Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I could survive for 1 minute, 3 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk

Wake, awake! for night is flying

Enjoy J.S. Bach's organ chorale Wachet auf! (Wake up!) for Advent. The melody is in the tenor.


It is difficult to believe that the glorious season of Advent is upon us. It is that wonderful spiritual time of the year when we recall the return of Christ at the end of time and celebrate his first coming among us in Bethlehem. It marks the beginning of the liturgical year for us Catholics. With all the saints we cry out "How long, O Lord?" With the prophets we immerse ourselves in the scriptures. With the wise virgins we procure the spiritual oil that lights our way into the new and eternal kingdom of Christ. John the Baptist (the Forerunner, Prodromos, Precursor) points our way to the Christ who is come and yet to come.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem reminds us that when Christ came the first time, he came to draw us to his kingdom by gentle persuasion. He kept silent before those who accused and judged him. When he comes finally, at the end of the ages, he will judge those who judged him. "Then, whether men like it or not, they shall be members of his kingdom by necessity." Think of that! What greater discomfort for anyone who had rejected Christ! While we are free to join his kingdom now, and live lives of holiness and grace, we become more like him, and his joy becomes our joy. After all, he only promises us the joy "of your Lord." There are no other joys available to us than this. Those who seek other joys will in the end only have the one, infinite, joy. Those who reject the one joy will endure forever what they do not desire, have never sought, and will seek forever to be relieved of. Let this Advent be a time of restoration and rebuilding for us. Make straight the way of the Lord!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Recovering from pilgrimage

I and the other pilgrims returned from the Holy Land and Rome on Saturday. Jet lag behind me, I can now devote some time to the blog. It passes belief that the Holy Season of Advent is before us!

The highlight of the time I was there was to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on the very tomb of Christ while the group was in the outer room of the aedicule (the structure around the Holy Sepulcher).

The picture shows the north transept of the basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. While we were there, a rather disedifying fight broke out between a Greek and a Russian Orthodox priest. Unfortunately, I was not in that part of the church at the time to witness this sight. Although our guide did try to find me, it was over and the priests taken away by the police before I could get there.

One thing that comes out of a pilgrimage such as this is that the plight of the Arab population under the Jews is insufferable. No one protests the Israeli right to protect themselves. It is just that they have taken a big bite out of lands that don't belong to them. It is to long to go into here, but it is time for the Israelis to start abiding by some international laws in this regard.