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Traditionally the Te Deum Laudamus is sung in thanksgiving on the last day of the year. A plenary induldgence (under the normal conditions) is granted to anyone who recites or sings this prayer publicly today.

Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli; tibi Caeli et universae Potestates;
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra maiestatis gloriae tuae.
Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis:
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum.
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Iudex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quaesumus, tuis famulis subveni: quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
V. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
R. Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
V. Per singulos dies benedicimus te.
R. Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum, et in saeculum saeculi.
V. Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
R. Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
V. Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
R. In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

O GOD, we praise Thee: we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth doth worship Thee.
To Thee all the Angels, the Heavens and all the Powers,
all the Cherubim and Seraphim, unceasingly proclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
the wonderful company of Prophets,
the white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world doth acknowledge Thee:
the Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
Thou, having taken it upon Thyself to deliver man, didst not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Thou overcame the sting of death and hast opened to believers the Kingdom of Heaven.
Thou sitest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We beseech Thee, therefore, to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Precious Blood.
Make them to be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.
V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thine inheritance!
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.
V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yea, forever and ever.
V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have hoped; let me never be put to shame.

Happy New Year! May you all have a blessed and joyful 2008!

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Merry Christmas!
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.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

Luke 2:15-20

It seems that the Telegraph article on the Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams is the to story on every blog I see.

Here is my take: I have read the article and the interview transcript and Archbishop Williams’ comments were clearly taken out of context. I am not saying that he did not say things that are heinous and clearly against Christian belief. Strangely, enough the media is taking perfectly acceptable statements and making them outrageous and ignoring the outrageous statements.

Below I will analyze the article with the transcript.
Article – Italics
Transcript – Bold
My comments – Red

The Archbishop of Canterbury said yesterday that the Christmas story of the Three Wise Men was nothing but a ‘legend’.

Dr Rowan Williams has claimed there was little evidence that the Magi even existed and there was certainly nothing to prove there were three of them or that they were kings

SM And the wise men with the gold, frankincense, and Myrrh – with one of the wise men normally being black and the other two being white, for some reason?

ABC Well Matthew’s gospel doesn’t tell us that there were three of them, doesn’t tell us they were kings, doesn’t tell us where they came from, it says they’re astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire. That’s all we’re really told so, yes, ‘the three kings with the one from Africa’ – that’s legend; it works quite well as legend.

SM But would they have been there?

ABC Not with the shepherds, they wouldn’t. So if you’ve got shepherds on one side and three kings on the other, there’s a bit of conflation going on.

As you can see he never said that the Magi didn’t exist. He merely said that there is no proof that there were three or what race they were or where they were from. The fact is that the Scriptures only way they were from the east and that they brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Everything else is tradition and legend which may or may not be true.

As for the shepherds and the magi being there together, there is nothing the Scriptures to tell us that they were there together. In fact, there is much in the Scriptures which can lead us to believe that they magi came much later. In fact, there is no proof in the Scriptures that Jesus was even still in Bethlehem when the magi came. The Gospel of Matthew even says that they found Jesus and Mary in a house, not in a stable. The shepherds appear the the Gospel of Luke and do arrive at a stable.

Yes, it is possible that the events occured simultaneously, but on this count I have to agree with the Archbishop.

Also, here is the quote that was used in the article:

Dr Williams said: “Matthew’s gospel says they are astrologers, wise men, priests from somewhere outside the Roman Empire, that’s all we’re really told. It works quite well as legend.”

Again, taken out of context. He wasn’t saying that the magi were legend, but that the way we imagine them is legend.

The Archbishop went on to dispel other details of the Christmas story, adding that there were probably no asses or oxen in the stable.

SM So we’re panning out now’; shepherds? They’re with their sheep and the oxes and asses?

ABC Pass on the oxes and asses; they don’t figure very strongly in the gospels, so I can live without the ox and asses.

Well, oxen and donkeys aren’t mentioned in the Scriptures. They entered the story because we assume the stable was being used to house animals. I doubt the shepherds brought them because we all know that shepherds keep sheep, not cattle.

He argued that Christmas cards which showed the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus, flanked by shepherds and wise men, were misleading. As for the scenes that depicted snow falling in Bethlehem, the Archbishop said the chance of this was “very unlikely”.

In a final blow to the traditional nativity story, Dr Williams concluded that Jesus was probably not born in December at all. He said: “Christmas was when it was because it fitted well with the winter festival.”

SM And pulling back further – snow on the ground?

ABC Very unlikely I think; it can be pretty damn cold in Bethlehem at this time of the year, but we don’t know that it was this time of year because again the Gospels don’t tell us what time of year it was; Christmas is the time it is because it fitted very well with the winter festival.

Misleading or not it doesn’t really make a difference. Bethlehem doesn’t really get snow. No, there wouldn’t have been snow on the ground. That is a European invention. As for when Jesus was actually born, we have no clue. The truth is that it doesn’t really matter. If we are focused on celebrating his birth on the exact day, we are missing the point of the celebration.

Here is more of the transcripts that didn’t make the article.

SM It comes round every year that we’re not being Christian enough or people don’t know where Bethlehem is, people have never heard of Mary and so on, so this is a sort of an almost a tradition of Christmas, isn’t it really. But I wonder, if people have got a traditional religious Christmas card in front of them, I just want to go through it, Archbishop, to find out how much of it you think is true and crucial to the believing in Christmas. So start with … the baby Jesus in a manger; historically and factually true?

ABC I should think so; the Gospel tells us he was born outside the main house, probably because it was overcrowded because it was pilgrimage time or census time; whatever; yes; he’s born in poor circumstances, slightly out of the ordinary.

Well, he got that part right.

SM The Virgin Mary next door to him?

ABC We know his mother’s name was Mary, that’s one of the things all the gospels agree about, and the two gospels that tell the story have the story of the virgin birth and that’s something I’m committed to as part of what I’ve inherited.

SM You were a prominent part of a Spectator survey in the current issue which headlined’ Do you believe in the virgin birth?’ there are some people in this survey who would say they were Christian who don’t have a problem if you don’t believe in the Virgin birth;’ how important it is it to believe in that bit?

ABC I don’t want to set it as a kind of hurdle that people have to get over before they, you know, be signed up;, but I think quite a few people that as time goes on, they get a sense, a deeper sense of what the virgin birth is about. I would say that of myself. About thirty years ago I might have said I wasn’t too fussed about it – now I see it much more as dovetailing with the rest of what I believe about the story and yes.

Ok, he gets off track here. The Virgin birth is one of the few things about the birth of Christ that is confirmed by Scripture. It is important because it proves the parentage of Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God, not the son of Joseph or any other man. Belief in the Virgin Birth is essential.

SM Christopher Hitchens and many others make the point that isn’t the translation for young woman rather than virgin? Does it have to be seen as virgin; might it be a mistranslation?

ABC It is… well, what’s happening there one of the gospels quotes a prophecy that a virgin will conceive a child. Now the original Hebrew doesn’t have the word virgin, it’s just a young woman, but that’s the prophecy that’s quoted from the Old Testament in support of the story which is, in any case, about a birth without a human father, so it’s not that it rests on mistranslation; St Matthew’s gone to his Greek version of the bible and said “Oh, ‘virgin’; sounds like the story I know,” and put it in.

No, that is not what the Scriptures say. When the angel Gabriel visits Mary she clearly states that she is a virgin.

SM So you’ve got the Virgin Mary, Jesus: Joseph?

ABC Joseph, yes, again, the Gospels are pretty consistent that that’s his father’s name;

Ok, we are back on track again.

SM Just as a side issue on the kings and the wise bit; do you have a problem with astrologers being seen as wise men; there’d be many people in your church who would think, actually, astrology is bunk and should be exposed as bunk and the idea of saying that they are wise is somewhat farcical.?

ABC Well I ‘m inclined to agree that astrology is bunk but you’re dealing there with a world in which people watched the stars in order to get a sort of heads up on significant matters and astrologers were quite a growth industry; people who were respected and had a kind of professional technical skill and were respected as such., the thing here if course is what’s the skill about? Well it’s all bringing them to Jesus; it’s not about fortune telling or telling the future, it’s about a skill of watching the universe which leads them inexorably towards this event, so I don’t think it’s a justification of astrology.

Again, he does very well here. Although we do not believe in astrology and the Jewish people were not supposed to consult diviners, they often did so anyway. The Romans were heavily involved in astrology and divination. Yes, astrologers were considered wise men.

SM So if we’re pulling back even further then, is there a star above the place where the child is?

ABC Don’t know; I mean Matthew talks about the star rising, about the star standing still; we know stars don’t behave quite like that, that the wise men should have seen something which triggered a recognition of something significant was going on; some constellation, there are various scientific theories about what it might have been at around that time and they followed that trek; that makes sense to me.

Maybe it was a star, maybe it was something else that looked like a star. Maybe it was a giant flying candle. Maybe it was an angel. Maybe it was something else. My question is: “so what?” There was something in the sky that lead the way. That alone makes it miraculous. As for stars not behaving that way, if the fact that stars don’t behave that way causes us to not believe it was a star what will happen to our faith when we ponder the Virgin Birth, the miracles of Christ, not to mention the Ressurection, Ascension, and Pentecost. Let’s look at all the things that don’t work that way: babies are not concieved without intercourse, the sick are not instantly healed, dead people don’t come spontaneously back to life, people don’t float up to heaven, tongues of fire don’t come into houses and rest upon people’s heads. Seriously, if you can’t believe that a star led the magi to Jesus, what can you believe.

I am so glad that archbishop scruffy isn’t Catholic.

This week has already been incredibly difficult, but it has just gotten worse. JP and I went grocery shopping and as I was putting him into his car seat I felt a pop in my back. The pain was so intense that I almost ended up on the ground. I got him strapped in and hobbled into the drivers seat.

I am moving very slowly right now and am in some of the worst pain I can remember. I always seem to get hurt right around Christmas and Easter. Last I broke my toe last Easter, the Christmas before I sprained my ankle, I even had the cross from the top of the Sanctus bells go through my lip during Holy Week. So far, none of these injuries have kept me from my liturgical duties, and I hope I will be as lucky this time.

Pray! Please pray.

In today’s general audience, the last of 2007, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke on the subject of Christmas.

“If, on the one hand, Christmas is a commemoration of the incredible prodigy of the birth of the only-begotten Son of God from the Virgin Mary in the grotto of Bethlehem,” said the Pope, “on the other, it also exhorts us to wait, vigilant and prayerful, for our own Redeemer, Who on the last day ‘will come to judge the living and the dead’.”

“Perhaps today,” the Pope added in off-the-cuff remarks, “we faithful truly believe in the Judge; we all expect justice. We see so many injustices in the world, … and we expect justice. … We hope that whoever comes can bring justice. In this context we pray to Jesus Christ to come as a Judge. … The Lord knows how to come into the world and create justice.”

“Hoping for justice in the Christian sense means … that we too begin to live under the eyes of the Judge, … creating justice in our own lives. … In this way we can open the world to the coming of the Son and prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord Who comes.”

Returning to his prepared text, Benedict XVI said: “He Who was generated by the Father in eternity became a man in history thanks to the Virgin Mother. The true Son of God is also a true Son of man. Today, in our secularized world, these concepts do not seem to count for very much. People prefer to ignore them or to consider them superfluous to life, advancing the pretext that they are so far distant as to be practically untranslatable into convincing and significant words.

“Moreover,” he added, “we have formed a view of tolerance and pluralism such that to believe that Truth has been effectively manifested appears to constitute an attack on tolerance and the freedom of man. If, however, truth is cancelled, is man not a being deprived of meaning? Do we not force ourselves and the world into a meaningless relativism?”

He continued: “How important it is, then, for us to reinforce the mystery of salvation which the celebration of Christ’s Nativity brings. In Bethlehem the Light that illuminates our lives was revealed to the world; we were shown the Way that leads us to the fullness of our humanity. If we do not recognize that God was made man, what sense does it have to celebrate Christmas? We Christians must reaffirm with profound and heartfelt conviction the truth of Christ’s nativity, in order to bear witness before everyone of the unique gift which brings wealth not just to us, but to everyone.

“From here,” the Holy Father added, “arises the duty of evangelization, which is the communication of the ‘eu-angelion,’ the ‘good news.’ This was underlined in the recent document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ‘Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization,’ which I wish to present for your reflection and your individual and joint perusal.”

“In these days leading up to Christmas,” said Pope Benedict, “the Church prays more intensely for the realization of hopes of peace and salvation, of which the world today still has such urgent need. Let us ask God for violence to be defeated with the strength of love, for contrasts to give way to reconciliation, for the desire to dominate to be transformed into a desire for forgiveness, justice and peace. May the wishes for goodness and love that we exchange over these days reach all areas of our daily lives.”

“May the message of solidarity and acceptance which arises from Christmas,” the Pope concluded, “contribute to creating a more profound awareness of old and new forms of poverty, and of the common good in which everyone is called to participate.”

According to a note published today by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, a total of 624,100 people participated in the 44 general audiences celebrated by Benedict XVI during the course of 2007.

VIS

Thanks to the wonderful people at Ignatius Press, Joseph and Chico will be available in America. I am ordering on for me…errr…for JP today. Unfortunately, it won’t be available until March.

The forward of this children’s book was written by the Pope’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein. The book tells the story of Pope Benedict’s life from his birth to his election to the papacy through the eyes of his next door neighbor’s cat, Chico. Chico is a real cat who used to take up residence in the Holy Father’s house in Pentling when he was home from Rome.

The quote recently appeared in the London Telegraph: “‘Benedict still comes across as quite cold, which is a problem in his job.'” Who said it? None other than the film director Franco Zeffirelli of Jesus of Nazareth fame.

Several things are quite wrong with that quote.

  1. No matter how you dress him up or try to change his image, those who hate Pope Benedict will continue to hate him because it isn’t really an image problem. It’s an obedience problem.
  2. Maybe part of the problem is the people who continue to call Pope Benedict XVI “Pope Ratzinger”.
  3. Papal robes are too opulent and flashy? Which ones? He can’t possibly mean the white simar and zuchetto. Oh! He means the chasubles? Well, they aren’t really papal robes. The as the vestments of the Mass which are proper to any priest. As for opulent and flashy, I guess we should get rid of the gold chalices too and start using ceramic. Oh, I forget…been there and done that…it didn’t work. I guess selling the Pieta will be next on Franco’s list.
  4. No matter how Pope Benedict looks on TV and in pictures he is very warm in person. I am saying this as someone who has stood face to face with him. Cold is not only of the words I would use to describe him.
  5. Franco says that he “is in continual contact with his [Pope Benedict] inner circle”. So am I. So what? Some may be impressed with that, I am not.
  6. The best line is at the end where he says that he “has directed holy ceremonies at the Vatican in the past”. Hmmm, could that have been where the Liturgical ballerinas came from? Just asking.

Franco does have a point that Pope Benedict’s personality doesn’t always translate well onto film, but seriously so we want a Pope or a movie star. I think that after 26 years of the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, we have forgotten that there is more to the papacy than a friendly face and a well timed joke. Yes, we live in the age of the instant media, but I think people intelligent enough to realize that what a pope does and says is what is really important.

As for the image problem, Franco, check out the audience stats. Pope Benedict XVI’s crowds are blowing Pope John Paul II’s numbers out of the water. Benedict is getting so many people that they very often they have to be separated into two groups.

The other day I was lamenting the fact that I no longer had copies of a wonderful series on the Liturgy called “Living and Loving the Mass” that was published in our diocesan newspaper, The Anchor. The excellent series was written by Fr. Thomas Kocik and covered everything from the symbolism behind the vestments to what all the different postures mean. I remember distinctly that he called the vestments “the armor of the priest”. I was thinking about calling to request copies, but I got some interesting news last night.

It had been published into a book! Living and Loving the Mass is now available from Zaccheus Press. Here is the info from the website.

Many Catholics attend Mass without fully understanding its meaning and purpose. This book was written to provide that understanding.

Author Father Thomas Kocik walks the reader through each part of the Mass, explaining the meaning of the prayers, the sacred vestments, the bodily gestures (such as bowing and genuflecting), and how each of these fit into the overall “drama” of the Mass.

He explains these things in a clear, easy-to-follow style. But there is real substance here as well: Fr. Kocik often discusses the history behind a particular prayer or gesture, and the Scriptural background as well. This is no dry textbook. He makes understanding the Mass an enjoyable journey. Although written for adults, high school students will enjoy it, too.

The Mass is a treasure-house of grace, but all too often the doors to this treasure-house remain closed through a lack of understanding. This book was written to open the doors — to help Catholics appreciate and embrace the transformative power of the Mass.

At $7.95 it is very affordable. Get yourself a stocking stuffer! You can order it here.

Sadly, my semester of studying the Summa Theologiae and the other writings of St. Thomas Aquinas has come to an end. I submitted my term paper yesterday (via e-mail because of the snow storm). I learned many things during this semester, most of which I wasn’t expecting.

  1. I can talk about the senses of scripture and the powers of the soul at great length.
  2. I know the difference between the image of God and the likeness of God.
  3. I know much less than I think I know.
  4. I can write a parody article of the Summa Theologiae.
  5. The Holy Spirit tends to provide the inspiration to write intense papers on intense topics at the last minute.
  6. The Trinity is a more difficult concept to understand that I even though it was.
  7. The answer to any theological question can be found in the Summa, no matter how obscure.
  8. Theology isn’t about getting it right, it’s about helping the Church get it right.
  9. Even the best theologian gets it wrong once in a while.
  10. Sometimes the best answer to a question is “I don’t know”.

Archbishop Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver wrote an excellent column in the Denver Catholic Register on the Golden Compass.

When the first Harry Potter movie arrived in theaters several years ago, many Catholic families had divided views about the film. Some enjoyed it as an innocent and intriguing fantasy. Others avoided it because of its emphasis on magic. But the screen adaptation of Philip Pullman’s book, “The Golden Compass,” which opened in Denver on Dec. 7, will likely produce far more agreement. No matter how one looks at it, “The Golden Compass” is a bad film. There’s just no nicer way to say it.
I saw it at an 8:30 evening showing on Dec. 8. The theater was largely deserted. That may be a trend. While “The Golden Compass,” released by New Line Cinema, ranked No. 1 in box office revenues on its opening weekend, it took in only a modest $26.1 million. The three “Ring Trilogy” movies grossed between $47 and $72 million on their respective opening weekends, and “The Chronicles of Narnia” had opening revenues of more than $65 million. In fact, secular critics have been less than kind to the movie, and for good reason. It’s long, complicated, and despite a very gifted supporting cast and wonderful special effects, the story is finally lifeless. Much of the movie takes place in the polar north, and the iciness of the setting is a perfect metaphor for the chilly, sterile spirit at the heart of the story. Anyone expecting a playful children’s fantasy would do well to look elsewhere. There is nothing remotely “playful” about this movie.

As many readers will already know, Philip Pullman is an atheist, and “The Golden Compass” — the first book in his trilogy “His Dark Materials” — is a calculated counter-story to Christian-based fantasies like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Narnia.” “The Golden Compass” takes place in a parallel world similar to earth, but dominated by a sinister quasi-religious authority known as the Magisterium. This powerful elite seeks to “protect” people — for their own good — by shielding them from scientific knowledge, represented by the movie’s mysterious cosmic dust and a truth-telling piece of technology called an “alethiometer” (or golden compass). More specifically, the Magisterium abducts young children and literally kills their souls, thereby extinguishing the spirit of free thought and inquiry.

The aggressively anti-religious, anti-Christian undercurrent in “The Golden Compass” is unmistakable and at times undisguised. The wicked Mrs. Coulter alludes approvingly to a fictional version of the doctrine of Original Sin. When a warrior Ice Bear — one of the heroes of the story — breaks into the local Magisterium headquarters to take back the armor stolen from him, the exterior walls of the evil building are covered with Eastern Christian icons. And for Catholics in our own world, of course, “Magisterium” refers to the teaching authority of the Church — hardly a literary coincidence. The idea that any Christian film critics could overlook or downplay these negative elements, as some have seemed to do, is simply baffling.

Strangest of all — and in striking contrast to the Harry Potter and Narnia stories — is the absence of joy or any real laughter in the movie. The talented child actress who plays the film’s leading role is hobbled by a character that is uniformly unpleasant, rebellious, belligerent and humorless; the kind of young person described by one of my parent friends as needing a “long time-out.”

Obviously, parents are the primary teachers of their children. They need to use their own best judgment about whether a film is suitable for their families. But I’ll certainly be encouraging my own friends to put their Christmas cash to better use. In fact, maybe the most cynical and insulting thing about “The Golden Compass” is that its makers would offer this cold, angry, anti-religious fable as “holiday fare” in the midst of a season built around the birth of Jesus Christ. That’s certainly worth a letter to the people at New Line Cinema. With two more books in the Pullman trilogy as possible sequels, it might be helpful if they heard from all of us.

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