Tuesday, January 31, 2017

For the Memorial of St. John Bosco, priest


As a catechist, I have a special place in my heart for St. John Bosco. He is one of the premier models of what we are called to be as teachers of the Faith. Bosco had a very Christ-like ability to draw all people to himself (even the rowdiest street kids) so as to change their lives and convert their hearts to Christ. The boys under his care loved him so much that they couldn't stand the thought of doing anything to disappoint him, and they knew that all he wanted for them was that they live good and holy lives.

What we learn from Bosco's approach and methodology is that the person of the catechist is just as important as orthodox teaching. You can have all of your facts straight, but if the children don't see that the Truth is something that enlivens you and informs every decision that you make -- if they don't see that you are committed to the very salvation of their souls -- then they won't give your words any more than a passing thought. Street kids know when they're getting fed a line. They know who the phonies are, the teachers who just clock in for their 9 to 5 and could give 2 cents about them. In St. John Bosco they saw someone different, someone who truly loved and cared for them.

If I could only have half the passion, zeal, and charisma that St. John Bosco had ...

St. John Bosco, "Apostle of Youth" ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

RESOURCES:

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For the Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop and Doctor

In thanksgiving for the inspiring life and work of St. Francis de Sales on this his feast day, I offer the following resources:
Works by St. Francis de Sales:
In closing, and for old-time's sake (this used to be a regular feature on my blog), here is today's selection from "Daily with De Sales":
  • During the course of the day, recall as often as possible that you are in God's presence. Consider what God does and what you are doing. You will see His eyes turned toward you and constantly fixed on you with incomparable love. Then you will say to Him, "O God, why do I not look always at You, just as You always look at me? Why do You think so often of me, O Lord, and why do I think so seldom of You?" Where are we, O my soul? God is our true place, and where are we? (INT. Part II, Ch. 12; O. III, p. 92)

St. Francis de Sales, bishop and doctor of the Church ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Holy Family: A Triple Threat

I suspect that when most people think about the Holy Family, they imagine a picture of total happiness, where there is no suffering of any kind and where every day just turns out perfectly. Yes, Jesus and Mary were completely sinless, and Joseph was a most chaste and righteous man. But, they still had their difficulties.

The movie The Nativity Story is what first gave me a sense of this, but if you think about it, Scripture reveals it too. The Holy Family had many trials, including public scorn, homelessness, harsh environments and traveling conditions, a power-hungry and blood-thirsty king, and the pressures -- and ultimately the suffering -- that comes with knowing that your son must die to save the world.

What we can learn from this is that the Holy Family can relate to a family that struggles. A sword pierced Mary's heart, so that the thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed (cf. Lk 2:35). Joseph, for his part, had always on his shoulders the task of protecting and providing for this holiest of holy families. They both had quite a scare when, for three days, they had no clue where to find their son (cf. Lk 2:41-49). Of course, if anyone knows suffering, it is Jesus. As a family, they are acquainted with struggle, but more importantly, they also know how to overcome and to survive.

Because of their family experience, they are powerful intercessors when we wrestle with family issues. If you suffer because of your mother, find solace in Mary. She cares greatly for the entire Body of Christ, just as she cared for the literal body of Christ. Just as Sarah was the spiritual mother of the Jews (cf. 1 Pet 3:6), Mary is the spiritual mother of "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). Her prayer for us will always be powerful because her will is always united with her Son's, and because "the prayer of the righteous has great power in its effects" (Jas 5:16).

If you suffer because of your father, find solace in St. Joseph, Jesus' father in this world. St. Joseph will never forsake his fatherly duty. He is the patron saint and the protector of families. With his powerful intercession, he protects God's children, just like he protected God's Child. As Mary's most chaste spouse, he also teaches boys how to be good men, and men how to be good men too. Pray that St. Joseph will help your father to be the man that God is calling him to be.

Of course, there is no intercession, no solace, no love, no source of strength and courage and hope like that of the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our Rock and our Salvation. In Him, we can do all things, overcome all things, be all things. Together, the mother, the father, and the Son are a triple threat against anything that threatens the integrity of the family.

For more on the Holy Family, see the following articles. I conclude with the words from a song about the Holy Family that we often sing at Mass.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary ... have mercy on us.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church ... pray for us.
Joseph, Protector of Families ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - - - - - -
Articles:
- - - - - - - - - -
Sing of Mary

Sing of Mary, pure and lowly, Virgin mothjer undefiled.
Sing of God's own Son most holy, Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother, God the Lord who came to earth;
Word made flesh, our very brother, Takes our nature by His birth.

Sing of Mary, pure and spotless, Born to bear the Holy Child;
Blest was she, to do God's bidding, Blessed, gentle, meek and mild.
Blessed, too, was good Saint Joseph, Foster father to the Lord;
Let us praise God's Holy Family Who brought forth God's Holy Word.

Sing of Mary, sing of Joseph, keepers of the wondrous Boy,
Called by God to high vocation, Sharing sorrow, sharing joy;
Sharing love, and by that loving in their home in Nazareth,
Forming One whose grace and glory suffered, died and conquered death.

Glory be to God the Father; Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit; Glory to the Three in One.
From the blessed Virgin Mary, From Saint Joseph praise ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes Unto earth's remotest ends.
- - - - -
Text: Vss. 1-2, Roland F. Palmer, SSJE, 1891-1985, © Estate of Roland Palmer. All rights reserved. Vs. 3, Herbert O'Driscoll, ©. Melody: Christian Lyre, 1830.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Online Catholic Scripture Commentaries on St. John's Gospel

In honor of St. John on his feast day, I present (as I do every year) the following online Catholic commentaries on his Gospel:

Read John's Gospel ... and soar on eagle's wings to new heights of spiritual wisdom. If you know of any other Catholic commentaries on John's Gospel that exist online, please let me know.

St. John the Evangelist ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, December 26, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of St. Stephen with Good King Wenceslas

Many of you may have forgotten (I know I almost did!) that today is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who's life and death is accounted for us in Acts 6 and 7. Well, a popular Christmas carol gives us a helpful reminder. Listen via the YouTube video below. Follow along with the lyrics underneath.



Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gath'ring winter fuel

"Hither, page, and stand by me
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?"
"Sire, he lives a good league hence
Underneath the mountain
Right against the forest fence
By Saint Agnes' fountain."

"Bring me flesh and bring me wine
Bring me pine logs hither
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear him thither."
Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather

"Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer."
"Mark my footsteps, my good page
Tread thou in them boldly
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly."

In his master's steps he trod
Where the snow lay dinted
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed
Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing


The "fisheaters" website has more on the connection between St. Stephen and Good King Wenceslas:
Because St. Stephen was the first Deacon, and because one of the Deacons' role in the Church is to care for the poor, St. Stephen's Day is often the day for giving food, money, and other items to servants, sevice workers, and the needy (it is known as "Boxing Day" in some English-speaking parts of the world).

Fittingly, then, St. Wenceslaus came to be associated with Stephen's Feast. The Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus," which uses an old medieval melody -- that of the 13th century song about springtime, "Tempus adest floridum" (click here to hear melody) mentions this Feast as it tells a tale of charity. St. Wenceslaus was a Bohemian prince born ca. A.D. 903 during a pagan backlash. He was persecuted by his mother, Drahomira, and his brother because of their hatred for his Christianity, and was eventually killed by his brother in front of the doors of the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian in A.D. 938. Many miracles have been attributed to his intercession, and he is now the patron of Czechoslovakia (his Feast is on 28 September).

For more on St. Stephen, see the following resources:

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Know the Reason for the Season

Merry Christmas!

The following links are to articles that explore the true meaning of Christmas. With all the hustle and bustle, it's good to have a reminder. "Let every heart prepare him room / and heaven and nature sing." After these links is a Christmas poem by G. K. Chesterton.

Let us all make room for the birth of Christ!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
- - - - - -
Articles
- - - - - -

A Christmas Poem
by G. K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost---how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wife's tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel

Here is the final O Antiphon for the Advent Season:



Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (cf. Isa 7:14)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?".

Christ is near!!!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (cf. Isa 2:4; 9:7)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dec. 21 - O Oriens

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 21 - O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (cf. Isa 9:2)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Dec. 20 - O Clavis David

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 20 - O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (cf. Isa 9:6; 22:22)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Monday, December 19, 2016

Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” (cf. Isa 11:1, 10)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Dec. 18 - O Adonai

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 18 - O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” (cf. Isa 11:4-5; 33:22)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dec 17 - O Sapientia

Here is the O Antiphon for today:



Dec. 17 - O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” (cf. Isa 11:2-3; 28:29)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Friday, December 16, 2016

What Are the "O Antiphons"?

The "O Antiphons" begin today, so now is a good time to consider what exactly they are and how they can enrich the Advent season.

An antiphon is a short verse from a psalm or other usually biblical source that is chanted (or at least recited) before and/or after a psalm. The O Antiphons are the antiphons chanted on each of the seven days before Christmas Eve, Dec. 17-23.

On each day, a different O Antiphon is sung during Evening Prayer, which is the portion of the Liturgy of the Hours that is prayed at sunset. They are called “O” antiphons because each one starts with the exclamation “O”, followed by a title of the Savior. They are meant to heighten our awareness of the coming of the Lord as we approach those precious few days before Christmas.

The seven O Antiphons are: O Sapientia (Oh Wisdom), O Adonai (Oh Lord), O Radix Jesse (Oh Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (Oh Key of David), O Oriens (Oh Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (Oh King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Each one is named after the title of the Savior that begins the antiphon. Here are the antiphons for each day, in full, followed by the passages from Isaiah that inspire them:
Dec. 17 - O Sapientia: “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care. Come and show your people the way to salvation.” (cf. Isa 11:2-3; 28:29)

Dec. 18 - O Adonai: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.” (cf. Isa 11:4-5; 33:22)

Dec. 19 - O Radix Jesse: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.” (cf. Isa 11:1, 10)

Dec. 20 - O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (cf. Isa 9:6; 22:22)

Dec. 21 - O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (cf. Isa 9:2)

Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (cf. Isa 2:4; 9:7)

Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (cf. Isa 7:14)

Besides praying these during the Liturgy of the Hours, families can also make up their own prayer services using the O Antiphons. For example, everyone could recite the Antiphon for the day together, then the father could read the appropriate passage from Isaiah, and then end with everyone singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” During Advent, it is always good to set aside some time to pray as a family.

For more on the O Antiphons, see the following articles:
Between now and Christmas, I will be posting a YouTube video for each day's antiphon, so that you can hear a bit of how they are chanted. They are really quite beautiful!

Have a Blessed Advent!

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic
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