Monthly Archives: December 2016

Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ

 

Image result for circumcision of christ

A Blessed Feast of the Circumcision and Happy New Year!  You will find excellent meditations and instruction for this great feast attached below.

We hear much fuss made annually about “New Year resolutions”, only for them to be broken and given up on quickly.  For faithful Catholics, our New Year resolutions should be to correct our most significant vice and turn it into great virtue.  And if we happen to slip up a bit, we simply ask God’s forgiveness and continue!  A soldier does not abandon the fight at the first failing!  No, he rather places his trust in God and continues with an even greater strength!  Once this vice has become virtue, we will find our other faults going in the same direction and perfection will not be far away.

Being the 100th anniversary of the Fatima Apparitions, some Catholics fear for a trying year in the Church and the world.  Certainly the current state of matters may not inspire much optimism.  However, we Catholics are not necessarily required to have the abstract feeling of “optimism”, but the great virtue of Hope.  While many in Rome continue to stray from the doctrines of the True Faith, Tradition is only ever the stronger for it.  There are more Traditional priests, religious, and laity than at any time since the Second Vatican Council.  There is even a certain, albeit smaller awakening in the “official” Church structures itself!  If good Catholics simply keep the True Faith with Charity and without going to compromises or “extremes”, then only the Modernists should have to worry.  Let us pray for their conversion.

The Damsel and I extend our prayers to our readers that they might have a truly Holy New Year.

From Fr. Leonard Goffine:

 

New Years Day

Why is this day so called?

Because the secular year begins with this day, as the Church year begins with the First Sunday in Advent.

What should we do on this day?

An offering of the new year should be made to God, asking His grace that we may spend the year in a holy manner, for the welfare of the soul.

Why do we wish each other a “happy new year“?

Because to do so is an act of Christian love; but this wish should come from the heart, and not merely from worldly politeness, otherwise we would be like the heathens (Mt. 5:47), and receive no other reward than they.

What feast of the Church is celebrated today?

The Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord, Who, for love of us, voluntarily subjected Himself to the painful law of the Old Covenant, that we might be freed from the same.

What was the Circumcision?

It was an external sign of the Old Law, by which the people of that day were numbered among the chosen people of God, as now they become, by baptism, members of the Church of Christ.

What is the signification of Circumcision in the moral or spiritual sense?

It signifies the mortification of the senses, of evil desires, and inclinations. This must be practiced by Christians now, since they have promised it in baptism which would be useless to them without the practice of mortification; just as little as the Jew by exterior Circumcision is a true Jew, just so little is the baptized a true Christian without a virtuous life. Beg of Christ, therefore, today, to give you the grace of the true Circumcision of heart.

PRAYER I thank Thee, O Lord Jesus, because Thou hast shed Thy blood for me in Circumcision, and beg Thee that by Thy precious blood I may receive the grace to circumcise my heart and all my senses, so that I may lead a life of mortification in this world, and attain eternal joys in the next. Amen.

[The INTROIT of the Mass is the same as is said in the Third Mass on Christmas.]

COLLECT O God, Who, by the fruitful virginity of blessed Mary, hast bestowed upon mankind the rewards of eternal salvation; grant, we beseech Thee, that we may feel the benefit of her intercession for us, through whom we have deserved to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who livest and reignest, etc.

[The EPISTLE is the same as is said in the First Mass on Christmas.]

GOSPEL (Lk. 2:21). At that time, after eight days were accomplished that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Why did Jesus submit to Circumcision?

That He might show His great love for us, which caused Him even at the very beginning of His life, to shed His blood to cleanse us thereby from all our sins. Furthermore to teach us obedience to the commandments of God and His Church, since He voluntarily subjected Himself to the Jewish law, although He was not in the least bound by it, which ordered that every male child should be circumcised on the eighth day after its birth (Lev. 12:3).

Why was He named Jesus?

Because Jesus means Redeemer and Savior, and He had come to redeem and save the world (Mt. 1:21). This is the holiest, most venerable, and most powerful name by which we can be saved.

What power has this name?

The greatest power, for it repels all attacks of the evil Spirit, as Jesus Himself says (Mk. 16:17). And so great is the efficacy of this most holy name that even those who are not righteous, can by it expel devils (Mt. 7:22). It has power to cure physical pains and evils, as when used by the apostles (Acts. 3:3-7), and Christ promised that the faithful by using it could do the same (Mk. 16:17).

St. Bernard calls the name of Jesus a “Medicine“; and St. Chrysostom says, “This name cures all ills; it gives succor in all the ailments of the soul, in temptations, in faintheartedness, in sorrow, and in all evil desires, etc.” “Let him who cannot excite contrition in his heart for the sins he has committed, think of the loving, meek, and suffering Jesus, invoke His holy name with fervor and confidence, and he will feel his heart touched and made better,” says St. Lawrence Justinian.

It overcomes and dispels the temptations of the enemy: “When we fight against Satan in the name of Jesus,” says the martyr St. Justin, “Jesus fights for us, in us, and with us, and the enemies must flee as soon as they hear the name of Jesus.”

It secures us help and blessings in all corporal and spiritual necessities, because nothing is impossible to him who asks in the name of Jesus, whatever tends to his salvation will be given him (Jn. 14:13).

Therefore it is useful above all things, to invoke this holy name in all dangers of body and soul, in doubts, in temptations, especially in temptations against holy chastity, and still more so when one has fallen into sin, from which he desires to be delivered; for this name is like oil (Cant. 1:2) which cures, nourishes, and illumines.

How must this name be pronounced to experience its power?

With lively faith, with steadfast, unshaken confidence, with deep­est reverence and devotion, for in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth (Phil. 2:10). What wickedness, then, is theirs who habitually pronounce this name carelessly and irreverently, upon every occasion! Such a habit is certainly diabolical; for the damned and the devils constantly abuse God and His holy name.

Why does this name so seldom manifest its power in our days?

Because Christian faith is daily becoming weaker, and confidence less, while perfect submission to the will of God is wanting. When faith grows stronger among people, and confidence greater, then will the power of this most sacred name manifest itself in more wonderful and consoling aspects.

Prayer to Jesus in difficulties

O Jesus! Consolation of the afflicted! Thy name is indeed poured out like oil; for Thou dost illumine those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death; Thou dost disperse the blindness of the soul and dost cure its ills; Thou givest food and drink to those who hunger and thirst after justice. Be also, O Jesus! my Savior, the phy­sician of my soul, the healer of its wounds. O Jesus! Succor of those who are in need, be my protector in temptations! O Jesus! Father of the poor, do Thou nourish me! O Jesus! joy of the angels, do Thou comfort me! O Jesus! my only hope and refuge, be my helper in the hour of death, for there is given us no other name beneath the sun by which we may be saved, but Thy most blessed name Jesus!

EXHORTATION St. Paul says: All whatsoever you do in word or in work, all things do ye in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17). We should, therefore, follow the example of the saints, and continually say, at least in our hearts: “For love of Thee, O Jesus, I rise; for love of Thee I lie down; for love of Thee I eat, drink, and enjoy myself; for love of Thee I work, speak, or am silent.” Thus we will accustom ourselves to do all in the name of Jesus, by which everything is easily or at least meritoriously accomplished.

Prayer to be said on New Years Day

O God, Heavenly Father of Mercy, God of all Consolation! we thank Thee that from our birth to this day, Thou hast so well pre­served us, and hast protected us in so many dangers; we beseech Thee, through the merits of Thy beloved Son, and by His sacred blood which He shed for us on this day in His circumcision, to for­give all the sins which, during the past year, we have committed against Thy commandments, by which we have aroused Thy indig­nation and wrath against ourselves. Preserve us in the coming year from all sins, and misfortunes of body and soul. Grant that from this day to the end of our lives, all our senses, thoughts, words, and works, which we here dedicate to Thee for all time, may be directed in accordance with Thy will, and that we may finally die in the true Catholic Faith, and enjoy with Thee in Thy kingdom a joyful new year, that shall know no end. Amen.

Originally posted on sspx.org:

On the eighth day Christ was circumcised

December 31, 2015

Eight days after Our Lords birth, Jesus was circumcised according to the law of the Old Covenant, an event that is commemorated on January 1st.

In the Missale Romanum, January 1st is entitled In Octava Nativitatis Domini—or as rendered in English: “the Octave (Eighth) Day of the Nativity.” Not only does this day complete the Nativity Octave, but it also commemorates an important event in Christs infancy, His circumcision, as we read in the Gospel of St. Luke sung during the Mass:

And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called JESUS, which was called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.”

This is also why the octave day is known as the Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord.

We also read in the Gospel account that during Our Lords circumcision, the name He was given to the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Annunciation, JESUS (meaning, “Yahweh saves”) was formally bestowed upon Him. However, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is not celebrated until the first Sunday after the Nativity Octave, which this year falls on January 3rd.

To commemorate the Octave Day in the Nativity of Our Lord—which also starts the secular calendar year—we offer some citations from Sacred Scripture about circumcision in the Old Covenant and a poem reflecting on this event in the redemptive life of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

What does New Years Day mean for Catholics?>


The Old Covenant of Circumcision in Holy Writ

Again God said to Abraham: And thou therefore shalt keep my covenant, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant which you shall observe, between me and you, and thy seed after thee: All the male kind of you shall be circumcised: And you shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, that it may be for a sign of the covenant between me and you. An infant of eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations: he that is born in the house, as well as the bought servant shall be circumcised, and whosoever is not of your stock: And my covenant shall be in your flesh for a perpetual covenant. Genesis 17:9-13

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying …If a woman having received seed shall bear a man child …on the eighth day the infant shall be circumcised. Leviticus 12:1-3


On the eighth day Christ was circumcised

Circumcised
on the eighth day,[1]
His meek parents
humbly obey
the law of Moses,[2]
the rite of Abraham,[3]
who rejoiced
to see His day,[4]
Infant King
does humbly subject
(He does not object);
for, after all,
He the King of kings
wrote the law,
which He came
not to abolish,
but to fulfill,[5]
He the Fullness,[6]
the Lamb of God,[7]
Son of Righteousness,
Whom the self-righteous
unrighteously did kill,[8]
the Good Shepherd,[9]
Who came
to seek and save
the lost,[10]
would on the eighth day,
His Precious Blood shed,
the price,
the cost,
the recompense
paid in full
for the guilty…
by His Innocence…
magnanimous
munificence!

Like Abraham,
who in humble obedience,
took his son Isaac
and raised the knife
in order to offer
the sacrifice
to God the Father,[11]
Saint Joseph,
son of David,[12]
Juda’s great King,
wields the knife
to his Divine Offspring;
though, in this case,
his hand
is not stayed,
and so,
the innocent Flesh
of the Word
is flayed;
the first dew drops
of our salvation
do lovingly pour
from the meek,
little Lamb, Who
just eight days before
from the virginal ewe
in the fullness of time,[13]
came into the world,
in coldness of clime;
sweet, little Babe,
Lamb without stain,
sheds His Pure Blood,
for the descendants
of Cain;
He, Who was born
to His own in disdain,[14]
outcast in animals’ stable,
offers His Blood,
despising the pain,
as did His ancestor Abel[15]

And so…
we remember
our Savior’s first wound,
which He did willfully suffer,
just eight days from leaving,
the Immaculate womb
of His most blessed mother;
meek Lamb,
so pure and undefiled,
tiny, sweet Innocent Child,
at the breast still,
for us, He did spill,
His Most Precious Blood…
Fount of our Redemption

And so…
let us
pause,
reflect,
meditate,
ponder…
O the pain!
the price,
the cost
of the Lamb,
Who came
to save His lost
sheep,
who did wander,
so far away…
our transgressions
cast into derision
and utter humiliation
the Son of God,
the Word Made Flesh,
the Virgin’s Pure Babe,
Whose Blood was shed
willingly,
lovingly,
by Him, the Incarnation,
our innocent Infant King…
in His Circumcision.


Footnotes

1 Luke 2:21.

2 Leviticus 12:3; John 7:22.

3 Genesis 17:10-12.

4 John 8:56.

5 Matthew 5:17.

6 Colossians 1:19.

7 John 1:29, 36.

8 John 11:49-53.

9 John 10:11, 14.

10 Luke 19:10.

11 Genesis 22:1-13.

12 Luke 2:4.

13 Galatians 4:4.

14 John 1:11.

15 Genesis 4:1-10.

~ Steven C., “The Knight of Tradition”

 

 

 

 

St. Jose Sanchez del Rio

img_0007img_0006

Brutally martyred in the wake of the religious persecution of 1927 in Mexico, a boy, at the young age of 14, was put to death for Christ, while courageously shouting Viva Christo Rey.  This young martyr was St. Jose Sanchez del Rio, just recently canonized on October 16, 2016.  He was one of those called the Christeros, that band of militant Catholic men, who took up arms in defense of their Church and country.

The parents of young Jose instilled in him a love of the Faith and the Blessed Sacrament from an early age. This great love of God and the Church was Jose’s strength to face the severe persecution that Plutarco Calles, the President of Mexico, inflicted upon the Church. This persecution originated from the anti-clerical laws written in the Mexican constitution.

This boy was the epitome of courageous militantism. He eagerly desired death so that he might die for Jesus Christ. With this mindset, St. Jose begged the Christeros to allow him to fight alongside them, for God and Country. Relenting, the General of the Christeros allowed him to be their flag bearer.

Jose’s final courageous act cost him his life. The General’s horse was wounded in the fighting and Jose replaced it with his own. The revolutionaries captured him and locked him in the sacristy of a church. The church they used as a barn for roosters. Seeing this, Jose exclaimed, “This is not a barnyard! This is the House of   God!” The climax approaches, as the revolutionaries become enraged, demanding Jose renounce Jesus Christ. They tell him to say “Death to Christ the King!” He refuses and they torture him by stabbing him with a machete. They cut his feet, while forcing him to walk on salt. With every torture, he shouted all the louder, “Long live Christ the King!” Finally, Jose is shot in the head, but before he expires, he draws a cross on the ground and kisses it. What saintly fortitude and love of God! May we have a fraction of St. Jose’s virtues!

The Modernists could learn from St. Jose, for the event leading to his death involves disrespect to the House of God. The churches have turned into a barnyard of sin, immodesty and sacrilege. What would St. Jose say today if he saw the despicable atrocities that happen in the House of God? The small always confound the “great.”

St. Jose, ora pro nobis!

~Damsel of the Faith

 

 

 

 

 

The forgotten day of Sunday

 

I gave you six days to work, I kept the seventh for myself, and no one wishes to grant it to me. This is what weighs down the arm of my Son so much.“~ Our Lady of La Salette

We wish our readers continued blessings during this Christmas Season! Christmas is only beginning, not ending! It is no wonder that today’s world regularly claims to be “depressed”. They have only one day of Christmas after all. Even if the Christ Child is now born, should that stop our Christmas joy? Do we only celebrate the birth of a child on the day he is born? It is rather a very joyous atmosphere for many more days to come. The same applies to only the greatest extent for Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Every Christmas Day is also quite unique in our age for a far different reason. When we go about traveling to Holy Mass and our families on this day, we see that virtually all of the stores and shops are closed. The vast majority have thankfully left their material interests aside for a day to enjoy the blessed company of family and friends and to (hopefully) attend Holy Mass in commemoration of the Birth of our Savior. It would seem, however, that Christmas Day is the only day of the year that the world still respects enough to keep holy. The commands of the Lord’s Day do not oblige only on this Christmas Day, but on every Sunday. In the post-Christian West, unfortunately, Sunday has become like any other day of the week. Businesses and worldly merriment continue on as usual. It is no surprise to see so much of the world economy in such a dire state. God does not bless such abuse of His day!

The famous Maria Von Trapp explained in her book, Around the Year with the Trapp Family, about the stark difference she encountered with the post-World War II Sundays in America as compared to the joyous Sundays in pre-Vatican II Catholic Austria. The Calvinist excesses in the West combined with Vatican II and the emergence of a proposed Freemasonic political “New World Order” have slowly but surely led to a materialistic, atheistic observance of Sunday. We are now imitating the Communist Soviet Union in this way!

Excerpts from Mrs. Von Trapp’s work:

“Our neighbors in Austria were a young couple, Baron and Baroness K. They were getting increasingly curious about Russia and what life there was really like. One day they decided to take a six-weeks trip all over Russia in their car. This was in the time when it was still possible to get a visa. Of course, at the border they were received by a special guide who watched their every step and did not leave them for a moment until he deposited them safely again at the border, but they still managed to get a good first-hand impression. Upon their return they wrote a book about their experiences, and when it was finished, they invited their neighbors and friends to their home in order to read some of their work to them. I shall always recall how slowly and solemnly Baron K. read us the title “The Land Without a Sunday.” Of all the things they had seen and observed, one experience had most deeply impressed them: that Russia had done away with Sunday. This had shocked them even more than what they saw of Siberian concentration camps or of the misery and hardship in cities and country. The absence of Sunday seemed to be the root of all the evil.

“Instead of a Sunday,” Baron K. told us, “the Russians have a day off. This happens at certain intervals which vary in different parts of the country. First they had a five-day week, with the sixth day off, then they had a nine-day work period, with the tenth day off; then again it was an eight-day week. What a difference between a day off and a Sunday! The people work in shifts. While one group enjoys its day off, the others continue to work in the factories or on the farms or in the stores, which are always open. As a result the over-all impression throughout the country was that of incessant work, work, work. The atmosphere was one of constant rush and drive; finally, we confessed to each other that what we were missing most was not a well-cooked meal, or a hot bath, but a quiet, peaceful Sunday with church bells ringing and people resting after prayer.”

Here I must first tell what a typical Sunday in Austria was like in the old days up to the year before the second world war. As I have spent most of my life in rural areas, it is Sunday in the country that I shall describe.

First of all, it begins on Saturday afternoon. In some parts of the country the church bell rings at three o’clock, in others at five o’clock, and the people call it “ringing in the Feierabend.” Just as some of the big feasts begin the night before–on Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, Easter Eve–so every Sunday throughout the year also starts on its eve. That gives Saturday night its hallowed character. When the church bell rings, the people cease working in the fields. They return with the horses and farm machinery, everything is stored away into the barns and sheds, and the barnyard is swept by the youngest farm-hand. Then everyone takes “the” bath and the men shave. There is much activity in the kitchen as the mother prepares part of the Sunday dinner, perhaps a special dessert; the children get a good scrub; everyone gets ready his or her Sunday clothes, and it is usually the custom to put one’s room in order–all drawers, cupboards and closets. Throughout the week the meals are usually short and hurried on a farm, but Saturday night everyone takes his time. Leisurely they come strolling to the table, standing around talking and gossiping. After the evening meal the rosary is said. In front of the statue or picture of the Blessed Mother burns a vigil light. After the rosary the father will take a big book containing all the Epistles and Gospels of the Sundays and feast days of the year, and he will read the pertinent ones now to his family. The village people usually go to Confession Saturday night, while the folks from the farms at a distance go on Sunday morning before Mass. Saturday night is a quiet night. There are no parties. People stay at home, getting attuned to Sunday. They go to bed rather early.

On Sunday everyone puts on his finery. The Sunday dress is exactly what its name implies–clothing reserved to be worn only on Sunday. We may have one or the other “better dress” besides. We may have evening gowns, party dresses–but this one is our Sunday best, set aside for the day of the Lord. When we put it on, we invariably feel some of the Sunday spirit come over us. In those days everybody used to walk to church even though it might amount to a one or two hours’ hike down and up a mountain in rain or shine. Families usually went to the High Mass; only those who took care of the little children and the cooking had to go to the early Mass. I feel sorry for everyone who has never experienced such a long, peaceful walk home from Sunday Mass, in the same way as I feel sorry for everyone who has never experienced the moments of twilight right after sunset before one would light the kerosene lamps. I know that automobiles and electric bulbs are more efficient, but still they are not complete substitutes for those other, more leisurely ways of living.

Throughout the country, all the smaller towns and villages have their cemeteries around the church; on Sunday, when the High Mass was over, the people would go and look for the graves of their dear ones, say a prayer, sprinkle holy water–a friendly Sunday visit with the family beyond the grave.

In most homes the Sunday dinner was at noon. The afternoon was often spent in visiting from house to house, especially visiting the sick. The young people would meet on the village green on Sunday afternoons for hours of folk dancing; the children would play games; the grownups would very often sit together and make music. Sunday afternoon was a time for rejoicing, for being happy, each in his own way.

Until that night at Baron K.’s house we had done pretty much the same as everybody else. Saturday we had always kept as “Feierabend” for Sunday. There was cleaning on Saturday morning throughout the house, there was cleaning in all the children’s quarters–desks and drawers and toys were put in order. There was the laying out of the Sunday clothes. There was the Saturday rosary, and then–early to bed.

On Sunday we often walked to the village church for High Mass, especially after we had started to sing. Later we used to go into the mountains with the children, taking along even the quite little ones, or we used to play an Austrian equivalent of baseball or volleyball, or we sat together and sang some of the songs we had collected ourselves on our hikes through the mountains. We also did a good deal of folk dancing, we had company come or we went visiting ourselves–just as everybody else used to do. And if anybody had asked us why we began our Sunday on Saturday in the late afternoon, why we celebrated our Sunday this way, we would have raised our eyebrows slightly and said, “Well, because that’s the way it’s always been done.”

(…..)

Even the younger ones knew that “to visit the sick” and “to help the poor” on Sunday corresponds to the character of a day of mercy–“dating back to the ninth century,” they would proudly explain to an unsuspecting uncle.

But, most of all and above all, the gay, joyful character of Sunday was jealously guarded, “because this is the day we should rejoice in the Lord.” The children would arrange folk dances with their friends, ball games in our garden, hikes through the mountains, and home music. Through all these activities, however, the contemplative character of Sunday was always evident, with the children demanding to read the Gospels together and to discuss the liturgy even during mealtime.

After our talk with Father Joseph, our previous observation of Sunday seemed to me like a house built on unprepared ground, until a true builder saw it, straightened it up, and put a strong foundation underneath.

And then we came to America.

In the first weeks we were too bewildered by too many things to notice any particular difference about the Sunday, but I remember missing the sound of the church bells. When I asked why the bells of St. Patrick’s Cathedral do not ring on Sunday morning, I was told, to my boundless astonishment, that it would be too much noise. These were the days when the elevated was still thundering above Sixth Avenue. Never before had we heard noise like this in the heart of a city!

Then we went on our first concert tour. As we were driving from coast to coast in the big blue bus, we tried to make the most of Sunday–as much as the situation permitted. On Saturday afternoon “Feierabend” was declared, and this meant no school (our children had their lessons in the bus and had to take tests twice a year). Then we met to prepare for Mass, as had become our custom under Father Joseph. Everyone took his missal and we either crowded together in the middle of the bus or met in a hotel room, all taking turns reading the texts of the Sunday Mass. This was followed by a more or less lively discussion and a question period led by Father Wasner. Sunday we would wear our Sunday dress, the special Austrian costume set apart for that day. But otherwise Sunday was the day when we were, perhaps, a little more homesick than on any other day, missing the church bells, missing the old-world Sunday.

As we got more used to being in America and as our English progressed, we made a startling discovery Saturday night in America! It was so utterly different from what we were used to. Everybody seemed to be out. The stores were open until ten, and people went shopping. Practically everybody seemed to go to a show or a dance or a party on Saturday night. And finally we discovered the consequence of the American Saturday night: the American Sunday morning. Towns abandoned, streets empty, everybody sleeping until the last minute and then whizzing in his car around the corner to the eleven o’clock Sunday service.

Once we were driving on a Sunday morning through the countryside in the State of Washington and we saw trucks and cars lined up along the fields and people picking berries just as on any other day. To see the farmers working on a Sunday all across the country is not unusual to us any more, and this happens not only during the most pressing seasons for crops.

When we lived in a suburb of Philadelphia in our second year in this country, we found that the rich man’s Sunday delight seemed to consist of putting on his oldest torn pants and cutting his front lawn, or washing his car with a hose, or even cutting down a tree (doctor’s orders–exercise!); while the ladies could be seen in dirty blue jeans mixing dirt and transplanting their perennials. There was none of that serenity and peace of the old-world Sunday anywhere until we discovered the Mennonites and the Pennsylvania Dutch. They even rang the church bells!

The climax of our discoveries about the American Sunday was reached when a lady exclaimed to us with real feeling, “Oh, how I hate Sunday! What a bore!” I can still hear the shocked silence that followed this remark. The children looked hurt and outraged, almost as if they expected fire to rain from heaven. Even the offender noticed something, and that made her explain why she hated Sunday as vigorously as she did. It explained a great deal of the mystery of the American Sunday.

“Why,” she burst out, “I was brought up the Puritan way. Every Saturday night our mother used to collect all our toys and lock them up. On Sunday morning we children had to sit through a long sermon which we didn’t understand; we were not allowed to jump or run or play.” When she met the unbelieving eyes of our children, she repeated, “Yes, honestly–no play at all.” Finally one of ours asked, “But what were you allowed to do?”

“We could sit on the front porch with the grownups or read the Bible. That was the only book allowed on Sunday.” And she added: “Oh, how I hated Sunday when I was young. I vowed to myself that when I grew up I would do the dirtiest work on Sunday, and if I should have children, they would be allowed to do exactly as they pleased. They wouldn’t even have to go to church.”

This was the answer. The pendulum had swung out too far to one side, and now it was going just as far in the other direction; let us hope it will find its proper position soon.

And then we bought cheaply a big, run-down farm in northern Vermont and set up home. By and by we built a house large enough for a big family, and a chapel with a little steeple and a bell. We could celebrate Sunday again to our heart’s content just as we were used to doing. Saturday is a day of cleaning and cooking in our home, and five o’clock rings in “Feierabend,” when all work ceases and everyone goes to wash up and dress. If there are any guests around the supper table, Father Wasner will announce that “after the dishes are done we will all meet in the living room, everybody with his missal, for the Sunday preparation, and everyone is heartily invited to join.” When we are all assembled, we start with a short prayer and then we take turns reading the different texts of the coming Sunday’s Mass, everybody participating in a careful examination of these texts. First we discuss briefly the particular season of the Church year. Then we ask ourselves how this Sunday fits into the season. Do the texts suggest a special mood? Some Sundays could almost be named the Sunday of Joy, or the Sunday of Confidence, the Sunday of Humility, the Sunday of Repentance. Everybody is supposed to speak up, to ask questions, to give his opinion. It is almost always a lively, delightful discussion. At the end we determine the special message of this Sunday and what we could do during the next week to put it into action, both for ourselves and for the people around us. After this preparation for Mass, we all go into the chapel, where we say the rosary together, followed by evening prayers and Benediction.

On Sunday we often sing a High Mass, either in our chapel or in the village church, and on the big Sundays of the year we sing vespers in the afternoon. We know this should become an indispensable part of Sunday, now even more so because the Holy Father has spoken.

I remember my astonishment when our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, found it necessary to say, in his address on Catholic Action in September, 1947 “Sunday must become again the day of the Lord, the day of adoration, of prayer, of rest, of recollection and of reflection, of happy reunion in the intimate circle of the family.” Such a pronouncement, I knew, is meant for the whole world. Was Sunday endangered everywhere, then ?

In the year 1950 we traveled through Mexico, Guatemala, Panama, through the Caribbean Islands and Venezuela, through Brazil and Argentina; we crossed the Andes into Chile, we gave concerts in Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia; and after many months of travel in South America, we went to Europe on a concert tour and sang in many European countries. And I came to understand that the Christian Sunday is threatened more and more both from without and from within–from without through the systematic efforts of the enemies of Christianity, and from within through the mediocrity and superficiality of the Christians themselves who are making of Sunday merely a day of rest, relaxing from work only by seeking entertainment. There was once a time, the Old Testament tells us, when people had become so lazy that they shunned any kind of spiritual effort and no longer attended public worship, so that God threatened them through the mouth of the prophet Osee: “I shall cause all her joy to cease, her feast days and her Sabbath, and all her solemn feasts.”

And now the words of our present Holy Father in his encyclical “Mediator Dei” sound a similar warning:

“How will those Christians not fear spiritual death whose rest on Sundays and feast days is not devoted to religion and piety, but given over to the allurements of the world! Sundays and holidays must be made holy by divine worship which gives homage to God and heavenly food to the soul….Our soul is filled with the greatest grief when we see how the Christian people profane the afternoon of feast days….”

Newspapers and magazines nowadays all stress the necessity of fighting Communism. There is one weapon, however, which they do not mention and which would be the most effective one if wielded by every Christian. Again the Holy Father reminds us of it: “The results of the struggle between belief and unbelief will depend to a great extent on the use that each of the opposing fronts will make of Sunday.” We know what use Russia made of the Sunday. The question now is:

And how about us–you and I?”

Dear readers, the world will not be converted until all nations keep holy the Lord’s Day. May our families and our chapels be the beginning of this great restoration! Let us observe Sunday as beautifully as little Therese:

“And if the great feasts came but seldom, each week brought one very dear to my heart, and that was Sunday. What a glorious day! The Feast of God! The day of rest! First of all the whole family went to High Mass, and I remember that before the sermon we had to come down from our places, which were some way from the pulpit, and find seats in the nave. This was not always easy, but to little Thérèse and her Father everyone offered a place. My uncle was delighted when he saw us come down; he called me his “Sunbeam,” and said that to see the venerable old man leading his little daughter by the hand was a sight which always filled him with joy. I never troubled myself if people looked at me, I was only occupied in listening attentively to the preacher. A sermon on the Passion of our Blessed Lord was the first I understood, and it touched me deeply. I was then five and a half, and after that time I was able to understand and appreciate all instructions. If St. Teresa was mentioned, my Father would bend down and whisper to me: “Listen attentively, little Queen, he is speaking of your holy patroness.” I really did listen attentively, but I must own I looked at Papa more than at the preacher, for I read many things in his face. Sometimes his eyes were filled with tears which he strove in vain to keep back; and as he listened to the eternal truths he seemed no longer of this earth, his soul was absorbed in the thought of another world. Alas! Many long and sorrowful years had to pass before Heaven was to be opened to him, and Our Lord with His Own Divine Hand was to wipe away the bitter tears of His faithful servant.

To go back to the description of our Sundays. This happy day which passed so quickly had also its touch of melancholy; my happiness was full till Compline, but after that a feeling of sadness took possession of me. I thought of the morrow when one had to begin again the daily life of work and lessons, and my heart, feeling like an exile on this earth, longed for the repose of Heaven—the never ending Sabbath of our true Home.”

~Steven C., “The Knight of Tradition”(On the feast of St. John the Apostle)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Saviour has been born, Christ the Lord

img_0004

Tonight is born in the city of David, Christ the Lord, the King of Heaven and the Prince of Peace. He who the world cannot contain because he is God, the Creator of the Universe, was placed in a lowly manager, dependent on the love of two parents.  This is the great humility of our God. He who has the power to vanquish death allowed himself to be born into this world as one of us, making him subject to death, which He endured for our sake. He was born to die. This little Baby had always before his mind, from the first moment of his conception, His mission – to save mankind from the fires of hell. For this was He born and this should be the prime subject of our meditation this Christmas season.

A beautiful sermon from St. Bonaventure:

Our Savior, dearly beloved, is born today; let us rejoice. It is not right to be sad today, the natal day of Life–He Who has dispelled the fear of mortality and brought us to the joy of promised eternity. Let no man be cut off from a share in this rejoicing. The cause of our joy is common to every man, because our Lord, the destoryer of sin and death, Who finds none guiltless, comes to free all. Let the holy exult, he draws near his palm; let the sinner rejoice, he is invited to pardon; let the Gentile be quickened, he is called to life. For the Son of God, in the fulness of that time which the unsearchable height of Divine Wisdom decreed, assumed human nature to reconcile it with its Author, and conquer the devil, the inventor of death, through that flesh which he had conquered.

In this conflict, which He joined for our sake, Our Lord entered the field of battle with a great and wonderful fairness. Although He was the almighty Lord, He met our bitter enemy not with the strength of His majesty, but with the weakness of our flesh. He brought against him the self-same form as ours; the self-same nature as our nature–but in him, without sin. Not of this Nativity were written the words applied to all other men: Not one is free from defilement, no, not the child whose life on earth is but one day. Into this singular birth passed none of the concupiscences of the flesh, nor followed any consequences of the law of sin. A Virgin of the royal stem of David is chosen, and when she was to become pregnant with the Sacred Child, Who was both God and Man, she conceived Him in her soul before she conceived Him in her body. Lest the stupendous mystery might make her afraid, since she had no knowledge of the Divine plan, she learned by the message of an Angel what was to be done in her by the Holy Ghost. She believed she would be the Mother of God, yet remain a virgin inviolate.

Therefore, dearly beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through His Son in the Holy Ghost, Who for His exceeding charity, wherewith he loved us, hath had mercy on us, and even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together in Christ, that in Him we might be a new creature and a new handiwork. Therefore, let us put off the old man with his works, and having become sharers in the Sonship of Christ, renounce the deeds of the flesh. Learn, O Christian, how great is your dignity! You have been made a partaker in the divine nature. Scorn to return to your former vileness through an evil way of life. Remember of Whose body you are a member, and Who is its head. Remember that you have been snatched from the power of darkness, and transported into light and the kingdom of God.

_____________________________________

Christmas Eve Prayer
from the Liturgical Year, 1910

O Divine Infant! we, too, must needs join our voices with those of the Angels, and sing with them: Glory be to God! and Peace to men! We cannot restrain our tears at hearing this history of Thy Birth. We have followed Thee in Thy journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem; we have kept close to Mary and Joseph on the whole journey; we have kept sleepless watch during this holy Night, waiting Thy coming. Praise be to Thee, sweetest Jesus, for Thy mercy! and love from all hearts, for Thy tender love of us! Our eyes are riveted on that dear Crib, for our Salvation is there; and there we recognise Thee as the Messias foretold in those sublime Prophecies, which Thy Spouse the Church has been repeating to us, in her solemn prayers of this Night. Thou art the Mighty God — the Prince of Peace — the Spouse of our souls — our Peace — our Saviour — our Bread of Life. And now, what shall we offer thee? A good Will?

Ah! dear Lord! Thou must form it within us; Thou must increase it, if Thou hast already given it; that thus, we may become Thy Brethren by grace, as we already are by the human nature Thou hast assumed. But, O Incarnate Word! this Mystery of Thy becoming Man, works within us a still higher grace: — it makes us, as Thy Apostle tells us, partakers of that divine nature, which is inseparable with Thee in the midst of all Thy humiliations. Thou hast made us less than the Angels, in the scale of creation; but, in Thy Incarnation, Thou hast made us Heirs of God, and Joint-Heirs with Thine own divine Self! Never permit us, through our own weaknesses and sins, to degenerate from this wonderful gift, whereby Thy Incarnation exalted us, and oh! dear Jesus, to what a height! Amen.

From Steven & I here at Damsel of the Faith, we wish all of our readers a blessed, holy amd joyous Christmas and Christmas season! Emmanuel has been born! Let us fall down and worship Him, offering Him the gift of our holiness.

-Damsel of the Faith & Knight of Tradition

 

December 25th – the most accurate date to celebrate Our Lord’s birth

Image result for nativity of our lord

 

Good Christians know full well of the annual reminders popping up before the Christmas Season concerning the date of Our Lord’s Birth.  According to “historians” and other supposedly distinguished “experts”, the day of Our Lord’s Birth was almost certainly not December 25 and to determine an exact date is impossible.  Sometimes this statement can be made with a great anti-Catholic malice; other times it may seem to sound like a light-hearted, passing remark.  No matter the tone, all of these remarks do a great disservice to the Church.  For at the root of this matter is the fact that this position is used to undermine the Church and the Birth of Our Lord.  Many anti-Catholic persons started circulating this rumor while claiming that this date had origins in a pagan holiday.  Thus, the Catholic Church simply wished to substitute this holiday for the commemoration of Our Lord’s Birth and perhaps even paganized “early” Christianity.  Also, even a lighter tone would seem to hint at a certain stupidity of the Church for choosing December 25 as a fixed date, as if they were proclaiming that that was the exact day!  Although Catholics might not be necessarily required to accept an exact date for our Savior’s Birth, Dr. Marian Horvat does an excellent job in explaining how, based on Scripture, December 25 is indeed the most precise date that can be assigned to the Birth of our Savior.  Even in more trivial arguments, it would seem that the anti-Catholics have again no basis for their dishonest claims!

http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/e031rp_PaganOrigins.html     

Christmas Was Never a Pagan Holiday

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D..

Around this time of year we are bombarded with anti-Catholic propaganda questioning the blessed day of Christ’s birth as December 25. This date, we arrogantly are told, was originally a pagan holiday. The Early Church “chose” it to “Christianize” a Roman feast of the Sun. According to this theory, the Christmas date was only established in the 4th century, when we have the first evidence of the Nativity being celebrated in Rome in 336. The conclusion: The origins of Christmas are pagan, and we do not really know the date the Savior of mankind was born.

Let us not be too quickly impressed with these lies whose aim is solely to diminish the homage we pay Our Lord Jesus Christ and to denigrate the Catholic Church. In fact, the opposite is true. It is the thesis of the pagan origins of Christmas that is a myth without historical substance.

No ancient Roman festivals on December 25

The notion that Christmas had pagan origins began to spread in the 17th century with the English Puritans and Scottish Presbyterians, who hated all Catholic things. The Puritans hated Catholicism so much that they revolted against the so-called Anglican church because, even with their heresies, they considered it still too similar to the Catholic Church.

Puritans against Christmas
A colonial Puritan governor stops the merrymaking of Christmas festivities (1883)

They abhorred the feast days and in particular, they detested the Christmas feast with its joyous ceremonies, celebrations and customs. Since the Bible gave no specific date of Christ’s birth, the Puritans argued that it was a sinful contrivance of the Roman Catholic Church that should be abolished.

Later, Protestant preachers like the German Paul Ernst Jablonski tried to demonstrate in pseudo-scholarly works that December 25was actually a pagan Roman feast, and that Christmas was yet another instance of how the medieval Catholic Church ‘paganized’ and corrupted ‘pure’ early Christianity. (1)

Around the same time, the Jesuit Jean Hardouin with his eccentric theory of universal forgery that put in doubt every historical source known, backed the Puritans on their theory of Christmas having pagan origins. But his research was largely discredited given his absurd affirmations. For example, he maintained all the Church Councils that took place before Trent were fictitious and almost all the classical texts of ancient Greece and Rome were false, made by monks in the 13th century. Such assertions are blatantly absurd, given the countless source documents demonstrating the opposite.

The two principal claims for Christmas having pagan origins pretend that the early Church chose December 25 in order to divert Catholics from Roman pagan festival days. The first claim pretends that it replaced the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia, a time of feasting and raucous merry-making held in December in honor of the pagan god Saturn.

Now, the Saturnalia festival always ended on December 23 at the latest. Why would the Catholic Church, to diverge the attention of her faithful from a pagan celebration, choose a date two days after that party had already ended and whoever wanted had already overindulged? It makes no sense. No serious scholar believes this claim.

Christmas established before the pagan Sun festival

The second claim is that the Catholic Church established Christmas on December 25 to replace a solar feast invented by Emperor Aurelian in 274 AD, the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birth of the Unconquered Sun).

The fact that Christmas entered the world calendar (the accepted Roman calendar) in 354 – which was after the establishment of the pagan feast – does not necessarily mean the Church chose that day to replace the pagan holiday. Two principal reasons concur with this conclusion:

Pagan Sun God Roman festival
Aurelian instituted the sun festival to bolster a dying Roman Empire

First, one must not simply assume that the early Christians only began to celebrate Christmas in the 4th century. Until the Edict of Milan was published in 313, Catholics were persecuted and met in catacombs. Hence, there was no public festivity. But they celebrated Christmas among themselves before that Edict, as hymns and prayers of the first Christians confirm (2).

Second, this claim is based on unsound assumptions. As scholar Thomas Talley points out in his book The Origins of the Liturgical Year, Emperor Aurelian inaugurated the festival of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun trying to give new life – a rebirth – to a dying Roman Empire. It is much more likely, he argues, that the Emperor’s action was a response to the growing popularity and strength of the Catholic religion, which was celebrating Christ’s birth on December 25, rather than the other way around. (3)

There is no evidence that Aurelian’s celebration preceded the feast of Christmas, and more reason to believe that establishing this festival day – which never won popular support and soon died out – was an effort to give a pagan significance to a date already of importance to Roman Catholics.

Dates based on the Scriptures

But let us leave the realm of conjecture and return to historical records. There is ample evidence to demonstrate that, even though the Christmas date was not made official until 354, clearly it was established long before Aurelian instituted his pagan feastday.

The conception of St. John the Baptist is the historical anchor to know the date of Christmas, based on the detailed and careful calculations on dates made by first Fathers of the Church.

Visitation
The date of St. Elizabeth’s conception sets the base for knowing Christ’s birth

The early tractatus De solstitiia records the tradition of the Archangel Gabriel appearing to Zachariah in the High Temple when he was serving as high priest on the Day of Atonement (Lk 1:8). This placed the conception of St. John the Baptist during the feast of Tabernacles in late September, as the Archangel Gabriel said (Lk 1:28) and his birth nine months later at the time of the summer solstice. (4)

Since the Gospel of Luke states that the Archangel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary in the sixth month after John’s conception (Lk 1:26), this placed the conception of Christ at about the time of the spring equinox, that is, at the time of the Jewish Passover, in late March. His birth would thus be in late December at the time of the winter solstice.

That these dates, based on Tradition and Scripture, are trustworthy is confirmed by recent evidence taken from the Dead Sea Scrolls, whose authors were very concerned about calendar dates, essential for establishing when the Torah feasts should be celebrated. The data found in the Scrolls make it possible to know the Temple’s rotating assignment of priests during Old Testament times and show definitely that Zachariah served as a Temple priest in September, thus confirming the tradition of the Early Church. (5)

The Catholic Church determined March 25 as the date of Our Lord’s Conception long before Aurelian decided to make his solar feast. For example, around 221 AD, Sexto Julio Africano wrote the Chronographiai in which he affirmed that the Annunciation was March 25. (6) Once the date of the Incarnation was established, it was a simple matter of adding nine months to arrive at the date of Our Lord’s birth – December 25. This date would not be made official until the late fourth century, but it was established long before Aurelian and Constantine. It had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

We can be certain that the first Catholic apologists and Fathers of the Church, who lived very close to the time of the Apostles, were fully aware of the dates associated with the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They had all the calendar sources at hand and they would not allow any untruth to be introduced in the Catholic liturgy. The date of Christ’s birth was transmitted by them as being December 25, a Sunday.

Addressing the verse of Luke 2:7, Fr Cornelius a Lapide comments on the architecture of this choice: “Christ was born Sunday, because this was the first day of the world. … Christ was born on Sunday night, in keeping with the order of His marvels, so that the day on which He said Let there be light, and there was light, was the same day on which, at night, the light shone in darkness for the upright of heart, that is, the sun of justice, Christ the Lord.” (7)

1. Thomas Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991), p. 88.
2 Daniel-Rops, Prières des Premiers Chrétiens, Paris: Fayard, 1952, pp. 125-127, 228-229
3. Talley, The Origins of the Liturgical Year, pp. 88-91.
4. The tract is entitled ‘De solstitiia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis domini nostri iesu Christi et iohannis baptista,’ in Ibid., p. 93-94. Talley also provides other historical documents of early Church writers showing that the dates of the Conception and Death of Our Lord had been established very early.
5. Shemaryahu Talmon, Professor Emeritus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a top Scroll scholar, published an in-depth study of the Temple’s rotating assignment of priests in 1958 and the Qumran scrolls to see the assignment during New Testament times. Martin K Barrack, “It Comes from Pagans,” Second Exodus online
6. Ibid.
7. Cornelius a Lapide, Commentaria in Scripturam Sanctam, Paris: Vives 1877, Luke 2:7, vol 16, p. 57.

~Steven C., “Knight of Tradition”

Our Infant King cometh

Image result for nativity of our lord

As Christmas draws nearer, let us continue to meditate on the birth of our Infant King, who humbled himself to take on our nature and be put to death so that we might have life and have it more abundantly, in the Kingdom of Heaven.  Mankind, rejoice at the greatest act in history, this mystery of the great love of God for man!  The God we serve proved His love for us by rescuing us when we were helpless and lost, by coming into our world to take on our debt so that we might love Him and serve Him.  Remember that the price of our salvation was the death of an innocent God-man.  May we all continue to prepare for His coming by rejecting our sins and thanking the Baby Jesus for His humble birth.

“Therefore, when the time came, dearly beloved, which had been fore-ordained for men’s redemption, there enters these lower parts of the world, the Son of God, descending from His heavenly throne and yet not quitting His Father’s glory, begotten in a new order, by a new nativity. In a new order, because being invisible in His own nature He became visible in ours, and He whom nothing could contain, was content to be contained: abiding before all time He began to be in time: the Lord of all things, He obscured His immeasurable majesty and took on Him the form of a servant: being God, that cannot suffer, He did not disdain to be man that can, and immortal as He is, to subject Himself to the laws of death. And by a new nativity He was begotten, conceived by a Virgin, born of a Virgin, without paternal desire, without injury to the mother’s chastity: because such a birth as knew no taint of human flesh, became One who was to be the Savior of men, while it possessed in itself the nature of human substance. For when God was born in the flesh, God Himself was the Father, as the archangel witnessed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: ‘because the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the most High shall overshadow thee: and therefore, that which shall be born of thee shall be called holy, the Son of God.’ The origin is different but the nature like: not by [relations] with man but by the power of God was it brought about: for a Virgin conceived, a Virgin bore, and a Virgin she remained. Consider here not the condition of her that bore but the will of Him that was born; for He was born Man as He willed and was able. If you inquire into the truth of His nature, you must acknowledge the matter to be human: if you search for the mode of His birth, you must confess the power to be of God.”  ~Pope St. Leo the Great

“The Child that is born of Mary and is couched in the Crib at Bethlehem, raises his feeble voice to the Eternal Father, and calls him, My Father! He turns towards us and calls us My Brethren! We, consequently, when we speak to his Father, may call him Our Father! This is the mystery of adoption, revealed to us by the great event [of Christmas]. All things are changed, both heaven and on earth: God has not only one Son, he has many sons; henceforth we stand before this our God, not merely creatures drawn out of nothing by his power, but children that he fondly loves. Heaven is now not only the throne of his sovereign Majesty; it has become our inheritance in which we are joint-heirs with our brother Jesus, the Son of Mary, Son of Eve, Son of Adam, according to his Human Nature, and (in the unity of Person) Son of God according to his Divine Nature. Let us turn our wondering and loving thoughts first to this sweet Babe, that has brought us all these blessings, and then to the blessings themselves, to the dear inheritance made ours by him. Let your mind be seized with astonishment at creatures having such a destiny! And then let our heart pour out its thanks for the incomprehensible gift!”   ~Dom Gueranger

O come, O come, Emmanuel!  The God-Man, Prince of Peace and Wonder-Counselor cometh!

~Damsel of the Faith

G.K. Chesterton on the true meaning of Christmas

Image result for nativity of our lord

“The great majority of people will go on observing forms that cannot be explained; they will keep Christmas Day with Christmas gifts and Christmas benedictions; they will continue to do it; and some day suddenly wake up and discover why.”

“Christmas is built upon a beautiful and intentional paradox; that the birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”

“Any one thinking of the Holy Child as born in December would mean by it exactly what we mean by it; that Christ is not merely a summer sun of the prosperous but a winter fire for the unfortunate.”- Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton, as a devout Catholic writer, took great pains to explain in the most beautiful of ways the true message of Christmas. Some of them are featured for our readers today.  Chesterton, writing in the early 20th century, would be greatly disturbed at rapidly growing materialism and atheism in the West, which in turn would do its cunning best at muting the message of the Christ Child. May more Catholics today appreciate the true goodness of Chesterton’s works as oppose to the inane nonsense of much of today’s “literature”!

The House of Christmas, arguably Chesterton’s most beloved Christmas poem:    

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 on 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 wives’ 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 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.

The following article was originally posted on SSPX Canada:

The True Message of Christmas

What is the true meaning of Christmas? G.K. Chesterton sheds some poetic light in explanation.

It is perfectly reasonable at this season of the year to ask whether people in general have lost the true meaning of Christmas. It would seem to many thoughtful observers that the significance attached to the birth of Christ has been buried deep beneath the rubble of gaudy tinsel, secular Christmas cards invoking every spirit but that of the Christ child, useless and unwanted presents one can’t wait to take back to the store, eminently forgettable tasteless carols endlessly played everywhere including bathrooms, greasy turkey dinners served up at the boring round of staff parties one feels bound to attend in a frame of mind that has nothing to do with the joy of welcoming Christ into the world.

Can anything fresh or striking be said about the great religious feast, so deeply embedded are we in the familiar themes and platitudes? What is a little more disconcerting is the ever more prevailing sense of increasing loss of the meaning of what we are precisely celebrating. This is to be expected in a largely secular environment, in a highly sophisticated materialistic society. Religious notions for many are a far distant or at best blurred memory of what used to be the norm in our childhood or early adolescence.

Crass ignorance on the part of many

There is such callous indifference and crass ignorance on the part of many others to the greatest event in the history of mankind, the coming of God Himself in human flesh taken from the womb of the spotless Virgin beautifully described by Coventry Patmore in the splendid words “our tainted nature’s solitary boast”.

God sends his only begotten Son into the world to restore mankind to Himself. The incarnation is the great healing of a lost and suffering humanity trapped in the snares of wickedness and sin, incapable of redeeming itself or finding the true path to God,  unable to discover that necessary return to sanity and sanctity, the only hope of mankind. The incarnation, is the greatest act of God’s mercy extended to all men of good will.

It is, however, only the humble, such as the shepherds and wise men, who will find Him where he is most unlikely to be found — in a animal’s trough not in the warmth and comfort of a kingly palace but in a outhouse, a borrowed home where in the future all men will turn at the last. In the delightful poem of the English writer G.K. Chersterton we have the essence of the Christmas spirit,

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 are
To the place where God was homeless And all men are at home.”

Heart of the Christmas message

It is equally true when we consider the the heart of the Christmas message that if we pay homage to the child on our visit to Bethlehem we must also visit and reverence the mother.

As the same Chesterton observed:

In common life you cannot approach the child except through the mother, if we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas or Christmas out of Christ or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and to cross.”

Just as Christmas is the manifestation of the divine condescension so it is only in imitation of the humility of the simple, uncomplicated, honest, hardworking shepherds that we approach the Saviour of the world wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying on the wood which is a cruel premonition of his final end.

We are like those shepherds. In contrast to the Magi we come bearing no gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. There is really one thing only that we offer the child of Bethlehem on Christmas morn, ourselves purified, cleansed from the mire of sin. We come to receive not haggle or bargain, buy or sell like most of our fellow citizens. We come to wonder and adore not to rationalize and understand. We come in haste, joyful in spirit, ready to fall upon our knees. We are at our best, we poor humans are at our greatest when we acknowledge in prayer and gratitude the “the kindness and benignity of God our Saviour” who has appeared to us in mercy and saved us by the layer of regeneration and renovation of the Holy Ghost, through Jesus Christ.

~ Steven C., “The Knight of Tradition”