Friday, December 31, 2021

New Year's Eve 2021



Time is told by death, who doubts it? But time is always halved--for all we know, it is halved--by the eye-blink, the synapse, the immeasurable moment of the present. Time is only the past and maybe the future; the present moment, dividing and connecting them, is eternal. The time of the past is there, somewhat, but only somewhat, to be remembered and examined. We believe that the future is there too, for it keeps arriving, though we know nothing about it. But try to stop the present for your patient scrutiny, or to measure its length with your most advanced chronometer. It exists, so far as I can tell, only as a leak in time, through which, if we are quiet enough, eternity falls upon us and makes its claim. And here I am, an old man, traveling as a child among the dead.

We measure time by its deaths, yes, and by its births. For time is told also by life. As some depart, others come. The hand opened in farewell remains open in welcome. I, who once had grandparents and parents, now have children and grandchildren. Like the flowing river that is yet always present, time that is always going is always coming. And time that is told by death and birth is held and redeemed by love, which is always present. Time, then, is told by love's losses, and by the coming of love, and by love continuing in gratitude for what is lost. It is folded and enfolded and unfolded forever and ever, the love by which the dead are alive and the unborn welcomed into the womb. The great question for the old and the dying, I think, is not if they have loved and been loved enough, but if they have been grateful enough for love received and given, however much. No one who has gratitude is the onliest one. Let us pray to be grateful to the last.
--Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett: Early Travels

Like FoxConn?

Tell me again how FoxConn worked out for the GOP in Wisconsin. Those voters are also the people who think Trump had their interests at heart, and what did he do for industry? Still: Trump. Random jamoke on the intertoobs is messaging for the entire Democratic Party? You should have left it alone already. As I said. “working class voters” still think Trump actually cared about them, when Democrats provably do more for the working class than Republicans do.

And really, by now, the distinction is between college educated and non-college educated.
πŸ€”, indeed.

New Year’s Eve 2021

My favorite El Arroyo sign is still the one I saw in person, right after Lyle Lovett had married Julia Roberts. 

“The Nerds of America thank Lyle Lovett for keeping the dream alive,”

This is a close second.

The Federal/State Solution…

...is requiring vaccinations of all airline passengers.

True, there’s a black market in fake cards, but how many passengers are going to go to that trouble?

Sixth Day of Christmas 2021: "The Cultivation of Christmas Trees"


There are several attitudes towards Christmas,
Some of which we may disregard:
The social, the torpid, the patently commercial,
The rowdy (the pubs being open till midnight),
And the childish - which is not that of the child
For whom the candle is a star, and the gilded angel
Spreading its wings at the summit of the tree
Is not only a decoration, but an angel.


The child wonders at the Christmas Tree:
Let him continue in the spirit of wonder
At the Feast as an event not accepted as a pretext;
So that the glittering rapture, the amazement
Of the first-remembered Christmas Tree,
So that the surprises, delight in new possessions
(Each one with its peculiar and exciting smell),
The expectation of the goose or turkey
And the expected awe on its appearance,



So that the reverence and the gaiety
May not be forgotten in later experience,
In the bored habituation, the fatigue, the tedium,
The awareness of death, the consciousness of failure,
Or in the piety of the convert
Which may be tainted with a self-conceit
Displeasing to God and disrespectful to children
(And here I remember also with gratitude
St.Lucy, her carol, and her crown of fire):



So that before the end, the eightieth Christmas
(By "eightieth" meaning whichever is last)
The accumulated memories of annual emotion
May be concentrated into a great joy
Which shall be also a great fear, as on the occasion
When fear came upon every soul:
Because the beginning shall remind us of the end
And the first coming of the second coming.


Meanwhile, Back In Reality

On Jan. 6, lots of middle-class people got caught up in the crowd, Beirich added. They probably never thought they’d see the inside of a prison cell but deserve to go to prison all the same. “It was an attempt to overthrow an election, right? That’s a serious matter,” she said. “And you just hope that that’s enough for them to understand how wrong their actions were.”
Imprisonment is about punishment, not sending a message. And it’s worth noting the FBI has arrested 710 to date for their actions at the Capitol on January 6th.

The rule of law is alive and well.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

I Have Family And Friends…

...in Boulder County and nearby that county. The Lovely Wife and I left the area this morning. Tonight it is ablaze and the winds are not abating. The friends have been evacuated and are with family. They won’t know until morning if their home was spared, damaged, or destroyed.

Having left there just hours ago all I can think of is the holocaust and the anxiety, and the fortuitous circumstance that we left when we did so family had room to care for family.

Now if everything else just works out as well as that.

Suspects Don’t Have Rights!

That’s why they’re suspects!
And it’s the God-given right of police to protect us from suspects! Twitter told me so!

Contact Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe

You can trust their legal knowledge. They know it’s “HIPAA.”

Lawrence Tribe Never Practiced Criminal Law

I never look to law professors for advice on when to go to court. Prosecutors and litigators have a much better handle on that. Tribe may be a brilliant ConLaw professor. I wouldn’t want him representing me on a traffic ticket.

Fifth Day of Christmas 2021: Comites Christi

The days after Christmas honor the Comites Christi, the companions of Christ. They are honored with feast days following Christmas, especially Stephen and the Holy Innocents. But those are particulars, and we want the category.  There is no better introduction to the Comites Christi than the words of St. Augustine: 

Consider what is said to you: Love God. If you say to me: Show me whom I am to love, what shall I say if not what Saint John says: No one has ever seen God! But in case you should think that you are completely cut off from the sight of God, he says: God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God. Love your neighbor, then, and see within yourself the power by which you love your neighbor; there you will see God, as far as you are able. 

Begin, then, to love your neighbor. Break your bread to feed the hungry, and bring into your home the homeless poor; if you see someone naked, clothe him, and do not look down on your own flesh and blood. 

What will you gain by doing this? Your light will then burst forth like the dawn. Your light is your God; he is your dawn, for he will come to you when the night of time is over. He does not rise or set but remains for ever. 

In loving and caring for your neighbor you are on a journey. Where are you traveling if not to the Lord God, to him whom we should love with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind? We have not yet reached his presence, but we have our neighbor at our side. Support, then, this companion of your pilgrimage if you want to come into the presence of the one with whom you desire to remain for ever.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

When You Know You’ve Shamed Them

The Anxiety Of Adulthood

I’m gonna (yeah, “I’m gonna”) put these two beside each other for minute. Aaron remembers John Madden for the video games his name was attached to for marketing purposes. Then he mentions Madden the color commentator. Madden the football coach? Probably too before his time.

As for “Obama-era liberalism,” Bloom would call this “the anxiety of influence.” Everything old is threatening, especially the recently old. So we must kill the father (yes, Freud. Mea culpa). Many a revered artist/novelist /playwright, while alive, faced harsh criticism of now revered works.  And after death they all face re-evaluation: some become canonical, some disappear for centuries (Shakespeare, v. Donne, who was revived by Eliot and is now canonical). So it goes.

The dumbest part of this critique seems to be calling the Harry Potter novels “Obama-era,” largely because it fits the thesis and J.K.Rowling is not entirely sympathetic to trans issues. Her Harry Potter novels were published from 1997 to 2007. Obama was President from 2009 to 2017, so… not even close.

Anyway, it’s all the usual muddle of what someone grew up on no longer being the adult (and therefore god-like) authority they thought it was. And being unable to face that simple truth (all such authority is replaced by responsibility as you become an adult), you must “kill” the “authority.” Same as it ever was. Or, in the example of Madden, you don’t know why they had any authority in the first place. Part of being an adult is learning what you didn’t know, and taking responsibility for your ignorance. Well, rather than blaming the world for not being what you thought it was.

Although I did see the movie version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s predecessor play to “Hamilton.” He is too goddamned earnest.

‘Tis The Season

Ugh….

During an interview with conservative Christian broadcaster Todd Starnes, Schmeck said that he hoped people would find Jesus through the "Let's Go Brandon" phrase that he used to slur Biden. Some conservatives have used the phrase as a substitute for "F--k Joe Biden."
I don’t know which Jesus he wants people to find, but it’s not one I want to find.

“Dogs and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!”

Or, you know, not.
"Trump handed it to them,” said Carl Tobias, who teaches law at the University of Richmond in Virginia. He explained that Biden's record-tying 40 district and appellate court judges on the bench would never have happened if it wasn't for the two new Georgia senators. Only Ronald Regan shares the tie. “They just wouldn’t have had the votes. I don’t know what they would have done."

Biden has appointed a more diverse set of judges than any President in recent history. And there are more coming.

The people lying to you and the people trying to scare you are often indistinguishable. That’s usually because they have the same goals.

Fourth Day of Christmas 2021


The threefold terror of love; a fallen flare
Through the hollow of an ear;
Wings beating about the room;
The terror of all terrors that I bore
The Heavens in my womb.

Had I not found content among the shows
Every common woman knows,
Chimney corner, garden walk,
Or rocky cistern where we tread the clothes
And gather all the talk?

What is this flesh I purchased with my pains,
This fallen star my milk sustains,
This love that makes my heart’s blood stop
Or strikes a sudden chill into my bones
And bids my hair stand up?

--W.B. Yeats

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Real Problem Is…

He’s a week early.

Regarding The Whims Of The Intertoobs

Many fear that Trump has forever damaged what remains of our collective commitment to the rule of law*

We were pretty sure Ford did that when he pardoned Nixon.

And yet Trump lost 60 cases and the election several times (right up to January 6th) and the rioters he incited are going to jail. I’d say the commitment to the rule of law is still pretty sound. 

The article lists a lot of crimes Trump can be charged with. Whether he can be proven guilty is another matter. “Lock ‘im up!”  is not a better argument because “we” make it.

*i.e., “some people say”

Rand Paul Stands For Originalism

Only white male property owners should be able to vote, the way the founders intended.

Third Day of Christmas 2021: Holy Innocents



Santa Claus is for children, and Christmas Day is for children; but the whole story of Christmas is not.

When Herod realized he had been duped by the astrologers, he was outraged. He then issued a death warrant for all the male children in Bethlehem and surrounding region two years old and younger. this corresponded to the time [of the star] that he had learned from the astrologers. With this event the prediction made by Jeremiah the prophet came true:
'In Ramah the sound of mourning
and bitter grieving was heard:
Rachel weeping for her children.
She refused to be consoled:
They were no more.' " (Matthew 2: 16-18, SV)
Advent and Christmas are seasons steeped in mystery and the whole of the human story, from joy to misery, from peace to pain. We shield our children from these truths, so we can shield ourselves. We pretend God is only about love and peace and our happiness, and complain that the God of Israel is a god of blood and thunder, while the God of Jesus is a god of babies and rainbows. Neither simplicity is true, and the simplicity of the Christmas story, that it begins with the Annunciation to Mary and ends with the angels singing Gloria to the shepherds, is too simple to be true, also. Luke tells one story of the birth, where the power of the state forces the Holy Family to Bethlehem but that power merely fulfills the expectation that the redeemer of the line of David will come from the ancestral home of David. Matthew tells the other story; the story of Herod's fear and insecurity. This is the part of Christmas the world doesn't celebrate. This is the part of Christmas we ignore, for the sake of the children, we tell ourselves; but it's really for our sake. Just as we don't want Advent blighted with the deaths of the innocent, we don't want Christmas spent remembering the Holy Innocents.

This is truly the Church's portion of Christmas. Appropriate to the interests of the church, Walter Brueggeman would call Herod's concerns the theology of scarcity, and point out it's a very old game, even in Biblical history. It is a game we blame on God; but it is one entirely of our making, and it ties the story of the Holy Innocents to our secular observation of Christmas, and our cri de couer for someone to tell us what Christmas is all about. This story, is what it is all about. And the Coventry Carol captures it in one song:

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
bye, bye, lully lullay.

O sisters too, how may we do,
for to preserve this day,
this poor youngling for whom we sing,
bye, bye lully lullay.

Herod the king in his raging,
charged he hath this day,
his men of night, in his own sight,
all young children to slay.

Then woe is me, poor child, for thee!
And every morn and day,
for thy parting not say nor sing
bye, bye, lully lullay.

Lully, lullay, thou little tiny child,
bye, bye, lully lullay.

It is the only remnant of the story that still makes it into our Advent and Christmas music, though we may not always recognize the story and the reason it is a "Christmas carol." In another medieval play, “The Play of Herod,” they take the story even more seriously. To portray the story from Matthew, an angel is sent from God to console Rachel, but she refuses even the aid of God. She refuses all comfort. Of course she does; she is a grieving mother, her children are gone. What comfort can be offered to her? This is real; this has happened. What else could be felt, except bottomless grief, except the sucking, horrible pain of loss?

This is not Matthew reaching for yet another scriptural reference to support his nativity story. This is not Matthew trying to shore up his tale with yet another appeal to authority. This is Matthew telling us he has no words for this horror, and he must borrow words just to be sure we feel it as it was felt by those grieving mothers and fathers. This is not Matthew telling us this is true, because scriptures predicted it. This is Matthew telling us someone else, someone earlier, described it, caught the horror of it, knew what it felt like. This is Matthew telling us this is real. This is Matthew telling us to believe this birth occurred, because the world is not kind to saviors, even when they are babies. The world does not seek salvation, but its own contentment; and it does not react well to mystery.

So Rachel cannot be comforted, but that is not where "The Play of Herod" ends. It ends where it should: in holy mystery.
For there is a Te Deum sung: 'We praise you, God, we confess you as Lord.' The greatest chant of praise. This is sung by Mary and Joseph, processing through the audience, but they are joined in their song and procession by the animals and the angels, by the shepherds, by the lamenting Rachel and the parents of Bethlehem, and they are joined by the soldiers and their victims and by Herod. Knowing that (Hopkins again)

we are wound
With mercy round and round. . . .

they all, incarnate God and all creation, even death, tyrants and martyrs, all process and all sing praise. And we sing too, and find ourselves in the procession.

Today we can't imagine it. We take our Christmas with lots of sugar. And take it in a day. Though we've been baptized into his death, we have little time for or patience with how that death is told at Christmas, a death that confuses lament and praise forever. And no wonder we are careful to keep Christmas at an arm's length. What is Herod in these times?--Gabe Huck
Or, to return to Luke:

Lord, let your servant 
die in peace
for you kept your promise.
With my own eyes
I see the salvation
you prepared for all peoples;
a light of revelation for the Gentiles
and glory to your people Israel.
 
I like that translation for this context, because it emphasizes Simeon's wish:  he can die now, God's promise to him has been kept. But that's not the end of Luke's nativity, because Simeon turns back to Mary:

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;

(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Even in Luke's more beautiful, more popular version, we cannot escape it: the appalling strangeness of the mercy of God, and the penetrating mystery at the heart of the season, just as the year begins again.

“Context Is All”

So if you start here, you get a string of tweets in which an actual criminal defense lawyer debates sentencing with the great unwashed who seem to be of the mind of a Vonnegut character (from “Cat’s Cradle,” if memory serves), who wanted criminals strung from lampposts with signs around their necks: “Momma, here’s your boy!” N.b. Sentencing does send a message, and the message is: “We can do what we want to you!”

Horowitz has a point in his fight on this thread: But then if you follow this tweet: You find comments like this: The majority of Twitter (or the intertoobs) may seem like an insane and evil place. But the majority is not the entirety.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Not Sure How Many…

…”Trump judges” there are on the 5th Circuit bench.

Pretty sure it doesn’t matter.

Update On The Whiny Loser

At least he had to do it on Bannon’s podcast.

Despite the fact I’m posting about this, I am fully ready to ignore these idiots. There were people greeting Kennedy in Dallas on November 22 who didn’t think he was legitimate, either. Books were written about how LBJ “stole” the election.

It’s still the same old story.

Second Day of Christmas 2021: Minstrel's Song


("Only connect." --E.M. Forster)

I've just had an astonishing dream as I lay in the straw.
I dreamed a star fell on to the straw beside me
And lay blazing. Then when I looked up
I saw a bull come flying through a sky of fire
And on its shoulders a huge silver woman
Holding the moon. And afterwards there came
A donkey flying through that same burning heaven
And on its shoulders a colossal man
Holding the sun. Suddenly I awoke
And saw a bull and a donkey kneeling in the straw,
and the great moving shadows of a man and a woman---
I say they were a man and a woman but
I dare not say what I think they were. I did not dare to look.
I ran out here into the freezing world
Because I dared not look. Inside that shed.

A star is coming this way along the road.
If I were not standing upright, this would be a dream.
A star the shape of a sword of fire, point-downward,
Is floating along the road. And now it rises.
It is shaking fire on to the roofs and the gardens.
And now it rises above the animal shed
Where I slept till the dream woke me. And now
The star is standing over the animal shed.

--Ted Hughes

Peace On Earth, Goodwill Towards Those I Agree With

Barry Goldwater. The John Birch Society (which has never gone away). Pat Buchanan. To name a few.

I’m honestly trying to see what’s changed in my lifetime. I don’t see any change.

The True Meaning Of Xmas πŸŽ„ Gifts 🎁

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Asking The Wrong Damn-Fool Question

How soon, Chuck? I dunno, Chuck, how soon do we teach that “white” is normative?

“Freedom Of Speech…

"...means you can’t make me feel bad for being a jerk.”

Christmas 2021: St. Stephen's Day


First, the reason for the feast day.  It commemorates Stephen, the first martyr of the church:

54 When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. 55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.  (Acts 7:54-60)

We remember this, if at all, because of the song:

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even;

Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gath'ring winter fuel.

'Hither, page, and stand by me,
If thou know'st it, telling
Yonder peasant, who is he?
Where and what his dwelling?'

'Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes' fountain.'

'Bring me flesh and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither,
Thou and I will see him dine
When we bear them thither.'

Page and monarch forth they went,
Forth they went together,
Through the rude wind's wild lament
And the bitter weather.

'Sire, the night is darker now
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know not how,
I can go no longer.'

'Mark my footsteps, good my page,
Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.'

In his master's steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
Which the Saint had printed.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing.

Which, if turns out, was written in 1853 to a 13th century tune.

The carol was written for the Feast of St Stephen, better known as Boxing Day. And it celebrates the long tradition of charitable giving on the Second Day of Christmas.

That "long tradition" is something else we've lost in America, thanks to the Puritans who despised Christmas and all traditions surrounding it.  As for Wenceslaus, he had a rough time of it:

Duke, martyr, and patron of Bohemia, born probably 903; died at Alt-Bunzlau, 28 September, 935.

His parents were Duke Wratislaw, a Christian, and Dragomir, a heathen. He received a good Christian education from his grandmother (St. Ludmilla) and at Budweis. After the death of Wratislaw, Dragomir, acting as regent, opposed Christianity, and Wenceslaus, being urged by the people, took the reins of government. He placed his duchy under the protection of Germany, introduced German priests, and favoured the Latin rite instead of the old Slavic, which had gone into disuse in many places for want of priests. Wenceslaus had taken the vow of virginity and was known for his virtues. The Emperor Otto I conferred on him the regal dignity and title. For religious and national motives, and at the instigation of Dragomir, Wenceslaus was murdered by his brother Boleslaw. The body, hacked to pieces, was buried at the place of murder, but three years later Boleslaw, having repented of his deed, ordered its translation to the Church of St. Vitus in Prague. The gathering of his relics is noted in the calendars on 27 June, their translation on 4 March; his feast is celebrated on 28 September.
There's a surprising amount of death on the Christian calendar after the celebration of the birth of the Christ-child.  It's almost a reminder that "peace on earth, goodwill toward" all, is not so much a gift as a hope that we have some part in.  But our part is active, not just passive.

'Mark my footsteps, good my page,
Tread thou in them boldly:
Thou shalt find the winter's rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.'

Christmas Music 🎢


Refrain 
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You has got a manger bed.
All the evil folk on earth
Sleep in feathers at their birth.
Jesus, Jesus, rest your head.
You has got a manger bed. 

Have you heard about our Jesus? 
Have you heard about his fate? 
How his mammy went to the stable 
On that Christmas Eve so late? 
Winds were blowing, cows were lowing, 
Stars were glowing, glowing, glowing.

 Refrain

To the manger came the Wise Men. 
Bringing gifts from hin and yon, 
For the mother and the father, 
And the blessed little Son. 
Milkmaids left their fields and flocks 
And sat beside the ass and ox. 

Refrain

I’m sure if this were more popular it would upset parents who think it makes rich children feel guilty.


First Sunday After Christmas Day 2021: Morning Praise


O God, open my lips,/and my mouth will declare your praise.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Antiphon:  Live on in me, as I do in you.

Psalm 148

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights!

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars!

Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.

He established them forever and ever; he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.

Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps,

fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command!

Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!

Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds!

Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth!

Young men and women alike, old and young together!

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.

He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his faithful, for the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!

[silent reflection]

Colossians 3:12-17

As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

[silent reflection]

Luke 2:41-52

Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day's journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.

After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety."  He said to them, "Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them.

Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

[silent reflection]

Benedictus Antiphon

If any would serve me, let them follow me.

BENEDICTUS

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,

who shepherds the people and sets them free.

God raises from David's house

a child with power to save.

Through the holy prophets

God promised in ages past

to save us from enemy hands,

from the grip of all who hate us.

The Lord favored our ancestors

recalling the sacred covenant,

the pledge to our ancestor Abraham,

to free us from our enemies,

so we might worship without fear

and be holy and just all our days.

And you, child, will be called

Prophet of the Most High,

for you will come to prepare

a pathway for the Lord

by teaching the people salvation

through forgiveness of their sin.

Out of God's deepest mercy

a dawn will come from on hight,

light for those shadowed by death,

a guide for our feet on the way to peace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

[Repeat Benedictus antiphon]

Our Father....

Source of strength and courage, you gave our beloved martyr Stephen the conviction of faith to the very end.  Grace us with the ability to translate your teachings into action, remain patient amid hardship and live as your true and faithful servants.  We ask this, O God, through Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

May God bless us and keep us. May God smile upon us and be gracious to us. May God look upon us kindly, and give us peace. Amen.

Let us bless God/and give thanks.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas 2021: Evening Praise

 O God, come to my assistance/make haste to help me.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.


ANTIPHON

Let us dance with delight in the Lord and let our hearts be filled with rejoicing, for eternal salvation has appeared on the earth, alleluia.

Psalm 98

Sing to the Lord a new song,
the Lord of wonderful deeds.
Right hand and holy arm
brought victory to God.

God made that victory known,
revealed justice to nations,
remember a merciful love
loyal to the house of Israel.
The ends of the earth have seen
the victory of our God.

Shout to the Lord, you earth,
break into song, break into praise!
Sing praises to God with a harp,
with a harp and sound of music.
With sound of trumpet and horn,
shout to the Lord, our king.

Let the sea roar with its creaturs,
the world and all that live there!
Let rivers clap their hands,
the hills ringout with joy!

The Lord our God comes,
comes to rule the earth,
justly to rule the world,
to govern the peoples aright.

(silent reflection)

Psalm 97

The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.
Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

The LORD loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

(silent reflection)

Psalm 96

O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.

Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Worship the LORD in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.

Say among the nations, "The LORD is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity."
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth. 


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

ANTIPHON

Let us dance with delight in the Lord and let our hearts be filled with rejoicing, for eternal salvation has appeared on the earth, alleluia.

READING                                                                          John 1:1-14                               

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.

All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.  He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.  He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

(silent reflection)

MAGNIFICAT ANTIPHON: 

Hodie Christus natus est;
Hodie salvator apparuit;
Hodie in terra canunt angeli,
    laetuntur archangeli;
Hodie exultant just, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo:  Alleluia.

This day Christ is born;
This day the savior has appeared;
This day angels are singing on earth,
    archangels are rejoicing;
This day the just are glad and say:
Glory to God in the highest, Alleluia!

MAGNIFICAT 

I acclaim the greatness of the Lord,

I delight in God my Savior,

who regarded my humble state.

Truly from this day on

all ages will call me blest.


For God, wonderful in power,

has used that strength for me.

Holy the name of the Lord!

whose mercy embraces the faithful,

one generation to the next,.


The mighty arm of God

scatters the proud in their conceit,

pulls tyrants from their thrones,

and raises up the humble.

The Lord fills the starving

and lets the rich go hungry.


God rescues lowly Israel,

recalling the promise of mercy,

the promise made to our ancestors,

to Abraham's heirs for ever.


Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

MAGNIFICAT ANTIPHON: 

Hodie Christus natus est;
Hodie salvator apparuit;
Hodie in terra canunt angeli,
    laetuntur archangeli;
Hodie exultant just, dicentes:
Gloria in excelsis Deo:  Alleluia.

This day Christ is born;
This day the savior has appeared;
This day angels are singing on earth,
    archangels are rejoicing;
This day the just are glad and say:
Glory to God in the highest, Alleluia!

Our Father...

Wonderful the dignity you bestowed, O God, on human nature when you created it; more wonderful still its condition when you recreated it.  Grant, we pray,, that as Jesus Christ, your Son, stooped to share our human nature, so we may share the lot of his divine nature.  Through that same Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit has shared one life and kingly power, one godhead, from all eternity.  Amen.

May God bless us, deliver us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.

Let us bless God/and give thanks.

Christmas Day 2021


 Immensity, cloister’d in thy dear womb,

Now leaves His well-beloved imprisonment.

There he hath made himself to his intent

Weak enough, now into our world to come.

But O! for thee, for Him, hath th’ inn no room?        5

Yet lay Him in this stall, and from th’ orient,

Stars, and wise men will travel to prevent

The effects of Herod’s jealous general doom.

See’st thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eye, how He

Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?         

Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,

That would have need to be pitied by thee?

Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,

With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.


--John Donne

Christmas Day 2021

I used this in lieu of a sermon for my very first Christmas Day Service (in the end I only did two, both in that small country church of truly wonderful people).  I'm not doing a sermon this year on Christmas Day either; but I can still offer you this:

The World in a Bowl of Soup

by Annie Dillard

Once there was a great feast held in a banquet hall of such enormous proportions that you could not believe men built such a thing.  Two thousand chandeliers hung from the ceiling: lumber cut from all the world’s forests made the walls and parti-color floor.  Great loose areas of the hall were given to various activities: there were dances and many kinds of gaming: a corner was devoted to the sick and injured, and another to the weaving of cloth.  Children chanted rhymes wherever they gathered, and young men sought pretty girls in greenhouses or behind the damask hangings of booths and stalls.

The feast lasted all night long.  Guests sat at a table as long as a river that stretched down the middle of the hall.  No one cloth could cover such a table, nor could one centerpiece suffice.  So the table was decorated in hundreds of different themes, with different combinations of colors and kinds of tableware, with various carved figures and various drinks, and with lively musicians in costume playing to each set of guests a special music.

There was only a single course served to the guests, but that was a soup made of so many ingredients it seemed to contain all other dishes.  The soup was served continuously, all night long, and there were so many guests that all the places at the table were always taken, and the benches always full, when the servants ladled the soup into the endlessly decorated array of metal, glass, wood, and pottery bowls.

***

Now, the host of this feast was a young man of tremendous wealth and power who stood behind a curtain on a balcony above the great hall and watched the guests as they ate and drank at the long table.  He thought: “All night long people have been eating as much soup as they wanted and then coming back to the table for more.  It is good that they enjoy themselves.  But not one person has seen or really understood the excellence of that soup.”

So the host parted the curtain a crack more and let his gaze fall.  It fell directly on an old man who happened to be sitting at the table in his line of vision, looking about and thinking of nothing at all.  At once the old man felt an overwhelming sense of power, an impact as if his spirit had been struck broadside and wakened to a flood of light.  He bowed his head and saw, through charged eyes, his bowl of soup that had come alive and was filled to endless depths with wonderful things.

There were green fields in his soup bowl, with carrots growing one by one, in slender rows.  As he watched, transfixed, men and women in bright vests and scarves came and pulled the carrots, one by one, out of the soil, and carried them in baskets to shaded kitchens, where they scrubbed them with yellow brushes under running water.  He saw white-faced cattle lowing and wading in rivers, with dust on the whorled and curly white hair between their ears.  He saw tomatoes in kitchen gardens set out as seedlings by women in plaid shirts and by strong-handed men; and he watched the tomatoes as, before his eyes, the light from the sun blew each one up like a balloon.  Cells on the root hairs of beans swelled and divided, and squashes grew spotted and striped in the fall.  Wine aged in caves, and the barrel maker went home to his wife through sunlight and shade.

He saw the ocean, and he seemed to be in the ocean himself, swimming over orange crabs that looked like coral, or off the deep Atlantic banks where whitefish school.  Or again he saw the tops of poplars and the whole sky brushed with clouds in pallid streaks, under which wild ducks flew with outstretched necks and called, one by one, and flew on.

All these things the old man saw in his soup.  Scenes grew in depth and sunlit detail under his eyes and were replaced by ever more scenes, until, with the flight of wild ducks, the worlds resolved into one blue sky, now streaked, now clear, and, at last, into soup again, dark soup, fragrant in its bowl.  The host had let the curtain fall shut.

The man blinked and moved his head from side-to-side.  “I see now,” he said to himself, “that this is truly an excellent soup, praise God.”  And he ate his bowlful and joined the dancers in a daze, a kind of very energetic daze.


May it be unto you according to your faith.  Merry Christmas, and the happiest of holidays, to you and yours.

Christmas Day 2021

 


Christ is born.  He is born to us.  And, He is born today.  For Christmas is not merely a day like every other day. It is a day made holy and special by a sacred mystery.  It is not merely another day in the weary round of time.  Today, eternity enters into time, and time, sanctified, is caught up into eternity.  Today, Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who was in the beginning with the Father, in whom all things were made, by whom all things consist, enters into the world which he created in order to reclaim souls who had forgotten their identity.  Therefore, the church exults, as the angels come down to announce not merely an old thing which happened long ago, but a new thing which happens today.  For today, God the Father makes all things new, in his divine Son, our redeemer, according to his words:  ecce nova facio omnia.

Therefore, the church on earth joins with the church  in heaven to sing one same song, the new song, the canticum novum which the propeht commanded all to sing after the world should be been redeemed by the Christ, whoc ancestor he knew, by revelation, that he should be. When David cried out:  "Sing to the Lord a new song" he was the first precentor to intone the songs the church would sing on this day in her liturgy, as she announces to the whole world salvation and joy.  For as St. Leo says: "Today there has shone upon us a day of new redemption, a day restoring that which was lost, a day of bliss unending."

--Thomas Merton


Come, then, let us observe the feast.  Come, and we shall commemorate a festival; but truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the nativity.  For this day the ancient slavery is ended; the devil confounded; the demons take to flight; the power of death is broken; paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sins is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been implanted upon the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men how hold speech with angels.

Why is this? Because God is now on earth,, and man in heaven; on every side things commingle.  He has come on earth, while being whole in heaven; and while complete in heaven, he is without diminution on earth.  Though he was God, he became man; not denying himself to be God.  Though being the impassable Word, he became flesh; that he might dwell amongst us.  He became flesh.  He did not become God. He was God.  Wherefore he became flesh, so that he whom heaven did not contain, a manger wouild this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that he, by whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant's food from his virgin mother.  So, the father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms. that the magi may more easily see him.

--John Chrysostom, fifth century

Christmas Day 2021



As I in hoary winter’s night stood shivering in the snow,
Surpris’d I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty Babe all burning bright did in the air appear;
Who, scorched with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
“Alas!” quoth he, “but newly born, in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I!
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns;
The fuel Justice layeth on, and Mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men’s defiled souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
      So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.”
      With this he vanish’d out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
      And straight I called unto mind that it was Christmas day.

--Robert Southwell

Christmas Day 2021: Morning Praise



O God, open my lips,/and my mouth will declare your praise.  Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Antiphon:  Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will come to life again.

Psalm 97

The LORD is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!

Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Fire goes before him, and consumes his adversaries on every side.

His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.

Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.

For you, O LORD, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

The LORD loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!

[silent reflection]

Titus 3:4-7

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

[silent reflection]

Luke 2:1-20

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered.

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see--I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!"

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

[silent reflection]

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Antiphon:  Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will come to life again.

Benedictus Antiphon

Christ must reign until God has put all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy to be destroyed is death.

BENEDICTUS

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,

who shepherds the people and sets them free.

God raises from David's house

a child with power to save.

Through the holy prophets

God promised in ages past

to save us from enemy hands,

from the grip of all who hate us.

The Lord favored our ancestors

recalling the sacred covenant,

the pledge to our ancestor Abraham,

to free us from our enemies,

so we might worship without fear

and be holy and just all our days.

And you, child, will be called

Prophet of the Most High,

for you will come to prepare

a pathway for the Lord

by teaching the people salvation

through forgiveness of their sin.

Out of God's deepest mercy

a dawn will come from on hight,

light for those shadowed by death,

a guide for our feet on the way to peace.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

[Repeat Benedictus antiphon]

Our Father....

Gracious and loving God, your Son Jesus has become your presence among us. Not as a person of power and strength haveyou been revealed, but as the suffering servant, the gentle healer.  Give us the courage to share through patience in his sufferings so that we might also share in the kindgom where he lives and reigns with you and the Spirit forever.  Amen.

May God bless us and keep us. May God smile upon us and be gracious to us. May God look upon us kindly, and give us peace. Amen.

Let us bless God/and give thanks.