Friday, December 30, 2011

But . . . I don't have time to pray

I have not met one Christians who agrees that prayer is not important.  In fact, most Christians I have met complain about not praying enough or not having time to pray.  Time is the issue at hand.  What is time?  Like Augustine, I find that I know exactly what time is until someone asks me, "what is time"?  We all have a finite amount of time -- a non renewable resource for ourselves.  What I do know is that when we take time out of our life to pray or be with another person, it is not mere seconds or hours we give.  It is a pice of our life we give away.

We complain about not having time in our day for those activities in our life that we know are important: prayer, church, reading scripture.  Time is the problem.  "If only there were more time in the day.  Then I would pray," we might say to ourselves.  As if it is time's fault that we don't pray.  As if time is preventing us from praying.  Yet, there are over 86,000 seconds in a day.  86,000 seconds!  Still we complain about not being able to take one second our of the day to say, "Thank you God."  Catholic writer, G.K. Chesterton called "Thanks" the highest form of thought.  Briefly, this is because the expression of gratitude is a realization that for what we are thankful is truly a gift.

Likewise there are 168 hours in our week.  WE sleep about 63 of those ourse which leaves us with 126 waking hours of our week.  Yet, we complain about having to give up one hour a week to go worship God in Church.  We moan and groan over giving up less than one percent of our week.

But, we can't be bothered now to pray.  There's another stupid cat video on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"A Child is Born: Chesterton Comes to South Louisiana

What happens when a Late nineteenth/early twentieth century Catholic writer meets a twenty-first century Cajun band from South Louisiana?  Beautiful music.  Perhaps one of the best Christmas song I have heard in recent years.  L'Angelus, French for "The Angelus", is composed of 4 siblings from the Rees family and has a signature stylemade of elements of South Louisiana Cajun, Swamp Rock, New Orleans R&B and Country music.

On their first Christmas album, O Night Divine, The family quartet plays many traditional Christmas songs, but the album has one special fresh surprise that was new to me: a poem of G.K. Chesterton's (you can read it below) set to music.  The song, titled A Child is Born, is highly original, very entertaining, beautiful in its simplicity, and lifts both the mind a soul to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  In fact, after listening to the song the first time, I went back and listened to it three more times before proceeding through the rest of the CD.  Even while listening to the remainder of the album, my thoughts drifted back to the Chesterton song.  Take a moment today to listen to the song.  You will have to go to the L, Angelus website in order to listen to it, but it is worth the trip.

Go here to buy and/or listen to the album.
Go here to sign up for their mailing list and have your choice of a free download from the Album O Night Divine .

The Nativity
By: G.K. Chesterton

“For unto us a child is born.” — Isaiah

The thatch of the roof was as golden,
Though dusty the straw was and old,
The wind was a peal as of trumpets,
Though barren and blowing and cold:
The mother’s hair was a glory,
Though loosened and torn,
For under the eaves in the gloaming –
A child was born.

O, if a man sought a sign in the inmost
That God shaketh broadest his best,
That things fairest are oldest and simplest,
In the first days created and blest:
Far flush all the tufts of the clover,
Thick mellows the corn,
A cloud shapes, a daisy is opened –
A child is born.

With raw mists of the earth-rise about them,
Risen red from the ribs of the earth,
Wild and huddled, the man and the woman,
Bent dumb o’er the earliest birth;
Ere the first roof was hammered above them.
The first skin was worn,
Before code, before creed, before conscience –
A child was born.

What know we of aeons behind us,
Dim dynasties lost long ago,
Huge empires like dreams unremembered,
Dread epics of glory and woe?
This we know, that with blight and with blessing,
With flower and with thorn,
Love was there, and his cry was among them –
“A child is born.”

And to us, though we pore and unravel
Black dogmas that crush us and mar,
Through parched lips pessimistic dare mutter
Hoarse fates of a frost-bitten star;
Though coarse strains and heredities soil it,
Bleak reasoners scorn,
To us too, as of old, to us also –
A child is born.

Though the darkness be noisy with systems,
Dark fancies that fret and disprove;
Still the plumes stir around us, above us,
The tings of the shadow of love.
Still the fountains of life are unbroken,
Their splendour unshorn;
The secret, the symbol, the promise –
A child is born.

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old,
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold?
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn,
And again for the child that was squandered –
A child is born.

In the time of dead things it is living,
In the moonless grey night is a gleam,
Still the babe that is quickened may conquer,
The life that is new may redeem.
Ho, princes and priests, have you heard it?
Grow pale through your scorn.
Huge dawns sleep before us, stern changes –
A child is born.

More than legions that toss and that trample,
More than choirs that bend Godward and sing,
Than the blast of the lips of the prophet,
Than the sword in the hands of the King,
More strong against Evil than judges
That smite and that scorn,
The greatest, the last, and the sternest –
A child is born.

And the rafters of toil still are gilded
With the dawn of the star of the heart,
And the Wise Men draw near in the twilight,
Who are weary of learning and art,
And the face of the tyrant is darkened,
His spirit is torn,
For a new King is throned of a nation –
A child is born.

And the mother still joys for the whispered
First stir of unspeakable things;
Still feels that high moment unfurling,
Red glories of Gabriel’s wings.
Still the babe of an hour is a master
Whom angels adorn,
Emmanuel, prophet, annointed –
A child is born.

To the rusty barred doors of the hungry,
To the struggle for life and the din,
Still, with brush of bright plumes and with knocking,
The Kingdom of God enters in.
To the daughters of patience that labour
That weep and are worn,
One moment of love and of laughter –
A child is born.

To the last dizzy circles of pleasure,
Of fashion and song-swimming nights,
Comes yet hope’s obscure crucifixion,
The birth fire that quickens and bites,
To the daughters of fame that are idle,
That smile and that scorn,
One moment of darkness and travail –
A child is born.

And till man and his riddle be answered,
While earth shall remain and desire,
While the flesh of a man is as grass is,
The soul of a man as a fire,
While the daybreak shall come with its banner,
The moon with its horn,
It shall rest with us that which is written –
“A child is born.”

And for him that shall dream that the martyr
Is banished, and love but a toy,
That life lives not through pain and surrender,
Living only through self and its joy,
Shall the Lord God erase from the body
The oath he has sworn?
Bend back to thy work, saying only –
“A child is born.”

And Thou that art still in the cradle,
The sun being crown for Thy brow,
Make answer, our flesh, make an answer.
Say whence art Thou come? Who art Thou?
Art Thou come back on earth for our teaching,
To train or to warn?
Hush! How may we know, knowing only –
A child is born?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Hey! That's Not Fair!

Gearing up for finals next week, so while I was giving my students a run down of the exam, I head a couple of students enthusiastically proclaim, "That's not fair!" in response to my exam being 168 questions in length. ( All my other tests have typically been 50-60 questions.)  To which I reply, "Not fair?!  What are you talking about?  120 of those questions are from your old tests.  Do you want to know what's not fair?  Babies that have cancer.  Puppies without paws.  Abortion.  Being eaten by a Shark.  Bear attacks.  Ebola."

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Quick Take 7: Marian Edition

  1. Immaculate Conception refers to Mary being conceived without the effects of original sin and not to Jesus being conceived in Mary.
  2. Mary’s Assumption is related to her being born without original sin, for death is the result of sin.  Therefore at the end of her earthly life, she was assumed by the power of Christ into Heaven.
  3. Our Lady of Good Help is the only approved Marian Apparition in the United States.
  4.  Mother of God is a poorly translated phrase from the Greek “theotokos” which more accurately means ‘God bearer.’  This phrase was coined in response to Nestorian heretics who taught that Jesus was not God from the moment of His Conception but only later became God later in His life.  So the title “Mother of God” has little to do with Mary and more to do with who Christ is: fully divine and fully human from the moment of conception.    According to historian Jarslov Pelikin, “theotokos” is a title unique to Mary the Mother of Christ.
  5. An image of Mary is the Unburnt Bush.
  6. The message of Mary is simple: “Do whatever [Jesus] tells you.”
  7. Mary's parents, Joachim and Anna, are not mentioned in Scripture.  Their names are mentioned in the Apocryphal Gospel of James.
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