Advent and All Things New

advent decorationsAh Advent, the long awaited season of the year when we wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, liturgically speaking. We don’t speak or sing the Gloria, the Sanctuary is draped in purple, a color of mourning. Well, it’s also a color of royalty, and the violet Advent hues also echo the colors of the dawn this time of year, which is all of course appropriate and fitting as we await the commemoration of the birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Secularly speaking we do zero out in the world, far away from the mandates of Faith and of Holy Church. Black Friday spawns riots and wild spending sprees for stuff that we absolutely cannot live without, such as TV’s, electronic games, decorations, et cetera. Cyber Monday continues the spree, online. And it’s usually all good fun, despite a few hardcore enthusiasts who run riot. I was out buying a copy of Absolom, Absolom, and ended up buying a Nook which was on sale for $79, and am now enjoying the novel via Nook.

Father, would you say that spaghetti is consubstantial with linguine?

Advent also sees many, (many, many) wild parties which go by the name of Christmas parties except that, of course, they’re during Advent and not Christmas. Christmas is wonderfully peaceful and rich time after the hectic season of preparation and ‘waiting’.

Advent also marks the new year in the Church, and this year of course the long awaited much ballyhooed debut of the new translation of the Mass. The tension mounted as I walked to the front of the Church, lit the Advent candle and made the sign of the cross. “The Lord be with you,” I said. “And also with you,” came the reply.
Roosevelt Lobby during Advent
We started over, after a brief explanation and some laughs, and did it the right way.

The readings this week speak to humility; having the humility to be honest with ourselves about our faith lives and our relationship with God; and having the humility to render our lives in the state of readiness to meet God.

I always imagine I’ll live a long life and grow in holiness with all the time for prayer which old age allows. But what if the Lord suddenly appeared before me in the next two minutes and said, “OK, time’s up here. What have you done with your life? Have you even bothered to grow in holiness?”

Well. First off, let me just say that the Lord would have to wake me up with smelling salts if that happened. I also like to think that He would be a bit more polite and circumspect about it all. And that there would be heavenly music involved and a thank you for being a faithful Priest despite my struggles and flaws. Second off, I’d like to respectfully add that I hope that does not happen for many reasons. But if it does, I’d like to think that I’m watchful and ready in many ways.

But what do I know about the mind of Christ? He’s God, not me.

Holy Face

We also, with the beginning of the new Church year, are dealing with the new translation. It’s beautiful and I love it; and everyone has done very well with it thus far. I gave some excerpts from the handouts by the Dominican Fathers, which help to elucidate the meaning of the translations.

For example, John Chrysostom wrote, on using the phrase “and with your spirit,” during a Homily on the Feast of Pentecost:

If the Holy Spirit were not in our Bishop when he gave the peace to all shortly before ascending to his holy sanctuary you would not have replied to him altogether, “And with your spirit.” This is why you reply with this expression… reminding yourselves by this reply that he who is here does nothing of his own power, nor are the offered gifts the work of human nature, but it is the grace of the Spirit present and hovering over all things which prepared that mystic sacrifice.”

We also spoke about the meaning of the word consubstantial. It’s hardly a difficult word. In fact, there is currently a decent discussion of it over at Wikipedia. (Someone may change it tomorrow, but hopefully it will correct back to a decent discussion if that happens.)

‘Consubstantial’ also sparked a discussion here in the rectory about pasta. Fr. Bob, I said. Would you say that spaghetti is consubstantial with linguine? Seems like a fitting analysis, if not completely off target. Why, yes, he replied. I would.
We have great discussion here over dinner.

Advent, the beginning of a new year in the liturgical life of the Church; a time to call to mind humility, and the fact that God is to be in charge of our lives. We may get tired of waiting for him, and lose focus from time to time, but he is always as near as a prayer, when our hearts are with His spirit.

A Party with Irma

Irma Thomas

This past weekend one of my oldest friends celebrated the Feast of Christ the King with a great party, featuring New Orlean’s own, Irma Thomas. What a great time it was!

Irma Thomas

(The friend happened to be be turning 50, which was actually the reason for the party.)

Enough of that for now! Lot’s of changes going on, which is why I have not been terribly forthcoming with blogging. Interior changes, inner growth, time for reflection… all a healthy part of the spiritual life.

Which leads me to wonder what John of the Cross would have done with a weblog and a camera. Probably lots if photos with flowers, open skies and random thoughts as he pondered upon God and wrote awesome poetry.

It is great wisdom to know how to be silent and to look at neither the remarks, nor the deeds, nor the lives of others.” John of the Cross

The Iron Lady

Well the long awaited film on Margaret Thatcher’s life is coming due January 6.

Baroness Thatcher’s friends are distancing themselves, saying it is a ‘left wing fantasy’.

Concessions exist though, that it may help to demonstrate that she was the ‘Nostradamus of her day’, regarding the economic future of Europe.

Meryl Streep’s performance is garnering the usual accolades. Here’s a good review over at the Telegraph: “This is a brave stab at a contemporary life, and even with its flaws it does Margaret Thatcher a certain grudging justice. Awards should be coming Streep’s way; yet her brilliance rather overshadows the film itself.”

It all equals “I can’t wait.” I love good day [read few hours] at the movies.

The Zoo


It never occurred to me until the other day, after I had taken this picture, that orangutans earned their name by the color of their fur. So, I looked it up over at dictionary dot comand found out that ‘orangutan’ is actually from pidgen or ‘bazaar Malay’ and means ‘forest man’. So there.


And with the cooler weather, all the animals were in great moods, so it seemed.

That was over at the zoo the other day. I had bought a membership right after I bought my camera and then never got around to going. So I headed on out and diligently learned a bit more about photography. (I played around with fill flashes. Speaking of which, National Geographic has a Guide to Flash Photography which has some beautiful photos in it.)

Beautiful Sunday today; I’m working on getting that Homily up here. It wasn’t a priority today (to post it here, i.e.; it was a huge priority yesterday in the making…), but I’m working on it! Wisdom and shalom.

On Martin of Tours, and on Wikipedia Being Wrong about Katrina

Wikipedia has a lovely article on Martin of Tours. It’s very well documented.

This was especially informative:

While Martin was still a soldier in the Roman army and deployed in Gaul (modern day France), he experienced the vision that became the most-repeated story about his life.

One day as he was approaching the gates of the city of Amiens he met a scantily clad beggar. He impulsively cut his own military cloak in half and shared it with the beggar.

That night, Martin dreamed of Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given away. He heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me.” (Sulpicius, ch 2). …

Small temporary churches were built for the relic [of the cloak] and people began to refer to them by the word for little cloak “capella” that these churches housed. Eventually small churches lost their association with the cloak and all small churches began to be referred to as Chapels[3] .

Interesting! It’s documented from Daimaid MacCulloch’s A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. I completely did not know that.

Use some common sense with Wikipedia

More often than not the articles are accurate because people read them and if they are wrong, log in and correct them with proper notation. It’s sort of like a self correcting, group thesis.

But sometimes you see information before it’s corrected and if you have no reference points you could easily start to bandy about false information. I can easily understand why it’s not a valued source for academic research. (It could easily be a great source for helping to gather sources though.)

Take for instance their article on Katrina which is wrong.

The Wikipedia entry states, in the section on Federal Preparation: “On the morning of Friday, August 26, at 10 am CDT (1500 UTC), Katrina had strengthened to a Category 3 storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Later that afternoon, the NHC realized that Katrina had yet to make the turn toward the Florida Panhandle and ended up revising the predicted track of the storm from the panhandle to the Mississippi coast.”


Katrina was nowhere near being a Category 3 Hurricane on the morning of Friday the 26th of August, 2005. Trust me, I know this.

If you’d like to do some looking up, you can start with these links:

NOAA’s Katrina Section

National Hurricane Center’s Katrina Warnings Archive.

Or the NHC’s graphics page, which clearly shows that at 5pm EDT on Friday August 26, 2005 Katrina was just off the coast of Florida and had winds of 100mph, which is a Category 2 Storm.

You can look almost anywhere and find that the article on Wikipedia is clearly wrong in stating that Katrina was a strong Category 3 storm in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday Morning.

The fact is, it was nothing of the sort. On that fateful Friday, forecasters were predicting the storm would swing up into the Florida panhandle. Later Friday evening the news came out worse.

People went to bed clueless, and most people learned about it on Saturday morning.

Which is why a million people weren’t able to pack up and head onto the road until Saturday morning at the earliest if they were lucky, with the storm starting to blow in with strong winds by Sunday evening. It’s also why so many people were not able to take many things with them. It was an incredibly rushed, get up and go type of situation, filled with foreboding.


I corrected the Wikipedia article, and got a note back that I was wrong and contradicted the sources. (Duh…)

So I corrected it again, and again, responding in kind each time, yet it remains blissfully ignorant and wrong.

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

It’s just wrong. And it’s wrong that it’s wrong.

I have spoken, and I rest my case. But those are the facts and they are indisputable.

St. Martin of Tours, pray for us.

The Rev. Kenneth Allen