Sunday, November 28, 2010

Signs of Life: Advent and Christmas

Scott Hahn's new book Signs of Life has a great quote from Blessed Jacobus de Voragine that I would like to share with you as we begin the liturgical season of Advent. In case you're wondering, Jacobus de Voragine is a Dominican monk from the 13th century who is most famous for his Legenda Aurea ("Golden Legend"), a collection of the lives of the saints that was one of the most widely read works of the Middle Ages (you can read more about him here and here).

In typical Dominican fashion, Jacobus' words on Advent and Christmas are presented in a very orderly and systematic way, but they are also very beautiful. This quote is somewhat lengthy, but definitely worth the read.

  • Advent is celebrated for four weeks, to signify that this coming of the Lord is fourfold; namely, that he came to us in the flesh, that he came with mercy into our hearts, that he came to us in death, and that he will come to us again at the Last Judgment. The last week is seldom finished, to denote that the glory of the elect, as they will receive it at the last advent of he Lord, will have no end. But while the coming is in reality fourfold, the Church is especially concerned with two of its forms, namely with the coming in the flesh and with the coming at the Last Judgment. Thus the Advent fast is both a joyous fast, and a fast of penance. It is a joyous fast because it recalls the advent of the Lord in the flesh; and it is a fast of penance in anticipation of the advent of the Last Judgment.

    With regard to the advent in the flesh, three things should be considered: its timeliness, its necessity, and its usefulness. Its timeliness is due first to the fact that man, condemned by his nature to an imperfect knowledge of God, had fallen into the worst errors of idolatry, and was forced to cry out, "Enlighten my eyes." Secondly, the Lord came in the "fullness of time," as St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians. Thirdly, He came at a time when the whole world was ailing, as St. Augustine says: "The great physician came at a moment when the entire world lay like a great invalid." That is why the Church, in the seven antiphons that are sung before the Feast of the Nativity, recalls the variety of our ills and the timeliness of the divine remedy. Before the coming of God in the flesh, we were ignorant, subject to eternal punishment, slaves of the devil, shackled with sinful habits, lost in darkness, exiled from our true country. Hence the ancient antiphons announce Jesus as our Teacher, our Redeemer, our Liberator, our Guide, our Enlightener, and our Savior.

    As to the usefulness of Christ's coming, different authorities define it differently. Our Lord Himself, in the Gospel of Saint Luke, tells us that He came for seven reasons: to console the poor, to heal the afflicted, to free the captives, to enlighten the ignorant, to pardon sinners, to redeem the human race, and to reward everyone according to his merits. And . . . St. Bernard says, "We suffer from a three-fold sickness: we are easily mislead, weak in action, and feeble in resistance. Consequently the coming of the Lord is necessary, first to enlighten our blindness, second to succor our weakness, and third to shield our fragility."

I highly recommend Hahn's book as a worthwhile Christmas present.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Pics of My Son Dominic

For those of you who follow me on Twitter but aren't friends with me on Facebook, you've been missing out on some awesome pics of my newborn son. Here are a few of my favorites:

Everyone says he looks like his daddy

I wonder what he's dreaming about.

He's making the "C" in CATS. Little UK fan in the making!

Proud father

I think I caught him mid-fart, haha

He's pretty stinkin awesome.

Pax Christi,

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Story of Jonah, from the Mouth of Babes

This is one of the most extraordinary things I've seen in a long time:

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

When I was working on my Certification in Catechetics at FUS, one of the things we had to do was tell a catechetical story. Telling stories as a method of teaching is very effective with children. St. John Bosco and Archbishop Fulton Sheen are two catechists who used the art of story telling to great success. Sheen entertained prime-time audiences on a weekly basis by utilizing that technique (and of course his booming voice and his great presence on camera). Telling a good story that teaches a lesson is something that every good catechist should know how to do.

For my class, we could either come up with our own story or memorize a story that has already been written and deliver it to the class. We couldn't just memorize it either. We had to actually tell it, in an engaging way, so that our intended audience would be entertained while at the same time learning the lesson of the story.

It was one of the more difficult things I had to do as a student. I spent HOURS first memorizing the story, then utilizing different voices and even contorting my body to take on certain characters. One thing I had to get over was feeling so silly while I did it. "Am I really doing this right now?"

I think I could have learned a few lessons from the girl in this video. Her innocence and playfulness adds an endearing quality to a story that we all know. And even though we all know how the story goes, since this girl is telling it so charmingly, I have no doubt that she had everyone in the audience wanting to hear it again (except, of course, for the teenage girl behind her, who is probably realizing that she's about to lose a speech contest to a 4 year old.) I think this video is just a great example of what happens when pride isn't an issue, when a person can just tell a story with passion and dedication.

I think this video also illustrates the power that the great moments of the Bible can still have in our lives. Parents run for the "next great children's book" at Books-A-Million and they forget that the big thick book collecting dust on the shelf has all the great stories a parent could ever need. Nothing ignites awe in children like a great bible story.

The word of God: ever ancient and ever new. Praise God for His word!

Pax Christi,

Stephen Colbert on the Feast of Christ the King

And now, for your moment of zen:

How's that for capturing the joy of the Feast of Christ the King? :D

Pax Christi,

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Extensive Update to My Post on the Scripture Documents

Back in April, I made a blog post that listed the prominent Church documents that address the Bible. In light of the recent release of the pope's Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, and taking to heart Michael Barber's brotherly admonition, I decided to extensively beef up that post.

See "Church Documents on the Bible."

It now includes many documents that were not previously listed, as well as a section of articles that analyze these documents from different angles. It is still a work in progress, but I hope you will spend some time with this collection that I have assembled. "The Church has always venerated the divine Scriptures just as she venerates the body of the Lord" (Dei Verbum, no. 21). The Scripture documents are abundant proof of this.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jesus' Last Words and Psalm 22

What did Jesus mean on the Cross when He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46). Was Jesus really forsaken by God?

Jesus words on the Cross are from Psalm 22, which He is using to express the intense physical pain that He is feeling. This psalm describes a righteous man who is suffering various afflictions:
vs. 1: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?

vs. 7-8: All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their heads; "He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for he delights in him!"

vs. 14-18: I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced my hands and feet -- I can count all my bones -- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots.

Remember, these are David’s words, from his 22nd psalm, yet they vividly describe many of the torments that Jesus faced during his Passion.

But, this is not the only reason why Jesus has chosen this psalm. In its concluding verses, the righteous man, though he suffers so greatly, has his hope firmly rooted in the Lord. He praises the Lord and knows without a doubt that the Lord will deliver him:
vs. 22-24: I will tell your name to my brethren; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: You who fear the Lord, praise him! all you sons of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you sons of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.

vs. 26: The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

vs. 30-31: Posterity shall serve him; men shall tell of the Lord to the coming generation, and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn, that he has wrought it.

This means that, in quoting Psalm 22, Jesus is reminding us that, even at the point in which He appears to be the most forsaken and forgotten, the Father is with Him and He will be saved. Even in the depths of His suffering, Jesus never ceases to praise and glorify the Father.

In closing, here are the seven last words of Christ, from Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. It's worthwhile to know what these words may have actually sounded like, as Jesus spoke them on the Cross.

Pax Christi,

Saturday, November 13, 2010

More Jimmy Akin Q&A

Here are some final videos from Jimmy Akin and then it's back to some original content. Jimmy's been filling in, so to speak, while I get accustomed to raising a newborn and get caught up at work.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You Got Questions? We Got Catholic Answers!

More from Jimmy Akin on the early Church:

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"Akin" for Some YouTube Apologetics

Jimmy Akin, the grand poobah, the guru, the Jedi Master of Catholic apologetics has recently been churning out some pretty good YouTube videos in defense of the Catholic faith. I think quality material of this nature is sorely needed on YouTube, considering how much anti-Catholic garbage is readily available there.

Take a look and be edified.

These videos can also be found at Akin's new website The Fathers Know Best.

Pax Christi,

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Say Hello to Phatcatholic Jr.!

On Friday, November 5, at 12:08 PM my wife Amy gave birth (vaginally and naturally, without any drugs) to our first child, Dominic Joseph Hardesty. He weighed 8 lbs., 5 oz. and was 20 inches long. He's perfect and beautiful and awesome.

A few pics:

Maybe he'll be a little Catholic apologist/catechist like his daddy? Only time will tell. Please pray for us as we navigate the ups and downs of parenting. I have no doubt that it will be an amazing adventure.

Pax Christi,

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Catholic Q&A: Part 9

The following questions came from the "Catholicism" category at WikiAnswers. Do you know your Catholic faith? Chip in and help bring truth to the masses. You can start with all the unanswered questions.

Is there a “St. Jennifer” in the Catholic Church?

There is no "St. Jennifer" that I was able to find. However, I looked up the name “Jennifer” and found that it is a Cornish variant of the Welsh name "Guinevere." This gives us a possible solution. St. Winifred of Wales is also known as "St. Guinevere of Wales." She is probably the closest thing to a "St. Jennifer" that we have in our current list of saints.

How can we honor the souls in Purgatory?

The souls in Purgatory are honored whenever we pray for their speedy entrance into heaven, particularly on the Feast of All Souls Day (Nov. 2) and throughout the month of November. We can also offer up our pains and sufferings for the souls in Purgatory and pray that the grace and merit we receive from celebrating the Mass would be applied to them.

How many Catholics are in the United States?

According to the Official Catholic Directory published by P. J. Kenedy and Sons, as of Jan. 1, 2010 there are 68,503,456 Catholics in the United States. Twenty-two percent of our nation’s total population is Catholic.

What is the most wonderful thing about the Eucharist?

There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Different Catholics are going to have different things that they like the most about the Eucharist.

Perhaps a consensus would emerge around the fact that, in receiving the Eucharist, our Lord and Savior comes to abide within us, to live and dwell within us. That is certainly one of the most amazing things about the Eucharist.

What is also amazing is that it is only in transubstantiation (in the transformation from "bread and wine" to "Body and Blood") that the substance changes whereas the accidents remain the same. In other words, what we have after the consecration is something different, even though it looks the same as it did before. This is a miracle that defies the laws of nature. How many people can say they have an opportunity to witness a miracle every day? We can, whenever we go to Mass.

Pax Christi,

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dies Irae: The Day of Wrath

Since today is the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, I would be remiss if I did pay particular attention to one of the Church's greatest hymns, one that, even after the reform of the liturgy after the Second Vatican Council, is still sung during the Liturgy of the Hours on this day.

Michael Martin, in his entry on the Dies Irae in the Treasury of Latin Prayers, gives us this helpful summary:
Dies Irae was traditionally ascribed to Thomas of Celano (d 1260), but now is usually attributed to an unknown Franciscan of that period. The piece is based upon Zep 1:14-16, a reflection upon the final judgment. It was formerly part of the Mass of the Dead and the Office of the Dead. Today it is found in the Liturgia Horarum for the last week of Ordinary time (34th). In placing it there, the emphasis is upon the upcoming Advent season and the Second Coming of Christ. In Diocese of the United States, it is still used in the Office of the Dead and the Feast of All Souls (Nov. 2).

Many have complained about the depressing nature of the opening verses, but while the piece is certainly sobering, there is a note of hope as well later on in the hymn. Judgment, which is eternal, is indeed a fearsome prospect for us sinners, but, as Christians, we also realize we have Christ as our Savior.

The Wikipedia article tells us more:
Other images come from Revelation 20:11–15 (the book from which the world will be judged), Matthew 25:31–46 (sheep and goats, right hand, contrast between the blessed and the accursed doomed to flames), 1 Thessalonians 4:16 (trumpet), 2 Peter 3:7 (heaven and earth burnt by fire), Luke 21:26–27 ("men fainting with fear ... they will see the Son of Man coming"), etc.

From the Jewish liturgy, the prayer Unetanneh Tokef also appears to have been a source: "We shall ascribe holiness to this day, For it is awesome and terrible"; "the great trumpet is sounded", etc.

Martin considers the Dies Irae to be "One of the most famous melodies of the Gregorian Chant." Henry Hugh speaks of the "vigorous beauty of the original hymn" in his article for the New Advent Encyclopedia. The Franciscan Archive calls it "a hymn of singular awe and piety." Yet, I would imagine that few Catholics have ever heard the Dies Irae.

Part of this is surely due to the aforementioned reforms. Annibale Bugnini, in his The Reform of the Liturgy: 1948–1975 ([The Liturgical Press, 1990], Chap. 46.II.1, p. 773) explains the mind of the Consilium in charge of that task:
They got rid of texts that smacked of a negative spirituality inherited from the Middle Ages. Thus they removed such familiar and even beloved texts as the Libera me, Domine, the Dies Iræ, and others that overemphasized judgment, fear, and despair. These they replaced with texts urging Christian hope and arguably giving more effective expression to faith in the resurrection.

This I think is a shame. It is unfathomable to me that "such familiar and even beloved texts" could be so swiftly discarded. Perhaps the Dies Irae has endured since the Middle Ages and received the affection of the laity for a reason?

At any rate, I would rather not dwell on the imprudent decisions of the Consilium (it depresses me). Instead, I would like to remedy the absense of this hymn in my own small way by providing the YouTube video below. See the entry on the Dies Irae in the Treasury of Latin Prayers if you would like to follow along with the Latin (with English translation) while you listen.

"Dies Irae" means "Day of wrath." May we all be ready.

Pax Christi,

Monday, November 01, 2010

Litaniae Sanctorum for All Saints Day

Blow is a wonderful rendition of the Litany of the Saints. It appears to be a shorter version than the one that appears here, but it is beautifully chanted, and the Latin appears at the bottom of the video so that you can follow along.

If you are not very familiar with Latin, that's ok. Don't worry about trying to translate the words. Just listen to it. Latin chant has the splendid ability to lift your heart up to heaven just by the sound of it, before the mind even begins to comprehend the words. So, just sit back and soak it in.

If you would like to learn more about the saints, I have written extensively on the subject. See the following entries:
I conclude with a prayer in Latin, with slavishly literal English translation:

Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui nos ómnium Sanctórum tuórum mérita sub una tribuísti celebritáte venerári: quaesumus; ut desiderátam nobis tuæ propitiatiónis abundántiam, multiplicátis intercessóribus, largiáris.

Almighty, eternal God, Who granted us to honor the merits of all Your Saints in a single solemn festival, bestow on us, we beseech You, through their manifold intercession, that abundance of Your mercy for which we yearn.

Pax Christi,
Related Posts with Thumbnails