Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Rosary Army Soldier Called to Glory

Rosary Army Soldier Joyce Malawey, whose screen-name was "Philomena", passed away last night.

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord,
and let perpetual Light shine upon her.
May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Bright Week hymn

by St. Hippolytus of Rome:

It is Pascha; the Pascha of the Lord,
O You, Who are truly all in all!
The joy, the honor, the food and the delight of every creature;
Through You the shadows of death have fled away,
And life is given to all,
The gates of heaven are flung open.
God becomes man
and man is raised up to the likeness of God.

O divine Pascha!
O Pascha, light of new splendor,
the lamps of our souls will no more burn out.
The flame of grace,
divine and spiritual,
burns in the body and soul,
nourished by the resurrection of Christ.

We beg You, O Christ, Lord God,
eternal king of the spiritual world,
stretch out Your protecting hands
over Your holy Church
and over Your holy people;
defend them, keep them, preserve them.

Raise up Your standard over us
and grant that we may sing with Moses
the song of victory,
for Yours is the glory and the power for all eternity!
Amen.

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for true? yes, for true!

He is truly risen!

Yes He is
We have seen Him

I thought He was the gardener at first, but then He called me by my name and I recognised Him

When I went to anoint His body God's messenger told me He'd meet us in Galilee

The two of us were truly dejected and talked Scripture with Him on the road, and when we stopped for supper we recognised Him in the breaking of the bread

The bunch of us had locked ourselves in, we didn't want to get arrested, and He came right in to see us, right through the locked door

It was definitely Him we recognised Him we know His voice the wounds are still there and He lives He really does

He met us at the lakeshore and cooked us breakfast after our long night fishing

We know His voice the wounds are there it's definitely Him and He lives!
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Sunday, April 16, 2006

He is risen indeed!

Rejoice, heavenly powers!
Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!

Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!

Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Saviour shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

My dearest friends,
standing with me in this holy light,
join me in asking God for mercy,
that he may give his unworthy minister grace to sing his Easter praises.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slavery
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night
when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?

Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O Happy fault,
O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says:
"The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night
dispels all evil,
washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred,
brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed
when heaven is wedded to earth
and men and women are reconciled with God!

Therefore, heavenly Father,
in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise,
your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.

Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all humankind,
your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

We have our invitation

courtesy of St. John Chrysostom:

If any man be devout and loveth God,
Let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast!
If any man be a wise servant,
Let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord.

If any have laboured long in fasting,
Let him how receive his recompense.
If any have wrought from the first hour,
Let him today receive his just reward.
If any have come at the third hour,
Let him with thankfulness keep the feast.
If any have arrived at the sixth hour,
Let him have no misgivings;
Because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore.
If any have delayed until the ninth hour,
Let him draw near, fearing nothing.
And if any have tarried even until the eleventh hour,
Let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness.

For the Lord, who is jealous of his honour,
Will accept the last even as the first.
He giveth rest unto him who cometh at the eleventh hour,
Even as unto him who hath wrought from the first hour.
And He showeth mercy upon the last,
And careth for the first;
And to the one He giveth,
And upon the other He bestoweth gifts.
And He both accepteth the deeds,
And welcometh the intention,
And honoureth the acts and praises the offering.

Wherefore, enter ye all into the joy of your Lord;
Receive your reward,
Both the first, and likewise the second.
You rich and poor together, hold high festival!
You sober and you heedless, honour the day!
Rejoice today, both you who have fasted
And you who have disregarded the fast.
The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously.
The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith:
Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness.

Let no one bewail his poverty,
For the universal Kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one weep for his iniquities,
For pardon has shown forth from the grave.
Let no one fear death,
For the Saviour's death has set us free.
He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it.

By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive.
He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh.
And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry:
Hell, said he, was embittered
When it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

It was embittered, for it was abolished.
It was embittered, for it was mocked.
It was embittered, for it was slain.
It was embittered, for it was overthrown.
It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains.
It took a body, and met God face to face.
It took earth, and encountered Heaven.
It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?

Christ is risen, and thou art overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave.
For Christ, being risen from the dead,
Is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Him be glory and dominion
Unto ages of ages.

Amen.


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Friday, April 14, 2006

What we have done, what You have done

It requires great self-denial and resignation of ourselves to God to attain that state wherein we freely cease from fighting. ....Whoever rightly attains to it, does in some degree feel that Spirit in which our Redeemer gave His life for us. (John Woolman)

Behold, behold, the wood of the cross,
on which is hung our Salvation;
O come, let us adore!
(Liturgy of Good Friday)

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You,
for by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.


O my Lord, Messiah and (truly!) King,
You have been lifted up, and have triumphed.
You Yourself mend our lives, and draw us to Yourself,
and make Yourself our greatest yearning, greatest gift.

We who lifted You up from the earth ---
not far, not nearly to the sky, let alone the heavens ---
intending only evil; or not intending at all, "just following orders,"
just another execution in a busy day

It was for us that You took everything we gave,
that You offered Yourself, unresisting,
(and You, our Messiah and Lord, are God;
You had the power to save Yourself)
so that when we had done our very worst
Your forgiveness and Your triumph would rescue us,
very thankful and truly humble.

We know what we have done.
We know of what we are capable.
We look upon Your cross
and our sin remains before us,
we cannot ignore the truth of ourselves.

We deny You. We are cowards and run away from You.
We drag You all over the city, from courtroom to courtroom.
For You, our King, we weave a crown of thornbush to force upon Your head.
We beat You. We mock You. We parade You through the streets.
We disdignify You, stripping You of everything.
And, clothed only in welts and bruises and Your own blood,
we nail You to a cross to torture You to death.

Our sin is always before us,
and yet,
and yet,
so also is Your mercy,
so also Your forgiveness,
so also Your great offering.

And, in time's fullness,
the sign of Jonah ---
even Death itself is conquered, vanquished;
so we might proceed from life to Life true and eternal,
Life that knows no end.

.

Jesus is betrayed

We also betray each other.

The Institution, by Lisa Basarab for Gerard

Like a wrench turned inward
Flashing pain, and gone
Then squeezing, pounding
All of life

A grip of fear so real
That all becomes hell
Swirling, mashing black
In dreams

Nightmares without release
With jeering, fractured finger
Seeping unholy accusation
Pointing, pointing

Like a knife backstabbing
Like a serpent striking
Like a nail in my heart
A plea

To kill my God in me
To sever bonds with Him
And make of me a shade
Pulled so down

Down in mire so weak and pale
The squalid self abyss,
Marrow-deep fatigue (and
Endless night)

No light, no piercing stream of light
No hint of water
For me on a jury's slate
Only guilt

Of my own making, breaking a
Heart so cold from stone
Jabbing guilt, always guilt
Never mercy

Never.

Why no priestly absolution,
Just a toll to pay and pay?
A slim, tortuous road bending
So far, so far

You promised in His words to me
A feast on my return
A fatted calf
Not noose

To string along and up a swaying
Body in surreal ease
Poked like a child on a swing
Whee!

But the glee of games is gone
For my heart's hunt-ripped effigy
Searing, burning,
Flamed

On the spit of upright clerics
Turning folly into shame
Shame, shame!
(An ancient game.)

And so, alone, I hurt
Slipping into nowhere else to go
Except a shrinking Body
Tree-hung

Battered limbs, blood-splashed
Spittle-strewn and slung
With friends looking up
In misery

Save me, sweet Convicted One
In faint aches of rage I spew
that steal Your breath
From mine

Lift the noose away, heal the ache around
To squelch only every urge to bolt
And not Your pain
In me


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Re-presentation

Jesus and his disciples went to a certain upper room (that happened to be not very far from Jesus' mother's apartment), and there they shared the Passover meal together, and inconceivably more.

Last Supper, woodcut by Fritz Eichenberg

As the Passover made each generation of Israel actually present in the exodus from Egypt, so the Eucharist makes us truly present at the Lord's one Sacrifice through all the ages. It is the evil child who says, "The LORD brought our ancestors out of Egypt." Note, not himself, just his great-great-grands. We are as much present, as much implicated, as our ancestors in the first century AD.

And we believe that it was in this night when the Lord Jesus instituted His first priests in the new covenant, saying to them, "This is My Body... this is My Blood of the new everlasting covenant..... do this in memory of me." Now, of course, this doesn't mean priests are perfect. Even the first ones, Jesus' Twelve, weren't such a great lot. One would sell Jesus for 30 silver pieces before the night was over. Nine others would scamper away like a bunch of scared mice. Another, before morning dawned, would deny repeatedly ever having known Jesus. Yet, they were the ones chosen by our Lord.

[Pray for priests!]
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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another very special Way of the Cross

by Lisa Basarab at the Feast of All Saints website, an Upside Down Way of the Cross. [Particularly well-loved by our dear Gerard Serafin during his life.]

Jesus is Pontius Pilate to You

Our Lord daily offers you the choice of innocence or guilt, God’s will or the selfish will. You can choose your creator, or you can exalt yourself. Which will it be? You have ample evidence that sin is destructive. Won’t you remind yourself in the face of the most alluring of temptations that heaven is better? That our Lord created you for Himself?

Jesus is the Cross to You

Our Lord said His yoke is easy, His burden light, but following Him can sometimes seem unbearable. You might cry out in anguish, begging Him to reveal His expectations of you, asking for relief from the trials of your life. Yet He may seem only to provide more pain. It is difficult to remember that from the crucible of suffering comes the greatest good if we are aligned with Him.

Jesus is Your First Fall

Our Lord often appears as a stumbling block to inward eyes. If it weren’t for His harsh commandments, we would be free –-- the noble savages of Jean Jacques Rousseau, able to pursue a natural world of goodness. But we are called not to nature, but to ultimately transcend the natural and become like God. Even though you stumble and are foolish to the scions of this world, you will triumph. As you fall in Christ, collapsing within His grace, the greatest freedom will be yours.

Jesus is Your Mother

Truly, although our Lord provided a most blessed Mother to you in His most beautiful of handmaids, He Himself is always and everywhere all that is good to you. He nurtures you and feeds you with His own Body. He sends His peace and each breath that you sigh. He dries your sorrowful tears and takes you to His heart. He, in the great Triune mystery of God, is your family. In Him are you born. In Him are you sheltered. In Jesus, your Lord, your God, your All.

Jesus is Your Simon of Cyrene

With each drop of blood, whether actual or figurative, on your own walk of Calvary, our Lord is there to help you persevere. He carries your most onerous scourges on this walk of life, blessing each grunt and every step taken to Him. No burden is too heavy for His merciful care, and no weight too little. Never apologize for seeking His aid.

Jesus is Veronica to You

Jesus is always your advocate. He cares not what the crowd thinks of you. He is not persuaded by public opinion. He will wipe your soul and keep you clean while the mud is slung in persecution of your faithfulness to Him. In the end, His judgment is the only one that counts. Do you believe this? Do you act accordingly? Will you accept the tender ministration of a Lord who loves You?

Jesus is Your Second Fall

He permits your fall because it can lead you to Him. O happy fault that leads to so great a Redeemer! As you lie in the dust of your sins, Jesus offers the grace of humility to become like Him, the servant of all, superior to none. The taste of dust is not pleasant, but it tames the insistent demands for the best, the highest regard, the nicest position, the most convenient course, the gourmet scents of hell.

Jesus Mourns for You

How often do you break His heart? How often do you make your own heart sacred and ignore His? With every sin, every substitution of your own will for His, He mourns because it means you are leaving Him. We humans have far more than fifty ways to leave our Lover. Each way hurts more than the last. Even wounded He waits for you, so that He can kiss you and heal your wounds and seal you in His embrace forever. He calls you Beloved!

Jesus is Your Third Fall

Jesus is your dead end. When you are most desolate, most dejected, most bereft, you have no other place to go but the Lord if you want love. You are deluding yourself if you believe anyone could care more. It is only our Lord who knows you better than you know yourself. He is the wall you meet when you are at your wit’s end. In this confrontation with Him you can see truly who you are and what your life must be –-- a glorification of Him.

Jesus Strips You

Jesus is the kindest gardener. He snips and prunes and sometimes seems to tear into you like a machete. You might cringe, but remember that while some flowers shrink from the sun, they cannot grow without its light. What you think of as misfortune, injustice, mistreatment, may only be the best fertilizer you can receive. Sometimes fertilizer stings, but your merciful Lord brings good out of pain and wants you to grow in beauty. What He strips from you is dross hiding your beauty.

Jesus Nails You

You play games. You hide from Him, make desperate or half-hearted bargains with Him. You hope He doesn’t catch you, but He nails you every time. His vision penetrates the depths of your soul. He knows your most anguished fear, your most pervasive frailty. Constantly exposed to Him in all your pettiness, all your infidelity to Him, all your pridefulness, He loves you and considers you precious. He delights in you, and you are His pearl of great price.

Jesus is Your Death

Jesus is the gate of death through which you move into eternal life. Jesus has neutralized all the terrors attached to death and removed its finality in your nightmares. In Him even death cannot conquer joy. Through death He says to you: "Come, you blessed of my Father, and possess the kingdom which was prepared for you from the beginning!"

Jesus is Your Removal from the Cross

Jesus takes you from all the agony of the world and raises you to His heart. He releases you from anger, bitterness, the desire for more and more acquisitions, the pain of discouragement, the wrenching knowledge of your own inadequacy. Once a prisoner, you are now free! You will know the endless joy of love without bounds, extricated from your self-imposed tethers.

Jesus is Your Tomb

One definition of tomb is "last resting place." Jesus is this for you if you dare accept the gift of everlasting love and peace within the heart of the Almighty. To be forever in Him, never separated from Him, always sharing in His majesty is His offer. He made you to be as He is –-- radiant, pure, crystalline in brilliance. Do you accept His invitation to bask in His divinity? He wants, with greatest fervor, to crown you with His glory. Do you say Amen?

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Friday, April 07, 2006

By Your holy Cross You have redeemed the World

For a Lenten Friday, the Stations of the Cross: a New Tract for the Times.

Adoremus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi,
Quia per sanctam Crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You,
Because by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.

the only crown, the only sceptre.....


I. Jesus, true and total Innocent, you were condemned and sentenced to death, though You had committed no crime, by a cynical politician who simultaneously denied all responsibility for the decision. Oh, how often do I do what is expedient instead of what is best or most just? How often do I go along to get along?

II. Your cross, Your instrument of execution, is brought to You. You are not bound to it struggling and unwilling, but You take it up of Your own will. Lord, I know that for every one of us, not having a cross is not one of the options, yet how consistently I set out to avoid bearing it. I could bear it with You and offer it as gift, but so often I fight and struggle and am bound and dragged, crushed and broken by it.

III. Yet, You are very weak. Up all night, marched all over town then scourged until nearly dead, the cross is heavier than Your body can carry, and You fall down. Yet You got back up, picked up the fallen cross, and went on. How often do I fall down and just give up and stay there?

IV. You meet Your mother along the road. She shares one of God the Father's attributes --- You are her only-begotten Son. She loves You, and witnesses Your suffering, and can hardly help but suffer with You; yet she consents to this, and continues to follow You, all the way to the end and beyond.

V. Even the guards can see Your bodily weakness, and they want to get You to the execution grounds still alive so You can be crucified. So they grab a guy off of the street and force him to carry Your cross, so You only have to carry Yourself. The evangelist identifies this guy, Simon the Cyrenean, as "Alexander's and Rufus' father," a sign that the people the evangelist were writing for knew Alex and Rufus as fellow believers. Was this where Alex and Rufus first encountered Christ, coming in from the fields with their dad?

VI. A lady in the street, bold in her mercy, performs an alms-deed for You. Seeing You nearly blinded by sweat and blood, she of her own volition wiped Your face with one of her veils. Am I ever bold in mercy, or am I chickenhearted, only being merciful to the respectable and deserving, when it's easy and without risk?

VII. Even with help from Alex's and Rufus' dad, this journey is more than Your bodily strength can endure, and You fall down again. You do not stay down though, and the guards do not force You up by Your bindings; You get up Yourself, and continue on. How often am I not persistent in going towards the good, and I give up and wallow in my woes?

VIII. A group of women were touched by Your suffering and Your sentence, and they mourn for You. And You, who so loved all humankind, pitied them, and gave them a prophetic warning of the days to come for them. Not good tidings. But a true warning.

IX. Nearly there, the grade changes --- execution sites are up on hills to better make an example of what happens to those who breach the Pax Romana --- and You fall yet again. And You still do not give up, but rise and continue. No matter how many times I fail and falter and fall, I must continue to get up and go on. Do I?

X. You have finally arrived at the execution grounds. Your last few possessions are now taken from You, including Your clothes. The guards are none too gentle, and the forming clots and scabs from Your scourging come off with Your undertunic, opening all those wounds again. You are totally dispossessed, without even the dignity of being allowed to cover Your nakedness, absolutely exposed. When the day comes when I am Called, I must go to God empty in order to be filled totally with Himself; yet do I cling tightly to physical or psychic "stuff": money, houses, toys, honor, respectability, dignity? You were entirely disdignified; why would I be more deserving of dignity than You?

XI. And then You were crucified. You stretched out Your arms and the guards nailed then securely to the crossbeam. They took Your feet and nailed them also, and they raised You up from the earth. Not far, not nearly to the skies, let alone the heavens. They posted your name and crime above Your head: King of the Jews. And they left You there to die. You are all-good and deserving of all my love, and yet I have given You this.

....if I be lifted up, I will draw all people to Myself

XII. After between three and six hours of humiliating and shameful exposure and slow suffocation on the cross, having fulfilled all Your Father's will and having seen to the future care of Your mother, You handed over Your spirit to Your Father and died. Because it was the afternoon before Sabbath, there were orders to break the legs of the condemned so they would suffocate faster and not be left hanging there on Sabbath. Because You had already died, though, they did not break Your legs, only assured themselves of Your death by driving a spear through Your heart. Water and blood flowed out, the spring of salvation that I so often take for granted and fail to appreciate and give thanks for.

XIII. A wealthy and well-placed follower, Joseph of Arimathea, asked for and received permission to take down Your body and give it burial. Your mother, and John, and the other Marys, were already there at the cross, had been there the whole while. Joseph and Nicodemus came, and took Your body down from the cross, and laid it, for the last time, in the arms of Your mother, and she clung to it; but it was very near to sundown and Sabbath, so Joseph and Nicodemus had to take the body from her. Am I always as loath to let go of You?

Pieta by John Carroll Collier

XIV. Joseph and Nicodemus hurriedly wrapped Your body in linens and put it in Joseph's own tomb, not yet used for any burials, since it was not far away and Sabbath was very near. After Sabbath they would return and finish the rites and practices of burial, for there was no more time now, Sabbath was upon them.

And so we entered the one day in all of history when it can be said with any truth at all that God is dead.......

Light in All Darkness icon.  One of the special treasures of Cathedral Parish, Milwaukee.

To all human appearances this day, hope has been crushed, the light extinguished, darkness is triumphant. But, this is only an appearance.

There is one who has guarded the light with her whole life, who knows that even this cannot be the end, and continues to guard and cherish the light in her heart as she always has. She waits, and gathers in the crushed and hopeless disciples and encourages them to wait with her and not despair; and so they wait.

Mother of God, Light in all darkness,
intercede for us.
Be a companion to us,
and bring to our confusion and darkness
the Light you bore,
the Light you guard and cherish.
Although we do not yet see light,
do not let us fall into the abyss,
and assure us that there is still light
until such time as the Light shall return.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Happy Name Day, Bishop Richard!

a prayer of St. Richard of Chichester:

Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
For all the benefits Thou hast given me,
For all the pains and insults
Which Thou has borne for me.
O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,
May I know Thee more clearly,
Love Thee more dearly,
Follow Thee more nearly,
Day by day. Amen


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