I went shopping this morning–no rain, wind is a bit strong, but very pleasant day to be outdoors even for shopping. Even the carts I used rolled nicely. Some days my shopping expedition is so wretched–pouring rain, strong wind, my cart rolling away on the parking lot, having to chase it before it hits another vehicle, stuff rolling off the cart into a puddle of rain water, cart that has its own will, pushing heavy load uphill on parking lot, unpleasant cashier, merchandise poorly stocked and having to go to extra stores, cashier telling me the machine isn’t recognizing my 5.00 coupon, cashier running out of the roll of register paper just after the customer before me, waiting forever at service desk to see an unpleasant clerk, finding the van has no space left for more stuff, loading the van with 25 lbs of sugar and another 25 lbs of flour in rain….!!!! Some days the only good thing is no car accident on the trip…. But still I have to be grace-ful so that people I encounter won’t be driven away from the Church because of me…. Well, today was a lovely shopping day! Thank you, Lord!
That is Nicky the Cat’s idea. Sharpen those claws because spring (aka lent) is coming. The old meaning of the word “lent” was “spring.” With the ending of winter lots of things need to be done. Like sharpening those claws! The cat is not all wrong really. He sheds his winter coat and gets ready to enjoy Spring. He knows that his athletic skills need to be honed if his hunt is to be profitable. As Christians we need a season to sharpen our soul’s skills, as it were. A time to sharpen our longing and hunt for God – for the Eternal Love we sense is there waiting for us to respond. It is less about ‘giving up’ and more about ‘getting on’ and remembering that we are athletes in spirit and must get tough on ourselves – to be ready for the Spring of Life.
As we look forward to Ash Wednesday – which falls on Wednesday this year – oops, I mean, March 1st – we look at how LOVE engages Hate in the war for our souls and the rules of our own engagement with the Enemy. If you don’t think you have a soul or any need to engage in ‘warfare’ you need read no further! It was a saintly priest who so clearly set forth the path for the Christian.
Blessed John Henry Newman wrote in one of his sermons (#162 Sermons bearing on Subjects of the Day):
“Such is the rule of our warfare. We advance by yielding; we rise by falling; we conquer by suffering; we persuade by silence; we become rich by bountifulness; we inherit the earth through meekness; we gain comfort through mourning; we earn glory by penitence and prayer. Heaven and earth shall sooner fall than this rule be reversed; it is the law of Christ’s kingdom: and nothing can reverse it but sin.”
C.P. Jones, O.P.
Today, for the first time, our junior cat, Dominic, aka Nickey, settled in to sleep on the counter next to the computer I was working on. I turned on a cat video just to see how he would react. The birds on the screen chirped, moved, fought and fed. Nickey’s eyes flew open, he watched intently. He crept nearer. He sniffed the screen. He drew back and thought it over. He crept forward again and gently patted the screen. He sat down again and watched. Then, giving me a look of contempt, as only a cat can do, he stalked across the keyboard shutting the program down and left in search of a quieter place to sleep.
I wonder. Am I as smart as Nickey? Are any of us? To the cat, what was on the screen had no smell, no body warmth, no texture, no reality, no soul. Can we be so caught up in the illusion of desirable things that we forget that there is no true reality in entertainments and advertisements, that they do not truly feed, do not feed our soul?
Here is the old antiphon on the Magnificat (Gospel Canticle) for today, Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ:
“Now do we celebrate a holy day adorned by three miracles: today a star led the wise men to the manger; today water was made wine at the wedding feast; today Christ vouchsafed to be baptized of John in Jordan that he might save us, alleluia.”
This year it all got scrunched up. Yesterday the Church kept the 12th Day of Christmas (on the 14th day!) aka The Epiphany. Now all of a sudden, today we are at the Feast of the Baptism. Well, go figure. It shouldn’t ought to be so. Today’s feast will slip by most folks. If we had kept Epiphany on the 6th of January, then yesterday would be Baptism. However, in the mystic world of this antiphon, notice that it is all TODAY! TODAY!
Just to turn your mind down another twist, listen to this from Morning Prayer of the Epiphany: “Today, the Bridegroom claims His bride, the Church, since Christ has washed away her sins in the Jordan waters; Today, the Magi hasten with their gifts to the royal wedding feast; Today, the guest are regaled with water made wine, Alleluia.” Picture this scene in the timelessness of the Eternal Banquet!
So this is not about liturgies. It’s about a PARTY! St Leo the Great, writing of the grace (gift) that calls all people to the Christ Child, as the Magi were called and led by that Star – “…we should be at the service of this grace which invites all men to Christ.”
AMEN, may it be so!
Has it been eight days already??? Thank goodness no one gave us “8 maids a milking”! Or for that matter “a Partridge in a pear tree.” For many folks this is the end of the Christmas vacation; however, it is only the 8th day out of 12. And there is not much “end” to Christmas, at least that season of the heart which loves to give and give again, a season without a calendar. Unto us a Child is born. A gift. Being a Jewish boy, He was circumcised and given his name on this day – whenever it really was. He first shed his blood for us, as the ancient writers would say. May this First Day of the New Year of Grace bring all of us the gift of hope and interior Joy which is celebrated in this holy season.
Take a lesson from Bennie the Cat who waited for the Christ Child. Rest in your Saviour!
From an old prayer for the blessing of the Christmas Crib:
“Lord Jesus, Child of Bethlehem, for love of men made Man: Create in us Love so pure and perfect that whatsoever our Heart loves may be after thy Will, in thy Name, and for thy Sake; who now lives and reigns in the Glory of the Eternal Trinity for ever and ever. Amen.”