Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

We always begin the year with this Holy Day of Obligation and there is good reason for it. Sure Mary plays a role in the Christmas story but she sometimes get lost, since we’ve got Jesus and the shepherds, Joseph, animals, a little drummer boy, those kings all figure prominently in songs. Sure Mary is mentioned “the babe the son of Mary” but of the songs about Mary vary greatly. We have the Kingston Trio in Mary Mild singing about a child Jesus wanting to play at ball and making a bridge with the beams of the sun. Then we’ve got the song which is from Mary’s point of view, Breath of Heaven, this is a decent song from Amy Grant and is sort of like Michael Card’s Joseph’s Song which is kind of about being the parent of the Son of God. Finally we have the worst in my opinion Mary, Did You Know?, it has been covered by a whole bunch of artist, and the simple answer is that Mary learns of most of this in a vague since at the Presentation roughly forty days after the birth, when she meets Simeon “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35)

By turning towards Mary as we begin the year is a way for all of us to look towards someone to aspire to since Mary points us toward Jesus. The Theotokos is honored in Eastern Orthodox Church on December 26th as Father Alexander Schmemann, notes “the Church points to Mary as the one through whom the Incarnation was made possible. His humanity—concretely and historically—is the humanity He received from Mary. His body is, first of all, her body. His life is her life.” Honoring the mother and child at the birth is something that we should all do. Sure we all celebrate our birthday but we weren’t the only ones there, our birth partners, our mothers, are an important part of the event. Let us all remember our heavenly Mother this year and especially our own mothers on the date of our birth.

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Christmas

This is one of the bizarre things about Christmas. The whole secular world places the emphasis of the Holiday on the one day, but there are eleven more days of Christmas left to go. However all the radio stations which switched over to Christmas music back in November have gone back to their regular programming, Let us all try over this week to bring the joy and enthusiasm of Christmas Day last through the new Year, all the way to Epiphany. I’m sure you are going to see some sort of the meaning of the Twelve Days of Christmas, but it’s all about birds and laborers which in real life costs a whole lot.

Christmas isn’t over and we shouldn’t act like it is.

Christmas music

This year I started to listen to Christmas music pretty late, compared to previous years. However while I was looking up albums I found out that Elvis’ Christmas Album is the best selling Christmas Album of all time it’s gone Diamond. This is baffling to me sure Elvis sang Blue Christmas, but  don’t remember any other Christmas songs being sung by Elvis, perhaps I’ve  just never heard any sung by Elvis, I guess it is time to look it up on Spotify and listen to some Elvis for the Holiday. However that could just be that I grew up with a loop of Andy Williams, Peter Paul and Mary, Kingston Trio, John Fahey, The Vince Guaraldi Trio and A Very Special Christmas. As Dad has a reel to reel of Christmas that we’d put on every year, and we’d play the various tapes and eventually compact discs if we got tired but we hardly got tired of “The Christmas albums” on the reel to reel. Perhaps we need to add some Elvis to the digital collection for the future.

Holiday Crush

I can’t believe that we are already in the holiday crush Thanksgiving is in a week and Christmas will be following behind soon enough. It seems like only yesterday it was Halloween and now everyone is talking turkey and wondering about their potatoes/stuffing and all the rest of the menu. If you can all take some time to rest and reflect as we near this end of they year and the holiday extravaganza.  Sure it is nice to see old friends and family members but we also all need to remember to take some time for ourselves. I hope that everyone has a wonder filled holiday season.

Franciscan Crown: The Nativity of Jesus

This decade we turn the focus on the birth of Jesus once again we are following the order of the Joyful Mysteries but that will change soon enough. The Birth of Jesus is an important part of Mary’s life and our lives as well. We look at the birth of God here on earth as the ultimate sacrifice for all mankind. This event brings together the sacred and the common since God became man and links us together through Mary. It is a second creation story made whole by the events of Easter. This event has become such a secular occasion over the years, let us remind ourselves of the religious elements of Christmas. I hope that we can keep this in mind as we look toward the second coming.

The Journey of the Magi

The season of Christmas is finally over, we been through all twelve days of Christmas. This is a poem by Thomas Stearns Eliot about the Magi.

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For the journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Epiphany of the Lord

This week we celebrate the Epiphany and the readings are the same for all the years. We hear from the prophet Isaiah (60:1-6), Psalm 72, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (3:2-3a, 5-6) and Matthew’s Gospel (2:1-12).

The biggest thing to take from these readings is that Jesus came not just for the few but for all people. We have three kings coming from the East and they are among the first to come to recognize Jesus as prophet, priest and king. It is assumed that these people were not Jewish but they came none the less to pay homage to this newborn king. We need to be like the Magi who go out into the world searching for the newborn messiah, this king of the Jews. Let us go out into the world doing the same thing sharing the good news that salvation is for all people, echoing the words of the Psalm that all nations will adore the Lord.

News Roundup

Drones: This is the story that keep getting better, the FAA has a ban on drones in DC but they have recently decided to extend it to 30 miles. So the basic story is that if you have a drone in DC you need to get away from the city to actually use it.

Hoverboard: This is a funny story, a Catholic priest in the Philippines, made some news for riding a hoverboard at Mass. He has been suspended from his active role and admitted his mistake apologizing for the incident.

Craig Ferguson: Craig has a new show coming to the History Channel, from the brief promo it look sort of interesting and will perhaps make me want to watch the History Channel again. Since it has gotten horrible with the number of show about “everyday history” like Pawn Stars and American Pickers. However this show is a step to the direction the network should be taking.

The Feast of the Holy Family

This week our readings come from the first book of Samuel (1:20-22, 24-28), Psalm 84, the first letter of John (3:1-2, 21-24) and the Gospel of Luke (2:41-52), although there could also be readings from other places since all readings except for the Gospel might come from Year A may be used.

We hear about the family in all of the readings, and from the name of the week we can properly assume that family is a big deal this week. I always find it nice that the Sunday after Christmas is the Holy Family since we celebrate Jesus on Christmas and then expand it out to the whole family, Mary and Joseph a few day later. For so many of us Christmas is one of the few times where we gather with our larger extended families for any significant time and those other people we consider a part of our families. I hope that we can appreciate all of our families in whatever shape they come in, sure we know them the best but they in turn know us the best as well. They say that to master something you need to be with it for 10,000 hours and you are stuck with your family for life so they should all be masters at how to read situations and your moods etc.

The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus

I hope that you all have a blessed and Happy Christmas. This is a poem by the great Ogden Nash

In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn’t anybody’s joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.

In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn’t any Santa Claus.

Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying ‘Boo’ at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.
Yet people pardoned every sin,
And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
‘There isn’t any Santa Claus!’

Deploring how he did behave,
His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.

Like whooping cough, from child to child,
He sped to spread the rumor wild:
‘Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes
There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Slunk like a weasel of a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
‘There isn’t any, no there’s not!’

The children wept all Christmas eve
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.

He sprawled on his untidy bed,
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp-a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply alighting on the roof.
What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor.

What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees
With cries of ‘Don’t,’ and ‘Pretty Please.’
He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it!’
‘Jabez’ replied the angry saint,
‘It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!’

Said Jabez then with impudent vim,
‘Oh, yes there is, and I am him!
Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t’
And suddenly he found he wasn’t!
From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.

The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;
They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.