Monday, December 28, 2009

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Innocents. This feast remembers those infant boys who were killed to protect the throne of Herod from the newborn King of the Jews (whose birth had been announced by the magi). This feast reminds us to protect, cherish and care for human life in all stages.

Collectively, the feasts we celebrate during these days are to remind us that the observance of Christmas cannot be isolated from the rest of the Church's observance of the Paschal Mystery (the suffering, dying, and rising of Christ); this is the reason he was born in the first place.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:"A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled, since they were no more."
Luke 2:16-18

This is the Christmas tree and statue of the Infant Jesus which is in our refectory (monastic dining room)

On another note, I would like to take this opportunity to mention that I am being transferred to another monastery, as of January 1. Although many people refer to me as a monk, technically I am not. A monk has stability to one particular monastery and it would be a rare exception that might take him away from that one monastery to another. I, on the other hand, am a friar. The word friar comes from the latin frater, which means brother. A friar is not attached to any one monastery and can be sent anywhere his Order has monasteries.

So, I have been asked to take up a new post in one of our two monasteries in Southern California. Although my responsibilities will be greater I don't foresee that it will be an obstacle from my continuing Monastery Daily Photo. So, please bear with me a few days while I spend a few days with my family and complete the transition.

In the meantime, please know that all of you, my blogger friends, go with me in my prayer.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Feast of the Holy Family

The front door of the monastery

Closeup of the creche at the front door.

The Sunday following Christmas is celebrated as the Feast of the Holy Family. The Holy Family is comprised of Jesus, his mother, Mary and his foster-father, Joseph.

So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Luke 2:3-7

Saturday, December 26, 2009

St. Stephen, Deacon and Protommartyr

December 26
Feast of St. Stephen

My good blogger friend, J. of Greensboro Daily Photo, asked me if I would write a little about St. Stephen, as we celebrate his feast day today. J. and her husband are the original "Sacred Sunday" bloggers. Be sure to stop by Greensboro Daily Photo every Sunday and tell them that FA sent you.

St. Stephen was one of the early deacons of the Christian Church. He became the Protomartyr (first martyr of the Church) because of his death by stoning. His crime? Blasphemy against Moses and God. His prosecutors? An angry mob led by St. Paul (although at that time he was known as Saul of Tarsus).

For more information on St. Stephen, go to the source.

While most people are taking down Christmas today, the Church continues celebrating. Yesterday, Christmas day, began the Oktave of Christmas - 8 day liturgical celebration which turns Christmas day into 8 days, ending on January 1, the Solemnity of the Mother of God. After that, the Christmas season continues until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord - this year, January 10, 2010.

So, don't take that tree down, just yet. Let's keep celebrating. And besides, isn't today the second day of Christmas? Yes, the twelve days of Christmas began yesterday and ends on January 5, the day before the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6), when the three Kings arrived in Bethlehem.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Emmanuel - God is with us!

Monastic Church on Christmas morning

Detail of creche

This evening, at the start of Vespers, I had the privilege of chanting the Proclamation of the Birth of Christ. This text comes from the Roman Martyrology of December 24 and situates the birth of Christ within the context of salvation history.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year
of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;
in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
the whole world being at peace,
in the sixth age of the world,
Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father, desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming, being conceived by the Holy Spirit, and nine months having passed since his conception,
was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary, being made flesh.
The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

A Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gloria in excelsis Deo!

"The angel said to them, "I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us." So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. ”
Luke 2:9-19
Gospel of Midnight Mass of Christmas

A blessed Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Antiphon - Day 6

O Antiphon for December 22
O Rex Gentium (King of the Gentiles) (Hag 2: 8), Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one (Eph 2: 20). Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay (Gen 2: 7).

Monday, December 21, 2009

My World Tuesday - O Antiphons - Day 5

O Antiphon for December 21
O Oriens (O Rising Dawn) (Zac 6: 12), Radiance of the Light eternal (Hab 3: 4) and Sun of Justice (Mal 3: 20); Come, enlighten those who sit in darkness & the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10; Lk 1: 78).

In my monastic world, we don't begin decorating the Church or the monastery until as late as possible (this year the decorating begins tomorrow). So, the beautiful 12 foot Noble Fir sits in the truck until it takes it place of honor in the Church.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Antiphons - Day 4

Fourth Sunday of Advent

O Antiphon for December 20
O Clavis David (O Key of David) (Apoc 3: 7) Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

O Antiphons - Day 3

O Antiphon for December 19
O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), you stand for the ensign of all mankind (Isa 11: 10); before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse (Isa 52: 15). Come, save us, and do not delay (Hab 2: 3).

Please note that in the above picture the child Jesus statue is absent from the creche. We place him in the scene on Christmas eve.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Skywatch

December 18 is day two of the Christmas novena. The "O" Antiphon for today is:

O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler (Exod 6: 13) and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2: 6), you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3: 2), and on Mount Sinai gave him your Law (Exod 20). Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us (Jer 32: 21).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Novena

December 17 is the first day of the Christmas Novena. Each member of the community takes a Day of Recollection (Retreat Day) during the nine days before Christmas. On the night before his Day of Recollection, the community processes to his cell, with lighted candles, singing "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" and the Prior presents him with a statue of the infant Jesus.

Every evening during the Christmas novena the "O" Antiphons are sung at Vespers. These antiphons address Christ with seven Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ.

"O" Antiphon for December 17
O Wisdom (in latin: O Sapientia) (Eccl 24: 5), you came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sir 24: 30), and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wis 8: 1). Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isa 40: 14).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My World Tuesday - Cloister

In a monastery, the basic living quarters of the building and property is reserved for the private use of the monastic community (monks, friars, nuns, etc.). Unless they are providing a service to the community, lay (secular) people are not usually permitted in this area, which is called "the cloister". The cloister enables the monastic community to maintain silence and to focus on the presence of God. To quote a Sister in the movie "Trouble With Angels", "cloister is not always a place"....indeed, something to think about.

By the way, my world is still experiencing internet trouble (sigh).

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sacred Sunday - Gaudete

Christ is the light in our darkness. Rejoice!

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent - also known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is latin for rejoice (from Gaudere). The liturgy on this day takes on a tone of rejoicing as we are called to anticipate the coming of Christ in the Nativity and His coming again at the end of the world. In the darkness of Advent, we light the third candle of the Advent Wreath, which is rose colored and the priest wears rose colored vestments in order to offer encouragement to continue our spiritual preparation - especially prayer and fasting for Christmas.

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phillipians 4:4-7
2nd Reading for Mass on Gaudete Sunday

The photo is a glimpse into the beautiful skies we have seen in Northern California for the last few days.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Looking out

A consecrated man living in a monastery must be detached from many "earthly" things. Two of these things should be the computer and the internet. However, I discovered this week that I'm more attached to these two things than I care to admit. Our internet connection has been down all this week and it's not been easy. Perhaps I'm just thinking about the business email that has been piling up, along with all the prayer requests that comes with that, and I even had to call in payroll (I was at a loss)...or perhaps I'm just missing the opportunity to catch up on all my favorite blogs. In any case, I stopped by a coffee shop today to post my Skywatch...and also to catch up on the "all important" email.

"If you do not learn to deny yourself, you can make no progress in perfection."
Our Holy Father, St. John of the Cross
Discalced Carmelite
Feastday: December 14

Happy Hanukkah to my dear Jewish friends, especially Dina and Lori Lynn!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


The term Trinity describes the central doctrine of Christianity - in God there are three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Athanasian creed (in use since the sixth century) describes it in this way:
"the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God."

Happy Second Sunday of Advent

Friday, December 4, 2009

Skywatch Friday - Full moon

"It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as the faithful witness in the sky."
Psalm 89:37