Thursday, February 11, 2016

When YouTubers Misrepresent the Catholic Church

I'm not sure how popular he is (I've never heard of him before), but there's a guy on YouTube named Mike Winger who has a 4-part video series with which he attempts to refute the teachings of the Catholic Church. I don't even remember now how I found the guy, but somehow I ended up on Part 4 and started watching it (I haven't seen the other parts yet).

He does seem to have some familiarity with Catholicism, almost like someone who used to be Catholic but then fell away. But, he also misrepresents the teaching of the Church a great deal. People were pointing this out in the comments, but no one was giving any actual examples so I thought I would provide that worthwhile service.

Note that I am not even bothering to respond to his theological errors or his misinterpretations of Scripture (maybe that's a post for another day). I am simply pointing out the times when he misrepresented what the Church teaches or why She does what She does. But, I think that even this exercise can be instructive for people. I hope you find it helpful.

Let us begin:

1:25 - Yes, a sacrament is a means of grace. Your mistake was when you put it in your own words. We do not believe that the sacraments are "a way that you can earn grace." You will not find that anywhere in the Catechism. The only one working in the sacraments is God.

2:12 - It was not "certain forms of indulgences" that were frowned upon, but instead the abuse of a legitimate practice.

2:40 - While indulgences are a part of the spiritual life of the Catholic, and they are not something that a Catholic could say were false, I would not go so far as to say that they are "essential to Catholicism." I think you're giving indulgences more prominence then they deserve.

3:58 - Our reason for believing that the sacraments are necessary is not because "there isn't enough with just Jesus." We have the sacraments and find them necessary because the grace of Jesus -- which is MORE than enough -- is given to us through them.

4:08 - Yes, Catholics have to baptize their children into the Catholic Church. But, you seemed to imply that Catholics don't recognize the baptisms of other Christian denominations, which would not be true. Any person baptized with the Trinitarian formula is validly baptized.

4:30 - Catholics believe that baptism washes away ALL sin, not just original sin. When baptized as an infant, baptism only washes away original sin because infants haven't committed their own sins yet. But, adults who receive baptism have ALL of their sins washed away.

5:09 - Catholics do not believe that being born again amounts to a mere declaration. Baptism makes us a new creation, we are regenerated by it, and indelible mark is placed on our soul so that we are forever changed. An infusion of grace takes place in baptism. By it we put away the old man and put on Christ. It is in every way more than a mere declaration of a new status.

7:29 - The "whole doctrine" on infant baptism is not built on the phrase from Acts that "his whole household" was baptized. It stands on much more evidence, and stronger evidence, than that ... although I will admit that this verse is a piece.

10:03 - The fact that the only minister of the sacrament of Confession is a priest does not mean that we can't go to Christ to have our sins forgiven. We can pray to Jesus with a contrite heart and He will forgive our venial sins. Only mortal sins are reserved to the sacrament. And at any rate, when we go to Confession we believe that we ARE going to Christ because it is Christ who forgives through the person of the priest.

10:47 - The treasury of the Church contains not just the good works of the canonized saints, but of all the saints in heaven and those on earth as well.

10:59 - They are not ONLY received through the keys, but I will say that the ministry of the Church is the primary or normative means.

11:47 - We don't follow the instructions of the priest (or, to put it another way, we do not perform our penance) in order to stay out of Purgatory. That is a result, but it is not the primary motive, which is to heal the negative effects that our sin has upon our neighbor and the Body of Christ.

12:25 - The stole is only purple in the administration of the sacrament, and then more because purple is representative of penance than because it is an expression of the authority of his office. In the administration of the other sacraments, the stole is the color of the liturgical season. The stole does represent the office of the priest, but it also represents the yoke of Christ, since it is worn over the shoulders of the priest.

16:27 - We do not believe that the purpose of the Mass is to "appease the wrath of God." That is nowhere present in the Catechism. The purpose of the Mass, specifically the sacrifice of the Mass, is to make Christ's work of redemption present to us and to apply its benefits.

18:33 - Mass is celebrated daily not because "grace is handed out piecemeal" but because Christ instructed his disciples to pray for their "daily bread", because it was the practice of the apostolic church to meet daily for the "breaking of the bread" (Acts 2:42, 46), because worship is not something that you just offer God on Sunday, and for many more reasons besides.

24:57 - You said it was "considered, at least for a long time, a mortal sin" to miss Mass, but that has never changed. It is still considered a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday. It flows from the requirement of the Third Commandment to keep the Lord's Day holy. But, a Catholic is not required to go to Mass on the other days of the week.

27:46 - We do not believe that the sacrifice of Christ is re-presented in the Mass every day because Jesus only paid for the sins one committed since the last time he went to Mass. Jesus paid the price once, we know that. But, the grace has to be applied to us. This happens every day in the Mass because sinners are always in need of the grace of God.

28:00 - The Church does not teach that we need this grace because we are constantly condemned. If you have committed sins, you will be forgiven, which is good and necessary. But grace does more than sanctify. It also enlightens the mind, strengthens the will against sin and temptation, helps us to be faithful to God and rids us of attachments to sin. It helps us to grow in holiness. All of this is certainly something that every person could stand to have more of. The Catholic faith is not about doing what you need to do every day in order to stay out of hell. It's about growth and maturity and persevering to the end (as Paul encouraged us to do) and strengthening our relationship with Christ.

30:06 - The Mass is not a continual reminder that one's sins are not fully paid for. No Catholic believes that, and that is not what the Church teaches. You quoted Hebrews where it says that Jesus paid it once and ... FOR EVER. Did you miss that part? Jesus "continues a priest for ever" (Heb 7:2) and "He always lives to make intercession for us" (Heb 7:25). The Mass simply makes that perpetual offering present to us.

31:46 - We are not "paying for sins again, and again, and again", as I have already explained.

32:01 - The primary purpose of going to Mass is not "to get freshly cleansed." It is to offer to God the worship He deserves. It is only secondarily about what we might get from it.

32:40 - Confirmation does not signify that the young Catholic has now "come of age." That is a widespread misconception, not the teaching of the Church.

33:05 - Again, we are not trying to "appease the wrath of God." We're not Puritans ;)

35:00 - There was no "upgrade". The teaching of the Church has always been the same regarding salvation in the Church. What Vatican II did was to clarify what it means to be "outside of the Church." You can find similar statements throughout the history of the Church.

37:52 - Catholic ecumenism does not "ignore differences" and that is not what Pope Francis is doing. Ecumenism is about using what we have in common as a bridge with which to bring Catholics and Protestants together so that we can experience unity in what we have in common, and so that the charity engendered by that unity will permeate our discussions of the things that we differ on and help us to come to a greater mutual understanding. This is the desire of not only Pope Francis, but of his recent predecessors as well.

41:23 - I have never seen Eph 5:26 used to defend Purgatory. I'm sure someone probably used it before, but it's not the go-to passage I would use. In fact, I'm not sure I would use it at all, since it only really applies to Purgatory in an analogous sort of way. I think you're tearing down a strawman here by using that passage as the representative text in defense of Purgatory.

53:36 - There is no belief entrenched in heart of Catholics that Mary loves us more than Jesus. I'm sorry, there's just not. I've also never heard of the prayer that you recited. I'm sure you can find it somewhere on the internet, but it's not a part of the common prayers that Catholics pray every day (the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, etc.). I could explain the meaning of the prayer, but this is not the place for that.

54:58 - We don't pray to images. Instead, we pray to the saint who is depicted in the image.

55:38 - We are also not taking something identical to worship and giving it a new name. Whether or not something is worship depends on the intention of the person performing the action more than it does on the action itself, and no Catholic intends to grant to the saints the adoration that is reserved to God alone. We know all the passages against idolatry. We do not worship anyone or anything other than God.

59:02 - The Catholic rebuttal is not that the word "brother" means "cousin", or at least that's not all that we say the word means. We acknowledge, as every Greek dictionary will tell you, that the word for "brother" (adelphos) encompasses a host of relations: sibling, cousin, nephew, close friend, tribesman, someone of the same nation, someone you share a spiritual kinship with, etc.

1:00:58 - We don't emphasize Mary more than Jesus. In fact, central to each of the Marian dogmas is a truth about Jesus that we are simultaneously affirming.

I think that's everything. I couldn't go more than 2 minutes or so without stumbling over something that was not presented accurately. It's shocking but I'm afraid that is the reality with many Protestant apologists. They simply do not know what they are attempting to refute. I don't think that Mike is intentionally trying to lead anyone astray. I just think that there is still more that he can learn about the Catholic faith.

Pax Christi,

Friday, January 22, 2016

On the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: Some Resources to Help You Fight the Good Fight

Unfortunately, I only have a short amount of time to post today about an issue that grieves me perhaps more than any other. Below you'll find links to information about abortion and my few meager offerings (seriously) on this subject.

I'm sure there are many, many other pro-life websites one could visit besides the ones I have listed (leave your favorite in the combox!). What I have done here is to assemble the ones I know are from a Catholic perspective.

This chart is also very helpful: Quick Responses to Common Pro-Choice Arguments.

Blog Posts
Good luck to you in your fight against the culture of death, and if you are on the front-lines in Washington, DC today, don't forget your mittens!

Our Lady of the Unborn ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,

Monday, January 18, 2016

On Martin Luther King Day: Black Catholics in the Church

Since today is Martin Luther King Day, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out the diversity that exists among the saints of the Catholic Church. Most of the time I think when a person hears the words "Catholic saint" the image of a white European guy comes to mind. But, Africans and African-Americans have also made a significant contribution to the life of the Church. This statement seems so obvious to me that it feels trite to even point it out. But, in the US there is a stereotype that Catholicism is only "for white people", and I want to put that to rest.

According to the National Black Catholic Congress, "270 million Catholics of African descent represent almost 25% of the one billion Roman Catholics throughout the world in more than 59 countries" (source). Almost 3 million of these live in the United States (source).

There are also many African and African-American saints. Here are just a few:

You may be surprised to find that at least three popes were of African descent:

For a list of current and deceased African-American and Black bishops, go here. Wikipedia's List of African-American Firsts is a great tribute as well. For more on Blacks in the Catholic Church, see The National Black Catholic Congress and the USCCB Subcommittee on African American Affairs.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Was Jesus Baptized?

In commemoration of today's Solemnity, it is worthwhile to ask ourselves: Why did Jesus consent to be baptized? I would like to offer three possible explanations.

First of all, he did it as an example for us.

Jesus’ entire life is an example for us of how to be human and how to follow God. His will was that people would repent of their sin and be baptized by John as a sign of their commitment to follow God. As a result, Jesus decided to be baptized, to show us how important it is to convert our hearts and make a public act of faith.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, gives us another reason. He says that Jesus’ baptism anticipates what He did for all mankind on the cross:
  • The act of descending into the waters of this Baptism implies a confession of guilt and a plea for forgiveness in order to make a new beginning. In a world marked by sin, then, this Yes to the entire will of God also expresses solidarity with men, who have incurred guilt but yearn for righteousness. The significance of this event could not fully emerge until it was seen in light of the Cross and Resurrection. Descending into the water, the candidates for Baptism confess their sin and seek to be rid of their burden of guilt. What did Jesus do in the same situation? Luke, who throughout his Gospel is keenly attentive to Jesus' prayer, and portrays him again and again at prayer -- in conversation with the Father -- tells us that Jesus was praying while he received Baptism (cf. Lk 3:21). Looking at the events in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind's guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross. He is, as it were, the true Jonah who said to the crew of the ship, "Take me and throw me into the sea" (Jon 1:12). The whole significance of Jesus' Baptism, the fact that he bears, "all righteousness," first comes to light on the Cross: The Baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out "This is my beloved Son" over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection. This also explains why, in his own discourses, Jesus uses the word baptism to refer to his death (cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50). (p. 17-18)

By descending into the waters of the Jordan, Jesus takes the place of all sinners, who were being called by John to do what Jesus was doing. He does the same thing on the Cross, where He pays the price for all man’s sin.

His going under the water is symbolic of burial and the destruction of sin that will take place on the cross. We see this purpose for water in the flood of Noah’s day, which buried and destroyed all the sin in the world.

His rising out of the water is symbolic of His resurrection. The dove that rests above Him and the voice that cries out from the heavens point to the glory that will be His once His work is finished.

St. Thomas Aquinas gives us yet a third reason. He says that the baptism of the Lord points to our Christian sacrament of baptism. The baptism of St. John the Baptist was merely symbolic. It was a way to publicly profess one’s commitment to conversion and repentance. It did not actually forgive sin or make one a member of the family of God like our sacrament of baptism does. But, when Jesus received the baptism of John, He “consecrated it” so to speak, just as His presence at the wedding feast of Cana is seen as God’s blessing over matrimony.

In other words, when the baptism of John is imbued with the presence of Christ, it becomes what we celebrate today, and in the baptism of Jesus we see glimpses of our sacrament. The water signifies the cleansing that takes place. The descent of the dove signifies the reception of grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The divine voice -- which cries out, “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased” -- signifies our adoption as beloved sons (or daughters) of God.

For more on the sacrament of baptism, see my previous blog posts:

Happy Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which concludes the Christmas season.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, January 03, 2016

For the Optional Memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
-- Phil 2:9-11

The month of January is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. The Liturgical Calendar at Catholic Culture has some helpful information on today's feast day:
Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite this feast is celebrated on January 2. In the liturgical revisions of Vatican II, the feast was removed, though a votive Mass to the Holy Name of Jesus had been retained for devotional use. With the release of the revised Roman Missal in March 2002, the feast was restored as an optional memorial in the Ordinary Form on January 3.

The Church reveals to us the wonders of the Incarnate Word by singing the glories of His name. The name of Jesus means Savior; it had been shown in a dream to Joseph together with its meaning and to Our Lady at the annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel.

Devotion to the Holy Name is deeply rooted in the Sacred Scriptures, especially in the Acts of the Apostles. It was promoted in a special manner by St. Bernard, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. John Capistrano and by the Franciscan Order. It was extended to the whole Church in 1727 during the pontificate of Innocent XIII. The month of January has traditionally been dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus which is kept on the First Sunday in the year; but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, the feast is kept on January 2.

The New Advent Encyclopedia tells us:
  • The Name of Jesus invoked with confidence
    • brings help in bodily needs, according to the promise of Christ: "In my name They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover". (Mark 16:17-18) In the Name of Jesus the Apostles gave strength to the lame (Acts 3:6; 9:34) and life to the dead (Acts 9:40).
    • It gives consolation in spiritual trials. The Name of Jesus reminds the sinner of the prodigal son's father and of the Good Samaritan; it recalls to the just the suffering and death of the innocent Lamb of God.
    • It protects us against Satan and his wiles, for the Devil fears the Name of Jesus, who has conquered him on the Cross.
    • In the Name of Jesus we obtain every blessing and grace for time and eternity, for Christ has said: "If you ask the Father anything in my name he will give it you." (John 16:23) Therefore the Church concludes all her prayers by the words: "Through Our Lord Jesus Christ", etc.
    So the word of St. Paul is fulfilled: "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (Phil., ii, 10).

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read:
  • 2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves" (cf. Ex 3:14; 33:19-23; Mt 1:21). The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him (Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20).

For more on the Holy Name, see the following articles:

Pax Christi,

For the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

An "epiphany" is a sudden manifestation or revelation of something. When we speak of the "Epiphany of the Lord" we mean the moments when the Son of God was revealed to mankind.

On this day, our thoughts are naturally drawn to the revelation of the Christ Child to the Three Wise Men. What a sight it must have been! Jesus was surely a child of indescribable beauty and splendor. Note that, by being born of Mary and of the line of David, he comes to the Jews. In his appearing to the Magi, he comes to the Gentiles. And thus, he is revealed to the whole world.

But, two other events in the life of Christ are commemorated on this day as well: the baptism of Jesus and the wedding at Cana. These events, just as much as the visitation of the Magi, are epiphanies of the Lord.

When Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River, a dove (symbol of the Holy Spirit) rested upon Him and a voice cried out from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Even before the baptism, John cried out, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Set your eyes upon Him! Jesus is the anointed Son of God and Savior of the world.

The wedding at Cana is the context for another epiphany in that it is here where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine. The gospel writer says of this miracle: “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him” (Jn 2:11). His glory was manifested on that day, a true epiphany.

Yet, is He not also revealed to us in the Mass? Does not the priest, after the consecration of the Eucharist, repeat the very same words as John the Baptist? “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world! Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!” I suggest to you that this moment too is an epiphany. Just as the divinity of the Lord was in a way veiled by his humanity, so too our Eucharistic Lord is veiled, hiding behind the species of bread and wine.

Yet, we know by faith that He is there, just as the Magi knew that this little child, born in a manger, was the long-awaited Messiah, just as John the Baptist knew as soon as he set eyes on Jesus that He was the Lamb of God who’s Precious Blood would wash away our sins -- and more important still -- just as Mary knew that she could ask anything of this Man and it would be done.

For more on the Epiphany of the Lord, see the following articles, as well as a hymn that we sung today at Mass:

What Child Is This?
Set to John Stainer's arrangement of the traditional tune "Greensleeves". Sung by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, 1995.

Pax Christi,

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Holy Family: A Triple Threat

I suspect that when most people think about the Holy Family, they imagine a picture of total happiness, where there is no suffering of any kind and where every day just turns out perfectly. Yes, Jesus and Mary were completely sinless, and Joseph was a most chaste and righteous man. But, they still had their difficulties.

The movie The Nativity Story is what first gave me a sense of this, but if you think about it, Scripture reveals it too. The Holy Family had many trials, including public scorn, homelessness, harsh environments and traveling conditions, a power-hungry and blood-thirsty king, and the pressures -- and ultimately the suffering -- that comes with knowing that your son must die to save the world.

What we can learn from this is that the Holy Family can relate to a family that struggles. A sword pierced Mary's heart, so that the thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed (cf. Lk 2:35). Joseph, for his part, had always on his shoulders the task of protecting and providing for this holiest of holy families. They both had quite a scare when, for three days, they had no clue where to find their son (cf. Lk 2:41-49). Of course, if anyone knows suffering, it is Jesus. As a family, they are acquainted with struggle, but more importantly, they also know how to overcome and to survive.

Because of their family experience, they are powerful intercessors when we wrestle with family issues. If you suffer because of your mother, find solace in Mary. She cares greatly for the entire Body of Christ, just as she cared for the literal body of Christ. Just as Sarah was the spiritual mother of the Jews (cf. 1 Pet 3:6), Mary is the spiritual mother of "those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus" (Rev 12:17). Her prayer for us will always be powerful because her will is always united with her Son's, and because "the prayer of the righteous has great power in its effects" (Jas 5:16).

If you suffer because of your father, find solace in St. Joseph, Jesus' father in this world. St. Joseph will never forsake his fatherly duty. He is the patron saint and the protector of families. With his powerful intercession, he protects God's children, just like he protected God's Child. As Mary's most chaste spouse, he also teaches boys how to be good men, and men how to be good men too. Pray that St. Joseph will help your father to be the man that God is calling him to be.

Of course, there is no intercession, no solace, no love, no source of strength and courage and hope like that of the Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our Rock and our Salvation. In Him, we can do all things, overcome all things, be all things. Together, the mother, the father, and the Son are a triple threat against anything that threatens the integrity of the family.

For more on the Holy Family, see the following articles. I conclude with the words from a song about the Holy Family that we often sing at Mass.

Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary ... have mercy on us.
Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church ... pray for us.
Joseph, Protector of Families ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,
- - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - -
Sing of Mary

Sing of Mary, pure and lowly, Virgin mothjer undefiled.
Sing of God's own Son most holy, Who became her little child.
Fairest child of fairest mother, God the Lord who came to earth;
Word made flesh, our very brother, Takes our nature by His birth.

Sing of Mary, pure and spotless, Born to bear the Holy Child;
Blest was she, to do God's bidding, Blessed, gentle, meek and mild.
Blessed, too, was good Saint Joseph, Foster father to the Lord;
Let us praise God's Holy Family Who brought forth God's Holy Word.

Sing of Mary, sing of Joseph, keepers of the wondrous Boy,
Called by God to high vocation, Sharing sorrow, sharing joy;
Sharing love, and by that loving in their home in Nazareth,
Forming One whose grace and glory suffered, died and conquered death.

Glory be to God the Father; Glory be to God the Son;
Glory be to God the Spirit; Glory to the Three in One.
From the blessed Virgin Mary, From Saint Joseph praise ascends,
And the Church the strain reechoes Unto earth's remotest ends.
- - - - -
Text: Vss. 1-2, Roland F. Palmer, SSJE, 1891-1985, © Estate of Roland Palmer. All rights reserved. Vs. 3, Herbert O'Driscoll, ©. Melody: Christian Lyre, 1830.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Online Catholic Scripture Commentaries on St. John's Gospel

In honor of St. John on his feast day, I present (as I do every year) the following online Catholic commentaries on his Gospel:

Read John's Gospel ... and soar on eagle's wings to new heights of spiritual wisdom. If you know of any other Catholic commentaries on John's Gospel that exist online, please let me know.

St. John the Evangelist ... pray for us.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Celebrating the Feast of St. Stephen with Good King Wenceslas

Many of you may have forgotten (I know I almost did!) that today is the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, who's life and death is accounted for us in Acts 6 and 7. Well, a popular Christmas carol gives us a helpful reminder. Listen via the YouTube video below. Follow along with the lyrics underneath.

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 him 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, my good 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

The "fisheaters" website has more on the connection between St. Stephen and Good King Wenceslas:
Because St. Stephen was the first Deacon, and because one of the Deacons' role in the Church is to care for the poor, St. Stephen's Day is often the day for giving food, money, and other items to servants, sevice workers, and the needy (it is known as "Boxing Day" in some English-speaking parts of the world).

Fittingly, then, St. Wenceslaus came to be associated with Stephen's Feast. The Christmas carol "Good King Wenceslaus," which uses an old medieval melody -- that of the 13th century song about springtime, "Tempus adest floridum" (click here to hear melody) mentions this Feast as it tells a tale of charity. St. Wenceslaus was a Bohemian prince born ca. A.D. 903 during a pagan backlash. He was persecuted by his mother, Drahomira, and his brother because of their hatred for his Christianity, and was eventually killed by his brother in front of the doors of the Church of SS. Cosmas and Damian in A.D. 938. Many miracles have been attributed to his intercession, and he is now the patron of Czechoslovakia (his Feast is on 28 September).

For more on St. Stephen, see the following resources:

Pax Christi,

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Know the Reason for the Season

Merry Christmas!

The following links are to articles that explore the true meaning of Christmas. With all the hustle and bustle, it's good to have a reminder. "Let every heart prepare him room / and heaven and nature sing." After these links is a Christmas poem by G. K. Chesterton.

Let us all make room for the birth of Christ!

Pax Christi,
- - - - - -
- - - - - -

A Christmas Poem
by G. K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost---how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky's dome.

This world is wild as an old wife's tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall all men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel

Here is the final O Antiphon for the Advent Season:

Dec. 23 - O Emmanuel: “O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.” (cf. Isa 7:14)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?".

Christ is near!!!

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium

Here is the O Antiphon for today:

Dec. 22 - O Rex Gentium: “O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.” (cf. Isa 2:4; 9:7)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,

Monday, December 21, 2015

Dec. 21 - O Oriens

Here is the O Antiphon for today:

Dec. 21 - O Oriens: “O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” (cf. Isa 9:2)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Dec. 20 - O Clavis David

Here is the O Antiphon for today:

Dec. 20 - O Clavis David: “O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of Heaven: Come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.” (cf. Isa 9:6; 22:22)

Also see my previous post, "What Are the O Antiphons?"

Pax Christi,
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