29 June 2015

Return of Bethlehem's Star?


Tonight and June 30th if one looks to the western sky at about sunset, one can see the closest conjunction of the planets Jupiter and Venus since the years 2-3 B.C.

Is this a significant astronomical event?  To scientists and believers in scientism it is nothing more than a bright light in the sky.  But for people of certain religious viewpoints it is hugely significant.

This planetary conjunction taking place within the constellation Leo is believed by many to have been the Star of Bethlehem at the time of the holy birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ from the Blessed Virgin Mary.  (Others believe that the Star of Bethlehem was a triple conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and Regulus in Leo, but that is another story -- and someone else's DVD).

This conjunction is closest to Leo, and I understand would be reckoned as conjunct with Leo.  (I know precious little about such things).  What this conjunction in Leo meant to that class of people called Magi in Babylon and parts east of Jerusalem was that there was the birth of a king to the Hebrew people, specifically the House of Judah (the Lion).  In general, it would signify a royal birth to a nation whose emblem or sign is the Lion.

So, I add this to things to ponder in one's heart as we await the next Blood Moon.

The following is a YouTube video that is visually helpful but the commentary goes off the rails at the end with the narratrix declaring that this is not an astronomically significant event.  I have learnt over many years that when someone feels it necessary to tell the audience that something is not significant the opposite is usually true.

Psalm 148 
Laudate Dominum. 

O PRAISE the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. Praise him, all ye angels of his: praise him, all his host. Praise him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars and light. Praise him, all ye heavens, and ye waters that are above the heavens. Let them praise the Name of the LORD: for he spake the word, and they were made; he commanded, and they were created. He hath made them fast for ever and ever: he hath given them a law which shall not be broken. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps; Fire and hail, snow and vapours, wind and storm, fulfilling His Word; Mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowls; Kings of the earth, and all peoples; princes, and all judges of the world; Young men and maidens, old men and children, praise the Name of the LORD: for his Name only is excellent, and his praise above heaven and earth. He shall exalt the horn of his people: all his saints shall praise him; even the children of Israel, even the people that serveth him. Praise ye the LORD.
[Coverdale, The Book of Common Prayer

May Jesus Christ be praised!


25 June 2015

Ruminating upon LAUDATO SI'


Spending time with LAUDATO SI' I am very impressed with the part that I see as clearly theological.  There is a lot of substance here that I expect will be lost or glossed over in favour of the political particulars and the partisan use of the sciences in the Encyclical.  

I can understand why the Pope would write in the way he has.  If there is to be a globalist board of directors running the planet, he wants to be sure that the Catholic Church and the Pope have a seat on that board of directors.  Pope Benedict wrote in similar ways with a clear intent to keep the Church on the inside of such deliberating bodies rather than being excluded from the functions of European and world governments.  There are varieties of opinions about the wisdom of such ideas in a Church that is to be in the world but not of the world.

I have come to think that the Pope regards his pontificate as one in which everyone needs to be knocked off centre, to be kicked in the pants and made to feel uncomfortable in one way or another.  As a good priest I know used to say, "May you be disturbed by the peace of Christ."  

As author of the text the Pope is clearly not a scientist writing about science. He is a theologian writing as Vicar of Christ.  I do not get to excited about the way he uses the sciences or politics.  My view on some of those things is that has been ill-advised and misguided by those assisting him.  But that does not in any way negate the theological template he offers us which is a form of catechesis for a world that knows nothing about the rights and claims of God our Father upon this world and what God's original design of and for humanity is meant to be.

At this point I think of a beautiful collect from the Anglican Prayer Book tradition:

O heavenly Father, 
who hast filled the world with beauty: 
Open our eyes to behold 
 thy gracious hand in all thy works; 
that, rejoicing in thy whole Creation, 
we may learn to serve thee with gladness;
for the sake of him through whom all things were made, 
 thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

And it is in the spirit of prayer (rather than taking apart parts of the Encyclical that I find misguided) that I prefer to ruminate upon those portions that are clearly part of the deposit of faith being applied by the Holy Father to celebrate and elevate the view of the human being as God's own creation.  So... I am simply going to quote below a few paragraphs that I am spending time contemplating this week and weekend. 

I pray, dear Reader, the following paragraphs will draw forth your spiritual attention and engage your prayerful consideration in ways that are salutary for you and your faith. (If one clicks on the footnote, the reader will be taken to the Vatican website to the English text.  Click on your browser's 'back' button in order to return to this page.):

Pope Francis writes:

65. Without repeating the entire theology of creation, we can ask what the great biblical narratives say about the relationship of human beings with the world. In the first creation account in the Book of Genesis, God’s plan includes creating humanity. After the creation of man and woman, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen 1:31). The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26). This shows us the immense dignity of each person, “who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons”.[37] Saint John Paul II stated that the special love of the Creator for each human being “confers upon him or her an infinite dignity”.[38] Those who are committed to defending human dignity can find in the Christian faith the deepest reasons for this commitment. How wonderful is the certainty that each human life is not adrift in the midst of hopeless chaos, in a world ruled by pure chance or endlessly recurring cycles! The Creator can say to each one of us: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” (Jer 1:5). We were conceived in the heart of God, and for this reason “each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary”.[39]

66. The creation accounts in the book of Genesis contain, in their own symbolic and narrative language, profound teachings about human existence and its historical reality. They suggest that human life is grounded in three fundamental and closely intertwined relationships: with God, with our neighbour and with the earth itself. According to the Bible, these three vital relationships have been broken, both outwardly and within us. This rupture is sin. The harmony between the Creator, humanity and creation as a whole was disrupted by our presuming to take the place of God and refusing to acknowledge our creaturely limitations. This in turn distorted our mandate to “have dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), to “till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). As a result, the originally harmonious relationship between human beings and nature became conflictual (cf. Gen 3:17-19). It is significant that the harmony which Saint Francis of Assisi experienced with all creatures was seen as a healing of that rupture. Saint Bonaventure held that, through universal reconciliation with every creature, Saint Francis in some way returned to the state of original innocence.[40] This is a far cry from our situation today, where sin is manifest in all its destructive power in wars, the various forms of violence and abuse, the abandonment of the most vulnerable, and attacks on nature.

67. We are not God. The earth was here before us and it has been given to us. This allows us to respond to the charge that Judaeo-Christian thinking, on the basis of the Genesis account which grants man “dominion” over the earth (cf. Gen 1:28), has encouraged the unbridled exploitation of nature by painting him as domineering and destructive by nature. This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church. Although it is true that we Christians have at times incorrectly interpreted the Scriptures, nowadays we must forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures. The biblical texts are to be read in their context, with an appropriate hermeneutic, recognizing that they tell us to “till and keep” the garden of the world (cf. Gen 2:15). “Tilling” refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while “keeping” means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving. This implies a relationship of mutual responsibility between human beings and nature. Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations. “The earth is the Lord’s” (Ps 24:1); to him belongs “the earth with all that is within it” (Dt 10:14). Thus God rejects every claim to absolute ownership: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me” (Lev 25:23).

68. This responsibility for God’s earth means that human beings, endowed with intelligence, must respect the laws of nature and the delicate equilibria existing between the creatures of this world, for “he commanded and they were created; and he established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds and he set a law which cannot pass away” (Ps 148:5b-6). The laws found in the Bible dwell on relationships, not only among individuals but also with other living beings. “You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and withhold your help… If you chance to come upon a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting upon the young or upon the eggs; you shall not take the mother with the young” (Dt 22:4, 6). Along these same lines, rest on the seventh day is meant not only for human beings, but also so “that your ox and your donkey may have rest” (Ex 23:12). Clearly, the Bible has no place for a tyrannical anthropocentrism unconcerned for other creatures.

69. Together with our obligation to use the earth’s goods responsibly, we are called to recognize that other living beings have a value of their own in God’s eyes: “by their mere existence they bless him and give him glory”,[41] and indeed, “the Lord rejoices in all his works” (Ps 104:31). By virtue of our unique dignity and our gift of intelligence, we are called to respect creation and its inherent laws, for “the Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Prov 3:19). In our time, the Church does not simply state that other creatures are completely subordinated to the good of human beings, as if they have no worth in themselves and can be treated as we wish. The German bishops have taught that, where other creatures are concerned, “we can speak of the priority of being over that of being useful”.[42] The Catechism clearly and forcefully criticizes a distorted anthropocentrism: “Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection… Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God’s infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things”.[43]


After contemplating the paragraph above, I invite you in joining with me in praying these collects which come from The Book of Common Prayer (USA, 1979):

Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honor thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

 Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation: Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them, and that generations yet to come may continue to praise you for your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

O gracious Father, who openest thine hand and fillest all things living with plenteousness: Bless the lands and waters, and multiply the harvests of the world; let thy Spirit go forth, that it may renew the face of the earth; show thy loving-kindness, that our land may give her increase; and save us from selfish use of what thou givest , that men and women everywhere may give thee thanks; through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

O God our heavenly Father, you have blessed us and given us dominion over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life; and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

The video above depicts the burial of St. Francis 
and the final viewing of his body by St. Clare.
The song being sung is Laudato Sí by St. Francis

24 June 2015

Nativity of S. John Baptist

Collects and Prayers
for the Nativity 
of Saint John the Forerunner of the Lord

Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, after his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Anglican Use

O God, who raised up Saint John the Baptist
to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord,
give your people, we pray,
the grace of spiritual joys
and direct the hearts of all the faithful
into the way of salvation and peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect for Mass
Roman Missal

Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that your family may walk in the way of salvation
and attentive to what Saint John the Precursor urged,
may come safely to the One he foretold,
our Lord Jesus Christ.
Who lives and reigns with you 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect for the Vigil
Roman Missal

O Prophet and Forerunner of the Coming of Christ, * we who honor you with love do not know how to praise you worthily; * for through your glorious and honored birth * your mother’s barrenness and your father’s voicelessness were loosened * and the Incarnation of the Son of God * was proclaimed to the world! (Troparion - Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today, she who once was barren, gives birth to the Forerunner of Christ, * and he is the fulfillment of all prophecy; * for, when he, in the Jordan, laid his hand on Him Whom the prophets foretold, * he has been shown to be the Prophet, the Herald and the Forerunner of the Word of God. (Kontakion - Tone 3)
Divine Liturgy of the
Byzantine Catholic Church

Saint Elisabeth, Mother of the Forerunner of Christ, 
pray for us to the Lord.
Saint Zechariah, intercede for us.

22 June 2015

Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts on Laudato Si'

I have read too much spin related to Laudato Si'.  There are parts of the Encyclical that I found profound and encouraging.   But there are parts that trouble me such as Paragraph 175.  In my view, the forces of evil always seek to centralise authority, power, and control into unelected hands and to twist the best intentions of people of goodwill to nefarious purpose.

Catherine Austin Fitts
There is one report on the internet that represents an intelligent response as well as a constructive engagement with the controversial Encyclical of Pope Francis.  It makes very pointed comments that would surely make many a curial and chancery official uncomfortable.  For my part, I am very comfortable in suggesting that others read that report published by former U.S. Secretary Catherine Austin Fitts.  You may read her piercing and vigorous response on her website The Solari Report.

You may click here to be taken to her website.

19 June 2015

From LAUDATO SI' of H. H. Pope Francis I: ‘For His Steadfast Love Endures For Ever‘


H.H. Pope Francis I
Allow me to share with you, dear Reader, three sections of the ENCYCLICAL LETTER LAUDATO SI' OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOMEI do not expect one would find many bloggers and journalists quoting these sections, but they are profound and right worthy of study and prayerful contemplation. 


The Psalms frequently exhort us to praise God the Creator, “who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures for ever” (Ps 136:6). They also invite other creatures to join us in this praise:

“Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created” (Ps 148:3-5).

We do not only exist by God’s mighty power; we also live with him and beside him. This is why we adore him.

The writings of the prophets invite us to find renewed strength in times of trial by contemplating the all-powerful God who created the universe. Yet God’s infinite power does not lead us to flee his fatherly tenderness, because in him affection and strength are joined.

Indeed, all sound spirituality entails both welcoming divine love and adoration, confident in the Lord because of his infinite power.

In the Bible, the God who liberates and saves is the same God who created the universe, and these two divine ways of acting are intimately and inseparably connected:

“Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you... You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders” (Jer 32:17, 21).

“The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless” (Is 40:28b-29).

The experience of the Babylonian captivity provoked a spiritual crisis which led to deeper faith in God. Now his creative omnipotence was given pride of place in order to exhort the people to regain their hope in the midst of their wretched predicament.

Centuries later, in another age of trial and persecution, when the Roman Empire was seeking to impose absolute dominion, the faithful would once again find consolation and hope in a growing trust in the all-powerful God:

“Great and wonderful are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways!” (Rev 15:3).

The God who created the universe out of nothing can also intervene in this world and overcome every form of evil. Injustice is not invincible.

A spirituality which forgets God as all-powerful and Creator is not acceptable. That is how we end up worshipping earthly powers, or ourselves usurping the place of God, even to the point of claiming an unlimited right to trample his creation underfoot.

The best way to restore men and women to their rightful place, putting an end to their claim to absolute dominion over the earth, is to speak once more of the figure of a Father who creates and who alone owns the world. Otherwise, human beings will always try to impose their own laws and interests on reality.


14 June 2015

Saint Ephrem the Syrian, Doctor of the Church, on Saint Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus the Lord

Mary, Mother of the Eucharist by Tommy Canning

Saint Ephrem the Syrian, called  The Harp of the Holy Spirit, writes concerning the Blessed Mother of the Lord:

Mary says to God’s people:
‘Come, all you who have discernment,
vocal advocates of the Spirit,
prophets who beheld hidden things in your true visions;
you farmers who sowed seed, and slept in hope,
rise up and rejoice at the harvest.
Look: in my arms I clasp the wheat-sheaf of life
that provides bread for the hungry,
that feeds the needy. Rejoice with me,
for I carry the sheaf full of joys.’

Blessed are you, O Mary, daughter of the poor,
who became Mother of the Lord of kings.
In your womb he has dwelt
of whose praise the heavens are full.
Blessed be your breast, which has nourished him with love,
your mouth which has lulled him
and your arms which have held him.
You have become a vehicle to bear a God of fire!

Blessed are you, O Mary, 
you have become the home of the king.
In you, he who has power has taken abode,
he who rules the world.
You came from the tribe of Judah;
You descended from the family of David.
Illustrious is your lineage.
For you, though remaining virgin,
have become the mother of the Son of David.

Blessed are you, O maiden,
who have borne the lion cub spoken of by Jacob.
He humbled himself and became a lamb,
destined to ascend the Cross to deliver us.
He prefigured you, the tree,
which providing the kid, spared the life of Isaac.

Blessed are you, O blessed one, since through you
the curse of Eve has been destroyed.
From you has come the light
which has destroyed the reign of darkness.

Saint Ephrem the Syrian
Doctor of the Church
4th century A.D.


07 June 2015

Rossetti: ‘Epiphany and All Saints’


They have brought gold and spices to my King,

Incense and precious stuff and ivory.

O holy Mother mine, what can I bring,

That so my Lord may deign to look on me?

They sing a sweeter song than I can sing,

All crowned and glorified exceedingly:

I, bound on earth, weep for my trespassing, -

They sing the song of love, in heaven set free.

Then answered me my Mother, and her voice

Spake to my heart; yea, answered in my heart:

‘Sing, saith He, to the heavens, to earth, Rejoice:

Thou also lift thy heart to Him above:

He seeks not thine, but thee such as thou art,

For lo his banner over thee is Love.’

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)