Sunday, April 20, 2014


Lumen Christi gloriosae resurgentes
Dissipit tenebras cordis et mentes.
[May the light of Christ gloriously rising scatter the darkness of hearts and minds.]

This is, of course, an open comments thread, and I look forward to hearing your Easter reflections (and images & music) in due course. As for me, from the richness of the Easter liturgy, I was particularly struck this year by its emphasis on the effects of Easter in our own minds and hearts.

In lieu of a longer post on Easter, I will link to, which has made available a detailed article by Dom Jerome Gassner on The Exsultet (history, structure, effects). Some highlights:
"Immediately following the seven proclamations concerning the night of Resurrection and concerning the cause and motives of Redemption, seven effects of the supernatural illumination by the risen Christ, symbolized by the light of the candle, are briefly enumerated: the holiness of this night 1) banishes crime, 2) washes away sin, 3) restores innocence to those who have fallen, 4) gives gladness to those who are sad, 5) drives forth hate, 6) brings peace, and 7) humbles the haughty. So far the Preface. . . .
"The Exsultet is a most solemn sacramental. . . . . It is a sacramental preparation and a disposing for a happy celebration of Easter, which is to climax in the Easter Eucharist, the resurrection of the souls — with Christ. . . . 
"The actual graces produced by the Exsultet are acts of faith in the Resurrection of Christ, and in its re-enactment in the Easter celebration, proclaimed and described in such fervent, glowing colors; acts, moreover, of expectant hope, of reverence and admiration for the Easter mysteries; acts of gratitude for the charity and mercy of God, for so great a Sacrifice, for so great a glory merited for us by the Redeemer (cf. John 17).
"The light of the Easter candle "blots out crime, washes away sins, restores innocence," by forgiving venial sins and temporal punishment for sins. It "banishes enmities, produces concord, gives joy to the sorrowful." The prayer for "humbling the haughty" (literally: bring low the power of empires) refers not merely to the haughtiness of civil authorities, but also and primarily to the empire of death, the reign of the prince of this world and his hosts. 
"The Exsultet has also an abundance of temporal effects, partly implied already in the seven effects enumerated, partly suggested in the great intercession, e.g. a quiet and peaceful Eastertime, free from disturbances of all kind, so that Christians may in complete tranquillity enjoy the holy season. When the Church asks God in so solemn a manner on behalf of the faithful that He may "ever rule and guide and keep them" in His "devoted protection," then this special protection of their ways and lives, of their health and happiness is assured. The Exsultet is both wish and prayer, congratulation and impetration of a blessed, glorious, joyful, jubilant Easter." (emphasis mine)
I plan to reread the Exsultet in short bits throughout Paschaltide, so I can take it in more fully. Clearly, my own Easter greeting to you for happiness and peace this season can only be a faint echo of the fulsome prayer Holy Mother Church has already offered for all of us: that the Lord "quietate temporum concessa in his pascalibus gaudiis, assidua protectione, regere, gubernara, et conservare digeris." [grant peaceful times during this Paschal Festival, and vouchsafe to rule, govern, and keep us with His constant protection]. We pray in a special way for the church and civil authorities that the Lord "dirige cogitationes eorum ad justitiam et pacem." [direct their thoughts in justice and peace].

So, in sum, God grant you much peace and joy this Paschal season. May the light of the triumphantly Risen Christ illumine our minds and hearts.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: Way of the Cross

Editor's note: These mosaic Stations of the Cross were made by Fr. Nevin Ford, O.F.M. and are installed in an olive garden on the Santa Barbara Mission grounds. Photos and text below [St. Catherine's Way of the Cross] submitted by Michael.

I Jesus is condemned to death. 
O selfish love and servile fear, you blind the eye of the intellect, not allowing it to know the truth.  O inordinate fear, you reach such blindness that you lose the fear of the wicked and condemn the just man.  Indeed, this is the perverse fear and love which killed Christ; for, in his dread of losing power, Pilate was blinded and did not recognize Truth.

II Jesus receives the cross on His shoulders.

Oh the unspeakable and incalculable love of God!  To save his disobedient, rebellious children he gave himself up to becoming a creature, to being despised, disgraced, insulted, mocked and finally put to death as a malefactor.  Well have you loved me, most sweet Jesus love, and thereby you teach me how much I should love myself and my brethren, whom you loved so deeply.

III Jesus falls the first time

What way did he walk, this gentle master, this spotless lamb?  He walked the way of deep humility in that, being God, he so humbled himself as to become man.

IV Jesus meets his mother.

The Word grafted upon her flesh was like a seed cast into the earth.  She shared the same longing for the honor of God and the salvation of His creatures.  Hence it is that learned men say that she would have made of herself a ladder to set her Son upon the cross, had there been no other means of doing so.

V Simon of Cyrene carries the cross of Jesus.

Bind yourselves, bind yourselves together in charity; let each one endure and bear with the other, so that you may be united, not scattered, in Christ.  He declared that the children of God are not known by any other sign except the union of love which a person bears his neighbor in perfect charity.

VI Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

O compassionate blood!  Through you was distilled the divine mercy.  In you humankind can understand and see the truth of the eternal Father.  By this truth and ineffable love we were created in the image and likeness of God.

VII Jesus falls a second time

Alas, we encounter death through our rebellion against the commandments of God; daily we fall into this same death, by transgressing his sweet will.

VIII The women of Jerusalem weep for Jesus

Now is the time to cry, to weep, to lament: this time is ours because the spouse of Christ is persecuted by Christians, her own false and corrupted members.  But God will not despise the tears, sweat and sighs of his servants.

IX Jesus falls a third time

Our king behaves like a truly valiant knight.  Barehanded, he has overcome the prince of this world; by giving the life of his body he destroyed the death of sin; by means of death he overcame death.

X Jesus is stripped of his garments

He was the immaculate Lamb who despised the riches and dignities of the world.  Finally he dies naked on the cross so as to clothe man once more and cover his nakedness.

XI Jesus is nailed to the cross

A nail would not have been enough to hold him fastened, if the indescribable love he had for our salvation had not held him bound.  So then it was the intense love for the Father's honor and our salvation which kept him there.

XII Jesus dies for us on the cross

Mind His great patience!  He does not consider the abuses heaped upon Him on the cross.  Rather, in great joy he called out "Consummatum est" and though that word sounded sorrowful there was joy in that soul.  The painful desire I had to buy back the human race is achieved; therefore do I rejoice and exult.

XIII Jesus is taken down from the cross and laid in the arms of his mother

Gentle and immaculate Lamb, you were already dead when your side was opened; why were you willing to be pierced and to have your heart cleft in two?  Because my desire was infinite with respect to the human race while the endurance of pain and torment was finite.  And further I wanted you to see the secret of the heart, showing it to you opened so that you could see that I loved you.

XIV Jesus is laid in the sepulcher

O nature divine, you raise the dead and you alone give life:  you willed to join dead human nature to restore it to life.  Not even in the tomb could one nature be separated from the other.

He returns to the eternal Father with the victory he has gained of having drawn the human race out of darkness and restored to it the light of grace.  The blood and determination of this captain should inspire courage in us for every battle: by enduring all things for love of Him we too, shall return victorious to the city of eternal life.

Good Friday: "O Come and mourn"

III. Jesus Crucified (“O come and mourn”)
By Frederick William Faber (1814–1863)

O Come and mourn with me awhile,
  See, Mary calls us to her side;
O come and let us mourn with her:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Have we no tears to shed for Him,
  While soldiers scoff and Jews deride?
Ah! look how patiently He hangs:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

How fast His hands and feet are nailed;
  His blessèd tongue with thirst is tied;
His failing eyes are blind with blood:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

His Mother cannot reach His face;
  She stands in helplessness beside;
Her heart is martyred with her Son’s:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Seven times He spoke, seven words of love,
  And all three hours His silence cried
For mercy on the souls of men:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

What was Thy crime, my dearest Lord?
  By earth, by heaven, Thou hast been tried,
And guilty found of too much love:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Found guilty of excess of love,
  It was Thine own sweet will that tied
The tighter far than helpless nails:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Death came, and Jesus meekly bowed;
  His falling eyes He strove to guide
With mindful love to Mary’s face:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

O break, O break, hard heart of mine!
  Thy weak self-love and guilty pride
His Pilate and his Judas were:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

Come, take thy stand beneath the cross
  And let the blood from out that side
Fall gently on thee drop by drop:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

A broken heart, a fount of tears,
  Ask, and they will not be denied;
A broken heart love’s cradle is:
  Jesus, our Love, is crucified!

O Love of God! O sin of Man!
  In this dread act your strength is tried:
And victory remains with love,
  For He, our Love, is crucified!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Visit Seven Churches on Holy Thursday

A message from Michael:

An open invitation for anyone one who would like to join us on the Seven Churches pilgrimage this Holy Thursday: We will meet for mass and dinner at San Roque at 5:30. Our route last year was to head to OLS next, then Guadalupe, Mount Carmel, the Poor Clare's chapel, Holy Cross, and finally ending at St. Raphael's.

From Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church:
Holy Thursday or Thursday of the Holy Mysteries is the first day of the Easter Triduum. On that day Jesus had his Last Supper with his disciples and washed their feet. He commanded them to love each other and follow his example in serving each other. “So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13/12- 16).

After the washing of the feet, Jesus went to Mount of Olives and spent his night there praying to His Father for his disciples and his Church so they may be one as He is one with His Father. On that day, Jesus founded the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Eucharist and the Priesthood. It is the Thursday of the Priests par excellence, those servants of the Holy Sacraments and administrators of the Holy Eucharist in memory of Jesus Christ, in memory of His death and Resurrection until he returns.

The custom of that day was to visit seven Churches, symbolizing the seven Sacraments, and meditating in each Church upon one of the Sacraments. This custom started first in Rome, where Christians went to visit seven Churches built upon seven hills of Rome, to honor the tombs of the first Christian martyrs and disciples, especially the tombs of Peter and Paul. This custom still in existence in our parishes and churches in Lebanon where thousands of people go in procession from one Church to another to visit the Blessed Sacrament exposed usually after the ceremony of the washing of the feet until the morning of the next day, Good Friday. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed all night and faithful are encouraged to stay in the church as much as they can praying, meditating upon the Mystery of Salvation, and participating in the “agony of Gethsemane” where Jesus spent his night in prayer before His crucifixion on Good Friday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Reflections on the First of April

Dear Sodalitiers and Friends Thereof,
Apologies for letting both the great Feast of the Annunciation (Mar 25) and Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent) pass without notice on this blog. As blog editor, I have received quite insistent requests to post on April 1st observances, which may be even less well known. Allow ample time for today’s reading.

On the Sanctoral Cycle. We Catholics might have dozens or maybe even a hundred saints’ days rattling around in our heads. We each have our patron saints, as well as those whose intercession we invoke for special situations. And yet there are always more at hand—the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1), the Communion of Saints, the original and ultimate social network is bigger than we know. And so, while we might not readily recall which saints are honored on the Kalends of April, there are at least sixteen named members of the Church Triumphant on today’s calendar.
 “At Rome, the passion of St. Theodora, sister of the most illustrious martyr Hermes, who suffered martyrdom under the Emperor Hadrian, at the command of the judge Aurelian, and is buried near her brother on the Via Salaria, not far from the City.”
 While modern readers may wish for more on the life and personality of St. Theodora herself, this is surely an informative sentence in its own way (according to the conventions of the genre). In addition, the website lists these others, mostly martyrs, spanning the usual vast geographical and temporal range—just another typical day in the Catholic calendar. May these and all the saints intercede for us to the Lord.
Should you find yourself at a loss for words and don’t know any prayers to a certain saint, here is a generic prayer in honor of the Saint of the Day:
Grant, we beseech Thee, almighty God, that the examples of Saint ______ may effectually move us to reform our lives; that while we celebrate his [her] festival, we may also imitate his [her] actions. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Look upon our weakness, almighty God, and since the burden of our own deeds weighs heavily upon us, may the glorious intercession of Saint ______ protect us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.[1]

My reflections on this day could end here: after all, it could possibly have been a great devotion to St. Dodolinus that motivated my esteemed colleague to press me for an April 1st post. None of these saints I’ve listed, however, appear on a local church bulletin, which instead lists a popular observance my researches have hitherto overlooked. That bulletin lists in the vernacular what a more traditional context calls Aprilis Stulte Dies.

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent. The traditional propers of the Mass seem most apt. The Lesson is from Exodus 32:7-14: worshipping a golden calf was undoubtedly foolish. Furthermore, today’s Gospel reading (John 7:14-31) destabilizes facile assumptions about knowing and unknowing and highlights foolish judgment. However, those who neither self-identify as fools nor who “suffer fools gladly” find the company of fools to be a tribulation--and thus we pray: “Miserere, Domine, populo tuo: et continuis tribulationibus laborantem, propitious respirare concede. Per Dominum.” “Have mercy on Thy people, O Lord, and from the unceasing tribulation under which they labor grant them relief in Thy mercy. Through our Lord.” All very fitting. And yet, as readers of this blog know full well, all this is merely a coincidence—these readings would fall on a different calendar day each year, fluctuating with the date of Easter.

Thus inoculated from foolishness, let us turn to an array of news and useful information:
  • President Obama met with Pope Francis last week. The inimitable Eye of the Tiber has an exclusive story.
  • As reported last month, the price of Amazon Prime jumped from $79 to $99. This is still a bargain, of course, since the world's largest online retailer now includes the long-awaited Amazon Lauds. Amazon Vespers should be available to all customers in time for the busy Advent-Christmas season. The release date for Amazon Matins is not yet clear. Meanwhile, the Little Hours [other than Prime] have been delayed: a focus group had markedly different expectations for Amazon Sext. 
  • Google has a tradition of making their most useful products available on April 1st. There were some new ones today, but the most practical are still these: GMail Paper and--even better--the space to upload and store anything in the cloud. Once you use these, you'll wonder how you ever lived without them. Google Translate for animals  could be eminently practical for many users (as for me, I have neither a smartphone nor much inclination to talk with animals). The secret of Google's earlier success, of course, lies in the patented PigeonRank system (2002) that has long since eclipsed the competition.
  •  Lastly, this classic study of the peculiar practices of the Nacirema is still as timely as ever.
Edited to add: On this day of misrule
  • The Dominicans have taken over The Jesuit Post here.
  • And likewise the Jesuits have done to same to Dominicana (now Jesuitica) 

[1] Blessed Be God: A Complete Catholic Prayer Book, p 456.