Happy Epiphany (U.S.)


13 days of Christmas, just to make America great.

why, we might ask, did the Magi alone see the star? Perhaps because few people raised their eyes to heaven. We often make do with looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money and a bit of entertainment. I wonder if we still know how to look up at the sky. Do we know how to dream, to long for God, to expect the newness he brings, or do we let ourselves be swept along by life, like dry branches before the wind? The Magi were not content with just getting by, with keeping afloat. They understood that to truly live, we need a lofty goal and we need to keep looking up.

~Pope Francis, Homily for Epiphany 

Happy Epiphany! (In most of the world)


Merry 12th Day of Christmas!


Wiki call this a Russian icon? Doesn't fit my notion of iconography, but I like the image.  The bottom panel is Egyptian idols crashing as the infant Jesus passes.

Merry 11th Day of Christmas!

Image credit: Nativity of Christ, Daniel Mitsui, used with permission

The Gospel goes on to say that Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. What were these things? They were joys and sorrows. On the one hand, the birth of Jesus, the love of Joseph, the visit of the shepherds, that radiant night. But on the other, an uncertain future, homelessness “because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7), the desolation of rejection, the disappointment of having to give birth to Jesus in a stable. Hopes and worries, light and darkness: all these things dwelt in the heart of Mary. What did she do? She pondered them, that is to say she dwelt on them, with God, in her heart. She held nothing back; she locked nothing within out of self-pity or resentment. Instead, she gave everything over to God. That is how she “kept” those things. We “keep” things when we hand them over: by not letting our lives become prey to fear, distress or superstition, by not closing our hearts or trying to forget, but by turning everything into a dialogue with God. God, who keeps us in his heart, then comes to dwell in our lives.
These, then, are the secrets of the Mother of God: silently treasuring all things and bringing them to God. And this took place, the Gospel concludes, in her heart. The heart makes us look to the core of the person, his or her affections and life. At the beginning of the year, we too, as Christians on our pilgrim way, feel the need to set out anew from the centre, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter. Today, we have before us the point of departure: the Mother of God. For Mary is what God wants us to be, what he wants his Church to be: a Mother who is tender and lowly, poor in material goods and rich in love, free of sin and united to Jesus, keeping God in our hearts and our neighbour in our lives. To set out anew, let us look to our Mother. In her heart beats the heart of the Church. Today’s feast tells us that if we want to go forward, we need to turn back: to begin anew from the crib, from the Mother who holds God in her arms.

~Pope Francis, Homily for January 1

Merry 10th Day of Christmas!


Only one thing is said about the Mother of God: “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). She kept them. She simply kept; Mary does not speak. The Gospel does not report a single word of hers in the entire account of Christmas. Here too, the Mother is one with her Son: Jesus is an “infant”, a child “unable to speak”. The Word of God, who “long ago spoke in many and various ways” (Heb 1:1), now, in the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), is silent. The God before whom all fall silent is himself a speechless child. His Majesty is without words; his mystery of love is revealed in lowliness. This silence and lowliness is the language of his kingship. His Mother joins her Son and keeps these things in silence.
That silence tells us that, if we would “keep” ourselves, we need silence. We need to remain silent as we gaze upon the crib. Pondering the crib, we discover anew that we are loved; we savour the real meaning of life. As we look on in silence, we let Jesus speak to our heart. His lowliness lays low our pride; his poverty challenges our outward display; his tender love touches our hardened hearts. To set aside a moment of silence each day to be with God is to “keep” our soul; it is to “keep” our freedom from being corroded by the banality of consumerism, the blare of commercials, the stream of empty words and the overpowering waves of empty chatter and loud shouting.

~Pope Francis, Homily for January 1

Merry 9th Day of Christmas


In his Mother, the God of heaven, the infinite God, made himself small, he became matter, not only to be with us but also to be like us. This is the miracle, the great novelty! Man is no longer alone; no more an orphan, but forever a child. The year opens with this novelty. And we proclaim it by saying: Mother of God! Ours is the joy of knowing that our solitude has ended. It is the beauty of knowing that we are beloved children, of knowing that this childhood of ours can never be taken away from us. It is to see a reflection of ourselves in the frail and infant God resting in his mother’s arms, and to realize that humanity is precious and sacred to the Lord. Henceforth, to serve human life is to serve God. All life, from life in the mother’s womb to that of the elderly, the suffering and the sick, and to that of the troublesome and even repellent, is to be welcomed, loved and helped.

Books Read, 2017

This post is purely for the external memory drive.

Arcanum Divinae
Casti Connubi
Dives in Misericordia
Familiaris Consortio
Letter to Families
Redemptor Hominis
Quas Primas

Professional & Devotional 
The Gospels & Psalms, various Epistles
Consoling the Heart of Christ
Good Profit
The Shadow of His Wings
The Spirit of Fr. Damien 

Book Club
Crossing to Safety 
Dear & Glorious Physician
The Idiot 
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Just Felt Like It 
Angle of Repose
Churchill's Trial
The Great Good Thing
Joan of Arc
Hillbilly Elegy
My Italian Bulldozer
The Spectator Bird

Romeo & Juliet
The Tempest
Twelfth Night

Notes to self: A good year, reading-wise, in the sense that I didn't read anything I didn't like, except for Metaxas' Luther, which was disappointing after I'd liked his Bonhoeffer so much. I thought Luther was self-indulgent, and Metaxas should have decreased while Luther increased.  But this was the year of the discovery of Wallace Stegner -- gorgeous prose-- and of being amused by Hitchhiker, which I've avoided for decades, sure that it would annoy me.  Read the bio of St. Damien because we were able to make a pilgrimage to Molokai. Re-read the marriage and family encyclicals in order to give shape to a project for work, and read the rest while on annual Spiritual Exercises -- my slow bid to catch up to the JP II encyclicals I've never read because they pre-date my entrance into the Church. Learned a tremendous amount from Good Profit, and Churchill's Trial was my favorite book of the year.

Merry 8th Day of Christmas, New Year's Day


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: Bl. Newman for the occasion:

As she was once on earth, and was personally the guardian of her Divine Child, as she carried Him in her womb, folded Him in her embrace, and suckled Him at her breast, so now, and to the latest hour of the Church, do her glories and the devotion paid her proclaim and define the right faith concerning Him as God and man. Every church which is dedicated to her, every altar which is raised under her invocation, every image which represents her, every litany in her praise, every Hail Mary for her continual memory, does but remind us that there was One who, though He was all-blessed from all eternity, yet for the sake of sinners, “did not shrink from the Virgin’s womb.” 
Thus she is the Turris Davidica, as the Church calls her, “the Tower of David”; the high and strong defence of the King of the true Israel; and hence the Church also addresses her in the Antiphon, as having “alone destroyed all heresies in the whole world.”And here, my brethren, a fresh thought opens upon us, which is naturally implied in what has been said. If the Deipara is to witness of Emmanuel, she must be necessarily more than the Deipara. For consider; a defence must be strong in order to be a defence. . . . 
It would not have sufficed, in order to bring out and impress on us the idea that God is man, had His Mother been an ordinary person. A mother without a home in the Church, without dignity, without gifts, would have been, as far as the defence of the Incarnation goes, no mother at all.She would not have remained in the memory, or the imagination of men. If she is to witness and remind the world that God became man, she must be on a high and eminent station for the purpose. She must be made to fill the mind, in order to suggest the lesson. When she once attracts our attention, then, and not till then, she begins to preach Jesus.

Happy New Year!

John Arderne, de arte phisicali a de cirurgia, England approx. 1425 (Stockholm, Royal Library, x 118)
Shamelessly pinched from the Discarding Images FB page

The medievals illustrated everything.