ADVENT: Ideas for your season of preparation

You might consider some reading for your Advent preparation.

If you haven’t yet read Benedict XVI’s third volume of Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, it is a great place to start!

The Holy Father’s book presents a real defense of the historicity of the infancy narratives.

US hardcover HERE.  Kindle HERE. Unabridged audio HERE. Large print HERE.
UK hardcover HERE. Kindle HERE.  Large print HERE.

Also, for Advent, you might try something I read two years ago.  Try the reflections by a priest who died under the Nazi regime, Fr. Alfred Delp, in the book Advent of the Heart: Seasonal Sermons And Prison Writings 1941-1944. Kindle HERE. UK HERE.


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I’m still making up my mind.

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WDTPRS – 1st Sunday of Advent: true Advent preparation

It is possible that we are already back to Advent?

Advent begins a new liturgical year.  Each year Holy Church presents the history of our salvation and the mysteries of the life, death, resurrection and the return of the Lord.  Each year we ourselves are a little different. The unchanging mysteries touch us in a fresh way.  Through His Church, Christ, the true content of our prayers, the true Actor in the liturgy, shapes us so that we in turn can shape the world around us.

How important it is to pray and hear what the Church is really praying!

The Latin Church’s liturgy is officially in the Latin language.  As a result, liturgical translations bear the burden of what the Church, from divine inspiration and human wisdom, desires to convey to us and say to God.  The translations we had until 2011 were dreadful.  The current translations are not perfect, but they are better by far.  They reflect more accurately what the Latin prayers really say.

Today is, liturgically at least, in these United States the 3rd Anniversary of the implementation of the new translation.

Many of the orations in the Latin Missale Romanum are ancient in origin, either in whole or in some of the bits recycled by those who in the 1960’s welded together the so-called Novus Ordo.  Today’s Collect is a new composition for the Novus Ordo, the Ordinary Form, based in part on a prayer in the 8th century Gelasian Sacramentary.

Let us see now the very first oration of the new liturgical year.


Da, quaesumus, omnipotens Deus, hanc tuis fidelibus voluntatem, ut, Christo tuo venienti iustis operibus occurrentes, eius dextrae sociati, regnum mereantur possidere caeleste.

Voluntas is “will, freewill, wish, choice, desire, inclination”, but in our Collect it has also the nuance of a “disposition” toward a thing or person.  Occurro is “to run up to, run to meet”.


Almighty God, we beseech You, grant to Your faithful this disposition of will, that, those rushing with just works to meet Your Christ, now coming, may, united at His right hand, merit to possess the heavenly kingdom.


All-powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.


Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

This Collect harks to last week’s Solemnity of Christ the King, honoring His future Second Coming at the end of the world, even while it prepares us for celebrating His First Coming at Christmas.

Advent is mainly focused on our preparation for our personal encounter with the Just Judge and King at the Second Coming (or at our death, whichever comes first).  This season is also about other ways in which Our Lord comes to us.  For example, the Lord comes to us when the priest says, “This is my Body.”  He comes in Holy Communion, actual graces, the words of Scripture, the person of the priest, and in all who need our “righteous deeds”, especially corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  With His help we must “Make straight the paths!”, as the liturgy of Advent cries out with the words of Isaiah and John the Baptist.

Our Collect describes us as rushing forward (occurrentes), readying the path for our King by our righteous deeds.   We should start the smoothing and straightening now, in our earthly days, while we still can.  When the moment of truth arrives for us all, Christ will come by the straightest path whether we have prepared His way or not.

I am reminded of the image of an street-sweeper.  Not the kind with the trigger.  Neither the street-sweeper with the cart going about collecting litter.

Rather, the sweeper, more accurately “crossing sweeper“, in the ages before paved streets and adequate drainage.  After a rain the roads would be a sea of filth and water and muck that could suck the boots right off your feet.  Poor boys or men would go backwards before a person, sweeping at the repulsive goo like crazy, trying to clear a less problematic path to get across the street.  On the other side, the boy would get a coin from the crosser.

We don’t earn our way into heaven by works alone, but the image is still apt, I think.

Spend time examining your conscience and think about the Last Things.  The image is still apt, I think.

We the baptized, the faithful in the state of grace, are new creations and God the Holy Trinity works in us.  We cooperate with God’s gifts.  Our good or just works, our righteous deeds, do not by themselves merit anything.  Once we are transformed and renewed by sanctifying grace, “gathered at His right hand” already in this life, our works merit an increase of grace and the reward of heaven because they are actually His even while they are truly ours.

St. Augustine of Hippo (+430) preached that,

“When God crowns our merits, He crowns nothing other than His own gifts” (ep. 194, 5, 19).

We merit salvation on the foundation of habitual, sanctifying grace, through the virtuous works which we perform.  Living in grace and virtue while striving in good works is how we rush forward to meet the Lord.  This is true Advent preparation.

We begin our year with a language of deep humility: “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God.…”

Straighten all the paths by which the Lord comes to you.

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Being a Bill can be hazardous during this Administration

Do you remember Schoolhouse Rock?

Here is an original about the passing of laws:

This is the updated version from Saturday Nigh Live:

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snooooow!

Having grown up in Minnesota, this is Just Too Cool…

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Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV, loser) v. Card. Burke (Elector, classy)

What is it about Archbishops of St. Louis? They tend to bring out the bully in politicians.

Maybe you recall how, years ago when now-Archbp. Robert Carlson informed then-Sen. Tom Daschle that he wasn’t to vote for a partial-birth abortion bill or he would be excommunicated. Daschale, in an election year, backed down but then excoriated Carlson on the floor of the Senate… by name.

This time, another liberal democrat, one of the worst of the functioning demagogues and political hacks breathing out air has attacked another Archbishop of St. Louis. Loser Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) disgraced himself in the New York Times with a slam at now-Card. Raymond Burke, who had been in St. Louis before his promotion to Rome.

Harry Reid: ‘We Sure Do Like’ Pope Francis

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Mormon, says he’s an unabashed fan of Roman Catholic Pope Francis. [Who knows as much about the Church as I know about organic chemistry...]

“We sure do like this new pope,” Reid gushed to the The New York Times. [He probably knows as much about Pope Francis as Elton John does.]

The veteran Democrat acknowledges that he can profess his admiration even though he’s “had dealings” with Cardinal Raymond Burke, a powerful Roman Catholic leader who’s been demoted twice from key positions by the pope. [Okay... he's been "demoted", but he's "powerful".  This is incoherent.]

“How about Burke? They’ve demoted him twice,” Reid noted with a chuckle, The Times reports. “You know, I’ve had dealings with Burke.” [I don't know who "they" are... and neither does Harry Reid... perhaps he can ask Nancy "the Theologian" Pelosi... but when Benedict XVI moved Burke to Rome it was a promotion.  Every thing that has happened to Card. Burke over his career has been a promotion until Francis moved him out of the Signatura, and for reasons that are complicated.]

Reid told The Times that he spent hours with Burke in Missouri after the funeral of former Democratic Sen. Thomas Eagleton, blurting out an embarrassing anecdote about Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s distaste for the once-powerful Burke. [What class... to use such an occasion for this.]

“After the funeral, we went to his home; I don’t know what it’s called,” Reid told The Times. “A very nice place. And we talked about nothing. Now, Claire McCaskill and others just hate the man.

Reid’s dishy tale about McCaskill came the same day the Missouri senator declined to vote for Reid for Democratic leader. [Because this is how über-Libs work: they smear and call people names and insinuate. Just look at the fever-swamp that is the Fishwrap combox.]

But Reid said he’s got no problems with the conservative prelate. [?]

“I said, ‘What do you do with all your time?’” Reid recalled. [What a condescending ass.] “‘I pray a lot.’ That’s what I remember about the conversation.” [If that's all you remember, then you should retire.]

Smiling, Reid, who lives in [that glittering center of the cultural galaxy] Searchlight, Nev., then declared to The Times: “He’s basically ambassador to Searchlight now.” [Is there a smaller place?  He's already put Searchlight on the map.  Maybe he should move to Ruth.]

Reid isn’t the only congressional Francis fan.

In March, House Speaker John Boehner invited the pontiff to address a joint session of Congress. [Invitations are pro forma.  By themselves, they mean neither like nor dislike.]

Pope Francis will visit the United States for the first time next September, and is expected to visit Philadelphia and New York.


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Your Good News?

Do you have some good news to share with the readers?

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Of Prayers of Thanks and for the Nation

We had a Missa Cantata this morning, in the Extraordinary Form of course, using the texts for the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, adding the prayers Pro gratiarum actione.  The schola did a good job and Mass was well-attended.

Here is the “For thanksgiving”…


Deus, cuius misericordiae non est numerus, et bonitatis infinitus est thesaurus: piissimae maiestati tuae pro collatis donis gratias agimus, tuam semper clementiam exorantes; ut, qui petentibus postulata concedis, eosdem non deserens,  ad praemia futura disponas.

O God, of whose mercy there is no reckoning, and whose treasury of goodness is infinite: always imploring your clemency we give thanks to Your most gracious Majesty for the gifts that have been conferred, so that, You who grant the things petitioned to those seeking them, even as you never abandon them, may ready them for the rewards to come.

This prayer is often prayed when the Te Deum is sung. You will hear in it an echo of Wisdom 7:14: For she [Wisdom] is an infinite treasure to men: which they that use, become the friends of God, being commended for the gifts of discipline. … Infinitus enim thesaurus est hominibus quod qui usi sunt participes facti sunt amicitiae Dei propter disciplinae dona commendati.

During my brief sermon, I mentioned that I was in the Chapel on the Rue du Bac last week, that I prayed for the people present and for benefactors, and for the bishop, for whose intention we celebrated the Mass.  Also, I mentioned that in the apparition, some of the rings which Our Lady displayed, were not shining with light and that they symbolized the graces that we have not asked for.  We must turn to God, through the intercession of the saints and the Queen of Saints, asking God to help us, who must apply our own elbow grease to the exigencies of life.

At the end of Mass we all knelt and I said the “Prayer for Government” composed by John Carroll, Archbishop of Baltimore, in 1791. John was a cousin of Charles Carroll of Maryland, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Fathers, you might want to post this in your parish bulletins and ask families to recite it regularly in their homes. I like to recite it on national holidays.

PRAYER FOR GOVERNMENT We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation. We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

In case you don’t know the prayers Pro gratiarum actione, here, too, is the


Odorem, Domine, sacrifiii huius cum gratiarum actionibus suscipe, et praesta: ut, quos exaudire et incolumes servare dignatus es, ab omni in posterum adversitate custodias; et in tuo servitio et amore concrescant.

Receive, O Lord, the savor of this sacrifice with our acts of thanksgiving, and vouchsafe that You might guard hereafter those whom you have deigned graciously to hear and to keep safe; and that they might increase in Your service and love.


Deus, qui neminem in te sperantem nimium affligi permittis, sed pium precibus præstas auditum : pro postulationibus nostris votisque susceptis gratias agimus, te piissime deprecan-tes : ut per hæc quæ sumpsimus, a cunctis eripi mereamur adversis.

O God, who permit no one hoping in You to be overmuch afflicted, but grant their prayers a merciful hearing: we thank You for the acceptance of our prayers and devotions and, devoutly entreating You, that through these things we have received, we may merit to be snatched away from every adversity.

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Does Pope Francis get what it takes to feed the poor as he calls for?

We don’t have to take every pronouncement or opinion on every topic from every Pope as if it were the Lord’s ipsissima verba.  What the Bishop of Rome teaches about concerning faith and morals… those things we Catholics had better take really seriously and, often, give consent of will to.  On the other hand, when it comes to contingent moral choices (exactly how to accomplish that which is incumbent on Christians in this vale of tears), we can have an argument.

Here is an interesting contribution to the discussion.

From Forbes:

Pope Francis Doesn’t Really Understand This Economics Thing, Does He?

Pope Francis has told us all that we’re really very naughty indeed to allow food to become a product like any other, a product in which people can speculate and profit. Which leads to a rather sad observation about Il Papa‘s understanding of basic economics: he doesn’t, essentially, he doesn’t understand basic economics. [He must be pretty cynical about economics, given that he comes from Argentina.] It is indeed an outrage that there are still 800 million or more of our fellow human beings who are malnourished. Appalling that while the world grows the calories to feed all not all get fed. [Therefore, we seem to have the supply... there seems to be a demand... so... what's up?] But once we’ve noted those points, decided (as we damn well should) to do something about them, the interesting question becomes, well, what? At which point we might note that it’s the places with well functioning markets, subject to all that horrible speculation and profit making, that have the people who are not malnourished and not starving. Something Pope Francis might have considered before he said this:

The 77-year old said the world had ‘paid too little heed to those who are hungry.’ [Which we can stipulate is true.]

While the number of undernourished people dropped by over half in the past two decades, 805 million people were still affected in 2014. [Which will must stipulate is horrible!]

‘It is also painful to see the struggle against hunger and malnutrition hindered by ‘market priorities’, the ‘primacy of profit’, which reduce foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation and financial speculation in particular,’ Francis said. [Which we .... huh?]

Before I go further in arguing with this distinguished and holy man perhaps I should point out that I was brought up as a Catholic, indeed expensively educated in an attempt to turn me into a Catholic Gentleman (something that has obviously failed on both points), so I do understand the background to these remarks. There’s nothing unusual about them in the context of Catholic social teaching. However, they are still wrong: not in the goal, of course not, we all want the hungry to be fed. But in the understanding of the policies that are required to make this happen.

I’ve argued this so many times that the web is littered with pieces. Herehere and herejust as examples.

But just to lay it out in very simple terms in one place.
Regarding that first point, about profit. Profit is the incentive for people to do things. If people don’t profit from their actions then they won’t do them. Of course, we can take a wide view of what “profit” is: we could, for example, say that the warm feeling a farmer gets from watching a starving child eating the food he has grown is a profit. And it would be as well. [And let us not forget sacrificial love, charity properly understood.] But as we’ve found out over the past century or so (looking at those various attempts at the collectivisation of agriculture is really most instructive) [and "redistribution of wealth"] that that good feeling of having produced what others need is not actually enough. Any and every society that has relied upon such public feelings has had extensive malnutrition if not out and out famine. [Read: it doesn't work.]

So, we want the producers of food to profit from their having produced it. Otherwise we just don’t get enough food.

Then on to speculation and financial speculation. These move the prices of things through time. This is also highly desirable (as Adam Smith pointed out 238 years ago) as by moving prices through time we also move supplies of food through time (see the linked pieces for this in more detail). [NB] We move food from, as Smith said, a time of plenty to a time of dearth: thus reducing malnutrition and starvation. And yes, again, the incentive for people to do this highly desirable thing is to make a profit. [Because by making a profit we can feed more people.]

So we actually want both profit and speculation in food. For the end results are desirable. We get both the production of food in the first place and the movement of it, in both geographic and temporal, terms, to where it is needed.

And thus the Pope is wrong in his condemnations.

That isn’t the end of the story though. [NB] It is still true that there are those malnourished, that there are still people starving. And also that we’ve a moral duty to do something about it. [Precisely!] But if it’s not the greed for profits nor speculation that causes the problem then what is? At which point we can turn to another economist, Amartya Sen. Who has pointed out that, for the past century at least, starvation and famine have not been caused by an absence of food. They’re no longer supply side phenomena and they’ll not be solved by looking at that supply side. [!]

No, instead, famine now is an absence of purchasing power among those who simply cannot buy the food that is available. This is such a well known matter that even George Bush, when President, tried to get the rules about US famine relief changed (Obama is trying again now, too, according to reports). Instead of shipping US grain to starving people ship US money to starving people so they can buy the food that is already there. Or if not exactly there, then nearby. And we can rely upon the existence of that effective demand to incentivise people through that profit motive, through speculation, to ship the food from where it is to where the hungry people are.

That is, modern hunger is a demand side phenomenon and will be solved by demand side measures. Like, as above, giving poor people money to buy food with.

This is what actually works, this is how most NGOs now see hunger, many governments too. The problem is not that there’s no food for the poor to buy. It’s that the poor have no money to buy food. The answer is thus not to fiddle around with the supply side, that’s working just fine. For there are supplies of food available. What’s going wrong is the demand side so that’s where the solution must lie. We must turn actual demand (empty bellies) into effective demand (people with empty bellies with money to buy the food that exists).

And that is where I really criticise the Pope. Yes, absolutely it is a Christian duty (and for those of us without faith, a moral one just as strong) to feed the starving and the hungry. But [But...] there are effective ways and ineffective ways to make this happen. And the Pope is putting forward an ineffective one, messing with the supply system of food. When the answer actually is messing with the demand for food: getting the poor the money they need to buy the food that exists. What really annoys is that most of the Catholic charities now know and acknowledge all of this. Why is the Pope so ill informed* on the matter then?

*Yes, a possible joke here on the infallibility of the Pope. But that does only extend to the Pope being infallible upon matters of doctrine. And as far as I can remember it has only been asserted once, that the assertion of the infallibility of the Pope when pronouncing upon doctrine is infallible. It most certainly doesn’t apply to economics any more than it insists that he gets the lottery numbers right every week.

Interesting.  Perhaps this might elicit some thoughtful comments.

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Have yourself a tactical little Christmas!

The other day when I posted about how to make my “Tactical Clerical Shirts“, I also shared something a reader sent, about the “Tactical Christmas Stocking”.

I am not making this up – a black tactical Christmas stocking! $7.50

I now have more than mere theoretical knowledge of this spiffy item of holiday cheer. One of you dear readers sent me one!

Here it is, hung up with care.  I have no fireplace, so I’ll put it in the hall for people to deposit sticks and lumps of coal with greater ease and efficiency.


It is quite tactical too.  It has a bi-directional zipper – I don’t know why, but I’m sure it’s tactical.  It has MOLLE webbing, to secure the candy canes tactically.  It has several points to fasten carabiners, which is definitely tactical.  There are two straps with tactical releases and a little pocket tactically enhanced with an Amanaote Plastic 0.22″ Inside Hole Black Spring Snap Hook Side Buckle.  And don’t overlook the reinforced tactical carrying handle.

And the interior is tactically waterproof!


I am sure that it is big enough to handle some….

[cue action film music]


Are you already tired of battling the crowds at the coffee stores to refresh your supply of coffee as the “holiday season” begins?

Are you dreading buying those little gifts for coworkers and other stocking stuffers?

How about a new tactic?

Order your little gifts from the Mystical Tactical Monks!   They are building their new spiritual fortress, their Catholic redoubt, in Wyoming, which is very tactical indeed.  Your purchases help them to construct their entrenched position.

The Mystic Monk 30 Pack Sampler might be exactly what you need to achieve your overall Christmas Stocking and Secret Santa Strategery!  And I think you get tactical free shipping!

The 30 Pack Sampler contains 2 oz. packets:

4 x Mystic Monk Blend
4 x Midnight Vigils Blend
4 x Hermits’ Bold Blend
3 x Cowboy Blend
3 x Medium Colombian
3 x Decaffeinated Arabica
3 x Hazelnut
3 x Royal Rum Pecan
3 x Carmel

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Take some to work and then get your office manager to buy Mystic Monk Coffee (using my link).  That’s tactical… for me!

Mystic Monk Coffee!

It’s tactical!

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