Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Christmas Eve Reflection

Please enjoy reading (and/or singing) an ancient Latin Chant that was once part of the Christmas Day Liturgical Celebration.  A Blessed Christmas to each of you

Fr. Joe+

Original Latin English Translation
exsultet fidelis chorus.

Regem regum
intactae profudit thorus:
res miranda.

Angelus consilii
natus est de virgine:
sol de stella.

Sol occasum nesciens,
stella semper rutilans,
semper clara.

Sicut sidus radium,
profert Virgo Filium,
pari forma.

Neque sidus radio,
neque mater filio,
fit corrupta.

Cedrus alta Libani
conformatur hyssopo,
valle nostra;

Verbum ens Altissimi
corporari passum est,
carne sumpta.

Isaias cecinit,
Synagoga meminit,
numquam tamen desinit
esse caeca.

Si non suis vatibus,
credat vel gentilibus;
Sibyllinis versibus
haec praedicta.

Infelix, propera,
crede vel vetera:
cur damnaberis,
gens misera?

Quem docet littera,
natum considera:
ipsum genuit puerpera.


Faithful people,
Sweeten all your song with gladness.

Matchless maiden
Bringeth forth the Prince of princes:
O! the marvel.

Virgin compasseth a man,
Yea, the angel of the plan:
Star the Dayspring.

Day that sunset shall not close,
Star that light on all bestows,
Ever cloudless.

As the star, light crystalline,
Mary hath a Son divine
In her likeness.

Star that shining grows not dim,
Nor his Mother, bearing him,
Less a maiden.

The great tree of Lebanon
Hyssop’s lowliness puts on
In our valley;

And the Word of God Most High
Self-imprisoned doth lie
In our body.

So Isaiah sang of old,
So the Synagogue doth hold,
But the sunrise finds her cold
Hard and blinded.

Of her own she will not mark,
Let her to the gentiles hark;
For the Sybil’s verses dark
Tell of these things.

Make haste, O luckless one,
Give ear to the saints bygone:
Why perish utterly,
O race undone?

He whom thy seers foretell
Born is in Israel:
Mary’s little Son, O mark him well.



A Thursday Reflection 12.17.15

This last week before Christmas: oh the running and the traveling and frenzied pace we all buy into!  Many decades ago, when I was a young priest, in addition to doing all the Christmas liturgical “stuff” of preparation and rehearsals, printing and folding, letter writing (they used to do that in ye olden days) and the regular parish life for a church community of over 1500 families, trying to earn God’s favor and appreciation (in the worst of Reformation traditions) I also used to work an all-night retreat for our parish teen club.  This fed their need for true sacred Christian spirituality at Christmas time with an “all-nighter” using food, music, food, prayer, food, story-telling / sharing, food, liturgy and food!

All this running amuck – all good works.  All things that “had to be done, and if I don’t do it, no one (competent) will!”  And then one Christmas I got so sick and run down (nothing was “up” except my temp. that was allegedly at 105), and guess what:  nothing I “had to do” got done.  And Christmas still came.  God was still praised.  (Just with me in my room sneezing and coughing and burning up.) And I had to be taught:  it is not what we do and for whom.  It is always about what God has done for us in Christ.  Guess what:  This feast and season is always about “Jesus” (a word / name that means “God Saves”) for it is He (not I) who will save God’s people from themselves and their darkness.  Don’t have to run amuck!  Please.

A Thursday Reflection 12.10.15

By the time any of you are reading this reflection, I shall have been on my way to the Seminary to teach the last Church Law class for this year, and a few hours later, I will be hearing their oral exams.  (And the “professor” who will interrogate them is far harsher and more demanding than the “pastor” who sits with our teens at Confirmation classes or teaches at a Rector’s Forum.)  If their dream of being ordained an Episcopal priest is to be fulfilled, they had better have studied and be prepared.

And their brief “travail” (O please.. such drama.  It’s only an exam) is a metaphor for the meaning of Advent.  This is a time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ not merely in History (past) but weekly in Sacrament (present) and in glory (future).  Notice I didn’t even mention the word “Christmas.”  We’re supposed to be always living lives of preparation.  You want meaning in your life?  You need to be spiritually fed?  You long for hope in a seemingly hopeless world?  That is who Jesus was, is and is to come!  That’s why we sing: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”   Life does have meaning:  this is our exam time!  Be prepared for the Divine One who came for us and now longs to bring us home: if we have prepared!

A Thursday Reflection 12.3.15

It has been decades since I willingly became a part of the madding crowds that traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday.  The intricacies of our interstate rail system, the crush of humanity (and other four legged life forms) racing about urban transit complexes, and, of course, the good probability of becoming intimately involved with all sorts of colds and viruses bring home just how demanding travel is.

Advent is a time to focus on the spiritual journey – just as complex and demanding.  But curiously we travel and yet we wait.  Like the racing for the next express, we’re urged by sacred scripture to be alert and prepared “for the day of salvation is near!”  We’re not about Christmas yet … at least not intentionally.  Now is a time to prepare, to become a part of a greater journey which was begun when the Divine One (the “cosmic Christ” to use a phrase of some Eastern Orthodox Christians) came upon, lived among and died for us.  We wait in hope for the return of the One who has and who will make us like unto God.  And while we wait, we also travel.  Faith is a journey that takes us from the demands and stretch of time into the timeless wonder of a loving God.  So be prepared to wait and yet move on…as the hymn will proclaim:  “Lo, He Comes…”

Happy Advent.