Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Encourage & Teach: 3 Priceless Pillars after 3 Years of Diaconal Service

GospelIt was one of the most profound moments of my life. The Bishop laid his hands on my head during the rite of ordination and everything changed. There were no fireworks, no tongues of fire, the heavens were not rent open and no voice was heard (as far as I know). My personal experience was one of a sense of peace and a sense that this was right and necessary for me to be whole…(Read more)

Remembering the Christmas Message

Close the Path to Misery: O Clavis David

Key_DavidMy sister Iwalani and I were studying for our high school finals when we heard a click come from her desk. My dad had repurposed an old metal army desk that was been thrown away. It had a great lock which my sister and I often stuck a paperclip in and tried to pick. Without even trying, Iwalani accidently locked it. With all her books in it. And no key. It took us over an hour to pick the lock and get it open – all the while our dad laughed and reminded us that he told us this would happen.

There was another lock that humanity to no success had worked to open for thousands of years. Locked through Original Sin, the gates of heaven were sealed with no apparent key to open it and give us access again to the very heart of the God the Father.

The hearts of mankind cried out for a way to enter the very house and heart of God (Psalm 84:10). The song, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel sums up our heart cry:

O come, thou Key of David, come, And open wide our heavenly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.

And yet, we have come to know that it is our hearts that have been locked in sin, imprisoned in darkness and yearning for our Morning Star. This evening the Church celebrates the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy through the O Antiphon, O Clavis David:

O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts and no man opens: come, and lead forth the captive who sits in the shadows from his prison.

We have heard that eternal Wisdom stepped out of eternity into time, the Mighty God has come to save, the Root of Jesse shall bloom forth a Messiah and tonight, He shall open the gates to the house of the Living God.

O Key of David, open the gates of my heart to Your radiant majesty that I may enter the gates of heaven and gain access to the very heart of God.

What Good Could Come from Nazareth: O Radix Jesse

Root_of_Jesse.theotokosOver the past eight years, my son Nicholas has devastated three lawn mowers. The main culprit is the Cherry tree roots. He has run over the root a number of times and inevitably bent the blade and the drive shaft. Several times. Three to be exact. And yet, I should not complain because I did not have to mow the lawn.

What has amazed me is the constitution of the tree. Even more amazing is that from this macerated root a Rose of Sharon bush has sprung forth producing beautiful blooms. It seems that nature always finds away – even amidst damaged roots.

Today’s O Antiphon is a great reminder of this principal. When humanity was splintered and the favored people were cut to the root, the Lord found a way and from the stump of Jesse a Savior would come:

O Root of Jesse, that stands for an ensign of the people, before whom the kings keep silence and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication: come, to deliver us, and tarry not.

A promise of salvation (Genesis 3:15), a once and future king (Psalm 132:11), a hopeful question (John 1:46) and a savior coming forth from the city of the branch (ne·er, נֵ֫צֶר) who became the Savior (Mark 1:9).

Tonight, Isaiah stirs our heart and reminds us to allow the gospel to dig deep and establish a strong root in Christ Jesus.

Holy Spirit, plunge your blade (Hebrews 4:12) into the fallow ground (Jeremiah 4:3 and Hosea 10:12) of my heart that your word will take root (Matthew 13). O Radix Jesse, allow a new springtime (Zechariah 10:1, Song of Songs 2:11, Isaiah 35: 1-10) to ensue as the time of your Nativity draws near.

Flame of the Burning Bush: O Adonai

o-adonaiThe first Christian song, non-liturgical, I remember learning was El Shaddai by Amy Grant. The song recounted the covenant of Abraham and our Lord with the refrain using two very specific names for God: El Shaddai (God of the Mountain) and Adonai (Master, Owner or the Lord). These titles have been engrained in my life of prayer and have been great sources of meditation and solace.

Today, the revelation of our Lord through the O Antiphons focuses on the name Adonai. This title is first found in Genesis 15:2 where Abraham addresses God as “Adonai YHWH.” It is used approximately 300 times in the Tanakh. Vespers recounts His saving power this way:

O Lord and Ruler the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and redeem us with outstretched arms.

May the Adonai rule your heart bring peace to the kingdom of your heart and family. For the Lord Himself will go before you (Deuteronomy 31:8), defend you as the Valiant Warrior (Jeremiah 20:11a) and shepherd (Genesis 49:25; also Isaiah 1:24; 49:26b; cf. 60:16b) you into a lnd flowing with milk and honey.

From the Mouth of the Most High: O Wisdom!

Psalm-18-28.lampSt. Louis de Montfort described the beauty of our Lord in his classic spiritual masterpiece, The Love of Eternal Wisdom. He exclaimed:

How gentle, attractive and approachable is eternal Wisdom who possesses such splendour, excellence and grandeur. He invites men to come to him because he wants to teach them the way to happiness.

Today, the Church starts her countdown clock with the O Antiphons at Vespers (Evening Prayer). St. Louis de Montfort said that our Lord desires to teach us the way to happiness and Church reveals us this evening in her liturgy that happiness is found by way of prudence:

O Wisdom, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come, and teach us the way of prudence.

The virtue of prudence allows us to see rightly. Fr. Hardon defined it as the, “Correct knowledge about things to be done or, more broadly, the knowledge of things that ought to be done and of things that ought to be avoided.”

This evening, the Lord invites us to see rightly and focus our attention to the order of His creation (CCC 31-35). Over the next seven days, the Church will unfold salvation history and starts, “In the beginning…”

Encourage & Teach: The Christmas Countdown – Catholic Style!

This time of year every kid, and dare I say a good number of adults, are eagerly counting down the days to Christmas. As a child, my family had one of those great window Advent calendars where you opened a window daily to reveal a thought or picture inside. It helped us to track where we were in the Advent season. The Church does the same thing through the liturgy and it starts tomorrow on December 17.

The church’s countdown system is called the “O Antiphons.” (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: Mary, Model of Perfect Love

Statue-Ann-Mary-JesusWhen discussing the generation of our Lord within the Blessed Trinity among the youth, I sometimes explain it in this manner:

The Son is the Father’s infinite and eternal act of self-reflection from everlasting to everlasting.

“When the Father mirrored Himself in the infinite, he produced one Image with all the perfections of the Infinite,” and we call Him Jesus, the Son of God.

Creation, on the other hand, is a type of mirroring of God, but not such that it is an emanation (Catechism of the Catholic Church 300), but an expression of His wisdom and love (CCC 295). We might think, too, that the Father would need to create a perfect mirroring of Himself in the finite creation, but He does not need to see Himself thus. (Read more…)

Crazy Christmas Stats

I know, Christmas can sometimes be outrageous because of the craziness and the loss of the sacred. That being said, I cannot help but enjoy this infographic even if it means, but for a brief moment in the immortal words of Jane Austin,

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

The info is interesting though…

Christmas in the World 2010 - Infographics

Encourage & Teach: Advent and the Second Coming

jesus-revelation19In college I was surprised when a close friend explained her family crèche. It wasn’t the style or the model that caused me to pause. It was the addition of a figurine that I had neither seen nor considered before. This particular set included not only the baby Jesus figurine but an additional Jesus as described in Revelation 19:11-13,

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

Let’s be honest, nothing says Christmas like an image of Jesus with “eyes blazing like fire and a robe dipped in blood.” (Read more…)