When the Irish Call The Snakes Back Home


When the Irish call the snakes back home
and show St. Pat the door
and you get out you Naz’reth Babe,
don’t show your face no more
Then the ghost of Cromwell laughs from hell,
I couldn’t kill you but just as well,
You’ll do the job quite well yourselves,
and soon be joining me here.
Cuando los irlandeses llaman a las serpientes de vuelta a casa.
y mostrar a San Pat la puerta
y te salgas bebe de Nazaret,
no muestres tu cara más
Entonces el fantasma de Cromwell se ríe del infierno,
No podría matarte, pero igual de bien.
Ustedes harán el trabajo bastante bien,
Y pronto se unirán a mí aquí.

Lord Who Throughout These Forty Days – Out To Faking and Back to Traditional Four Part Arrangement

The dominance of Faking (streamlined keyboard “improvisation” cutting out 4-part vocal harmony) serves to undercut choirs’ practice of harmonic intricacy, reinforcing the broader, general trend toward relegating the laity to the status of permanent spectators in the liturgy and the Priest as merely “presiding” over a “meeting” or “dinner”, inhibited from participating actively in their proper, respective roles in the ultimate, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Music Faking Books on Amazon

The Second Vatican Council called for active lay participation in the liturgy, including and especially in its music, attending devoutly on the Priest in persona Christi re-presenting Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary in an unbloody manner in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But prior to the Council, the laity had long, routinely brought their vigorous home song-culture to Church, as ordinary, highly-cultured common people, devoutly and reverently to sing fine-art sacred music, from memory, without the interference of a permanent class of non-expert, specialist “music ministers” taking center stage in a “performance”. Now, under faking, very few of the laity in the pews are singing at all, as the Priest waits upon the “music ministers” really leading the “meeting”–but the choir is usually performing dumbed-down, kintergarten-crayon singing, uglyfying what should be the solemn beauty of liturgical music, conditions all based upon the cultural impoverishment of the era of canned-music in which people have stopped their natural daily cultural exercise of singing just for the pleasure of it in their personal lives.

   In vain do they bemoan the state of the Church’s current musical degradation, who fail to remedy it in their home, family lives by singing with their children.   

Do you sing at home?


Test audiences laughed at what should have been a highly dramatic moment in “The Lost Weekend” (1945), during protagonist Ray Milland’s suicide-attempt scene, in which Jane Wyman wrestles him for a gun. They Laughed.

European-trained film composer Miklos Rozsa was brought in to save the film production from what amounted to disaster, with the application of a fine-art musical score. After Rozsa’s intervention, The Lost Weekend was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). It also shared the Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival, making it one of only two films (the other being “Marty” with Ernest Borgnine) to win both the Academy Award for Best Picture and the highest award at Cannes.

The overwhelming influence of music in film bears witness to the predominating influence, for better or worse, of music in the Catholic Mass. Rather than a fluke, the dominance of music in cinema is the norm, in terms of setting the emotional tone, almost as if the visual component of cinema is secondary accompaniment to primacy of the music score. This is shown by the career history of the dean of golden-age Hollywood film composers, Max Steiner. Working from King Kong (1933) to A Summer Place (1959), Steiner defied David O. Selznick’s direction to use existing classical music for Gone With the Wind, independently composing more than 3 hours of original film music and hiring an 80-piece orchestra on his own recognizance. (No other division of the film production process has ever had such independence from budgetary oversight.)

The domineering place of music in American Cathoic liturgy is highlighted by a Mass of the “Women of Grace” apostolate, which I saw in Sacramento: The proceedings were dominated by the presence of a live rock band playing the group’s theme song. During the Gloria in the Mass, the staff Priest Fr. Ed Sylvia sat watching the rock choir until it was time to perform his part, when the band relinquished the spotlight. The Gloria in the Women of Grace liturgy, used the first line as a chorus repeated after every phrase block and at the end. (The rubrics place the Gloria as a thorough-composed, single continual stream of prayer without a repeated chorus; the first phrase should not be given greater predominance than other phrases in the prayer. Repeating the first phrase of the Gloria, as if the laity were incapable of following it without repetition, is one of the most common instances of distorting the liturgy of the Mass.) Yet Women of Grace is considered one of the most influential, orthodox Catholic apostolates.

This is a special instance of the impoverishment of the music of the Ordinary Rite of the Mass in the American Catholic Church. At the local parish level, the standard liturgical music practice would be typified by the actions of the pianist-leader of a competent Filipino choir, in which all the members harmonize quite adequately. On a Sunday last year, the pianist applied fake marks to a traditional four-part arrangement of a hymn, for playing in a Jazz style.

(This despite the fact that Jazz, from “sexual arousal”, bred in the bordello and nurtured in the drug den, is unsuitable for liturgical music which should always be reverently adorning Christ’s unique central sacrifice of Himself through the person of the Priest.)

LordWhoThroughoutTheseFortyDays-ToFakeAndBackToFourPart

Faking isn’t an intrinsically deprecatory term, in its proper place it is the standard musical designation for the fine art of extemporaneously improvising a usable performance from the scanty materials of a melody line, chords and lyrics, cutting out the accompaniment of the other parts. But faking should be used only under special, emergency-demand, usually when the players receive an unexpected request for an unplanned piece, not as the standard, pre-planned foundation for regular liturgical music performance. But the true, red-blooded harmonic tradition of the common-practice period 1450-1950, had long already been enriched by an educated form of “faking”, known properly as figured bass, as with the Adagio in G minor, attributed to Albinoni, but actually based only on a fragment of figured bass.

I recovered that player’s fake sheet from the trash, removed the fake marks, refactoring it back to traditional four-part arrangement, which I regularly play.

The congregation later sang to my rendition of the traditional four-part arrangement “Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days” during Liturgy of the Hours.

The common practice of using faking as the permanent, regular basis for choral support, serves actually to cripple choirs’ ability to practice harmonization. Faking’s severe reduction in harmonic intricacy undercuts choirs’ ability to learn the basic musicianship of harmony–most choirs never even get to hear real, four-part harmony, much less begin to practice it.

Prior to the Council, organists customarily, exclusively played from four-part arrangements, supporting choirs in their practice of vocal harmony; four-part arrangements, intimately linking keyboard practice with vocal harmony, are the total content of most pieces in keyboard hymnals. The organist plays exactly what each of the individual four parts sing together–soprano, alto, tenor and bass; the organist’s playing serves as a lattice for the singers’ accurate performance of classic hymn pieces, often composed by major classical composers, a lay cameo of high-art music.

Under the tyranny of faking, which cuts out four-part harmony, all choirs ever get to hear is homogenized, vanilla, plain-Jane chords, of oversimplified harmonic rhythm, performed under the restricted regime of bare-bone, chords-melody-&-lyrics, accompanied by low-grade, standardized keyboard “riffs”, dead, background props which involve very little actual improvisation. The limited technique of the faked accompaniment of hazy, opaque playing, even many educated listeners fail to notice, exactly as intended. “It’s easy to fake; they’ll never notice the difference.” Even with OCP’s obligatory publishing of four-part versions of recent compositions on the faking model, there is general lack of the great harmony that choirs vigorously practiced before the Council. Faking mutilates the once-fine adornment of Christ’s sacrifice of Himself in the Mass.

Ecce Homo: Rather than restoring the priceless old tradition adorning Christ’s unique sacrifice of Himself in the Mass, instead, mutilating the Imago Dei through song.

Unlike that Filipino choir, most choirs cannot handle singing harmony! If one singer starts harmonizing ex tempore or from the memory of fine traditional arrangements, other, more-nearly average choir singers will falter in their execution of the main melody, often ceasing singing altogether, because they find the unfamiliarity of vocal harmonization radically distracting. Continue reading

Novena to Mary Untier of Knots

http://www.theholyrosary.org/maryundoerknots

1. Make the sign of the cross

2. Say the Act of Contrition. Ask pardon for your sins and make a firm promise not to commit them again.

Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee. I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell. But most of all, because I have offended Thee, oh my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen

3. Say the first 3 decades of the Rosary.

4. Make the meditation of the day (to be posted each day)

5. Say the last 2 decades of the rosary

6. Finish with the Prayer to Our Lady the Undoer of Knots/span>

Meditation for Day 1

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Dearest Holy Mother, Most Holy Mary, you undo the knots that suffocate your children, extend your merciful hands to me. I entrust to You today this knot….and all the negative consequences that it provokes in my life. I give you this knot that torments me and makes me unhappy and so impedes me from uniting myself to You and Your Son Jesus, my Savior.
I run to You, Mary, Undoer of Knots because I trust you and I know that you never despise a sinning child who comes to ask you for help. I believe that you can undo this knot because Jesus grants you everything. I believe that you want to undo this knot because you are my Mother. I believe that You will do this because you love me with eternal love.

Thank you, Dear Mother.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

The one who seeks grace, finds it in Mary’s hands.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 2

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Mary, Beloved Mother, channel of all grace, I return to You today my heart, recognizing that I am a sinner in need of your help. Many times I lose the graces you grant me because of my sins of egoism, pride, rancor and my lack of generosity and humility. I turn to You today, Mary, Undoer of knots, for You to ask your Son Jesus to grant me a pure, divested, humble and trusting heart. I will live today practicing these virtues and offering you this as a sign of my love for You. I entrust into Your hands this knot (…describe) which keeps me from reflecting the glory of God.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Mary offered all the moments of her day to God.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 3

Our Lady Undoer of Knots Meditating Mother, Queen of heaven, in whose hands the treasures of the King are found, turn your merciful eyes upon me today. I entrust into your holy hands this knot in my life…and allthe rancor and resentment it has caused in me. I ask Your forgiveness, God the Father, for my sin. Help me now to forgive all the persons who consciously or unconsciously provoked this knot. Give me, also, the grace to forgive me for having provoked this knot. Only in this way can You undo it. Before You, dearest Mother, and in the name of Your Son Jesus, my Savior, who has suffered so many offenses, having been granted forgiveness, I now forgive these persons…and myself, forever. Thank you, Mary, Undoer of Knots for undoing the knot of rancor in my heart and the knot which I now present to you. Amen.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 4

Our Lady Undoer of Knots Dearest Holy Mother, you are generous with all who seek you, have mercy on me. I entrust into your hands this knot which robs the peace of my heart, paralyzes my soul and keeps me from going to my Lord and serving Him with my life.
Undo this knot in my love…., O mother, and ask Jesus to heal my paralytic faith which gets down hearted with the stones on the road. Along with you, dearest Mother, may I see these stones as friends. Not murmuring against them anymore but giving endless thanks for them, may I smile trustingly in your power.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 5

Our Lady Undoer of Knots Mother, Undoer of Knots, generous and compassionate, I come to You today to once again entrust this knot…in my life to you and to ask the divine wisdom to undo, under the light of the Holy Spirit, this snarl of problems. No one ever saw you angry; to the contrary, your words were so charged with sweetness that the Holy Spirit was manifested on your lips. Take away from me the bitterness, anger and hatred which this knot has caused me. Give me, o dearest Mother, some of the sweetness and wisdom that is all silently reflected in your heart. And just as you were present at Pentecost, ask Jesus to send me a new presence of the Holy Spirit at this moment in my life. Holy Spirit, come upon me!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Mary, with God, is powerful.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 6

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Queen of Mercy, I entrust to you this knot in my life…and I ask you to give me a heart that is patient until you undo it. Teach me to persevere in the living word of Jesus, in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Confession; stay with me and prepare my heart to celebrate with the angels the grace that will be granted to me. Amen! Alleluia!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

You are beautiful, Mary, and there is no stain of sin in You.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 7

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Mother Most Pure, I come to You today to beg you to undo this knot in my life…and free me from the snares of Evil. God has granted you great power over all the demons. I renounce all of them today, every connection I have had with them and I proclaim Jesus as my one and only Lord and Savior. Mary, Undoer of Knots, crush the evil one’s head and destroy the traps he has set for me by this knot. Thank you, dearest Mother. Most Precious Blood of Jesus, free me!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

You are the glory of Jerusalem, the joy of our people.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 8

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Virgin Mother of God, overflowing with mercy, have mercy on your child and undo this knot…in my life. I need your visit to my life, like you visited Elizabeth. Bring me Jesus, bring me the Holy Spirit. Teach me to practice the virtues of courage, joyfulness, humility and faith, and, like Elizabeth, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Make me joyfully rest on your bosom, Mary. I consecrate you as my mother, Queen and friend. I give you my heart and everything I have (my home and family, my material and spiritual goods.) I am yours forever. Put your heart in me so that I can do everything Jesus tells me.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

Let us go, therefore, full of trust, to the throne of grace.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

Meditation for Day 9

Our Lady Undoer of Knots
Most Holy Mary, our Advocate, Undoer of Knots, I come today to thank you for undoing this knot in my life…You know very well the suffering it has caused me. Thank you for coming, Mother, with your long fingers of mercy to dry the tears in my eyes; you receive me in your arms and make it possible for me to receive once again the divine grace.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, dearest Mother, I thank you for undoing the knots in my life. Wrap me in your mantle of love, keep me under your protection, enlighten me with your peace! Amen.

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me.

PRAYER TO MARY, UNDOER OF KNOTS (Closing Prayer)

Virgin Mary, Mother of fair love, Mother who never refuses to come to the aid of a child in need, Mother whose hands never cease to serve your beloved children because they are moved by the divine love and immense mercy that exists in your heart, cast your compassionate eyes upon me and see the snarl of knots that exist in my life.
You know very well how desperate I am, my pain and how I am bound by these knots.
Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of His children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life.
No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.
Powerful Mother, by your grace and intercessory power with Your Son and My Liberator, Jesus, take into your hands today this knot…I beg you to undo it for the glory of God, once for all, You are my hope.
O my Lady, you are the only consolation God gives me, the fortification of my feeble strength, the enrichment of my destitution and with Christ the freedom from my chains.
Hear my plea.
Keep me, guide me, protect me, o safe refuge!

Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for me

The Beatitudes

1 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
2 Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
3 Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
4 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
5 Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
6 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
7 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
8 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12


“Received” or Not, the Beatitudes Point Us to Holiness


Father Jeffrey Kirby, Sunday, June 8, 2018

Beauty is the perfection of order and symmetry, and as such is a primary source of holiness. This basic truth can be seen by any Christian believer or any person of good will. And yet, such a claim is regarded as peculiar in contemporary Western societies because of something Saint Paul unmasked, namely, the “great exchange” of divine glory for the fallen things of this world. (cf. Romans 1:18-24)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

In its current Western form, this great exchange abandons religion for self-help practices, the objective realities of life for subjective preferences, faith-and-reason for an absolutized reason without conditions, male/female complementarity for sexual disorder. And – sadly – the compromises of the great exchange continue into a rapid downward spiral of confusion and misery.

In such societies, people are fragmented, institutions of belonging are redefined, and essential sources of identity are clouded. This leads to widespread social ills, from an epidemic in pornography, widespread opioid abuse, to an increase in suicide rates.

But weren’t we made for something greater that makes beauty and holiness possible in our souls and in society?

It was to answer such questions that Jesus Christ entered human history. By his life and teachings, culminating in his Paschal Mystery, the Lord points us to a more excellent way. He presents this way of life in what the Christian tradition has come to call “the Beatitudes.” The Lord gives the Beatitudes as an interior autobiography of his own heart. He offers them as a remedy to our ills, and as a path toward internal harmony and social tranquility.

The eight Beatitudes reflect the symmetry of beauty and are, therefore, a sure path to peace and holiness. Rather than a random collection of platitudes, the Beatitudes hold an inner logic and offer us a path to harmony.

It is no surprise that only the first and eighth Beatitude refer to the “kingdom.” The two are seen to form bookends. The first Beatitude calls for a “poverty of spirit,” which is a radical existential declaration of a true need for God. This is the beginning of wisdom, tranquility, and happiness. The eighth Beatitude, by contrast, is a commission to accept persecution for the sake of righteousness.

In between, however, lies the hard work for holiness. As the first Beatitude leads us to an assertion of our need for God, so the second one calls us to a sorrow and repentance for our sins and the evil of the world. This grieving compels us to the meekness of the third Beatitude. The meekness here is not passivity, but an authentic desire to know our place in the world, to discern our vocation, given by God, and to live accordingly.

The movement of the first three Beatitudes – from our need for God, our sorrow over evil, and our drive to know our place – reaches a culmination in the fourth Beatitude, which urges on us hunger and thirst for righteousness. Knowing ourselves better, we now want to be excellent, virtuous, and holy. This hunger and thirst doubles down and re-directs our attention.

The focus shifts, therefore, in the fifth Beatitude. We now look to our neighbor and are moved to mercy. From this state of compassion, we are guided into the “purity of heart” of the sixth Beatitude. Such a summons to purity helps us to see God’s Providence, to see what others cannot, namely, healing in brokenness, goodness in the midst of evil, and the power of light over darkness.

This enables us to be the “peacemakers” of the seventh Beatitude and to desire a tranquility of order in our own lives and in the world around, which makes us strong enough and ready to accept and live the commission of the eighth Beatitude.

This simple walk through the Beatitudes reveals to us the beauty of holiness, but also its challenges.

In our culture, there are Jesuitical attempts to discredit moral truth about marriage, family, and sexuality. By classifying certain moral truths, such as sodomy or contraception, as not having been “received” by the People of God (since a majority of believers may not consent to them), such teachings are argued to have not, therefore, really been given by the Holy Spirit.

But we could say the same about the very Beatitudes given to us by Jesus. Many have tried to live up to them, but then quit because they appeared to be too hard or not rewarding enough. Some only pay the Beatitudes lip service, others try to redefine them, while still others completely reject them.

It might even be argued that a majority of believers do not assent to the full life of the Beatitudes. And yet, could we claim that they have not been “received” and therefore are not from God? And even if they’re not “received,” can they be let go?

Of course not. The Beatitudes are here to stay, as is all moral truth. And any such argument is an abuse of the sensus fidelium, which does not mean “what’s everybody doing,” but is the actual living out of the Church’s declared faith by the People of God. That way of viewing things does not reflect the demands of discipleship born from truth and beauty, but rather manifests a rationalization of the tenets of revealed religion. The argument is an intellectual appeasement of this world and a shameful display of the “great exchange” denounced by Saint Paul.

And so, whether “received” or not, the Beatitudes, and the entire body of moral truth, offer the human family another way, a more excellent way, of love. It’s a way that is difficult and marked by toil and struggles. It’s rejected by many. But it’s one that leads to true peace. And the hearts that receive it – and labor to live it – find holiness and the joy of life in God. And they’re the ones whose righteousness ends up converting and changing the world.

St. Nicholas Hymn (en francais)

Saint NICOLAS

This popular French song, the Légende de Saint Nicolas, dates back to the 16th century and is still sung by French children today. It tells the rather gruesome story of St. Nicholas rescuing three children from an evil butcher. The story, which was originally of three young men—traveling scholars, is told in France of three young children (see illustrations from 1935). Here on this page, they are shown as older children by 19th century artist E. de Liphart. Music and an English text, freely translated by poet James Henry Dixon, follow the original French.


Cover
Saint NICOLAS
E. de Liphart, illustrator
Maison Quantin, Paris ca 1880
St Nicholas Center Collection
Children approach butcher's

They came to the butcher’s one evening  

St Nicolas at table

Butcher, butcher, do not flee. 
 
Rise up, children

Then the Saint extended his fingers 
 
Music to traditional French song
 
Click for printable PDF

Saint NICOLAS (La Légende de Saint Nicolas)

    Ils étaient trois petits enfants
    Qui s’en allaient glaner aux champs—
    S’en vinr’nt un soir chez un boucher:
    ”Boucher, voudrais-tu nous coucher?”—
    Entrez, entrez, petits enfants,
    Il y’a d’la place assurément! . . .

Ils n’étaient pas sitôt entrés
Que le boucher les a tués,
Les a coupés en p’tits morceaux,
Mis au saloir comme pourceaux.

    Ils étaient, etc.

Saint Nicolas, au bout d’sept ans,
Vint à passer dedans ce champ,
Alla frapper chez le boucher:
“Boucher, voudrais-tu me loger?”

    Ils étaient, etc.

— Entrez, entrez, saint Nicolas,
Il y’a d’la place, il n’en manq’pas.”
Il n’était pas sitôt entré
Qu’il a demandé à souper.

    Ils étaient, etc.

“Du p’tit salé je veux avoir
Qu’il y a sept ans qu’est dans l’saloir.”
Quand le boucher entendit ça,
Hors de la porte il s’enfuya.

    Ils étaient, etc.

“Boucher, boucher, ne t’enfuis pas;
Repens-toi, Dieu t’pardonnera.”
Saint Nicolas alla s’asseoir
Dessus le bord de ce saloir.

    Ils étaient, etc.

“Petits enfants qui dormez là,
Je suis le grand saint Nicolas.”
Et le saint étendit trois doigts.
Les p’tits se lèvent tous les trois.

    Ils étaient, etc.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas
freely translated from the French

Three little children sought the plain
Gleaners of the golden grain.
They lingered past the angel-song,
And dewy shadows swept along.

‘Mid the silence of the wood
The butcher’s lonely cottage stood,
“Butcher! lodge us for the night,
Lodge us till the morning light.”
“Enter in, ye children small,
I can find a place for all.”

The butcher seized a knife straitway,
And did the little creatures slay.
He put them in a tub of brine,
In pieces small as they were swine.

St. Nicholas, at seven years end,
His way did to the forest wend.
He sought the butcher’s cottage drear:
“Butcher! I would rest me here!”

“Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
You are welcome, St. Nicholas!
Enter! enter, St. Nicholas!
There’s place for you the night to pass.”
Scarce had the Saint his entrance made,
He would the supper board was laid.

“Will you have of ham a slice?”
“I will not, for it is not nice!”
“Of this veal you’ll take a bit?”
“No! I do not relish it.”

“Give me of the little swine,
For seven long years have laid in brine!”
The butcher caught the words he said,
And forthwith from the portal fled.

“Butcher! butcher! do not flee,
Repent and God will pardon thee!”

St. Nicholas the tub drew near,
And lo! he placed three fingers there.
The first one said, “I sweetly rest!”
The second said, “I too am blest!”
The third replied, “Tis well with me,
In Paradise I seem to be!”

Freely translated from the French by English poet James Henry Dixon (1803–1876), Centro Studi Nicolaiani, Bari, Itlay, 1983. Used by permission.

A 17th century version of this song

Credo – I Believe

I believe that our Blessed Lady has a special intention for the Credo. Under her influence I always treat it as more than a kind of public profession. It is primarily a prayer because Faith is a theological virtue. “I belief Lord. Help me in my unbelief.” I think it would be better for it to be sung on the special occasions of re-dedication. The English Credo is the Mother’s Milk of sung prayers; babies can sing it. (Latin would be wonderful, but be all things to all people.) Accordingly, I have moved English to the top.
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