The epiphany of the Epiphany: The Wise Men r Us

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Copyright: Wonderlane used with permission.

The wise men r us.

By that I mean they are that vast reach of overlooked humanity that had no part in God’s Covenant with Abraham. The wise men are you and me, who will be, at long last and as St Paul put it, “grafted” onto the original tree of life that God planted when He raised up first a man and his wife, then their family, and finally, a people, to be the flame of flickering light in the darkness of fallen humanity.

We sorta know the story of the Wise Men. We’ve seen it acted out in Christmas pageants when, at the end of the story of Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the manger, three little boys walk in to the tune of We Three Kings. They are wearing bathrobes made of shiny fabric and carrying three boxes marked “gold,” “frankincense” and “myrrh.”

The little boys put their boxes next to a makeshift manger which holds a doll wrapped in a baby blanket. Meanwhile a little girl, dressed in a her mother’s bathrobe and a little boy dressed in his dad’s, look on. The shepherds are already there, along with a couple of little girl angels.

It’s Christmas and the people rise to sing Joy to the World with the gusto of those who know in their hearts that this story, however simply it is told, is true.

These Christmas pageants are simple, fun and they do tell the essential story. But the layers upon layers of meaning that the story holds are not touched. That’s to the good, of course, since belief lies not in layers of understanding but in the simplicity of ultimate truth.

Christmas is about the end of the endless night of ultimate hopelessness. It is the story of The Light breaking into human history. As such, the simplicity of small-church Christmas pageants are all we need to tell the story.

But for those who want to look past the dust jacket on the story, the questions and the answers are there. Before Jesus, God’s direct work with humanity had been limited to this smallish family turned nation that He had settled smack along the most important trade route of the ancient world. The bread basket of Egypt, the spices and riches of the East, traveled along this narrow way near the sea on their journey to Europe.

Rome fed off this route, as had numerous empires before it. Of all the places in the ancient world, the one most likely to be fought over, invaded, battered and beaten, was this one. Why did God put His people here?

My guess is that it was because the story of the Jews is not just the story of the Jews. It is the story of Jesus’ family. The Bible itself is, from the first page to the last, the story of Jesus, of God’s redemption of us, all of us, everywhere. He chose to send His redemption first through a man and his wife, then through a family and finally through a single nation.

When Jesus was born, He repeated the story and went back, once again, to a man and woman, a husband and wife. It seems that God always begins His beginnings with humanity with family.

The Chosen people were chosen, as God told Abraham, “to be a blessing.” They job was to bring that first flickering point of light to the world at large. The nation of Israel was in the one best place best situated for sending the message of redemption to the whole world. The location that made it a perilous location of great political and economic interest, also made it the perfect jumping-off place for spreading the Good News outward until it met itself circling the globe.

Thus Jesus, when He finally came, was a Jew, born to Jews in a vassal Jewish nation residing in the crook of the elbow of the ancient economy.

He was, from the beginning, the Light of the World. Not, notice, the light of the Jews. Jesus, a Jew, born of Jews, came for every person who walked the planet. Salvation came from the Jews, but it was for us all.

That is the meaning of the Epiphany. It is the underlying message of God calling three wise men to, as the hymn says, “traverse afar” in their quest to find Him. These men were not Jews. They were us, the unsaved sea of humanity that had been, up until then, standing outside the door.

The epiphany of the Epiphany is that we are part of the story now. Salvation came from the Jews, but it is no longer theirs alone. From the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life, He called all humanity to Himself. It began with three men who followed a star and it is unfolding to this day.

Pope Francis surprised the pundits this week by raising up cardinals from far-flung locations about the world, many of which are places where Christians suffer desperate persecution. The mustard seed is just being planted in some of these lands. Those cardinals are the successors to the wise men.

… the Gospel must be preached to all nations, Jesus told us.

And it will be.

And it is.

Like every other story of humankind, the story of our salvation begins with a man, a woman, and a baby. It begins with a family, and it ends with eternal life.

Mixed into this story is the tale of three wise men who “traversed afar” to pay homage to a newborn king laid in a manger in a stable. They visited the Romans’ vassal king of that land, King Herod, on their way to Him. In doing so, they alerted a ruthless and insecure man to a potential threat. Their indiscretion cost the lives of innocent children, executed by King Herod in a drive to safeguard his throne against prophecy. They were the trigger that sent Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus into exile in Egypt.

Their part in the story of salvation, was germinal in every way. But the most important part of it is also the most often overlooked. The wise men were not Jews, they were not of the Chosen people. The blood of Abraham did not flow in their veins. But God called them and guided them and over a long journey led them … to Him.

In this way, the epiphany of the Epiphany is that we are welcome at the table now. The doors to God’s salvation opened wide on that night when He was born, allowing any who will take the step to enter in. It began with a star, a journey and a baby.

Because the wise men r us.

The Story of Amazing Grace

 

Amazing Grace touches hearts as no other hymn. Here is the remarkable story of its author.

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You Raise Me Up

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Our Lady of the Rosary is also Our Lady of Victory is also a Lady for Our Times

It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary.

Pope Leo XIII

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. It’s alternate name is the Feast of Our Lady of Victory.

This feast commemorates the battle of Lepanto, which took place in 1571, and which CatholicCulture.org says is the battle that saved Europe.

In our politically-correct, revisionist history that we use in place of real history these days, the Battle of Lepanto is one of those events about which we may not speak. It, along with the Crusades, has been re-written or, in the case of this battle, ignored, in order to create a version of history that demonizes Christianity and gives Islam a complete pass for its invasions and wars.

In truth, the Crusades, which were horribly executed, were a series of defensive wars against invaders who took over large areas of the world by the sword. There was corruption and terrible mis-use of victories in the Crusades. As such, there is much to criticize about the way they were executed. These points of legitimate criticism are the key to the Crusades ultimate failure to achieve their stated objective, which was to free people who had been conquered by invasion.

This objective is what current history has lied about. I say lie, because there is no other word for it.

The Battle of Lepanto was a sea battle fought to repel invading Muslim armies. The Ottoman Empire, which came about as a direct consequence of wars of conquest against peaceful countries, had spread throughout the Mediterranean. The Sultan’s fleet controlled the Mediterranean. The military goal was to bring all of Europe within the dar al-Islam, the “House of Submission,” i.e., submission to sharia law. They called Europe the dar al-harb, the “House of War.”

The reason for this name was simple: Europe was the land of the infidels, i.e., Christians.

The invading armies gained purchase for the same reasons they were able to conquer Constantinople in 1453: Divisions within Christianity. In that instance, the argument was over who should be pope. This  had led to a bitter division of Christianity. In the Europe of the 1500s, the argument was between Protestants and Catholics, with some Protestants becoming so insane with their hate that they actually welcomed the invading Muslims as fellow enemies of the Pope.

On the day of battle, October 7, 1571, the pope called on the faithful to pray the Rosary, asking for Our Lady’s intercession. Crew members on the Christian ships prayed the Rosary prior to battle, as did Christians everywhere. Churches were opened for people to gather together to pray the Rosary. It is said that Pope Pius V was given a miraculous vision of the victory.

The Battle of Lepanto was not only a pivotal victory for Europe and Christendom, but the loss was so costly to the invaders that it turned them back permanently. All but 13 of the nearly 300 Turkish ships were sunk, and 33,000 Turkish sailors were killed, wounded or captured. Twelve thousand Christian slaves were freed.

The deeper symbolism and symmetry of this historic battle connects like a row of dots with the miracles and warnings that Our Lady gave us at Fatima. Fatima, which acquired its name during the time the area was a territory under Muslim conquerers, was the place. Our Lady appeared at Fatima to warn us of the reality of hell, the fall of Russia to Communism and the cataclysmic wars of the 20th Century. She introduced herself to the shepherd children by using a name that harkens back to Lepanto.

I am the lady of the Rosary, she said.

 

 

Oklahoma Archbishop Files Suit Over Stolen Host that Satanists Have Slotted for Desecration

 

Archbishop Paul Coakley filed suit today against the group which has said it will conduct a “black mass” at the Oklahoma City Civic Center.

The basis for the lawsuit is that the group has illegally obtained property belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, i.e., a Consecrated Host.

There are a number of statutes which might apply to this situation. According to an article in National Catholic Reporter, a “black mass” involves a naked woman lying on the “altar,” which has a certain symmetry since their “priest” is a convicted sex offender. Since Oklahoma has laws against public nudity, the Satanists claim they are going to forego that, along with using excrement and urine.

Here is a sampling of other statutes which might apply to the situation. These are all from Title 21,  criminal law. I’m sure there are many others under tort law.

Oklahoma Criminal Statutes:

1. Receiving property obtained under false pretenses:”§21-1713.  Receiving stolen property – Presumption.

A.  Every person who buys or receives, in any manner, upon any consideration, any personal property of any value whatsoever that has been stolen, embezzled, obtained by false pretense or robbery, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the same to have been stolen, embezzled, obtained by false pretense, or robbery, or who conceals, withholds, or aids in concealing or withholding such property from the owner, shall be guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment in the State Penitentiary not to exceed five (5) years, or in the county jail not to exceed one (1) year, or by a fine not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or by both such fine and imprisonment.

2. Larceny:
“§211701.  Larceny defined.
Larceny is the taking of personal property accomplished by fraud or stealth, and with intent to deprive another thereof.”
3. Crime against a house of worship (as an Accessory to the crime).
“§21-1765.  House of worship or contents, injuring.
Any person who willfully breaks, defaces, or otherwise injures any house of worship, or any part thereof, or any appurtenance thereto, or any book, furniture, ornament, musical instrument, article of silver or plated ware, or other chattel kept therein for use in connection with religious worship, shall be guilty of a felony.”
§21173.  Accessories defined.
All persons who, after the commission of any felony, conceal or aid the offender, with knowledge that he has committed a felony, and with intent that he may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment, are accessories.
§21901.  Blasphemy defined.Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.
 
§21902.  Serious discussion not blasphemy.If it appears beyond reasonable doubt that the words complained of were used in the course of serious discussion, and with intent to make known or recommend opinions entertained by the accused, such words are not blasphemy.

This is the press release Archbishop Coakley put out about the lawsuit:

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For 2,000 Years, Catholics have Risked Their Lives Just to be at Mass

I have nothing to add to this video. Watch it and be blessed.

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Western Civilization is a Dead Man Walking, but It’s Valentine’s Day and We Still Have Each Other

A federal judge in Kentucky killed marriage this week.

A parliamentary vote in Belgium officially raised the Ashteroths and reinstituted the Baals in the name of medical Molochs.

It was the week that Western civilization, already weakened by the blood loss from the decades-long practice of cultural self-cutting, was given its death sentence. What we were and what we would like to think we still are is now a dead man walking, waiting for the final woof! of implosion that pushes us back down to the muck from which we came.

My first thought was to drape this blog in black crepe and declare a day of mourning. We civilized folk of the Western world now kill everyone, everywhere, with a pasted on silly-smile of patently bogus “consent.” The real consent is the one we have given ourselves; the consent to kill people from conception to the tremors and dependance of old age. No one is safe from the scythe.

And yet, the yammering for more continues unabated. Last night, when I googled euthanasia, I came across a forever-to-be-nameless blog that was chortling over the rise in public acceptance of medical murder, which polite folk like to call euthanasia. This blogger, who earns his literary bread by selling atheism, went on to say that this public approval of killing grandma pits Christians even more solidly against the culture of what’s happening now. This is, the writer said, an “opportunity” for him and his to gain converts.

The question arises: Converts to what?

Certainly not a disbelief in God, since that question never arises in this or most similar analyses. This wasn’t an argument against the existence of God. It was a smug rejoicing in the increasingly widespread public rebellion against God.

Rebellion and disbelief are two entirely different things.

But what of those of us who will not rebel against our Maker? We are free, unlike these self-appointed little g gods who have taken the power of life and death onto themselves, to not have to decide.

The burden of when to kill our elderly, murder our children, flush our unborn is removed from us. We know and accept that this is murder, plain and simple, and we will not do it.

By the same token, we do not eschew the pleasures of home and family. We still have our marriages between one man and one woman in lifelong fealty. We’re not burdened with the living death of empty sexual hooking up, polyamory, swinging and endless rounds of coupling and uncoupling. We have said “no” to the insect sexuality of modern day culture and the hollowed-out death of self that it ultimately brings.

We are human, and we know that means we are made in the image and likeness of the Eternal God.

We are free from these animalistic ways of living. Or we try to be. And when we fail, we go to Him to be washed clean so we can begin again.

What of us on this Valentine’s Day that falls on the Friday of the week that Western Civilization finally convicted itself and placed its life on death row?

We chose — of our own convictions — to withhold our support for this mass suicide of a whole world. We chose — through the enabling power of the merciful grace of a God Who loves us so much that He died for us — to go another way.

My husband of 30 years and I talked about the killing field that is Belgium over dinner last night. “Next, they will kill the disabled, the mentally ill, the mentally challenged,” he said. “That has already begun,” I told him, speaking of the two men who were euthanized because they were going blind, the many who have died because they were depressed, the untold numbers of the unborn who have been slaughtered for being disabled.

Who’s next for this “right” to be killed?

Marriage died in America the day before Belguim enlarged the killing fields of medical murder to include all of humanity. The symmetry is unmistakable. We destroy the home, the family, and the lives of our young and old, all in one week.

And yet, there are those of us who do not bend our knee to the Baals. If we are to be the remnant, a 21st century version of the 7,000 that God revealed to Elijah; if we are those whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him, then that is our honor and our privilege.

A husband of 30 years that I can share these thoughts with is a considerable reward for living the life Christ asks of me. Sons who are fine young men with values and kind hearts is another great reward.

But nothing, not even these wonderful things, can compare with the pearl of great price that is knowing and loving and walking with Jesus Christ.

He has saved me from the pit in which that other blogger I spoke of earlier, lies wallowing. He has lifted the deadly choice of killing grandma off my shoulders and left me free to love and, yes, to sacrifice for, my elderly parent.

He has given me the gift of love in my life and His own love, pouring down on me every day. He has spared me from the bloodguilt of killing my family members.

All of this in exchange for simply accepting that He — and not me — is God.

It’s Valentine’s Day. And on this day, those of us who follow Him have the many gifts of living good in this life, with eternal life ahead of us. In addition, He has also given us one another.

If we are today’s 7,000 who will not bend our knee to the Baals, then let’s rejoice and be glad for our salvation. Let us resolve to be the light that shines in this new darkness.

We, out of all this black morass of killing and license, are the ones who have chosen, by our free acceptance of the gift of God and His grace, to be blessed.

Papal Organist: Witness to History

A real, live person provides the organ music at Papal ceremonies, and he has stories to tell.

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Who Knew the Toughest Commandment is Take a Day Off?

Sundayrest

I have completed my first Sabbath-honoring Sunday, and I have to admit that I think I needed it.

I did it because I decided that I was blithely ignoring the real demands of one of the Commandments.

It turns out that Sabbath-keeping is not for sissies.

The Catechism says that we not only should cease from our own labors on Sunday, but that we should also not do things that require other people to labor.

Yikes.

Does that mean no movies, no eating out, no fun on Sundays?

I decided, at least for yesterday, that it does.

What that meant for me is that I was stuck all day in the house with a football play-off thing. My men watch football all day throughout the weekend. They flip from one game to another during commercials, and as soon as a game ends, they dial up another one somewhere else. They can literally watch football for the entire weekend.

I’ve always regarded this as an opportunity. It makes a great time to go out with my girlfriends. Movies. The occasional play. Shopping. Swizzling in fern bars and eating in nice restaurants.

It is so good.

I come home to happy, football-sated men. Everybody has a grin on their face and nobody is bored out of their gourd — which is what I was for much of yesterday.

I entered this sabbath-keeping thing all unprepared. I only decided to do it about an hour or so before mass on Saturday. I didn’t even get around to re-reading the Catechism to see what Sabbath keeping means until I got home from church. Then I wondered what kind of weekly purgatory I had signed up for.

No shopping? No eating out? No fern bars?

Say you don’t mean it Lord. Puleeez say you don’t mean it.

I ended up wandering around the house listening to the yelps and yips from the men while the football droned on in the background. I didn’t work. Not on anything. I didn’t write a word on my book. I didn’t even look at Public Catholic. And I kept my greasy little fingers off the legislation and the lists of things I need to do for the office. I didn’t even call up other legislators and talk shop.

What I did instead was play the piano, because I decided piano playing, which I do with total incompetence and certainly not for money, is not work. I also read a book about atheism that inspired ideas about a future blog post, and spent hours on the iPad reading blogs by writers talking about writing. I followed that by browsing the internet, looking at the software (which I don’t need) that these writers talked about in their blog posts. Then, to top it off, I noodled with ideas for political activity on an issue I’m concerned about.

I didn’t do any work. But I never stopped thinking about it.

The odd part is that I was sorry when Sunday was over. After I got past the listening-to-football-is-punishment phase, I kind of got into this no-work thing. I think that if I had several of these Sabbath days in a row, I might actually figure out how to do this deal.

One day is just not long enough for me to turn off that work stuff. It swirls in my brain, no matter whether I do it or not. To be honest, even going out with my girlfriends and gossiping down the town doesn’t really divert me. I need at least three days of no work, back to back, to stop work from owning me.

I wonder if I’m being too severe with this Sabbath stuff. After all, I’ve had plenty of good times with priests in restaurants on Sundays. Every priest I know eats out on Sundays. Does that mean that we’re all breaking the Sabbath together? Or does it mean that I’m misunderstanding the requirements?

I’m going to keep plugging on with this Sabbath-honoring thing. As I said in my prayers before sleep last night, I know I didn’t do it too well yesterday. I’m just hoping that somebody who understands it better can give me guidance.

In the meantime, I am a bit gobsmacked. The toughest commandment, at least for me, may very well be “take a day off.” Who would have guessed that?

Immaculate Conception: The Door Opening

The Immaculate Conception is the door opening on our salvation.

It is God the Father, preparing the way for the birth of God the Son by first preparing a holy mother for Him.

The idea that God chose to enter the world as a helpless baby, born to a young girl and her carpenter husband in a backwater province of a conquered nation goes against everything we know and believe about what makes a person important.

We live in a world where might makes right and the biggest and meanest get to make all the rules. This disregard for the little people of the world was even more pronounced in that long-ago day when Our Lady was conceived. This tiny spark of humanity, who was destined to become the bearer of the hope of all humankind, was, if possible, even less important to the worldly world than her baby son would be at His beginning.

She was, after all, a girl in a world that to this day regards little girls as less than worthless. She was that half of humanity which was often exposed at birth and left to rot. Even today in large swaths of what we call civilization, baby girls are aborted because they are girls, and if they are born, killed shortly afterwards. Girls in these cultures often get less food, little education and almost no support in their development as people. They are subjected to brutalities ranging from female genital mutilation, to child marriages, rape and battering.

And yet, God chose, with every possibility possible at His disposal, to come into our world through the motherhood of a young woman. God entrusted Himself to a mother from His conception to His eventual death on the cross. It was a woman who gave Him life and who nurtured, shaped and reared Him into young manhood. This does not take anything away from Joseph’s contribution. Fathers are just as important as mothers. But today we are considering the one person who was with Jesus from conception to grave, and who then was there at Pentecost when the Church was born.

Mary is the mother of us all, the essential human contribution to the undoing of the curse of the Fall. She was prophesied at the Fall and she will be there at the real end when Jesus comes again.

And it began with her conception, when God re-created the lost innocence of Eden in a new Eve who would give birth to the salvific Child to undo our transgressions. This great re-wind started then, in her Immaculate Conception. It was the long-awaited door opening. This feast day is our chance to go back and re-learn what has been given to us by a young girl who, conceived without sin as the original Eve had been, did not falter in her mission as that earlier Eve did, but remained sinless until her own death.

God gave us Mary, and Mary, through her obedience and faith, gave us His son.

She is not, as some traditions try to treat her, a mindless incubator we bring out for Christmas pageants and then forget the rest of the year. Our Lady is woven into the story of the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. Everything that is wholly human about Our Lord comes from and through her. She gave us her Son, first at His birth and then later at Calvary; and He in turn, gave us His mother.

The Immaculate Conception is a door opening on the end of hopelessness and death. It is a cell-sized point of light shining in the darkness of our own devices. Mary, Our Mother, began the way we all did, as a single cell made in the image and likeness of God.

Christ’s humanity is her humanity. Her dignity is our dignity. She is our mother for the ages.


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