Friday, December 31, 2010

The Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me six geese a-laying.

The six days of creation

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me five golden rings.

The Pentateuch - the first five books of the Bible

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me four calling birds.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me three french hens.

Faith, Hope and Charity

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Second Day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me two turtle doves.

Synagoga and Ecclesia - the old and new covenants

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.

Himself, hung upon a tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies!

Adoration of the Christ Child (Madonna in the Forest)
Fra Filippo Lippi
c. 1460, oil on panel

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bookish? Organized? Computer Efficient?

I received this email today from one of the most wonderful places (certainly) in the state of Minnesota and (quite possibly) on the continent:

How would you like to receive $100 in store credit at Loome Theological Booksellers every month? We are looking for bookish, organized, and computer efficient co-workers to finish cataloging our entire 30 year old inventory of books. The work entails going through our shelves, book by book, following a step by step guide to price and catalog the books for online sales. We are looking for a number of workers to come in one or two days a month (more if you're really eager) and help us complete this massive project. Your compensation would be $100 in store credit for every day you work. Help us save Western Civilization one book at a time!

If you would like to join us, please send an email expressing your interest with a short paragraph explaining why you would like to work with Loome Theological Booksellers, and your preferred work schedule. We expect to begin the work in earnest January 2011 - when our store is the coldest bookstore on earth (you are forewarned!).

Christopher Hagen
Loome Theological Booksellers

If you read and have an interest in Catholicism, I'm certain you want to go here. (We always bring our out-of-state, Catholic guests.) If you read, have an interest in Catholicism, and have a little extra time, consider helping them with this massive project.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Forgotten Carols

Santa Baby and White Christmas blare in every store. Silver Bells and Let it Snow stream constantly on the radio. You feel a whiff of fresh air when you finally hear a Christmas carol - The First Noel, Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High.

But how often do you hear the second verse of What Child Is This?

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nail, spear shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail! Hail the Word Made Flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Or The Holly and The Ivy?

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Refrain: Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour
The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.
The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.

Many old carols, especially many originating from Medieval England have a very strong emphasis on the Passion. They recognize the sweet little babe in the manger as the Savior of Mankind - the Savior Who will be so brutally killed for our sins.

As Christmas comes, take time to discover some of these beautiful carols and be reminded of the reason Christ was born in a manger.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A new tradition for Gaudete Sunday

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.

Sunday's first reading sparked a new tradition at our house. Especially amid the chill of winter, buying flowers for the dining table reminds us at every meal of the fulfillment of Isaiah's messianic prophecies in the birth of Christ.

Image source

The symbolism of Midnight Mass

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve about the secularization of Christmas is the substitution of Santa's appearance for the birth of Christ. This eloquent description reiterates the importance of Midnight Mass (and is shamelessly lifted from my parish's December 12 bulletin).

Christmas, the Easter Vigil and Easter Mass, and Pentecost are three of the greatest feasts in the liturgical year. However, I would raise the question – Do we do justice liturgically to these great celebrations of our redemption? In Holy Week we have the Sacred Triduum to celebrate – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. One could argue the greatest moment in the liturgy of the Sacred Triduum is the Easter Vigil which culminates at midnight with the celebration of the Easter Eucharist. But how many of our parishioners attend the Easter Vigil and Midnight Mass. The answer is: very few. Admittedly we do anticipate the Vigil (in a truncated way) by pushing up the beginning of the celebration to 8 o’clock in the evening. But then again, not as many are in attendance as there are on Good Friday; and on Good Friday, there are not as many parishioners at worship as there are on Holy Thursday.

Then there is the question of Christmas. Parents and little children love to attend the Vigil Mass at 4 o’clock on Christmas Eve. That is wonderful and all who attend enjoy the celebration of the Eucharist very much. Many others over and above parents and children also attend the 4 o’clock Christmas Eve Mass and that brings our total attendance for that Mass over the 500 mark. But how many attend the Midnight Mass? The answer, once again, is “very few”.

I know elderly folks cannot get to Midnight Mass, those who are ill cannot get to Midnight Mass. It seems to me, however, that many younger and healthier persons could do so, and were they to do so, they would be echoing a two millennium tradition more or less of greeting the Savior’s birthday the moment it begins.

Perhaps the reader is thinking my column this week is more of a commercial, and to some extent it is, but I thought it might be good to indicate some of the riches of the Midnight Mass as found in the prayers and readings that are traditional for that Mass. Listen to what we say in our Opening Prayer at Midnight Mass: “Father, you make this holy night radiant with the splendor of Jesus Christ our light. We welcome him as Lord, the true light of the world. Bring us to eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” The first reading is from the Book of Isaiah, who is the great prophet of Advent and Christmas. He seems to think of all the people in the world walking in darkness, but now at midnight seeing a great light. Isaiah has already told us that our God will come to save us. At midnight, Isaiah tells us “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulders, dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah, of course, knew nothing of the Lord Jesus except that someone would come to take over David’s throne and David’s kingdom, and would bring judgment and justice to the world.

In the second reading, the lector has proclaimed with great enthusiasm what St. Paul had written to his colleague Titus: “The grace of God has appeared saving all, and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” The Lord Jesus is, indeed, the great gift of God, he’s our blessed hope, he’s our only hope. Only He can claim for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. It is thrilling to hear these words at the Midnight Mass of Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And next in the line-up...

... St. Lucia!

Here in Minnesota, where Swedish heritage is a unifying factor for a huge part of the population, no one would think twice about a white-robed girl with a flaming wreath of candles on her head, but King Arthur Flour's patrons were not too happy to see it on the cover of a past catalog. That story is just a small aside in a bigger article the describes the process and recipe for some beautiful Lussekatter.

I just discovered this blog yesterday and when I added it to my Reader the most recent 10 posts come up. Of those, I immediately earmarked or emailed an overwhelming number to make sometime in the next few weeks. Bake-Ahead Cinnamon Buns, a make-ahead method for those tedious roll out cookies, how to pre-make pies and freeze them for future baking, an easy method for making yeast bread (with notes on making it with the King Arthur white whole wheat flour that we love so much around here), handmade truffles, and using royal icing to make a pretty spectacular gingerbread house.

All the recipes have step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures. Of course, King Arthur is trying to inspire you to buy their products (which, in my experience, are excellent), but in many cases you'll be able to devise suitable substitutes.

We're pretty snowed in here and there's no Vikings game today, so I think I'll go bake something!

~Margaret Mary (whose ancestors include a Sorenson and a Hendrickson who, as the story goes, lived just across the hill from one another in the Old Country but first met and eventually married after both families had immigrated to Minnesota.)

Just a note - I have no connection to King Arthur Flour other than my history with their delicious and inspiring (in a foodie-kind-of-way) products. If you'd like to be on their mailing list (and if you're a baker, you will), go here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

For Gianna -

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just a friendly reminder

Since tomorrow is St. Nicholas' feast day, tonight is the time for your children to put their shoes out for treats. Some of my after-Mass conversation this morning was with a parent who forgot this one year. Let's just say her children were seriously traumatized.

Also, my children are of the age where they like money and do not like mediocre chocolate. I've found the gold-colored dollar coins are a great way to maintain the St. Nicholas tradition and make the gift truly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for December

General Intention: The Experience of Personal Suffering as a Help to Others who Suffer
That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help.
Missionary Intention: Opening Our Doors to Christ
That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.