Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year's Resolutions for Catholics

It is just about time for New Year's Resolutions! Here are some suggestions from the America Needs Fatima site (via Catholic Fire)/Padre Steve.

1. Be honest. Know yourself. What is your strongest virtue? What is your worst vice? Therefore, tailor your resolution so it strengthens your good side and fights your bad one. A one-size fits all resolution is useless.

2. Be specific. Don’t use generalities. They don’t work. For example, if you need to be more humble, just saying “I am going to be more humble,” is useless. You need to zero in on one situation where you need to practice humility and resolve to improve in that one situation.

3. Be simple. Don’t make it complicated. Focus on something you can see and measure easily and that does not overwhelm you each time you try to obtain it. Otherwise, you will become distracted and your energy will be dispersed and misdirected.

4. Be reasonable. Don’t try to do too much at once. You won’t become a saint in one day. Remember: every soul has one MAJOR point upon which is hinged his or her entire fidelity to God and His Holy Laws. Find out and work on improving that key point. You’ll see how everything else will improve if you improve on that one major point.

5. Be consistent. It’s far better to do something small everyday to improve on that one key point in your soul than to make a big resolution that you cannot keep for more than a week or two. Slow and steady wins the race!

6. Be humble. Recognize that you cannot do any good action which has value in the supernatural order without God’s grace and the intercessory help of the Blessed Mother. Beg God’s grace through Our Lady’s intercession constantly in all your thoughts, desires and actions

7. Be disinterested. Remember that God wants us to defend His rights and interests, and to share His thoughts and ways. And therefore, to focus on things, happening and events that are very close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary that are not necessarily linked to our own personal interests.

8. Write it down. It’s important to write down your resolution so you can refer back to it often during the year. Also, by writing it down, you will be able to review it when the year is over, and to evaluate your progress since the time the resolution was made.

9. Public expressions of faith. Don’t hide your faith. That’s just what the devil wants. He knows when you express your faith publicly, others see you and are encouraged to follow your good example. Say grace openly and proudly before meals in a restaurant so people can see. You’ll be surprised with the good reactions you will get.

10. Devotion to Our Lady. Have more devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Devotion to the Mother of God is a panacea. Saint Louis de Montfort said that devotion to Holy Mary is the easiest, safest, fastest, most secure, and surest path to Jesus and to our own salvation. If you can nothing else, resolve to say the Rosary everyday. Saint Louis de Montfort wrote:

“If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins 'you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.' Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if-- and mark well what I say-- if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins."

Monday, December 25, 2017

Bing Crosby & David Bowie - Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy 1977

Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy is a Christmas song with an added counterpoint performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby. "Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song written in 1957, while the "Peace on Earth" tune and lyrics were added to the song especially for Bowie and Crosby's recording.

The song was recorded on 11 September for Crosby's 1977 television special, Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. The pair exchanged dialogue about what they do for Christmas before singing "Little Drummer Boy" with a new counterpoint with original lyrics written for the special, "Peace on Earth". Bowie's appearance has been described as a "surreal" event, undertaken at a time that he was "actively trying to normalise his career" Crosby died on October 14, just over a month after recording the special. In the U.S., the show aired on 30 November 1977 on CBS.

Fr. George Rutler on Advent: on Advent, ... “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they find their rest in Thee.”

The following comes from Fr. Rutler:

The four weeks of Advent are a test of how profoundly or superficially we understand the meaning of life. In these weeks, the Church reveals the deepest mysteries: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Christ saves us from the banality of skimming life on the surface: eating, working, shopping, sleeping, waking up and doing it all over again. He created us for great glory, and that is why people become frustrated when they ignore these great mysteries. “Angst” is a kind of neurosis, stemming from an unwillingness to listen to the voice of Christ. He may be drowned out temporarily by idle chatter and amusements, but as St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they find their rest in Thee.”

Rushing Christmas, and not thinking about what Christ wants us to be, are signs of a culture absorbed in itself, so that it becomes no greater than itself. That old maxim is poignant no matter how many times we repeat it: “A man wrapped up in himself becomes a very small package.” More important than wrapping gifts in this season, is the obligation to unwrap ourselves: to confess to Christ our failings and our desire to live life as He wants it, so that we might rejoice with Him forever and never be separated from Him.

Our culture is enduring a severe test of itself. If Christ does not rule our minds and hearts, mere humans will try to do it, and they will do it badly. When the Judges of Israel wanted a merely human king, Samuel warned them: “He will take the best of your fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his officials. He will tithe your flocks, and you yourselves will become slaves” (1 Samuel 8:14, 17).

Our Lord promises that the truth will set us free. His word is truth. That is what He told Pontius Pilate, whose life was a dreary routine mired in cynicism. But even Pilate was amazed that Christ's own people had “handed Him over” to the government. By their own declaration, the crowd wanted “no king but Caesar.” Had they obeyed Christ’s truth, things would have been different for them. Each generation is tempted to hand Christ over to cynics. We do it when we barter our conscience for comfort and our freedom for frivolity.

If Catholics behaved as Catholics, our culture would be not be satisfied with getting little things from elected officials in exchange for our moral dignity. If we only want things, we shall only be things. Christ looks at us, as He looked at the crowds when He walked on this earth. And amid the passing fashions of mindless men, He says: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (John 18:37).

O Adonai - O sacred Lord of ancient Israel

"O sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free."

The following comes from the Dominican Sisters:

"During the last days of Advent, the anticipation of the arrival of our Newborn Savior heightens, and one of the ways this is expressed in the Liturgy is through the "Great O Antiphons." The "O Antiphons" accompany the Magnificat of Vespers (Evening Prayer), and are also paraphrased in the Alleluia verse for each daily Mass.

Each antiphon invokes Jesus using one of the titles of the Messiah and together the antiphons form the verses of the Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

The titles are arranged in such a way that by taking the first letter of each title in Latin and going in reverse order (Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia) the words "ero cras" are formed. This phrase is Latin for "I am coming tomorrow."

Handel’s Masterpiece, the Messiah: biblical prophets foretelling the coming of Our Lord

Every year since I was a little girl, my mother and I go to a sing-along of Handel’s incredible masterpiece, the Messiah, during Advent. We bundle up, grab our music scores, find a seat with our fellow altos, and sing our hearts out. If you’ve never really listened to the Messiah you must do it this Advent.

It begins with the words of the biblical prophets foretelling the coming of Our Lord. Then it draws from St. Luke’s Gospel and shares the joy of the Nativity. It masterfully weaves Scripture together to carry the listener to Calvary and on to the Resurrection. It’s beautiful. And if you can sit through a performance with dry eyes, you’re not paying enough attention.
Each year I notice something that’s never struck me before and last year, it was the words of the prophets. These were the words that surprised me:

Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come. (Haggai 2: 6-7)

Well that sounds…..scary. The desire of all nations is, of course, Jesus. But what is this about shaking the heavens and the earth? That image didn’t seem to fit in with the room full of sing-alongers wearing Christmas sweaters and looking forward to snacking on cookies and punch after the performance.
I don’t enjoy being shaken up. I like to be in control. I like predictability. I like security. But that’s not what the Incarnation offers us! God himself wasn’t born of a woman to share in our humanity so that I could be comfortable. He came to shake us up. Shake us out of our apathy. Shake us out of our false security. Shake us out of our sin.
And it gets worse! As the music of the Messiah continues, a soloist stands up to sing the words of Malachi 3:2:

But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire.

It’s gone from scary to terrifying! When He comes, no one can stand before him. Advent, “the coming,” is not just a heart-warming event for Christmas cards–instead, we’re asked who can abide the day of His coming? For He is like a refiner’s fire, the heat that purifies precious metals, removing all that’s flawed. If He is the refiner’s fire, then we are the metal being purified. And that sounds more than uncomfortable, it sounds excruciating.
We’ve made a huge mistake. We’ve made the Incarnation safe and comfortable. We like it warm and fuzzy with soft lambs bleating as they rest on clean hay. And, yes, it is beautiful and joyful and splendid. But we’ve sanitized it and we’ve forgotten how terrifying it is that God shares our humanity and comes like a earthquake, like a fire. To shake us up, and to purify us.
So how do we move from abject terror at the idea of the Incarnation to the Joy of Christmas? I think it has to do with letting go of the sin we cling to. We have to submit. We have to lay down our false security, our desire for control, and let Him shake us up. We have to offer our hearts to Him so that He can consume all our sin with the fire of his immeasurable love until we are stripped of all impurity. And it won’t happen in just one Advent season. We’re looking at a lifetime.

And who can stand when he appeareth?

As I meditated on this verse, I considered the image of Our Lady at the Annunciation, kneeling and saying “be it unto me according to thy word.” Who can stand? We certainly cannot. But we can kneel like Mary, giving our own “fiat” and offering our hearts to be shaken up and our sin to be burned away.
The first Sunday of Advent is called Stir Up Sunday as the opening collect of the Mass is “Stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come.” Are we ready to say that prayer? May we be prepared to desire His coming, be shaken, and be consumed by the fire of his love. May He stir up our hearts this Advent and mold us into what he desires us to be.

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