Fidelity to the Word
Our Lord and His Holy Apostles at the Last Supper

A blog dedicated to Christ Jesus our Lord and His True Presence in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist

But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption.

Hebrews 9:11-12

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Before All Other Saints

Blessed Virgin Mary

The Virgin

Mother! whose virgin bosom was uncrost
With the least shade of thought to sin allied;
Woman! above all women glorified,
Our tainted nature's solitary boast;
Purer than foam on central ocean tost;
Brighter than eastern skies at daybreak strewn
With fancied roses, than the unblemished moon
Before her wane begins on heaven's blue coast;
Thy Image falls to earth. Yet some, I ween,
Not unforgiven the suppliant knee might bend,
As to a visible Power, in which did blend
All that was mixed and reconciled in Thee
Of mother's love with maiden purity,
Of high with low, celestial with terrene!
- William Wordsworth, 1821

First among all the saints, the most honored of God's creatures, is Mary, the ever-virgin mother of our Savior. All generations call her blessed. From all women, God chose her to be the mother of His only-begotten Son. The Lord of all blessed her greatly and sanctified her, and by virtue of the graces bestowed on her, she remained free from all taint of sin throughout her earthly life.

In this He fulfilled the promise of Genesis 3:15, which is called called the protoevangelium, or "first gospel". In that verse, the Lord says to the serpent, the deceiver, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, while you strike at His heel." In always choosing to do good and reject evil, our Lady showed unwavering enmity toward the serpent. She showed that it is possible for human beings, by the grace of God, to be free from all bondage to sin. She showed us that it is in fact, possible, to follow our Lord's command to be perfect as our heavenly father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Pope John Paul II said that Mary, the new Eve, is "our Mother according to the Spirit". If we sincerely ask her for help, then as a good and loving mother, she is certain to aid us with her prayers, so that like her, we, too, may be the good and holy people we were made to be.

We have good reasons to believe that our Lord will listen to the prayers of His mother. One is that He performed His first public miracle in response to her intercession. Few of her words are recorded in the Gospels, all are weighted with significance. Her last recorded words are associated with that first miracle: "Do whatever He tells you" (John 2:5).

From the obscurity and poverty of her earthly life, at the end of her days, God lifted her to heaven, where “She stands at His right as a real Queen, with much boldness, clad in golden garments, attired in embroidery, according to the prophetic saying. Yea, she [stands at] the royal throne glittering as the glorious Queen of heaven and earth, and shining inside and outside with the lightings of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as the ever-illuminating Bride and Mother of the heavenly King of Glory, Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour . . . she stands at the right side of the Son, embroidered in the virtues and gifts of purity, of holiness, everything beautiful, chosen, innocent, as the holiest of saints, noblest of the cherubim, and incomparably more glorious than the seraphim and all the heavenly hosts, being thus, next to God, venerated, glorified, and praised above all beings in heaven and earth.”
St. John of Damascus

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.

ween = 'to think; suppose; imagine' or 'to expect; hope; intend'

Offered in honor of Our Lady on Septuagesima Sunday, AD 2010.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Octave of St. Agnes

" Now it came to pass, that while the parents of blessed Agnes were spending the night at her tomb, suddenly in the dead silence of night, a bright light shone forth, and they saw an array of virgins passing, all robed in cloth of gold ; and among them they saw also most blessed Agnes, robed like the rest, and at her right hand there stood a lamb whiter than snow. Her parents and all with them, seeing these things, were silent with wonder. But blessed Agnes said to her parents : Do not grieve for me as dead : but rejoice and be glad, because I have gained the mansions of light, as these have done before me, and am united to Him in heaven, whom while on earth I used to love with my whole soul. This said, she passed away.''
- St. Ambrose (AD 340-397)

Saint Agnes (+ 304) is highly honored in traditional Roman calendar, having two feast days. The first was last week, on the 21st. The second is today. St. Agnes was martyred for her faith at a young age, a week before her 13th birthday. Her parents, and others with them, spent the evening of her birthday at her tomb, and there received the vision mentioned above, which is commemorated on this day.

Many other saints besides St. Ambrose have honored the purity and steadfast faith of St. Agnes. Pope Saint Damasus I, who was born about a year after the death of St. Agnes, became Pope at a time when it was no longer so dangerous to be a Christian. He wrote an epitaph for her which was carved in marble and used to mark her tomb, "but through the ages it was lost. Amazingly, it was at last rediscovered in 1728 inside [her] basilica, whole and complete: it had been used upside down, fortunately as a paving stone!" (Fr. Zuhlsdorf).

In the century following her death, Saint Martin of Tours(316-397), Saint Jerome(340-420) and Saint Augustine(354-430) sang her praises. In years after that, Saint Maximus of Turin (+470), Saint Radbod(+918), Saint Peter Damian (+1071), Saint Gertrude (+1334), Saint Birgitta (+1373) and Pope Saint Pius V(+1572) imitated the earlier saints' example of honoring St. Agnes, before following them into glory.

She is invoked with other martyrs in the Nobis quoque peccatoribus shortly before the Pater noster in the traditional Mass. I used to hear her name regularly even in the new Mass at our parish in the 1970's, but not any more. Despite being so honored, I hardly knew anything about St. Agnes until last week. In order to better honor the saints whom we venerate in the TLM, I hope to read and write a little about each one mentioned in the Ordinary.

"O Saint Agnes, thou who dost follow the Lamb in thy delicate beauty, who dost exult in being a captive in the bonds of His love, in having received the sweet pledge of His faithfulness, and in being brought into His secret chamber, obtain for me that I may be inflamed like Thee with love of Jesus, my Spouse."
- Saint Gertrude (+1334)

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fæder ure

A reading of the Lord's prayer in 11th century Old English. That was shortly before the Norman Invasion and all that dramatically changed the language:

Fæder ure, þu þe eart on heofonum...

I thought it was interesting to follow along and try to figure out what was being said. This version of the video with word by word translation showed where I was mistaken.

Not sure what I think of the scary/cool music that accompanies the reading. It seems to fit the Old English setting, which comes to us as old stone ruins and scraps of parchment, but it wasn't ghosts that spoke these words, when Christians prayed the Pater noster this way.

Modern Literal Translation
Father our
You who are in Heaven
Be your name hallowed,
Come your kingdom.
Become your will on earth as on Heaven.
Our daily loaf give us today.
And forgive us our guilts as we forgive the fellow guilty.
And do not lead you us into temptation
But release us of evil. Truly.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Indifference to Life

I turned the tv on for a few minutes earlier this hour. EWTN was covering the annual March for Life. I wondered how other networks were covering the event: Headline News, Fox News, and a couple other channels showed great interest in the unusual amount of rain two states out west are getting, but not so much in the hundreds of thousands of innocents slaughtered every year in the United States.

I ended up watching CNN. Nothing about the march, but they did have a report from Haiti. One of their camera crews heard gun shots and rushed over to find that police had shot two suspected looters. Suspected, apparently, because each was carrying a pail of rice. Locals in the area denied there was any looting. The policemen's supervisor arrived and sorrowfully said the two should not have been shot in any country, even if they had stolen rice. He said he had called an ambulance for the more seriously injured of the two. They waited; after two hours, no ambulance had arrived and the man had bled to death. In the meantime, the camera crew shot more pictures, none of which showed the police, or the reporters, or the bystanders showing any interest in attempting to tend the man's wounds themselves, or comfort him in any way. Detestable indifference! Clumsy and inexperienced help would have been better than no help at all! A man died right in front of them and they did nothing!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Saint Agnes - Virgin and Martyr

Today is the feast of Saint Agnes of Rome, Virgin and Martyr.

Saint Agnes was born to a noble family in Rome in A.D. 291. Her family, by the grace of God, instilled in her a deep and fearless Christian faith.

The prefect Sempronius wished Agnes to marry his son, and when Agnes refused, she was denounced as a Christian. This was a time of persecution, and she might have escaped punishment if she had been willing to sacrifice to pagan idols, but she refused, and boldly confessed her faith in Christ.

In reprisal, she was humiliated by being dragged naked through the streets to a brothel, where she was threatened with rape. She maintained her modesty as well as she could, covering herself with her hair, and refusing to surrender to the will of her tormentors.

Following an unsuccessful attempt to kill her by fire, she died by the sword. From that time, she has been deeply revered for her purity and constancy. She is often pictured with a lamb (a symbol of her unblemished purity), and a palm branch (symbol of her martyrdom).

Because of the influence of her family, St. Agnes' body was not thrown into the river, which was common practice for martyred Christians at the time. Instead, she was buried in the family cemetery. There, a few days later, Agnes' nurse's daughter Emerentiana, was caught praying. Emerentiana was not yet a Christian, but she was a catechumen, and she followed her friend into martyrdom, stoned to death for refusing the leave the tomb and for reprimanding the pagans for killing Agnes. "Baptized by blood", Emerentiana is honored as a saint.

Many other Christians since then have followed St. Emerentiana in remembering and honoring St. Agnes...

(Have to stop here -- leaving now for a traditional Latin Mass that commemorates St. Agnes. Praise God, pope, pastor and priest for making this Mass available today).

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

St. Agnes, pure in heart, intercede for us!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

525,600 Minutes

Seasons of Love

525,600 minutes,
525,000 moments so dear.
525,600 minutes --
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes --
how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? ...
Measure in love.
Seasons of love...

"525,600 minutes" is the title of Molly Hightower's blog, which she created to chronicle her year with Our Little Brothers and Sisters, a wonderful organization whose purpose is to care for orphaned and abandoned children in Latin America. Molly arrived in Haiti last June to help with the physical therapy of disabled children. She worked patiently under trying conditions for six months, but then, tragically, was caught in last week's earthquake. On Friday, her body was recovered from the wreckage of the Fr. Wasson Center in Pétionville.

Molly seems to have been a cheerful and compassionate young lady, a fragrant blossom in the garden of the Lord.

May the Lord of All forgive all her sins, and bless her, and raise her up on the last day.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Le Moine et le Poisson

I found this charming short film earler today while looking for something else:

Sometimes I feel like the monk when he tries to show his friends what he has seen, only to be met with skepticism and indifference. It is unsettling.

Somebody who watched the video on youtube had this beautiful interpretation:
...the fish symbolizes God, or the idea of God. The monk is struggling to catch the fish, which symbolizes the human need to "catch" God or have an understanding of him. When the monk finally gives in and simply follows the fish, he is able to be at peace, (like being at peace with God).
We cannot master God, or control Him, or force Him to reveal Himself to us on our terms, at the the time of our choosing. It is only after the monk gives up trying to be in charge and peacefully follows the fish that he is led through a narrow way to a wide open place where finally the fish is his.

The fish is, of course, an ancient symbol for Christ, but at the end of the video, when the fish settles in over the head of the monk, I was reminded of depictions of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire that appeared at Pentecost, one over the head of each apostle.

The last we see of the monk is his gentle, tumbling ascent toward the heavens where God the Father will certainly greet him with love.

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