Archive for the ‘The Church Year’ Category

Christmas 2006

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006

White Lights on Christmas Tree

This year I had a nice Christmas. I proposed to Jennifer and got her an engagement ring a few weekends ago. I proposed to her at the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, and she said “yes!” This has been the most exciting part of the holiday season this year. Because of the personal nature of the proposal (and I have been very busy), I haven’t had a chance to blog about it.

I bought quite a few presents this year, thanks in part to a generous bonus from an alumnist of our school. A few folks will be receiving copies of Dave Hartline’s new book as a gift, but they must be patient. By the time I get them out they may be Epiphany or Lent gifts! I enjoyed Midnight Mass, but I was extremely tired this year, and I admit it was hard to stay awake. The service was beautiful as usual.

I never know what to request for Christmas. I often get some clothes and some money, and a few side gifts.

Over Christmas break, my dad, Jonathan, and I went to a friend’s property and shot at cans and targets. I haven’t shot a gun in ages, but it was fun. I have never hunted an animal and doubt I ever will, but I do like shooting all kinds of guns. Growing up, my dad always emphasized safety and the proper use of firearms. Over break, I managed to take out two cans of diet generic pop in two shots, and a crystal light plastic bottle as well, at a distance of about 15 yards, with a handgun. I was pretty excited! Plus, it was a chance for us male family members to hang out together and get off our butts after Christmas lunch. Jennifer, mom, and grandma stayed home and hung out. It was a pretty gloomy day, and it was raining, so we had to shoot from a cabin’s porch, but this made it easy to pick up the spent cartridges.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and has a blessed Christmas season! We Catholics have more Christmas days ahead, as the Christmas season has just begun. The photo above is of one of our family trees. I used a filter for my camera that Jennifer got me for Christmas. The bottom photo is of the cup of coffee I had on Christmas Day. It was the “Wild Ass Blend” from Uncommon Grounds Cafe. One of my dad’s employees gets him coffee from Uncommon Grounds every year, and we always look forward to it.

Christmas Cup of Coffee

The Feast of the Assumption

Friday, August 11th, 2006

The Feast of the Assumption is coming up on August 15th. The feast, celebrating Mary’s being assumed into heaven at the end of her life, is called the Dormition of the Mother of God in the Eastern Churches. This feast also marks the two-year anniversary of my becoming Catholic. It’s hard to believe its almost been 2 years!

This year the feast is a Holy Day of Obligation because it falls on a Tuesday, so be sure to check out local Mass times.

Trinity Sunday

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Today is The Feast of the Most Holy Trinity, also known as Trinity Sunday. Now is a time to celebrate and commemorate the reality that all creation looks toward: the Holy Trinity, God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Below is the Collect for Trinity Sunday:

you sent your Word
to bring us truth
and your Spirit to make us holy.
Through them we come to know
the mystery of your life.
Help us to worship you,
one God in three Persons,
by proclaiming and
living our faith in you.
We ask you this,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
one God, true and living,
for ever and ever.

From Prayers to the Trinity and for Trinity Sunday


Monday, February 27th, 2006

Path at Sorrowful Mother Shrine
Lent is here. Why do I like Lent? It is probably the same reason I enjoy cleaning the house and sorting my books every so often. It is good to clean house every so often. Lent gives us a chance to examine those areas of our life that are encumbered by material and sinful things. By denying ourselves physical pleasures and by increasing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we allow God to transform us. Lent is in some senses a journey of transformation (sorry to use a buzz word!). Either Jonathan or I took this photo at a local shrine. I enhanced it using Google’s Picasa2, which is an amazing, free, photo organization and manipulation program.

Here is my basic Lenten plan (a plan I am sharing with my girlfriend Jennifer). I am not posting this to brag in any way, but to share the ideas we had. Note that numbers 1-3 are expected of all Western Catholics. Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians often have stricter requirements. For more ideas we have compiled Suggestions for your Lenten Fast.

1. No Meat on Fridays
2. Fasting on Ash Wednesday
3. Fasting on Good Friday
4. Read Matthew, John, Galatians, Philippians and Jude
5. Follow the Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan
6. No Snacking
7. No Fried Potatoes
8. Save gas by avoiding 1 trip out/week
9. Exercise 3 times/week

Now, here is what sin each activity fights:
1,2,3,6,7,9: Gluttony, materialist attachments
4,5: Ignorance, Sloth
9: General Materialism

Also, the plan is to give any money saved (from not eating fries or taking an extra car ride) to a Catholic charity.


Also, for those interested in discussing the Church Fathers readings online, please check out the schedule for the Catholics Building Bridges Room on Paltalk.

Lent is Coming

Monday, February 20th, 2006

Lent is coming. It is about a week away to be exact. If you are interested in reading the Church Fathers during Lent, please check out the Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan, which will help you read through 205 pages of early Christian writings over 40 days. Our good friend Chad has taken the time and compiled all the readings in one big pdf file: Church Fathers Lenten Reading Plan: With Texts.

Also, I have bought a few books recently that I am looking forward to reading:
The Heart of Catholicism
New Jerome Biblical Commentary
The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice
1940 Hymnal of the Episcopal Church (thanks Jennifer!)

And though it is not a book, it still entertains me:
Andy Griffith Show Season 5 

Santa Came…

Sunday, December 25th, 2005

Lit Christmas Tree at Night

Looks like Santa came…He must have come while we were at midnight mass, which was lovely by the way!

Santa left a few presents under a glowing Christmas tree!

Image: Taken by me. I used a tripod and something like a 5 second shutter speed, as well as changing the white balance setting to "Tungsten."

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24th, 2005

Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;

So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.

Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;

So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.

This present Day cast open the heavenly doors to our prayers;

Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.

Today the DIVINE BEING took upon Himself the seal of our humanity,

In order for humanity to be decorated by the Seal of DIVINITY.

from Nativity Sermon of St. Isaac the Syrian

Christmas Lights

Christmas Decorations in Window

I always love the Christmas season, for a variety of reasons. At Christmas time, those who usually scorn tradition embrace it. Those who lampoon old "churchey" music, listen to the classics. Those who want nothing of liturgy or formality yearn for it. Those who only pray extemporaneous prayers avail themselves of classic Christmas Prayers. I know that growing up Christmas had a magic that no other time of the year had, a magic that I wanted all year-long. Then I found the church year! At my first Easter vigil as an Episcopalian, I remember remarking, "it feels like Christmas!"

Also, we Catholics (and Orthodox and Anglicans) can take heart: Christmas is a season! Christmas lasts (in the current Catholic calendar) until January 8th (the Sunday after Epiphany). Traditionally, Christmas celebrations continue until the Epiphany. From Christmas until Epiphany makes 12 Days…thus the 12 Days of Christmas. Technically, Christmas begins on December 25th, despite the fact that for most Americans the feast ends after the afternoon gorging on Christmas Day. I am not putting down those who do not celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas, just gently reminding everyone that Christmas need not end on December 25th. So while everybody else is experiencing the post-Christmas blahs, your celebration has just begun. This is especially important for me this year. I have been very busy lately, and am just now settling into the holiday season. I have included a few Christmas photos from my recent family gathering, and a Christmas lights trip. While I know they are secular photos, I still think they capture a little bit of the magic of Christmas.

Finally, this holiday I have discovered some excellent holiday (Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany) tunes including, "I Sing a Song of Bethlehem," "God That Madest Earth and Heaven," "Once in Royal David’s City," and "Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella," all from the wonderful CD 50 Most Loved Christmas Carols. I include the lyrics to "I Sing a Song of Bethlehem" below. The tune is "kingsfold" which some may remember is the tune for the song "I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say."

O sing a song of Bethlehem, of shepherds watching there,
And of the news that came to them from angels in the air.
The light that shone on Bethlehem fills all the world today;
Of Jesus’ birth and peace on earth the angels sing alway.

O sing a song of Nazareth, of sunny days of joy;
O sing of fragrant flowers’ breath, and of the sinless Boy.
For now the flowers of Nazareth in every heart may grow;
Now spreads the fame of His dear Name on all the winds that blow.

O sing a song of Galilee, of lake and woods and hill,
Of Him Who walked upon the sea and bade the waves be still.
For though like waves on Galilee, dark seas of trouble roll,
When faith has heard the Master’s Word, falls peace upon the soul.

O sing a song of Calvary, its glory and dismay,
Of Him who hung upon the tree, and took our sins away.
For He who died on Calvary is risen from the grave,
And Christ, our Lord, by heaven adored, is mighty now to save.

From Cyber Hymnal

Ambient Christmas Room

It’s Advent!

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Christmas Spread

Finally, Advent is here! Christmas is just around the corner. Here is what I am doing that is Advent and Christmas related, as well as a few thoughts about the season:

I just got out my advent wreath. I made a new one, since my mom needed some greenery for a decoration, so I gave her my old piece of greenery. The new one is pictured below on the right. Unfortunately, I have to place it on a chair for lack of room, so the setting is hardly romantic!

– I also got a few holiday decorations up. The photo of them is above on the left. Notice the nativity set, minus the baby Jesus and wise men. Also a few gingerbread folks are hanging around a gingerbread house. I didn’t want to get them too close to the Nativity set, because the Bible doesn’t say anything about gingerbread men being present at Christ’s birth. There is a candle, a few tart burners, and a little glass holy family icon.

– Can’t decide what to get that theologian friend or spouse of yours for Christmas? How about the Early Church Fathers 38 Volume Set? While the translation is old, the scholarship a bit out-of-date, not to mention a strong anti-Catholic and anti-Orthodox bias to the notes, the whole set is just over $200 right now.

– I just got out some of the Holiday CDs (I say "holiday" not to be PC, but because the CDs are technically a mix of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany music). Some of the artists: The Crash Test Dummies, Rod McKuen, New Christy Minstrels, Neil Diamond, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Johnny Cash, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and more. Enjoy Advent!

Advent Wreath

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

Thanksgiving Table

Happy Thanksgiving to all my blog readers. While we should reflect on what we are thankful for every day, Thanksgiving is a time set aside to specifically give thanks.

I started the day with the Eucharist, the ultimate Thanksgiving, partaking of the body and blood of Christ. Even the greatest turkey and dressing pales in comparison to this. However, there is no rule you only have to have one Thanksgiving…I will be eating the turkey and dressing soon, with my family and girlfriend.

I urge everyone to reflect on what you are thankful for, and show your thankfulness to the important people in your life.

Image on left: our Thanksgiving table before dinner

Upcoming Church Holidays

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

Advent begins on Sunday, marking the beginning of the new Church Year. December is a fairly busy time in the Church Year, and besides Advent includes The Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Christmas, and the Feast of the Holy Family.

I always have loved Advent and Christmas. Growing up these had profound meaning, and made the rest of the year seem rather plain. It seemed like that at Advent and Christmas, it was OK to get liturgical, and embrace tradition. I always joke (although there is a large amount of truth here) that I became a liturgical Christian because I wanted it to be like Advent and Christmas every day of the year.

On ChurchYear.Net, in addition to the above links, we have: Advent Prayers, Advent Hymns, Advent Wreath Prayers and Readings, Christmas Prayers and Holy Family Feast Prayers. Like I said…it’s a busy time.

Image on left: Advent Wreath, taken by me.