Traditionis Custodes, Allow me to Retort

I have spent the better part of three days collecting my thoughts on recent events within our Church, and have been trying to look at this from all angles, and finding some charity in my thoughts. In case you are uninformed, or have been living under a rock for 3 days, the Holy Father Pope Francis released a Motu Proprio, or something “In His Words” instructing the Latin rite church (whom he is supreme Pontiff) in how to continue carrying out the pastoral care of those who are drawn to the so called Traditional Latin Mass – In Short, previously folks could request the mass in any community, and as long as there was a stable group, and a competent priest, no one could deny them that right. This was done originally as an attempt at pastorally unifying the church. However, this has not completely occurred, in fact, if we shed our arrogance, we can see that the church became further divided on this, as Traditionalists simply went off into their oratories, and quite often, created a pseudo schism based off of attitude and interaction.

I grew up in the 80’s, and I can firstmost tell you my catechism was a mess – What I learned about the church, and what I should have learned before I was Confirmed, couldn’t have been any further from the truth. It was only through a lot of falling, self study, challenging Dogma with Heresy to only see the eventual correctness of Holy Mother church, that I discovered he richness, one that exists beyond simply the Latin Rite, and quite frankly in an unperfect union, between the “Orthodox” and “Catholic” churches. The Bottom line is the Church is a Big Tent, one that can and does accommodate a myriad of different expressions.

I explain this, because so many people who are currently at the front lines of this movement, are in the Gen X to Millennial range, that same generations that frankly, the church let down the most in formation. This same disenfranchisement is what led to them at best seeking out traditional pockets with in the church, but often in more extreme cases, seeking out structure outside of the church, both with examples of the SSPX, and others leaving for Orthodoxy, based off of a desperate need of knowing what is right, and what is wrong.

Make no mistake, the Novus Ordo done correctly (the mass most folks are acquainted with this day and age) , when done reverently, Ad Orientem, and with the Vernacular used as needed (and not in entirety as its often done, and contrary to the 1969 Missal) is something truly beautiful, and Deo Centric. My Generation and the 1-2 that followed were frankly given pre chewed meat, rather then allowing us to experience a choice cut of beef. Its not wonder that we often felt a need to take things into our hands, as we were often ridiculed, and segregated. I know personally I was at times thought of as Rigid, or “old fashioned” simply for even making the suggestion of more Chants, or English chants of the Propers. This was a give and take process though, as many of us who were pushed away, simply walled ourselves up, and eventually became as guilty as some of the reformers became, of being authorities unto ourselves.

The Holy Father, I am convinced, is doing what he consciously feels Is the most pastoral, based off of how some of us who hold tradition dear, have acted. We have pushed the limits of Summorum Pontificum, and that allowed Traditionis Custodes to become a reality. Folks got an inch, and took about 2 miles. Many weren’t content with the allowed missal (the 1962 Missal), and began interjecting and sometimes replacing completely , aspect of the pre 1955 Reforms, as well as other surpressed items. Couple that with the overall attitude of some, who delve from being anti Vatican II, Vatican I, to the opposite end of being Sedevacantists and becoming authorities unto themselves. There has also been a lack of filial devotion to the Holy Father, from claims that he isnt really the Pope (of which even Benedict 16th has repeatedly said), to that he is a Heretic. Add in the constant “whataboutism” that comes into context, and frankly a stream of insanity with some of our current “heroes” (See Father Altman, et al), is there any surprise that our communities would be given this document?

Is the Pope perfect? No, and frankly he never has been. Starting with Peter and ending with Francis, we have had more popes who were wrong about things then we can count, Peter himself denied Christ 3 times and hid during the Crucifixion. He even was even quick to Chastise the Magdalen on her claims of the resurrection. As Father in his homily pointed out today, Peter was often upside down on things his whole life, up to and including the way he entered Salvation, being Crucified upside down. The moral is sometimes Peter can do things that are needed, but still be wrong in his approach, and this is how I feel about the recent document he penned. I feel in his heart, he saw there was a deep pastoral issue, and attempted to deal with it. However I think the heavy handed approach was partially vengeful from both what he was seeing (and frankly experiencing), and others around him who took advantage due to their own trepidation with the Ancient forms of the mass.

I think we can disagree with the document itself, and still identify that there is a problem on both sides with the church currently. We cannot say that traditionalist communities have a problem with authority, when often that authority has been abused for decades. However, pendulums swing hard, and if we don’t realize that when we were given the Gift of Pope Benedict in his Motu Proprio, we acted poorly enmasse, then we have no right to complain about the gift of discipline that came, granted it was overkill, but it is discipline none the less.

However, there is a light at the end of the Tunnel. Many Bishops have decided to exhibit great pastoral care in this issue, and have through one way or another, made it possible for those communities to continue, in one form or another. Most Importantly, I think the best thing we can do at this point, is to respond with Charity, regardless of the perceived lack of Charity from others in this case, or even our own groups lack of Charity.

We need to remember that the Liturgy, belongs to no one. It is the work of the people, collectively, for praise and worship of Almighty God. It is incorrect to say the Novus Ordo is what unifies us, because that disregards the number of other Rites under the dome of the Catholic church. Rather its important to remember that the Eucharist is the Focal point , and that Eucharistic Celebration does take different forms. It is vital to remember that fact, otherwise we will cease to be able to call ourselves a truly “catholic” church. The church is more then the Roman Rite and the expressions of faith from it. What we can do thats most vital at this point is show the beauty of our Expression, and by doing so, we will as both Summorum Pontificum and Traditionis Custodes intend, encourage not only a deeper and more reverent liturgy as a whole, but a deeper understanding of our faith as Roman Catholic.

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. The law of Prayer is the Law of Belief. This will become more true in the coming days, as we will be able to truly show who we believe in. Many Traditionalists have made an idol of the Liturgy, rather then realizing that its just a tool to help us to Heaven. I believe if we can adopt that attitude towards things, we can see our way through this desert that we find ourselves in. God always has something in store even in the darkest of perceived times. Let us entrust ourselves to His countenance and grace.

Be Not Afraid – Thoughts on the State of Things

Its been a while since I have written on my blog. As always, life for me is a very dynamic circle of things, and though I wont go into all of those details (as they aren’t relevant to my thoughts here) its worth noting that its been a very trying year, and all of us can agree, the Covid19 pandemic (Sars-COV-2) has been at the root of it.

In just a few short months, we have watched our world literally be thrown on its side. The comfort we lived in was shaken, and we were led to believe that at any moment, we really could lose it all, including our lives. Stay At Home Orders, School Closings, even our Churches for many of us, were hidden and taken from us . Its Ironic at this point, of writing this I am listening to a chant not from the Orthodox Church, but that from the Gnostic Cathars – all but forgotten.

The Gnostics were, probably rightly so, condemned for a hidden knowledge – However, there is always some glimmer of truth in any statement if you can find it, and the Gnostics were no different. They desperately were attempting to find the source of truth, among a church that at the point of the 4th-9th centuries, had increasingly become more “The System”, which dictated way of life, thought, and action. Needless to say, their tragedy of their existence, laid not in their mysticism, but the pluralism and pelagianism that crept into their thought process. Make no mistake about it, and I have written on similar things with the reformation – these events are tragedies for the church, because of the loss that was experienced. Brilliant but lost thinkers were cast off, not for what they knew that was true, but for what might not have fit with established thought. People often fear what they don’t understand. This is not to say that there is any credence to Gnosticism , but its to demonstrate that often, when we don’t understand something, its very natural for us to be fearful and resentful, rather then drawing a line and saying, what can I learn from this, or what is it trying to tell me.

This year is no different. Truly, we have a pandemic of what seems to be epic proportions. If we listen to the talking heads, all of us are going to die any day now, and there is nothing we can do about it except cower.

Lets look at that statement for a moment – From a Christian perspective, its almost correct. Its true, we are all going to die (someday), and there isn’t a thing we can do about it, however, where the Church, in its pure truth differs, is that death is not to be feared, but almost embraced with a submission in humility, because we know that this life, with all its trappings is only a step on the journey. Ultimately, we will end up in paradise, with the risen Lord in His Glory, or we will consciously make the choice of not being there, which at that point, Dante’s description is only a poor glimpse of the pain of denying God’s love is. God’s love is more then to make us feel good about ourselves. It is a compass that shows our very souls, where they should go. The Hebrew Kabbalists have a concept that the soul, is wired to want to return to the creator. There is no greater example of this concept then the Christian concept of the Resurrection , which makes that possible.

Sadly many of us have become resigned to the belief that life is finite and with out an immortal continuation, and instead embrace fear because of the belief that this moment in time, is what we are to hold on to. This is greatly re enforced by a media, government, and court of popular opinion, which instead of embracing hope, has embraced fear, not as a prudent action, but that of control.

Bare with me in the fact that, I certainly am not denying the effects of the virus on people, nor am I denying the tragic deaths which result as complications from the virus – However, the voices speaking the loudest through all of this, are fixated on the death and oblivious aspect of the situation. By their insistence on fear, rather then looking for the glimmer of hope in all of this, they have effectively silenced a great amount of people, who other wise might have been able to contribute other perspective to this. However that is only the beginning. The effort itself has began to target Christian thought. Really, its a story we have seen before in Russia, China, and others. Eventually the church was silenced in such a way, that the average human no longer had anything to hope in, except for the State. People in this situation become well adjusted to the situation, and are more pliable, thus more productive for the State and its over reach.

We have gone beyond masks, and efforts to control things (as if we could), and have simply embraced fear. Fear is being used as a tool to subjegate not only the masses, but other avenues of hope for the human mind, least of all the Church, which sadly by her Bishops and their own fears, has sucombed to living in paranoia, rather then staying courageous and steadfast in the face of our enemy, and our Enemy is in all of this.

I suppose these thoughts really came together recently for me. A while ago, I watched the movie “The Village” in the theater. If you are unfamiliar with the movie, we start out in a colonial-esque village, with hand built homes, stone town buildings , really something right out of a history book. However, the residents also deal with the “monsters” who keep them paralyzed in fear. IN fact, every action they take centers around the monsters in the woods – At night they are ever vigilant, standing in towers, lighting fires, even giving up an offering on a slab of stone, however, its to no avail. All through the story, the monsters keep making their presence known. Its only towards the end, where the elders’ hands are forced, and they allow one to leave to get medicine for another. He goes where no one had ever gone before, and ends up meeting a modern day security Guard.

See, the Village was founded out of fear. As the story ends, we learn the elders of the village were regular people in the 60’s, who were terrified by the turbulent world that they lived in, and decided that they would retreat from it. They pulled (quite literally) their trust fund monies, and bought land, which they situated a village in the middle of, and had the greatest example of “going off grid” that we could ever find. The “monsters” were the villagers themselves, dressed up at night, using fear as a motivator to control the Village, in a warped concept of protecting the people. In the end, their efforts were futile, as their stranglehold created a society that not only had lost all hope in anything past the reaches of their village, but they also had allowed the most vulnerable in the village, to become endangered, all because of the fear that they had, fear that terrorized them so deeply, that they would do anything to maintain that control, in the belief that society would be better off, safer, and healthier from it. All through the story, there is never a mention of religious thought. There is however an underlying concept of finality to existence, which actually is punctuated by the phrase “We are privileged for the time we have” – Or something to that affect. There is a subtle nihilism to the whole thing, not to different from the attitudes of pure communism, which abandons all faith, and instead worships at the altar of perceived reason.

We have much the same situation with this pandemic. Our society has become crippled in fear, so much so that we have accepted science as our only deity, and even our Religious leaders, Pastors, Bishops, Apologists, have abandoned God, all but in name. Churches are closed, the sacraments and sacramentals are no longer in reach for many. We no longer are hoping in God and trusting in hist grace, which ultimately leads us beyond this moment in existence, and instead, have become engrossed in fear, to the point of believing that death is the power that controls all of us. We are all going to die, there is nothing we can do about it, and thats that. So the humane thing we can do is to attempt to control the time, place, and method of our death. In our fear and arrogance, we have abandoned any glimmer of faith. Once we lose our faith, its only a small nudge for society to conform , and abandon God all together. I desperately wish people could see beyond some of this, and realize that great liberties have been taken with not only measures, but how information is being fed to the public. If you keep them in fear, they are controllable.

However, we Christians are to live without fear. This doesn’t mean we should live recklessly – We should care for our fellow man, and we should do what we can to protect each other. However, our attitude has to be correct in it, and it cant be governed by a fear of death. We truly have lost a bit of ourselves these last few months, and those nihilistic (atheistic ) voices have become all the louder, ready to ridicule anyone who disagrees with the so called “science”. We in our arrogance have become not too unlike Adam and Eve, believing we have knowledge over life and death, and worse, a control over both

I wont mention his name, but there was a one time priest, who many knew, who mentioned that we shouldn’t fear death, destruction, and the terrors in the world, because in the end, We win, and we win because of Him (Jesus Christ). We can choose to live in fear, or we can choose to hope. I choose to hope and reaffirm the fact that THIS moment in time, is not my end. Christ had victory in the Cross over death, and he will have victory over this pandemic as well. We need to start believing again though, not in the god of science, but in the God of Wonders, who in the end will redeem us. St John Paul the 2nd stated at his Pontifical speech when elected “Be Not Afraid”. This is a phrase all through scripture, and one that should resonate for all us. We need to be not afraid, for our God does go before us in battle.

The Gift – by Patrick Finley

Eyes open hands reach
a new day to each
Life springs from a dark void
Gods presence it does teach

Legs stretch , Arms open, a connection unbroken
A love that should be unspoken.
More then a choice, yet without a voice
Natures most vulnerable pleas, Yet Mankind fails to see

That which is right in front of their face,
A Gift only given by grace.

Understanding what lies before, a gift given to both
The prayer of one, the hope of another,
The bond between Child and mother.

So often thrown away, so often ignored. Known by the one, before he or she was made, Today, the voice that supports them is one

Celibacy.. What it is and isn’t

5For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:6If any be without crime, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.”

Titus 1 5-7

Since the earliest days of the Church, there have been those given in Marriage, who likewise, were made Priests, the original word being used, Presbyter, With Bishops being the fullness of that priesthood, and having received authority from other Bishops, can trace that governing authority back to Christ himself, who ordained the first Bishops.

Those twelve went out, and made other bishops, who made other bishops, who made other bishops, right up to the Bishops (Both “Catholic” and “Orthodox” that we see today). Consequently, those Bishops authorized, or Ordain others to help with their work. Those are the Parish Priests, and other priests that are assigned to do work in the vineyard. Those priests technically, carry as little or as much authority as their Bishop gives them (Though most can confer 6 of the seven Sacraments, I digress)

Somewhere in antiquity, Bishops eventually did not keep wives, probably because of the demand and danger of the work. After all in the early days of the church, it wasn’t uncommon for a bishop to have to travels hundreds of miles in a month, in order to visit and preach to his flock. This is why often, there were village priests and local churches. The faithful still had a need to be taken care of, so those Priests would Baptize, Confirm, Marry, Hear Confession, Say Mass (liturgy, which ultimately gave us Eucharist) and Anoint/Administer Unction.

Until about the 7th century in the west and east, Priests were Married, and then ordained. Its crucial to understand that “order” , as it keeps with Paul’s ordinance. Priests should be married once, and their house should essentially, be in order. Somewhere around this time, out of necessity, in the west, a discipline was exacted requiring those Ordained to the priesthood, to likewise not marry and to take a vow of celibacy. Celibacy here being, no longer knowing a woman. So , since then, it has been administratively (not doctrinally) impossible for a priest to marry in the West. This had already been the case with monastic priests(and is still the case with eastern monk priests, called “HieroMonks” ). More then likely as the “Parish” structure developed in feudal Europe, and often Bishops were very missionary in nature till the middle ages, this developed in tandem, as often those Bishops and Priests would live in community (if they were incardinated, and not already associated with a monastery, which was more the norm, especially in Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland)

Lately this has come back up, this discussion of so called “Married Priests”. Often our protestant brethren will use that as a main critique of the Roman Catholic Priesthood, and they will often cite Paul’s Epistle. Paul says priests yes indeed, should only be married once – However, he doesn’t insist that they should be married. Certainly the job is ridiculously demanding. Respectfully, a protestant community wont completely get that demand, as often their communities function in a more corporate manner, where quite often the traditional Pastoral duties have been split up among a pastoral “Team”, and the Pastor functioning as more of a CEO, working for the parish, as opposed to a true shepherd. Its not uncommon for many to find themselves ran out of town the minute they touch on something their bosses don’t want to hear.

Likewise, Our Orthodox brethren, (who like to presume they have kept it as is for 2000 years..alas there are holes in that argument) will argue that their priests are more in touch with the people, because they are of the people. A Married man of good character (read:AXIOS!), will first start as a Reader, then Cantor, Subdeacon, Deacon and then as a Priest(presbyter). Often they even have children after that point as well.

Still further we have the added curveball of the provisions allowed for the returning Anglican and Lutheran Pastors, as we recognize the formula for their Ordination. Still Further, we have Eastern Rite Priests who in some countries and Sui Juris churches, can accept ordination after marriage. All of this certainly makes a dynamic point to start at to understanding first and foremost, the concept of Celibacy.

Celibacy is a discipline, NOT a Doctrine – But it grew up from doctrine, namely Paul’s letter above. A Priest by nature, is married to the Bride, the Church, mystically, as he holds the place of Christ, by virtue of the Sacrifice he offers on our behalf (and in the Person of Christ, Persona Christi). As such, he needs to be able to give his whole attention to it.

Sadly the very nature of western “Parish” churches doesn’t allow this – We have to remember Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern churches are often a lot smaller number wise. In a lot of ways, they were able to keep to the small cell church format (so greatly lauded, and missed in the end by evangelicals) – So for them, the Priest being married is a doable thing, because the demand on their person just isn’t as great with a 100 Family community as it would be with a 400-1000 family community. Frankly Roman Catholic Parishes are too complex to allow that balance, and short of a complete administrative overhaul, could not sustain it.

Likewise, saying that a married priesthood would fix any infidelity issues the Priest might have, is preposterous, as everyday in the news you hear about some sick person abusing their own children. Even now if you pay attention, every day there are Pastors, Rabbis, Imans alike who are caught in precarious situations. There is no historical guarantee this would solve the issue – In Fact, history has proven just the opposite. In the middle ages we had Borgia, Medici alike, who had complete dynasties on the Papal throne! Its for reasons like this, let alone property issues, that the discipline was started in the West.

That brings me to the Crux of this (and an effort to prevent myself from droning on) . This week, the Pope Emeritus and His Eminence Cardinal Sarah, co-authored a book in defense of Priestly Celibacy. Both Conservatives and Liberals alike have attempted to use that as a sword against the other. However there is one great issue – The Holy Father himself, has also stated a defense of Celibacy (despite the Synodal discussions as of late)

My take on the Benedict/Sarah Book – Both care deeply for Holy Mother church. Benedict dealt with the crisis that he inherited, and knows first hand the shape the Church Militant is in. Couple that with Cardinal Sarah’s personal experience, having been in Africa, and knowing people like the once Bishop Milingo, as well as seeing first hand the problems they have. Both know that the Western Church couldn’t possibly sustain a married priesthood, and fight the battle focused that we are now in

Both know that the Western church has real issue and battle to fight. Both love their church deeply, and most importantly , at least for now, both are in union with Peter himself. Both have firsthand experience and wisdom and have seen what a distracted priesthood amounts to – Imagine leverage wife, children, estate against an already lonely thankless vocation – None of that would end up well for the church, and we would be alot worse then where we started.

Would a married priesthood be neat and trendy? Sure. Would it work? Possibly not, given the demands the average parish priest has. I personally know a few married Latin rite priests – Their schedule barely allows them piece of mind. Couple that with needing to still be fathers and husbands. Both have wonderful wives and stable families. These days that’s less and less the case – The most pious man/or woman in the world could have a family of lapsed heterodox, and through no fault of his own.

Its reasons like this that the Holy Father and Bishops over the centuries have maintained this requirement – Ultimately for the good of the church as it NEEDS to function for the west.


O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

English:O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,the hope of the nations and their Saviour:Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Yesterday I went another parish, one that a friend is Music director at. Yesterday’s readings had the Isaiah verse that are apart of the readings for the day, which is neat because the Vesper for today, actually has this antiphon. I digress though – Father’s homily was on point, and he talked about in a nutshell, that God with us is so much more then a name. God is with us in the happiest and darkest times of our lives.

This hit home to me,because its easy to get wrapped up not only in the hustle of the lead up to Christmas -(lets face it, even the most “Pious” of us get caught up in some of the commercialism), but also in the depressive state that comes of spending money relentlessly (on multiple fronts personally right now), the anxiety of not having enough time to get it all done, and the eventual despair that is an end result. Emmanuel is more then who Jesus is, its the very core of how he is, and what he does.

I cant for a moment fathom.. WHY God would even bother at times. I mean, if you look at the world… its easy to say we deserve every bit of damnation we are working on. In Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, Marley, the ghost of Scrooges long dead partner, tells him he forged his chain in life, link by link. One has to wonder at the collective chain of humanity at these points, not only because of our in deference to our fellow man, but also by the black place we have gone with our sins. If you truly applied a legalistic approach to this, a mortal would greatly question the wisdom of a God, who sent the most precious of people , his Only Son… to Be like us, in everything but our sins, and to die like so many of us do, in obscurity, pain, and unceremoniously

The only answer is Love. Only pure love, which is the very essence of the +Trinity, could warrant such an undeserving action. God is with us, in every way through the Word made flesh. “He knows our pains, to our weakness no stranger, his Law is love and his Gospel is peace”. Love – Love is the only way something like this could happen. Not the lie the media has us believe now about people and their choices, or a presupposed acceptance of people on any level, but true Love. A love that never made a demand… and simply gave everything.

God is Love , and Love, in its purest form is among us. May it renew in us hope, hope that we are eventually saved from ourselves. That alone gives someone like me a chance. God loves me enough to truly meet me on my own terms, but very much on his terms, comes with invitation that I might take a step up the ladder, which eventually ascends to perfection.

Lighten My Darkness. O Oriens

O Oriens,splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English:O Morning Star,splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

As far as how I am spiritually wired… not really being overly western or eastern in my thinking on things, the concept of “The UnCreated Light” has always been fascinating to me. With the spiritual discipline of Hesychism, one seeks to encounter that. Most of us will never be able to find it in our mortal life, because of our many imperfections. Those few holy men who do, are living saints. Honestly, there have been as many in the west as they have been found in the east, but under different realizations. I would place any Stigmatic with any Schema monk. Both encounter God and angels constantly. Both become a reflection of that Uncreated Light, and as such we are able to encounter them

Advent is naturally during a very, very dark time of year. Imagine how much worse it would have been as a Christian in the Black forest for instance during the middle ages, where there were no street lights, indoor lights or heat.

The concept of Morning star speaks directly to the Uncreated Light. The First star, the star that cracks light into darkness. So too God Incarnate, becomes the light in the darkness of both a physical and metaphysical world

Our Salvation is a WORKING SALVATION. One can thump all the verse they feel like, but unless there is a deep, contemplative transformation, and an encounter with that light… we can only rely on the mercy of God.

So again keeping with our understanding of things in a non linear sense as it relates to Salvation, that of being something that Has, Is, and will happen to us, it is fitting that even now more then ever that we hope, pray and search for a deep encounter with Christ. in a rather dark world, our only hope for illumination, is a psychological and intellectual transformation. Only when we realize that the source of Truth is Jesus.. will our world be saved. May we come to comprehend that, so that one day we can take it in in fullness when we are perfected

The Key, O Clavis David! (DAH VID in Latin)

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;qui aperis, et nemo claudit;claudis, et nemo aperit:veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English:O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;you open and no one can shut;you shut and no one can open:Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Today shows us his authority. Keys are used to open and shut doors. This gives us a greater understanding that the Messiah, will be more then simply someone to eradicate temporal ills, but also allows us into heaven

One item that has always been maintained by Holy Mother church, is a ressurection of the Body, but more importantly, a last judgement. For us to truly understand the so called “End Times” we need to not think of things so linear, but in a mystical sense. What if I told you the end of the world has already happened, and it will happen , and its happening now?

Granted there are some real nut jobs who have stood on a box in the street and screamed that the end was near. They were only partially correct. Just like this also, the Advent isn’t something that is static in time that we simply recall, but it is something that exists for us in real time.

This is , with great respect to my protestant brethren , where we differ as Catholic/Orthodox vs traditions that broke away. This is no more prevalent then in the Eucharist, which we celebrate with a very Jewish Attitude. The Eucharist, just like the Passover meal.. is a reliving of an event. When either are celebrated we are back at that moment.

Likewise, advent is that way. Consider yourself waiting, 4000 years for the Christ. This is what we get when we recall these psalms, readings, etc. More then a recollection, but a reliving of things

The Key of David does more then show authority, it shows authority in action – Christ opens the gates of Heaven for us, those who try to follow. But he didn’t stop there. When that earthquake happened, he ripped from death the control over those who paved the way for him, the righteous. How much more wonderful is it when he rips from the clutches of Sin and death… those who are unworthy, which he does. Christ alone has authority to do this.

So again, we have more then just a “Messiah Ben Da’vid” as the Jews, and Messianics might profess. Neither of those manifestations could truly help us… or allow us entry in. Only He Can. He holds the key, and authority to break all of us from prison.

Jesse’s Stem

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,super quem continebunt reges os suum,quem Gentes deprecabuntur:veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

English:O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;before you kings will shut their mouths,to you the nations will make their prayer:Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.

Anyone who is moderately acquainted with scripture knows that Jesse was the Father of David, who eventually would become King. This kingship being mentioned is important, especially for the Israelites, as it establishes that the Messiah, or “Anointed King” will come from David’s line. Matthew in his gospel goes to great lengths to point this out in his genealogy. Honestly..its my least favorite/difficult reading to get through. As an engineer I’m very high level…. To Me the genealogy could be Adam had a bunch of kids… who one of them had David… and eventually Jesus was born to someone in the House of David. Boom. Salvation.

Alas, I digress – Holy Mother church knows there are people like me, so she has always given us the most choice cuts, in the liturgy. Things like these chants for centuries helped to teach, and give people the “Big Picture”. We have lost this with the newer music that was written in the 70’s,80’s and 90s (for the most part). All the more reason all of us who have even the most remote job in the liturgy, have a responsibility to learn, build and preserve these things.

This is why its also important to know the Rod of Jesse.. because it shows us the source, of not only God Among us coming from Jesse… but the catch 22 that Jesse ultimately came from the Source.

Oh Judge! Day two of the Ember and Antiphons

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,et ei in Sina legem dedisti:veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

English:O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bushand gave him the law on Sinai:Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

This chant today is also echoed in the readings for today which state ”
“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:22

One of the unique aspects of Christ, and most confusing (especially to the people of God at the time ) is the Concept of Messiah. The concept is one of a Warrior King, one who would embody every aspect of rule.

When the people first ventured away from Pharaoh, they had God alone to rule them, with the Priests interceding for them, However, as they demonstrated an inability to follow, their hearts became more confused and they pressured the Prophet Samuel to anoint a King. That king would be Saul, then David, Then Solomon, etc.

Just like the people who couldn’t follow 10 commandments (which eventually became the 600+ mishnas of the Torah, or Law), so too, the Kings eventually became more and more flawed, starting with Saul’s original fall into insanity.

The truth is , the only pure King is one who is holy, pure and just. That is an impossibility for fallen man. Ego will be the root of every imperfection, no matter what race, creed or party a person sticks after their name.

The only pure King, the only Just Judge, is the King of Kings who comes. This is why advent isn’t just a remembrance, but a hear and now. Just like Joseph will hear also in the Gospel, Emmanuel, God is with us, so too, Advent is a Chance for us to know God with us now. Its a hope in that concept of a reliving of the experience, that can point us to and correct our path, so that we can seek in our midst, the true Judge, true king.

Final Stretch. The O Antiphons are coming!

I love the final lead ups to season changes. Whether it be Holy Week, Or the Novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost. My favorite without a doubt though has to be the Ember days leading up to Christmas in the Latin rite Church, where beginning at Vespers, the “O Antiphons” are chanted.

These antiphons are where the hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel” originates, from the text of these antiphons. Just like the hymn envokes a spirit of Joy and anticipation, so too, the antiphons show us in small pieces… Who we are welcoming. Each on embodies a different aspect of the Word made flesh, either in an abstract reference, or a more concrete reference

  • 17 December: O Sapientia (Wisdom)
  • 18 December: O Adonai (Lord)
  • 19 December: O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)
  • 20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • 21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • 22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
  • 23 December: O Emmanuel (With Us is God)

Today, at sundown (technically) – When Vespers are able to begin, we will chant the first O antiphon.

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,attingens a fine usque ad finem,fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.[8]

Or the English:O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,reaching from one end to the other,mightily and sweetly ordering all things:Come and teach us the way of prudence.

This reference is important on another level, in that today’s chant, also highlights the prophetic words of the Prophet Isaiah

The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord “

There is no better hint at the Perfection of Jesus Christ, then this verse. One who delights in something has abandoned (rather deliriously) all reason, and is fixated on that concept or person. We human beings are incredibly flawed. Something always gets in our way. This is why we needed a Messiah, and not just God the Father to come down, but someone tangible, and like us in everything except sin. Jesus in his very nature is able to delight

This perfection points us to our perfection, which ultimately begins with Wisdom, which for the rest of us is a Grace that can be obtained and lost, but for He who comes, is embodied in his very fiber of being. This Wisdom will shake the nations, and right the world.

If there is something we can foolishly attempt to grasp, its something simple – There is a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Most of us know who Jesus is, based off of facts and figures. Either we had as cradle catholics, catechism beat into our heads, or if we are converts we might even have what one friend refers to as a “Canned Christianity”, that being… readily witnessing with phrases that all the cool kids are saying.

To truly know the face of God… is way deeper then any knowledge we can profess though. True Wisdom penetrates us , and envelopes us, and that wisdom is what invites us into a deeper knowledge of God. That Wisdom is the Word made flesh.