth of it. Then so did Ignatius and Polycarp, and much of their generation. And after them thousands of others. It’s here for you and for me, for all of us to enter. There is someone calling our name from among the Lampstands, calling us to follow.

All you have to do is see Jesus once and like Wandering Aengus, you will be drawn forward forever until you can fall in love for all of eternity.

Come, see him, hear him, touch him, love him. Care for his mother and grow old and die to know the Truth.

You will know the Truth and He will set you free.

Pass me a stone…


The Readings for St Stephen’s Day:

Cavete autem ab hominibus. Tradent enim vos in conciliis, et in synagogis suis flagellabunt vos:  et ad præsides, et ad reges ducemini propter me in testimonium illis, et gentibus.
Beware of men. For they will deliver you up in councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And you shall be brought before governors, and before kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.

This week, to celebrate Christmas, we have the feasts of a whole bunch of martyrs:

  • 26 Dec – St Stephen, who was killed by nonbelievers for his faith.
  • 27 Dec – St John, who wasn’t killed but was imprisoned and harassed by nonbelievers for his faith all his adult life.
  • 28 Dec – The Holy Innocents who were slain by nonbelievers for being born too close to Jesus.
  • 29 Dec – St Thomas Becket who was slain by supposed believers for his defense of the Church.

There’s a progression here. The Church’s calendar has always been about teaching – which is why the feasts from 26-28 do not change. (The feast on the 29th came later and is of a lower rank but it expands the pattern.)

  • St Stephen, an adult, was slain for confessing his faith in public.
  • St John, an adult, confessed his faith, but was only a social outcast – they hoped he’d cave in.
  • The Holy Innocents had no faith, but the Church counts them as her first harvest of Martyrs because they were slain for Jesus.
  • St Thomas was slain by other folks claiming to be Christian because he was willing to stand up to the political powers which they supported.

Here’s the progression:

The faith annoys people in the world and, for a few hundred years, Christians got killed. It was not a solid killing spree though: sometimes Christians were just the freaky folks that normal people had to put up with. Julian the Apostate cemented the pattern that has held forever: Stalin was still doing it last century and Castro was doing it even in this Century. You kill some, oppress the rest – people give up after awhile. Much easier to buy bread when you don’t have to worry about the religion of the baker. In some places the killing gets so great that even the faithless get caught up in the mess. The various wars in various parts of the world that are fought over “religion” end up killing people in the name of religion that might otherwise be faith-neutral. ISIS has slain people who were not Christian who have been named Martyrs by the Copts. Today if you are public about your faith you have to say “yes, but not that kind of Christian” so often. People who pray in public can be mistaken for Muslims by some or for Trumpists by others. How ironic, that? There may be no killing, but there is social ostracization. People of faith can be forced to bake cakes for the Queen of Heaven (see Jeremiah 7:18), but professional musicians and sports teams can break contracts in states with laws they don’t like – and be cheered on.

Yet, I fear the Becket phase is coming.

In the Becket Phase, people who claim to be Christians – but are really only politicians – will kill off the faithful. People who are one sort of Christian will easily hate others and will turn them in. Here, many might expect the liberal all inclusive sort to say “Yes, but not that kind of Christian…” as they point with baseball bats of political correctness at people in Pro-life Marches or those opposed to making up new rules for marriage, sex, or human identity. I don’t find that impossible, but I think in this country, at this time, we’re more likely to see people who support racism in the name of their politicised faith turn against people who support justice in the name of Catholicism, if the former continues to evolve into the law of the land, the latter (including many bishops) will become targets.

In the Stephen Phase, we would have to journey to the Middle East as evangelists to be killed – or, we could sit tight in our protected churches and wait for someone to come find us. Statistically, though, the second case will fit better into the Becket phase described above. We’re more likely to be shot by a conservative in this country than by a Muslim.

So there we are. I don’t have much happiness to share in these feasts of martyrs other than we’re all supposed to be martyrs and it helps if there are those out there who want to help us along the path.