Monday, November 24, 2008

The Rude Parrot

A little humor for Thanksgiving week... (USA)

Recently I received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. I tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else I could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, I was fed up and I yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. I shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. So, in desperation, I threw up my hands, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that I'd hurt the parrot, I quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The parrot calmly stepped out onto my outstretched arms and said, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

I was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As I was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Will You Join Me?

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in wishing your friends and accaintences "Happy New Year" this weekend? It is, afterall, OUR New Year! Sunday, November 23rd was the "Last Sunday After Pentecost" (or the Last Sunday in Ordinal Time, if you prefer) thus ending the liturgical year. This coming Sunday is the First Sunday in Advent! ChristMass is right around the corner! People may look at you a little funny to begin with, but you could use this as an ice-breaker in conversation to allow you to discuss your faith a little.

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in answering the "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" wish with, "and a Blessed Advent to you!" ?? The season of the ChristMass begins with Midnight Mass, the First Mass of ChristMass, and lasts through Epiphany (some could argue it lasts through the Ordinal Time After Epiphany too). The point is - from the First Sunday of Advent up to the First Mass of ChristMass - it is NOT the "ChristMass" season! We are in a season of anticipation of the ChristMass. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of he coming of the Messiah to the world.

Fasting in Advent?

Well, for the Latin Church, this is not required - though it is part of the Eastern tradition. Eastern Christianity begins the "Advent Fast" on November 15th and lasts through December 24th. It is called the "Nativity Fast" (Advent itself is a term from Latin tradition). It is like a "little Lent" where one prepares their soul for the coming celebration of the Nativity, or again in the Latin/Western tradition - the ChristMass. The "Nativity Fast" in the East lasts for 40 days, whereas Advent in the West lasts 4 weeks.

Can Latin Rite Catholic fast during Advent? Certainly! Latin Rite Catholics can use this period of preparation and anticipation of the ChristMass to mortify their souls, making the ChristMass season all the more meaningful and joyous. There is no requirement in the Latin Church to fast during Advent, but the practice is almost never discouraged. (Fasting is never necessary on "Feast Days" - which all Sundays are as well as other high holy days).

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in spelling "Christmas" as "ChristMass?" It is, afterall, the Mass of Christ which we celebrate on December 25th! It may also serve as a reminder to Protestants that ChristMass is truly a Catholic Holy Day (holiday).

Will You Join Me?

Will you join me in NOT being upset when someone says "Happy Holidays" and return the wish with "Happy Holy Days to you too!" ?? Sometimes we hear this time of year people getting upset with the removal of Christ from ChristMass - and using terms like "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings." Rather than getting upset - which can make us look and sound like an extremist - if we smile and wish them a "Happy Holy Days" back - it may get them to think a little bit about what the season truly is about.

I hope you'll try one or more of these suggestions this year and perhaps continue the practice as a tradition in your households and parishes. We can put a positive spin on the secularization of ChristMass - and perhaps get people to celebrate Christ with us in the true spirit of the true season. If you do try one or more of these suggestions - please try to come back to this blog/post and leave a comment or two about how it went.

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What is Advent?

I posted this a couple years ago, but felt as Advent is approaching, it was worth repeating. This coming Sunday is the LAST Sunday after Pentecost, or the Last Sunday in Ordinal Time, so Advent is upon us quickly!

What Is Advent?

Advent is the beginning of the ecclesial calendar. It is the first season in the Church year. The word comes from the Latin "advenire" which means "arrival." This is the season of anticipation of the Messiah wherein we put ourselves in the place of the ancient Jews. Advent then
culminates with the Christmas season - which begins on Christmas Day.

The season, though the precise date of when it started is difficult to ascertain, is of Catholic origins. There is some evidence of the season as early as the late 4th century. Christmas itself did not have a concrete date, some celebrated it on December 25th, others on January 6th. In
the Acts of Saragossa, a synod held in 380, the fourth canon prescribes a period from December 17th through January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany, when no one can be permitted absence from church. This indicates a "season" of preparation.

Late in the 6th century, in 581 AD, at Macon, Gaul, a synod convened and decreed in its ninth canon a period from November 11th to the Nativity that the Sacrifice be offered according to the Lenten rite - demonstrating a call to penance and sacrifice during the Advent season. When it
was established as 40 Days prior to Christmas, beginning the day after the feast of St. Martin, November 12th, it also was called "St. Martin's Lent."

In the Eastern Church, there is no evidence of this season prior to the 8th century. In Eastern tradition there was no liturgical change, rather it was - as in the Latin tradition - a period of fasting and abstinence.

Today the season of Advent is the four sundays prior to the Feast of the Navitiy (Christmas - or the Christ Mass). Officially Advent begins with the Evening Prayer 1 of the
Sunday falling on or closest to November 30th and ends before Evening Prayer 1 of Christmas (the Vigil of Christmas on December 24th).

Many traditions mark the season, from Advent calendars to Advent wreaths. Perhaps the most recognizable in the Church is the Advent wreath. It consists of four candles, three of them are purple and one is pink. The pink candle is used on the Third Sunday in Advent to represent the
Gaudate, which means "rejoice" in Latin and is taken from the first word of the Introit for that Sunday. The joy of anticipation is stressed on Gaudate Sunday. The Gaudate Sunday also corresponds with Laetare Sunday in Lent, also a day in Lent when the vestments are permitted to be rose colored instead of purple.

Again, the purpose of the Advent season is to recall the anticipation of God's People awaiting their Messiah. It is also used for today's Christians in anticipation of the Second Coming of the Lord. It is a season, much like Lent, of fasting and penance to prepare one's soul for the
coming of the Lord. We should remember this during the weeks prior to Christmas - that this period is NOT the season of Christmas! The wish we should give to one another instead of "Merry Christmas" should be something like, "Blessed Advent to you!" And we can start wishing others a "Merry" or "Blessed Christmas" beginning with the Vigil of Christmas on Christmas Eve.

I hope you found this educational. If you have more to add, or perhaps can share your own Advent traditions - please do!

God be with you all!

A blessed Advent to you!

In JMJ,
Scott<<<

Passover Lamb

The following was posted to CDF and is reposted here with the author's permission and he wishes to be known only as "Nathan."
====================================
PASSOVER LAMB

It all started on that fateful night when the Angel of Death came to kill the first-born son of every family whether Egyptian or Hebrew. The Hebrew people were to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and mark the doorposts and lintel of their homes so that the Angel of Death should 'pass over' their household. *That night marked the birth of the nation of Israel but it also was a picture of a greater birth and a greater sacrifice to come many centuries later; the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death upon the cross as the true Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (*added comment by Phil).

But before going on let's see what John wrote about the circumstances of Jesus' death, the death of the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

John is at the foot of the Cross holding Mary, suffering a mothers grief at losing ones son. John tells us in his account of Jesus'' death that although they broke the legs of the other two being crucified they didn't break those of Jesus "so that the scripture passage might be fulfilled: 'Not a bone of it will be broken.'" Here John is referencing the requirement that the bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken as found in Exodus 12:46 "You shall not break any of its bones."

We can confidently say that John wants us to link the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross to the first Passover because not only does John mention 'not breaking any bones' but even before that statement John still points to this night of the first Passover when he mentions how Jesus was given wine to quench His thirst by using a sprig of hyssop, the same type of plant used to mark the doorframes with the blood of the sacrificial lambs on that fateful night (Exo 12:22).

So what happened at the first Passover that John would bring us back to this point in time while Jesus is being crucified? Maybe because John wants us to see the connection between the sacrificial lamb (John 1:29) who saved us from the bondage of sin with the lamb who saved the Israelites from the bondage to the Pharaoh in Egypt. Maybe because he believed the same as Paul did when he wrote to Timothy that "All scripture is…useful for teaching… and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16). So we know that the sacrificial system of the Jewish liturgy of the Passover celebration teaches us, trains us in righteousness. We also see in Malachi that this liturgy will be changed and fulfilled or brought to fruition through his prophecy that: "For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations; And everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; For great is my name among the nations, says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:11)

First, we see that at the time the book of Malachi was written, God's name was NOT great among the nations, therefore this is a prophecy of things to come. Second, at the mention of "a pure offering", what is the only pure offering ever brought to His name? Jesus. Third, we see that at that same event incense is also brought. This rules out most Evangelical and Fundamentalist groups as they cannot and do not fulfill this part of the prophecy because they don't use incense in their worship/liturgical ceremonies. And finally, "from the rising of the sun to its setting". All day long in other words. Which worship ceremony uses incense and brings a pure offering all day long (from rising to setting of the sun) all around the world? The Catholic Church is the only church which can claim this.

But what about the pure offering? What are we to do with it when we offer it to God? Well, just look at what John was pointing to when Jesus was dying on the Cross. Look At what the Israelites had to do at the first Passover sacrifice – they to kill the lamb and then eat it (Exo 12:7-8 or Exo 12:43-47). It wasn't enough to sacrifice the lamb and to put its blood on the door frames. To save the first-born sons of each household, they also had to eat the lamb as well. How can we be sure of this? By listening to Jesus' own words of John 6 which states "I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.". And to confirm this suspicion, the account of the Last Supper as described by Matthew, Mark, Luke and Paul all say the same when holding the unleavened bread once it was blessed. Jesus says "This IS my body...this IS my blood".

God Bless
Nathan

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Before the Fall, This Cometh...

I was asked to do another posting on "Pride" - so I began today. Below are some quick references to give us a head start, I'll add some more comments of my own later...




"The Devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked." - St. Thomas More, 16th Century
"God is stern in dealing with the arrogant, but to the humble He shows kindness." - Proverbs 3:34
"Hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to the love of God ..." - The Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2094
Overweening pride, arrogance, haughtiness: these have been the stuff of tragedy. Vanity, fussiness, delicacy: the stuff of comedy. These are all forms of self-delusion, and paper-thin masks over rotting features. Pride and vanity refuse the truth about who we are and substitute illusions for reality. While vanity is mostly concerned with appearance, pride is based in a real desire to be God, at least in one's own circle.
The first requirement of pride is spiritual blindness. Any glimpse of God reveals our frailty and sinfulness, just as a well-lit bathroom mirror shows the flaws in our complexion. Like Oedipus, we are driven to gouge out our eyes at the sight of our wretchedness and wander away from our heavenly home, with no purpose or direction. Unlike Oedipus, we build up myriad illusions about who we are and what we are about. We can busy ourselves with career, family and even church work, thinking we are being driven by a strong work ethic, moral values or the fire of the Holy Spirit. In reality, we may be running away from God by running away from ourselves. Nearly everyone else can see that we are putting on a show, but not us. Our coworkers may hate us (they are just jealous), our children may self-destruct or leave us (they are ungrateful), and we may never truly pray but merely stand in the presence of a god we have created, but we still refuse to see.
A second requirement of pride, indeed a symptom, is that each challenge to our pride drives us harder to improve our illusion of productivity, sanctity or compassion. It has been said that the definition of a zealot is "one who has lost sight of his goal, and so redoubles his efforts." We might say the zealot works twice as hard to keep up appearances.
When we hear sermons about pride, or read this text, we may be tempted to think of all the people we know who really need to read it. We need to read it. Pride is about us, and we would love to retain our illusions by pointing to others, saying: "But they are very proud. I really don't think I'm that great, but they do."
The best pride detector is this: how much are we bothered by the pride of others? And if we feel attacked, is our response: "other people are worse."
A strong indicator of pride is competitiveness. There is nothing wrong with playing to win, provided the joy is in the playing. If our happiness depends on defeating others or knowing our child is the star of the team, we are building a world of illusion.
At death, all illusions are stripped away. God's judgment will not take into account our bank balance, how much we own, how smart our children are or how much self-esteem we have. All that will matter is whether He recognizes us (Matthew 25:12).
There are three ways to destroy Pride, and they must all be taken together:
1) Be grateful to anyone and everyone. Treat even the things people are expected to do as great gifts. Be grateful for your food, your change at Burger King, rain, life itself. Thank everyone.
2) Beg forgiveness of God for the sin of Pride. Go before Him in prayer every day or every few hours and implore His mercy. The more this offends you, the more Pride you have.
3) Ask God for a spirit of Humility and Gratitude. Read Philippians 2:3-11 and imitate it. Understand that without God's Grace, we will never cast away our illusions. Ask God to break your pride and vanity using whatever it takes: illness, loss of friends, loss of family, public humiliation. This is unbelievably difficult to request, and every fiber of our being fights it. We protest it is not fair, or "God doesn't work that way." My friend, what good is health, friends, family, a good reputation, if you have no real love for God, but only a hollow illusion? In the end, all but true love for God is lost, so count all else but God as loss now.
Copyright 2000 - Permission to copy granted provided this notice is retained.
4799540 pages served since 1996 www.whitestonejournal.com




Medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas said of Pride "inordinate self-love is the cause of every sin (1,77) ... the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule."
http://www.deadlysins.com/sins/pride.html




Pride (Latin, superbia)
Main article: Pride
In almost every list pride (or hubris or vanity) is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and indeed the ultimate source from which the others arise. It is identified as a desire to be more important or attractive than others, failing to give compliments to others though they may be deserving of them,[citation needed] and excessive love of self (especially holding self out of proper position toward God). Dante's definition was "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor." In Jacob Bidermann's medieval miracle play, Cenodoxus, pride is the deadliest of all the sins and leads directly to the damnation of the titulary famed Parisian doctor. In perhaps the best-known example, the story of Lucifer, pride (his desire to compete with God) was what caused his fall from Heaven, and his resultant transformation into Satan. Vanity and narcissism are prime examples of this sin. In Dante's Divine Comedy, the penitent were forced to walk with stone slabs bearing down on their backs in order to induce feelings of humility.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Pride_.28Latin.2C_superbia.29

Monday, November 17, 2008

What We Sow...

Our priest last Sunday gave a sermon on the Sower (I guess loosely connected to the parable of the Mustard Seed, which was the Gospel reading). He asked the question, "What kind of seeds are we planting?" He also cautioned us about planting seeds which either are or lead to the Seven Deadly Sins. Father stressed especially "anger" which brought to mind some instances going on in a couple of the email groups I host through A.C.T.S. I'll not go naming names, if the participants in the group(s) are reading this, they know who they are – and I will add, that I myself am not immune from this criticism and/or suggestion for keeping in mind what I am saying and to whom and where what I say may lead (either myself or the persons reading).

Falling into one of the Seven Deadly Sins (see links below) is especially dangerous for if we willingly do so, we are separating ourselves from Sanctifying Grace. If we respond in anger or with angry words, what kind of seeds are we planting? What will these seeds mature into? It may, at times, seem like we're just responding off-the-cuff and don't even realize it. Perhaps we don't think too much about it at all, but consider the seeds we're planting. What we sow, so shall we reap. Words which are posted in anger tend to merely reap anger - plus the more one posts with anger, the more that person appears to BE and angry person. The more we use that approach, the more we are truly becoming an angry person. In short, we're not making progress in getting angry and we may be putting ourselves into mortal sin.

This is not to say there aren't times when anger can be and is justified. Jesus Himself was angry with the moneychangers in the Temple. He also referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites and the blind leading the blind. Still, Jesus used anger sparingly and if we look at the overall method of Jesus - He is very reserved in His delivery and more often uses a peaceful message.

Back to the point of the sermon...
We need to be mindful of our actions and words so that we are not planting seeds of the Seven Deadly Sins. If those seeds mature in us - then we have lost Sanctifying Grace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins <- Wiki Article

A lighter look at the Seven Deadly Sins - but makes you think!
http://www.deadlysins.com/features/isle.html <- 7 Deadly Sins of Gilligan's Island.

Thursday, November 13, 2008