Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Blues

I was feeling quite bah-humbuggish the past few days.  The demands of the season were starting to take their toll.  And, it wasn't the secular trappings of the holiday that really got me down.  In fact, there was very little of that in my home this year.  I hate to admit this but the real reason for going "all-Scrooge" was actually from the musical demands of my job as cantor and the assignments required of me as a theology student.  In the span of one week, I had to learn 8 different Gregorian chants, which for me, is exceedingly difficult as I am not well versed in the nuances of chant.  And, the stress of knowing that I am behind in my classwork was gnawing at me, consuming any thought I had left availble after learning the chant propers.

As I reflect, however, upon the real reason for my unease this Christmas, I realize that it wasn't the feeling of being overwhelmed but the fact that I forgot to give it all up to God. 

I can do all things in God who strengthens me.

How happy would He have been to come to my aid, especially as I prepared to do His work, if I would have just simply laid down my life before Him?  Here He was, knocking at my door, with outstretched hands, ready to lift my burden, and I kept saying, "So sorry, Lord, I'm too busy to answer right now. I've got too many things to learn."  I suppose I hadn't learned the most important lesson:

I can do all things in God who strengthens me. 

Today, now that I have had the opportunity to worship the Lord and spend a Sunday engaging in the work He wants me to do, laying my life fully before him and asking for his assistance, I have a completely different perspective. I really do understand now...

I can do all things in God who strengthens me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Mary, your praises we sing.
You reign now in splendor with Jesus our King.
Ave, ave, ave Maria.
Ave, ave Maria.

How many Catholics believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to Jesus being conceived by Mary by way of the Holy Spirit? I hazard to guess that the number might be higher than we'd like to admit.  This feast, first celebrated in the East in the 7th century, gaining a following in the West in the 8th, and now celebrated every December 8th was officially recognized by the Roman Catholic church by Pope Pius IX in 1854.  I figure if it took the Church over 1000 years to gain a full understanding of the nature of Mary's sinlessness, that is, free from original sin, which was only possible by her immaculate conception (through her mother, St. Anne), it might just take us plain and simple, non-theologian Catholics that long to recognize that this feast is related to the conception of Mary, not of Jesus. 

In the meantime, we should pray to Mary that all hearts be converted to the truth of her Son and His Church, that we may come to a better understanding of the state of her sinlessness and that we may look to her as the perfect example of how to follow God's Will and not our own.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sanctification, Justification, Salvation

If we just go through the motions of our faith (you know, show up at Sunday Mass, say a Rosary, pray before meals and bedtime, check sacraments off the to do list, bless ourselves with holy water, light a candle, own a Bible, display a cross above our door) and don't LIVE our faith, does it really count?

Not sure of the answer?  Read Paul's letter to the Romans.