In Which The Drinking Age Takes Its Toll

An old mentor of mine, once a professor at Georgetown, sent around this piece about how Georgetown Pride is sponsoring a "self-care night" on campus, inviting people to recover from Trump's inauguration in a safe space with juice boxes, legos and coloring books.

A Georgetown grad responded that when he was in school, his safe space was a bar on M St.

See what our uncivilized drinking age has wrought? Grown men who turn to juice boxes in a crisis, instead of a nice scotch like proper people.

Hey, Sir Donkey, You Must Sing

Mom, who sings, used to put on an annual Christmas concert at the beginning of December. She started gathering carols all over the world in January, and by the end of the year, she and two or three other musician friends would put on their magnificent concert at the little Evangelical church in which I was raised.

A favorite number, which I believe recurred a couple of times, was Orientis Partibus, a song in praise of the donkey who carried the Holy Family (and, in the original, who also brought the wise men's gifts to Bethlehem). In performance, the part of the donkey was played by the crumhorn, which makes a funny bleating sound after each plea for the donkey to sing. Mom hammed it up, eventually pulling a carrot from behind her back to dangle in front of the "donkey," who, after so much initial recalcitrance, finally does "sing" a crumhorn solo.  It was funny and charming. A crowd-pleaser that's occasionally been reprised at a Christmas sing-along her friend throws each year. 

I didn't know there was a whole Feast of the Ass, with variation on the Mass dismissal, attached to the song, however.

At the end of Mass, the priest, having turned to the people, in lieu of saying the ‘Ite missa est‘, will bray thrice; the people instead of replying ‘Deo Gratias’ say, ‘Hinham, hinham, hinham.’ 
 The feast was yesterday, and Deacon Kandra tells the tale. Or should I say tail? 

Here's a traditional version, with lyrics close to the original Latin.  And here's a performance I like. 

Mom and her friends sang a variation in which each verse implored the donkey to sing.

Rising from his modest birth
Sir Donkey's known now for his worth
So handsome, and so very strong
He labor burdens all day long. 
Hey, Sir Donkey, you must sing
Merriment to us you bring!
Your reward is oats and hay
For taking Jesus on his way. 

Slow of foot was he to move
If standing still doth him behoove
He'd only move upon a prick
In his hind quarters with a stick 
Hey, Sir Donkey, you must sing
Merriment to us you bring!
Your reward is oats and hay
For taking Jesus on his way.

And...rats, I can't recall the culminating verse (s?), and google is no help. Maybe it will come to me.

Update:  Well, 2 out of 6 ain't bad? I can't believe how many verses had "floated away down a dark mythological river whose name begins with an L" as Billy Collins would say. Mom sent me this: 

Rising from his modest birth
Sir Donkey’s known now for his worth
So handsome and so very strong
He labored weary all day long.

Refrain:  Hey, Sir Donkey your must sing
Merriment to us you bring
Your reward is oats and hay
For taking Jesus on his way
Donkey great from Israel’ plain
To thee doth great strength appertain
As when you wandered from afar
Following Bethlehem’s royal star

He trots through towns o’re hill and dale
His back a seat for Mary frail
All manner of God’s creatures see
Sir Donkey transport for the three. 

LO, what large ears on his head
This donkey by St.Joseph led
He carried Mary and Jesu
Far from the soldiers who pursue.

Slow of foot is he to move
If standing still doth him behoove
He’d only more upon a prick
In his hindquarters with a stick

Carrot is now produced for last verse

Gleaming gold from Araby
Myrrh and incense all may see
Sir Donkey praise with one accord
Virtuous CONSORT of the Lord
Refrain:  Tune now played by crumhorn with embellishments and ornamentation

Habemus Pupem

Shamelessly pinched from here.

For whatever reason folks on the inter webs find this photo hilarious. Meh. However, among the many snarky captions Eldest Weed's friends came up with when he posted this, I did enjoy this one: 

Pictured: actual Episcopalian bishop

Happy Epiphany

Adoration of the Magi, Gentile da Fabriano, shamelessly pinched from here.

As one of the Church Fathers rightly noted, the Magi did not set out because they had seen the star, but they saw the star because they had already set out” (cf. Saint John Chrysostom). Their hearts were open to the horizon and they could see what the heavens were showing them, for they were guided by an inner restlessness. They were open to something new....Herod is unable to worship because he could not or would not change his own way of looking at things. He did not want to stop worshiping himself, believing that everything revolved around him. He was unable to worship, because his aim was to make others worship him. Nor could the priests worship, because although they had great knowledge, and knew the prophecies, they were not ready to make the journey or to change their ways. The Magi experienced longing; they were tired of the usual fare. They were all too familiar with, and weary of, the Herods of their own day. But there, in Bethlehem, was a promise of newness, of gratuitousness. There something new was taking place. The Magi were able to worship, because they had the courage to set out. And as they fell to their knees before the small, poor and vulnerable Infant, the unexpected and unknown Child of Bethlehem, they discovered the glory of God.

Merry Christmas 2016, Day 12


I hope you've enjoyed this collection of adoration of the Shepherds paintings (except for the one irresistible image of Mary reading in bed). Did you notice how many of them --even as they depict happy haste, joy, adoration-- contain references to the Passion as well?

The following does not follow the pattern of quoting from a papal homily, but it quotes from a papal homily, and is a beautiful reflection on this connection between the cradle and the cross, so I'm including it. Read the whole thing, as I thought it would be cheating to include the best part, the conclusion, in a pull quote. 

Coming to: without doubt an infant’s smile is a joy shared with another person and inherently social. It makes a demand on us to respond with joy in a like smile – and we do.
This transcendence-in-immanence, which the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas recognized in the human face, is seen first in a baby’s smile. Imagine then the smile of the infant Christ, expressing joy that a God-man has come into the world.
Our Lord likened his Passion to a child’s birth in that verse from the Gospel of John. Let’s do the same. For many saints, their last act as well as their first was to smile. Did the saints’ Lord and Pattern, then, smile on the Cross? He must have smiled, even in his suffering, when he looked upon Mary and said to John, “Behold, your mother.”
St. Thomas Aquinas connects this word on the cross to the wedding feast at Cana: “Before, when the Mother of Jesus said, ‘They have no wine,’ (2:3), he replied, ‘O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come,’ that is, the hour of my passion, when I will suffer by means of what I have received from you, my human nature. But when that hour comes I will acknowledge you. And now that the hour has come, he does acknowledge his mother.”
Since “there is a direct thread joining the manger and the cross,” as Pope Francis said in his Christmas homily, this word on the cross connects to Bethlehem too. Through Mary’s eyes. Good disciple that she was, she may have remembered her son’s teaching and looked up at the Cross as a kind of childbirth.

Merry Christmas 2016, Day 11

Bernardino Pinturicchio, Adoration of the Christ Child with St. Jerome (in Sta Maria del Popolo)

What St Luke wrote in the Gospel about the birth of the Lord Jesus has been translated into countless songs and works of literature; these make up the rich tradition inspired by Christmas. We bring this tradition with us when we come to Midnight Mass, also called the “Mass of the Shepherds”. At this hour, Bishops and priests throughout the world join me, the Bishop of Rome, in celebrating this Mass. In every place liturgical and extra-liturgical songs are proclaiming the joy of the Lord’s birth. The angel says: Be not afraid, rejoice! The birth of a human being is always a source of great rejoicing (cf. Jn 16:21). What great joy then must the birth of the God-Man bring! 

~Pope St. John Paul II, Homily for Midnight Mass, 1996

particularly like this homily because he uses a Polish Christmas carol throughout -- and I remember him spontaneously singing what I think is this same carol to us at the Mass in Central Park in New York on the feast of the Holy Rosary a year earlier. He had a wonderful voice and so evidently enjoyed being with us.

Merry Christmas 2016, Day 10

Juan Ribalta, Adoration of the Shepherds (click to enlarge).

The Fathers of the Church, in their Greek translation of the Old Testament, found a passage from the prophet Isaiah that Paul also quotes in order to show how God’s new ways had already been foretold in the Old Testament. There we read: "God made his Word short, he abbreviated it" (Is 10:23; Rom 9:28). The Fathers interpreted this in two ways. The Son himself is the Word, the Logos; the eternal Word became small – small enough to fit into a manger. He became a child, so that the Word could be grasped by us. In this way God teaches us to love the little ones. In this way he teaches us to love the weak. In this way he teaches us respect for children. The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn. Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved. In all of these it is the Child of Bethlehem who is crying out to us; it is the God who has become small who appeals to us. Let us pray this night that the brightness of God’s love may enfold all these children. Let us ask God to help us do our part so that the dignity of children may be respected. May they all experience the light of love, which mankind needs so much more than the material necessities of life.
And so we come to the second meaning that the Fathers saw in the phrase: "God made his Word short". The Word which God speaks to us in Sacred Scripture had become long in the course of the centuries. It became long and complex, not just for the simple and unlettered, but even more so for those versed in Sacred Scripture, for the experts who evidently became entangled in details and in particular problems, almost to the extent of losing an overall perspective. Jesus "abbreviated" the Word – he showed us once more its deeper simplicity and unity. Everything taught by the Law and the Prophets is summed up – he says – in the command: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22:37-40). This is everything – the whole faith is contained in this one act of love which embraces God and humanity.

~Benedict XVI, Homily for Midnight Mass 2006