Category Archives: Christianity

Quote for the Week

Lenten fasting is not the same thing in those lands where people eat well as is a Lent among our third-world peoples, undernourished as they are, living in a perpetual Lent, always fasting….

Let us observe our Lent thus, giving our sufferings, our bloodshed, our sorrow the same value that Christ gave to his own condition of poverty, oppression, abandonment, and injustice. Let us change all that into the cross of salvation that redeems the world and our people. And with hatred for none, let us be converted and share both joys and material aids, in our poverty, with those who may be even needier.

–Óscar A. Romero, in Let Us Be Today’s Christians”: The Words of Óscar Romero (2 MARCH1980); courtesy of Wikiquote.

A Prayer for Candlemas

Lord Jesus Christ,
You are the true Light
enlightening every soul born into this world.
Today we celebrate the feast of Candlemas.
Before Holy Mass,
the priest blesses the candles,
whose wax is the humming summer’s work of countless bees.
The flames of these candles
will shed their light upon the altar at the Holy Sacrifice.
Help us to realize,
this day and every day,
that our own humdrum daily work,
if it is done for love of You,
and in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,
will be a supernatural work,
and will shine brightly before You for all eternity.
Help us realize, too,
each time we see the blessed candles at Holy Mass,
or at the bedside of the sick,
that they are a symbol of Yourself,
the Light shining in the darkness of this world.
Help us to live in that Light,
to make it our own,
and to kindle it in the souls of others,
increasing the area Of light
and lessening the darkness in the World This,
dear Lord, help us do,
through the merits of Your own dear mother, Mary,
who did everything for love of
You, from the moment she brought You into this world
till the day she joined You in the realms of light at her death.
Then we, too, working for You,
shall be light-bearers who will help to spread Your kingdom on earth,
and increase the number of those who dwell in heaven,
the city of eternal light.

Amen.

Courtesy of here.

Today is the Feast of the Presentation, also known as Candlemas.

A Prayer to St. Brigid of Kildare

Prayers

Hearth Keeper Prayer

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us, Lady of the Lambs, protect us, Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us. Beneath your mantle, gather us, And restore us to memory. Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong. Guide our hands in yours, Remind us how to kindle the hearth. To keep it bright, to preserve the flame. Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours, To kindle the light, Both day and night. The Mantle of Brigid about us, The Memory of Brigid within us, The Protection of Brigid keeping us From harm, from ignorance, from heartlessness. This day and night, From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

hearth fire

Traditional Catholic Prayer to Saint Brigid

Saint Brigid.
You were a woman of peace.
You brought harmony where there was conflict.
You brought light to the darkness.
You brought hope to the downcast.
May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled and anxious, and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and in our world.
Inspire us to act justly and to reverence all God has made.
Brigid you were a voice for the wounded and the weary.
Strengthen what is weak within us.
Calm us into a quietness that heals and listens.
May we grow each day into greater wholeness in mind, body and spirit.

Amen.

Prayer courtesy of here.

Today is St. Brigid’s feast day.

Long Distance Eucharist?

As the coronavirus pandemic that has raged across the world for the last eight months continues with no clear end in sight, massive changes have been wrought in our society.  Not least among these has been the complete or partial closure of many churches.  Some have suspended services altogether; others have shifted to services streamed over the Internet; and others have provided drive-in services.  Many churches have been reopened for public services with restrictions (social distancing and use of masks) since the beginning of June; but many continue broadcasts of services for the benefit of those who prefer not to risk in-person attendance.

This unprecedented situation has been the source of much discussion, much of it political, but some theological.  I’m not interested in the political aspects of the situation at all.  On the other hand, in a discussion in the comments section of a blog I frequent, a very interesting theological issue came up.  This was in the specific context of Catholic services, to wit, the Eucharist at Sunday Mass.  The question was this:  When the priest says the words of consecration of the bread and wine to make them the Body and Blood of Christ, why would it not be possible for those watching at home to have their own portions of bread and wine, and for the priest to include the bread and wine of all home-bound parishioners in his prayers?  Could not everyone then receive Communion, even without having to come to Church?

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Angels, Devils, or None of the Above?

Having talked about angels and demons, I want to see if those beings exhaust all the non-corporeal beings that exist.  Typically, the Abrahamic religions tend to categorize all immaterial, incorporeal beings–what we’d tend to call “spirits”–as ultimately either angelic or demonic.  With the partial exception of Islamic jinn, there are no other categories envisioned.

Pagan religions, both ancient and modern, by contrast, have a bewildering variety of spirit-beings that cover the entire spectrum of morality from good to evil and everywhere in between.  As Jeffrey Burton Russel points out in The Devil:  Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity, in most ancient religions, God (in this context, Russell uses the term “the god” in referring to the monotheistic deity) and the gods are morally ambivalent.  Gods and spirits might be helpful or harmful, good or bad.  Any given god might in fact be harmful or helpful, depending on the context.  The fickle behavior of the Greek pantheon is a perfect example of this, with even beloved and noble deities such as Athena being capable of spiteful and vindictive actions, as in the myth of Arachne.

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Quote for the Week

Everything abstract is ultimately part of the concrete. Everything inanimate finally serves the living. That is why every activity dealing in abstraction stands in ultimate service to a living whole.

–Edith Stein (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), Essays on Women; courtesy of Wikiquote.

Quote for the Week

We men have one book in common which points to God. Each has it within himself, which is the priceless Name of God. Its letters are the flames of His love, which He out of His heart in the priceless Name of Jesus has revealed in us. Read these letters in your hearts and spirits and you have books enough. All the writings of the children of God direct you unto that one book, for therein lie all the treasures of wisdom. … This book is Christ in you.

–Jacob Boehme, Explaining his symbol of the Tetragrammaton within the human heart, in Libri Apologetici (1730), Book I, as quoted in The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928) by Manly P. Hall, “The Human Body in Symbolism”; courtesy of Wikiquote.

Quote for the Week

I was sent forth from the power,
and I have come to those who reflect upon me,
and I have been found among those who seek after me.
Look upon me, you who reflect upon me,
and you hearers, hear me.
You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves.
And do not banish me from your sight.
And do not make your voice hate me, nor your hearing.
Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or any time. Be on your guard!
Do not be ignorant of me.

For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored one and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one
and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great,
and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom,
and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father
and the sister of my husband
and he is my offspring.
I am the slave of him who prepared me.
I am the ruler of my offspring.
But he is the one who begot me before the time on a birthday.
And he is my offspring in (due) time,
and my power is from him.
I am the staff of his power in his youth,
and he is the rod of my old age.
And whatever he wills happens to me.
I am the silence that is incomprehensible
and the idea whose remembrance is frequent.
I am the voice whose sound is manifold
and the word whose appearance is multiple.
I am the utterance of my name.

The Thunder, Perfect Mind, author unknown, translated by George w. MacRae; courtesy of here.

A Prayer for the Assumption

Prayer for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty and everlasting God,
You have taken up body and soul
into the heavenly glory the Immaculate Virgin Mary,
Mother of Your Son: Grant, we beseech You,
that, ever intent upon heavenly things,
we may be worthy to be partakers of her glory.
Through Jesus Christ Your Son, our Lord,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.

Today is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary

The Best Laid Plans (Do Not Require a Plan B)

The-Best-Laid-Plans-Of-Mice-And-Men-Often-Go-Awry

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

–Robert Burns, “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough”

This is famously misquoted in standard English (as opposed to Burns’s Scots dialect) as “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.”  In any case, the sentiment is true enough.  How often do we plan something only to have events seemingly conspire to screw it all up?  How often does the most meticulous planning crash and burn before our eyes?  It’s not for no reason that we have the American idiom “Plan B”.  This is, of course, what you do–or attempt to do–when your original idea, Plan A, fails.  Sometimes we seem to run through the whole alphabet of plans and still things “gang agley”.  Then again, we’re not God.

The point I’m getting at here is something I’ve alluded to numerous time over the course of this and other series of posts at this blog.  In this post, I want to address the matter in a more direct and explicit manner.  The matter at hand relates to the interpretation of the Fall of Man, as described in the opening chapters of the Book of Genesis.  My main purpose in “Legends of the Fall” has been to try to find a way to understand the aforementioned Fall given our current understanding of human origins and the impossibility of reconciling that understanding with the Genesis account.  I’m still pretty far out from coming to such an understanding, admittedly.  Nevertheless, I think it is useful to look at issues which, while partially tangential, nevertheless have implications for the course of the main argument.

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