Mid the Bleak Midwinter

oranges

In the middle of winter, when the sky is dark and the rain is falling all around so that it feels like you’re in the middle of an ocean – life is perfect. I am just nuts about winter weather here in Louisiana. If I lived in Wisconsin I doubt I could take it, though. I mean, I have my limits. And we have oranges.

True, winter has only just started.

Rain is a good thing and you’ll never – well, rarely – hear me complain about it. If it never rained, the place wouldn’t be so green.

That being said, I’m not quite sure why I’m not cozy in bed with a good book on this rainy morning, and am instead jittery with caffeine posting pictures of oranges – unedited at that because photoshop is not responding to my promptings – on my strange little website.

It has to do with prayer. Because in the last few weeks I’ve become aware of the need to reorient my life ever more towards Jesus Christ. And it has to do with Faith, because I’ve come to consider that the Church is very confused right now. For a time I’ve let that confusion cloud my mind. But, in respect to the integrity of my state in life, and my station here, there can be no confusion.

We (the clergy of the Archdiocese,) took a workshop awhile ago which focussed on the differences amongst the various generations of clergy. Which are huge. It’s obvious to any observer that the differences are huge between someone ordained to the Priesthood in, say, 2004, and someone ordained to the Priesthood in, say, 1978. So, we have one priest saying one thing, one saying another – one bishop saying one thing, one saying something completely different – one Pope saying one thing and one saying something another.

Priests here have said that a reason Deacons were so avidly introduced back in the day was to pave the way for married clergy. Some have said “We’re not going back! If you don’t like what we’re doing you’ll just have to wait until we die!”

I mean, this is crazy talk. No one can dwell seriously on it. Except for the fact that they’re deadly serious when they say it and it affects all of us.

So. I do what I can out here on the peripheries at our sprawling ruralish parish, filled with the full breadth of human experience on any given day. And I’m filled with wonder when considering the scriptures, the sacraments, the promises of life itself.

I’m certainly not waiting for anyone to die. That’s crazy talk.

I’m off to listen to the rain, though. And to give thanks for so many blessing in this life.

The Christmas Season

Christmas Family

O God, Who have brightened this most holy night with the splendor of the true light, grant, we beseech You, that we may know in heaven the joy of that light which we have known mystically on earth.

Sometimes I realize I have no business keeping a weblog.   Though I do get a fair amount of visitors, I’m a very self conscious blogger.   While on Facebook or Twitter I usually just say what I want to say (with appropriate filters,) when I blog I tend to be like, “Here’s a picture from of my daily life. Um… buh bye!”

With that being said, here are a few things on my minds the last week, month, year…

  1. Questions about Pope Francis.   People will often ask me what the Holy Father means when he says things like, “And since people have a tendency towards the sickness of coprophagia, it can do great harm.”

    I don’t know.   Coprophagia sounds completely disgusting to me, I have zero tendency towards it, and as much as some people have said this expression is commonly used in South America,  I’ve never heard it used there despite my 6 visits, and being taught all the dirty words (to the great hilarity of my teachers,) on my first visit of 2.5 months.

    I honestly don’t know, but it’s obviously in the realm of the bizarre.

  2. What about the dubia?

    Cardinal Burke is the voice of those presenting the dubia to the Holy Father.   It’s a normalized, though rarely used part of Church practice.   Since Pope Francis has not answered the dubia, one can only look to what Cardinal Burke has to say about them.   He’s pretty concise in this interview from EWTN:

  3. “Father, what about your family?”

    I had a great time with my family this Christmas Season. I tend to stay busy, and realized I haven’t spent a lot of time at all with my niece and her children. In fact, the picture up top of is of Alyssa the Lovely, my great niece.  While it a long story the point of it is, we all got together Monday, the day after Christmas Day, and had a grand time. I’m always preaching about families, and realized I needed to get back to my own. Time flies when you stay busy.

  4. “Father, we’re so worried about you being transferred.”

     

    Yes, well, I don’t see that happening anytime in the near future.    I don’t know why there are rumors circulating about that I will be transferred,  but they are completely without foundation.   While it’s vaguely possible that the Archdiocese may decide that my charmingly eccentric personality and brilliant management skills (work with me here, people….) may be direly needed somewhere else, the fact is that there are many truly wonderful Priests who could fill any need the Archdiocese needs; and I feel they are entirely happy with my being out here in the hill country.   As am I.  It’s one of the best places on Earth to be

  5. “Father, what do you do with all the photo you take?”

    I often post them on Facebook, Twitter, or here.   The photos on the Parish website are from my cameras. A lot them are sitting on hard drives waiting to be turned into books to leave in the Parish archives for future use.

With all of that being said…   Merry Christmas!

Nativity

On Humility…

Pope Gregory - and the Vision in St. Croce

In the ordinary Calendar of the Church, today’s Divine Office remembered Pope St. Gregory the Great.   A Doctor of the Church, a Holy Father of the Church,  a renowned administrator of the Church, and a generally all around brilliant man, this excerpt from one of his Homily’s demonstrates a true humility;  he acknowledges his weaknesses, explains his duties. His torment — the carrying of his cross — comes through very clearly.  We can all relate somewhat to St. Gregory’s writing here.  

From a Homily by St. Gregory the Great…

(Lib. 1, 11, 4-6: CCL 142, 170-172)

 

Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel.

Note that a man that the Lord sends forth as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stand on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height all his life to help them by his foresight.

How hard it is for me to say this, for by these very words I denounce myself. I cannot preach with any confidence, and yet insofar as I do succeed, still I myself do not live my life according to my own preaching.

I do not deny my responsibility; I recognize that I am slothful and negligent, but perhaps the acknowledgement of my fault will win me pardon from my just judge. Indeed when I was in the monastery I could curb my idle talk and usually be absorbed in my prayers. Since I assumed the burden of pastoral care, my mind can no longer be collected; it is concerned with so many matters.

I am forced to consider the affairs of the Church and of the monasteries. I must weigh the lives and acts of individuals. I am responsible for the concerns of our citizens. I must worry about the invasions of roving bands of barbarians, and beware of the wolves who lie in wait for my flock. I must be an administrator lest the religious go in want. I must put up with certain robbers without losing patience and at times I must deal with them in all charity.

With my mind divided and torn to pieces by so many problems, how can I meditate or preach wholeheartedly without neglecting the ministry of proclaiming the Gospel? Moreover, in my position I must often communicate with worldly men. At times I let my tongue run, for if I am always severe in my judgments, the worldly will avoid me, and I can never attract them as I would. As a result I often listen patiently to chatter. And because I too am weak, I find myself drawn little by little into idle conversation, and I begin to talk freely about matter which once I would have avoided. What once I found tedious, I now enjoy.

So who am I to be a watchman, for I do not stand on the mountain of action but lie down in the valley of weakness? Truly the all powerful Creator and Redeemer of mankind can give me in spite of my weaknesses a higher life and effective speech;   because I love Him I do no spare myself in speaking of Him.

Requiem for Napoleon

Napoleon House

The title of this post in all honesty has little to do with the content, other than that the contents are vaguely connected. It is, in all reality, a music post which left me feeling a little ignorant, and yet a bit more educated. After all, life is all about learning, living, loving, friends, charity, and listening to great music.

Two friends from seminary recently visited and we spent a night out on the town, and one of my friends, we’ll call him “Fr. Mark”, wanted to hang out in a courtyard sipping a Sazerac. (Being the designated driver back up to Abita Springs, I had an evening of club sodas and tea.)

But what better place than the Napoleon House? It was legendary in music school, as they had a collection of classical music (back then it was actually vinyl records,) and often will (or at least would back in the day, I’m really never there these days,) play requests. It’s said to have been built as a house for Napoleon himself to live in, should he have escaped from Elba – an event which, for better or for worse, never came to pass.

So anyway, before I drag on too long here, while we’re there sipping and chatting out in the courtyard, a tune came on that I recognized but for the life of me could not name. (Nor could my two friends… we’ll call the other one “Fr. Ed.”) And it was familiar enough that it drove me nuts all the way back home. I knew it was from an opera, and it was the one about the poor girl up in the attic dying of tuberculosis, or some other horror.

It was an orchestral version of a famous aria, the kind of aria you hear a zillion times; the kind which every opera enthusiast and singer knows by heart, knows their favorite singer thereof, probably has the libretto for, and of which has multiple favorite recordings.

I’ll apologize right now to any opera enthusiasts, one of which I am clearly not.

But about 20 minutes away from Abita Springs it finally came to me… Quando m’en vo’ …From the Opera La Boheme. Or at least I think it is, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

So! That led to finding this recording, which is beautiful of course, and is currently the first one to pop up on a YouTube search for Quando m’en vo’. And isn’t Anna absolutely beautiful?

Alongside it is also a recording of same, via the famed, long deceased Maria Callas, also well worth a listen:

And, since every website tracks our every move these days, alongside of that – YouTube, obviously knowing my current penchant for listening to Gregorian Chant and evidently knowing that I’ve searched high and low for the best and least expensive steam mops around, featured one of my favorite chants — the Dies Irae, from the Requiem Mass. (YouTube is oddly ignorant of the many Titanic Documentaries and sinking videos which I’ve watched in the last month or so. But that’s another story for another time.)

The Dies Irae is allowed once again, in the use of the Tridentine Mass, it was forbidden for years. Evidently the idea of God’s wrath and judgment is to much for the modern world to handle.

That being explained, here is a version of the Dies Irae. There are no doubt better versions of it out there, but for anyone learning chant or wanting to know more about it, this is good as it allows you to follow along with the chant notations. It’s a sort of modern, yet ancient, “follow the bouncing ball” type thing:

And there it is folks. That’s a wrap.

The Daily Walk, Bees and Sky

O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, hasten to help me.

My daily walk the other day took my past a
huge hive of bees
.

Doesn’t that just remind you of the Easter Vigil?

On this, your night of grace, O holy Father,
accept this candle, a solemn offering,
the work of bees and of your servants’ hands,
an evening sacrifice of praise,
this gift from your most holy Church.

But now we know the praises of this pillar,
which glowing fire ignites for God’s honour,
a fire into many flames divided,
yet never dimmed by sharing of its light,
for it is fed by melting wax,
drawn out by mother bees
to build a torch so precious.

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Bright shall be the glory of wise counsellors, as the radiance of the sky above; starry-bright for ever their glory, who have taught many the right way.
Daniel 12:3

Ciao.