Feast of the Holy Archangels

One of my very favorite feastdays, and a good tonic before we meet the curmudgeonly St. Jerome, tomorrow:From today's Office of Readings, we read Michael's battle with the dragon (Rev 12:1-17a) and then this homily by Pope St. Gregory the Great:You should be aware that the word "angel" denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of … [Read more...]

Yom Kippur; Fast & Pray

I know many people of many different faiths are taking today to fast and to offer prayers of atonement, reparation, contrition - for the sake of the whole world.I will be joining in, and will (by God's grace) pray all seven offices of the day (Vigils, Lauds, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers & Compline) with great mindfulness.And to get us all started, the Avinu Malkeinu (translation at link).I'll give you two, because they're both good; first the traditional, cantored by the astonishing … [Read more...]

9/11, Eight Years On

A longtime friend and blogger related feeling reluctant to write about 9/11 on this anniversary. "Everything just feels so tense and uncertain," this person wrote, "I'm having a hard time focusing on the anniversary, and hasn't everything that could be said about 9/11 been said?"I confessed to a similar feeling. On one hand, one wants to write, "never forget, and never again," on the other hand, one is almost tired of feeling the pain and the anger. It's almost like remembering my … [Read more...]

Weakness is sown; strength rises up – Repost

Continuing with the idea shared by reader Mark S, I have decided it might be fun, after all, to repost some of my older pieces as I introduce myself to new readers. The following is from 2006, written after spending the anniversary of 9/11 at Adoration and praying the Office for the Dead. Today, having spent some time before the blessed sacrament for the intentions of all on my prayer list (please don't forget Patrick O' Hannigan's daughter, Jane, or our friends Liz and Sarah, who are dealing … [Read more...]

What is your favorite psalm?

I actually meant to talk about psalms yesterday, but somehow that post, almost from the first word, was taken out of my hands and morphed into this piece on Oblates and Tertiaries, and I've gotten to the point where I just don't fight that sort of stuff anymore.Those who check in from time to time to pray Morning Prayer or Vespers with me in the podcasts know that I consider psalmody a spiritual wellspring for our eternal thirst, and a most perfect reflection of the human condition in all of … [Read more...]

Oblates, Tertiaries, Professed Laypeople

I was corresponding with a Dominican nun the other day and I joked with her that, although I am a Benedictine Oblate, I am lately finding myself very drawn to Dominican spirituality, likely due to my friendship with her and also because of those those two charismatic and intrepid Dominican nags I have mentioned with some frequency, lately, St. Catherine of Siena and Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, both of whom were laypeople, not vowed religious."If you become a Dominican Tertiary, your chances … [Read more...]

Feast of the Annunciation

"The Angel of the Lord appeared unto Mary," R: And she conceived by the Holy Spirit -- The AngelusA nearby parish rings the Angelus bells twice a day, and I love it. Sometimes in Manhattan, you can hear a church ringing the Angelus. People hurry by; possibly few of them even hear the bells, and those who do may think they are simply tolling 6PM, or noon.The Angelus is a devotion of the Church. At the tolling of the bells, signifying mid-day or evening prayer, a leader will intone, … [Read more...]

Advent and Antiphons through the years…

On this day, last year, this is where I was at - still thinking of Advent and what it means, but under very different circumstances.It is amazing how fast time goes by, how our days pass almost in a blur unless we stop to take stock. And it's also amazing how much my mutton-chopped, exceedingly loud 16 year old has taught me. And how much my brother is teaching me, still.Some of my Evangelical friends have wondered to me, via email, what the purpose is, of the Liturgical Year - why we … [Read more...]

Anchoress Crashes and Burns. Film at 11:00.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

So, as sometimes happens in life, everything came to a head yesterday afternoon. After a so-so day at work, during which I made arrangements with my pediatrician to get a second cardiologist opinion on a situation with Buster (my brother is not long for this world, and my 15 year old is routinely clutching at his chest and turning purple - can we say stress overload?) I took a look at my schedule for the day. It included many errand-y, Christmas-themed type things, ending with the hour's drive … [Read more...]

Slouching Toward Bethlehem

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?WB Yeats, The Second ComingPolly Toynbee’s mother died three weeks ago. Ms. Toynbee has written of it here, while in the throes of exquisite pain and some very plain anger:My mother died three weeks ago, less than a year after a diagnosis of terminal cancer. From the start she faced its inexorable course with rational calm, unafraid of dying but determined to avoid lingering beyond what she thought bearable. … [Read more...]


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