Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Random Thoughts from the Desert

“Invocabit me, et ego exaudiam cum: eripiam cum, et glorificabo cum: longitude die rum adimplebo cum.”

“He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I will deliver him, and I will glorify him: I will fill him with length of days.”

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This past Sunday, the First Sunday of Lent, we heard the Gospel account of Our Lord heading out into the desert for forty days. The traditional form of the Mass for that day begins with the Introit citing a verse from Psalm 90(91), and the Tract between the readings elaborates upon the same. In its verses, we are reminded to trust in God.

During the First World War, the American soldiers of the 91st Infantry Brigade were given the text of this Psalm by their commander to recite before going into battle. They fought at Chateau Thierry, at Belle Wood, at the Argonne. Other units suffered casualties of up to ninety percent, but they suffered not one!

There are other accounts of the power of this Psalm, and other conflicts where it was used; by the British at Dunkirk during the Second World War, and by the Allied forces in Korea. Peggy Joyce Ruth writes:

Note that this verse in Psalm 91:4 declares God's faithfulness to us as both a shield and a bulwark in a double-layered analogy. The passage uses two military symbols of fortification and protection. God is our bulwark, our tower -- our wall of protection in a collective sense -- and He is also our shield -- a very individualized defense. This verse indicates double protection.

Man, by his very nature, is not a solitary creature. He is nurtured by the presence, the company of others. Left alone in solitude for too long, he will either prepare himself to be tormented by his own personal demons, or he will give in to their exploiting his weaknesses.

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I remember the years after my divorce, a period of roughly a decade (from about 1993 to 2003) that I have always referred to, as would Dorothy Day in her biography, as "The Long Loneliness." My day job was a tense environment in those days, as the old status quo in a dysfunctional government agency resisted the challenge of a younger and racially diverse generation of middle managers. The one who led our staff was a decorated war veteran, with a penchant for alcohol as self-medication, and behavior towards employees that would be most aptly considered sadist and sociopathic. He could be very charming, especially toward women. Most alcoholics learn to pull that off. It's how they get by.

I'm afraid I got the worst of it. I would be ridiculed throughout the day, every day. The staff, moral weaklings that all of them were, would be cowed into joining him. I would be handed extra assignments a few days before a vacation. I was physically ill from a gastrointestinal condition for several years during that time. At its zenith, I was prescribed Seroquel, a potent antipsychotic medication. In small doses, it treats those with the hiccups; in larger ones, those who hear voices. I was somewhere in between.

On a good day, this psychopath never spoke to me at all. For that matter, neither did anyone else. Except for matters strictly professional, I would go for days, for weeks, maybe longer, without speaking to anyone. Then I would go home to an empty basement studio apartment, with no local friends to call (or at least none who returned calls). When I wasn't going home to Cincinnati six times a year, I would call my friends from there every night. I'd run up two hundred dollars in long distance calls, in the days before direct dialing with cell phones was anywhere near as common as today.

There was no recourse. The employees union could not accept a change to its narrative, that a white employee was subject to mistreatment by a black supervisor. They would often take his side in what was obviously against regulations in the federal workplace. Upper management was indifferent to the point of being clueless, such was the level of incompetence at the time.

Eventually, the nightmare ended. The man became enough of an embarrassment to other managers -- those poseurs were even more afraid of him than I was -- and I saw an opportunity to call them all on it. (The 25th of November, 1998. I have marked the day, and remember it to this day.) The man was removed from his position over our staff, and his fellows wasted no time pretending it never happened. Life became easier after that, both on the job and at home. I found a way off that island of isolation, and I was able to make a home, to bloom where I was planted, albeit five hundred miles from the place I once called home. It took that long and took that trial, the facing of demons, the wrestling with ghosts from the past.

I eventually got off Seroquel, but there are other medications I have to take, possibly for the rest of my life.

“Then the Devil left Him: and behold angels came, and ministered to Him.” (Matt:4:11)

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Christ Himself was surely so clad in armor, as he fled to the desert to be tempted by the Evil One. Even as He was the Son of God, He possessed a human nature, one that bore witness to us in its being tested.

I could write a book about that episode in my career. Someday it will be written, but not at present. The demons that all of us face, even as "no man is an island," we must face them alone, but not really alone. The One who faced them for us has shown us how. He trusted in the Father, and so must we. That bulwark, that tower, that shield, one that is there all along.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

“C’mon, take me to the Mardi Gras ...”

“... where the people sing and play / Where the dancing is elite / And there's music in the street / Both night and day.”

There goes "Rhymin' Simon," in a live recording of his 1973 hit on Columbia Records. Meanwhile, this being the last day of merriment before the Great Fast (aka Lent), I am reminded of another Mardi Gras from so many years ago ...

Babes in Boyland

... and so it goes.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Candlemas Day
(or, why Punxatawney Phil is a Catholic)

“When the days
were completed
for their purification
according to the law of Moses,
Mary and Joseph took Jesus
up to Jerusalem
to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written
in the law of the Lord,
Every male that
opens the womb
shall be consecrated
to the Lord,
and to offer the sacrifice
of a pair of turtledoves
or two young pigeons,
in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.”

(Luke 2:22-24)

Today, both the Eastern and Western churches observe the Feast of the Purification of Mary (known as "Candlemas" in the West), exactly forty days after Christmas. In the Catholic tradition, the Christmas Cycle officially ends with this day, and preparation for Lent can begin, which includes the "Carnival" season in much of South America. But today, and throughout the world, the faithful will process in and around their churches bearing lighted candles, which are blessed for the coming year.

The origin of this feast is described in detail, in this excerpt from the classic work of Dom Prosper Guéranger, OSB, entitled The Liturgical Year.

The mystery of today's ceremony has frequently been explained by liturgists, dating from the 7th century. According to Ivo of Chartres, the wax, which is formed from the juice of flowers by the bee, always considered as the emblem of virginity, signifies the virginal flesh of the Divine Infant, who diminished not, either by His conception or His birth, the spotless purity of His Blessed Mother. The same holy bishop would have us see, in the flame of our Candle, a symbol of Jesus who came to enlighten our darkness. St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking on the same mystery, bids us consider three things in the blessed Candle: the wax, the wick, and the flame. The wax, he says, which is the production of the virginal bee, is the Flesh of our Lord; the wick, which is within, is His Soul; the flame, which burns on top, is His divinity.

Some years ago, Duncan Maxwell Anderson of HMS Blog described certain customs of the season, as well as suggestions for family celebrations. Included are some fun facts about the real origins of Groundhog Day:

In Catholic Europe, they say that if Candlemas is clear and bright, there will be six more weeks of winter. In Germany, this idea became, "If the bear comes out and sees his shadow, he will grumpily go back into his cave, and winter will last another six weeks."

Then this feat of prediction was ascribed to German badgers.

And since badgers are not found in the eastern U.S., German immigrants to this country were obliged to depend for meteorological guidance on a species of marmot called by the Indians 'weejak' or woodchuck, also called ... the groundhog.

Today, if Punxatawney Phil sticks his nose out, you tell me if he isn't carrying a candle-holder. He's Catholic, you know.

You just can't argue with reasoning like that, don't you think?

Or don't you?

Friday, January 19, 2018

2018 “ProLifeCon” Twitcast and Transcript

Today it begins, our ninth annual “Twitcast” joining pro-life bloggers from near and far, who all had the good sense once again, to come in out of the cold during the annual March For Life, for this year's ProLifeCon, the “premiere conference for the online prolife community” hosted once again by the Family Research Council in Washington DC.

During the event, this video clip provided a live feed of the proceedings. With its conclusion, you are invited to view the full pre-recording (which is not accessible on all browsers; no to Safari, yes to Chrome). You can learn more at the FRC website, follow the magic hashtag on Twitter: #prolifecon, or follow yours truly at:

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The list of speakers announced two days prior to the event (not necessarily in order of appearance) are as follows:

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Senator Steve Daines (R-MT)
Ryan Bomberger, Founder, The Radiance Foundation
David Daleiden, Founder, Center for Medical Progress
Lyndsey Fifield, Social Media Manager, The Heritage Foundation
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Anna Hoduski, Campaign Speaker & Runner, Project If Life
Leah Jacobson, Founder, The Guiding Star Project
Abby Johnson, CEO and Founder, And Then There Were None
Brynne Krispin, Social Media Manager, Family Research Council
Andrew Moore, Digital and Creative Director, SBA List
Sarah Perry, Coalition Coordinator, FRC Action
Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
Lila Rose, President, Live Action
David Scotton, Producer, I Lived on Parker Avenue
Missy Stone, Spokesperson, Students for Life of America

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Okay, boys and girls. The annual Twitcast for the 2018 #ProLifeCon will begin shortly, courtesy of @FRCdc, for the ninth year in a row. Stay tuned ...

Our annual Twitcast is a proud participant in the #MarchForLife2018, but for the presence of mind to remain indoors and not freeze to death. #ProLifeCon

"Thirty seconds, everyone." #ProLifeCon

And so it begins. #ProLifeCon

Sarah Perry introduces the event. #ProLifeCon

Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) #ProLifeCon

Talking about her kids. Who can blame her? #ProLifeCon

"Kids beating the odds remind us that every life is a precious gift." #ProLifeCon

The House is considering legislation to protect babies born alive after a failed abortion. #ProLifeCon

"How do we get past us versus them?" #ProLifeCon

"The shortest distance between two people is their stories.” #ProLifeCon

Answering questions about impending legislation. #ProLifeCon

Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) #ProLifeCon

Actions are being taken against abortion clinics and third-party sellers acting outside the law. #ProLifeCon

The Department of Justice and the FBI have confirmed 15 criminal referrals. #ProLifeCon

Planned Parenthood is now under federal investigation by the FBI and Attorneys General of a number of States. #ProLifeCon

The Abortion Survivors Act is for both mothers and babies who survive a failed abortion and holds medical providers accountable, with criminal penalties for the latter who do not comply. #ProLifeCon

NOTA BENE: This annual Twitcast is now available with 280 characters for each message. Twice the letters, twice the action! #ProLifeCon

Ryan Bomberger, Founder, The Radiance Foundation (a "man with black hat" favorite). #ProLifeCon

"Factophobia" is the fear of facts. #ProLifeCon

"Truth ain't hate. Let love illuminate." #ProLifeCon

"Factivist." #ProLifeCon

There are forces in the United Nations attempting to make abortion a "human right." #ProLifeCon

"Birth control is ... the weeding out of the unfit ..." - Margaret Sanger #ProLifeCon

Mainstream media misleads the public on the extent of Planned Parenthood's percentage of abortion services when compared to other services they claim to provide (but are doing less with every year). #ProLifeCon

"Half a billion dollars to an unaccountable organization." #ProLifeCon

Margaret Sanger was a pioneer in the field of eugenics, and she is still praised today. Crickets from the media. #ProLifeCon

Abortion has a huge and disproportionate impact on the Black community. #ProLifeCon

"As "factivists," we can circumvent mainstream media." #ProLifeCon

Billboard: "Abortion is systemic racism." #ProLifeCon

Patrina Mosley of FRC is out on the Mall. No one else is ... yet. #ProLifeCon

Abby Johnson, CEO and Founder, And Then There Were None #ProLifeCon

"Some bios say I have five children, I actually have seven." #ProLifeCon

"We have helped 419 people leave the abortion industry." #ProLifeCon

"Choose life, so that you and your children may live." - Book of Proverbs #ProLifeCon

"The pro-choice movement doesn't have to masquerade as pro-lifers to sabotage the movement, we have enough of our own to do that." #ProLifeCon

"People (and the pro-choice movement) are watching you." #ProLifeCon

Blaming the mother for poor choices and lack of self-restraint (or calling them "baby killers") is counter-productive. #ProLifeCon

"I prayed every day that I might be able to speak to some of these women, that there were some of us who genuinely cared about them." #ProLifeCon

After three years of writing letters to these women, finally got a response. #ProLifeCon

"She was seeing what you were writing, and was looking for a sign of hope." #ProLifeCon

"We are pro-life, but we must also be pro-love. People are watching. Choose well." #ProLifeCon

David Daleiden, Founder, Center for Medical Progress #ProLifeCon

(Dude, is this thing on?) #ProLifeCon

Planned Parenthood has violated federal law with the documented harvesting of vital organs of the unborn for sale and profit. #ProLifeCon

Two partnering companies with PP in Orange County, CA, have pleaded guilty. #ProLifeCon

Half the undercover video footage have yet to come to light due to a court-imposed gag order. The truth will come out. #ProLifeCon
9:30am #ProLifeCon
9:33am #ProLifeCon

Anna Hoduski, Campaign Speaker & Runner, Project If Life #ProLifeCon
9:36am #ProLifeCon

Shares experience of running across America, including the deserts of southern California. #ProLifeCon

"Don't be discouraged about the times of the deserts in your life." #ProLifeCon

Back to our correspondent Patrina Mosley at the Mall. There is now a crowd, at least around her, from Arizona and Tennessee. #ProLifeCon


And ... we're back! #ProLifeCon

“Using Social Media to Advance a Culture of Life” Panel with three guests. #ProLifeCon

1. Brynne Krispin, Social Media Manager, Family Research Council (Moderator)
2. Andrew Moore, Digital and Creative Director, SBA List
3. Lyndsey Fifield, Social Media Manager, The Heritage Foundation #ProLifeCon

Use of social media platforms such as Twitter. #ProLifeCon

With the use of Facebook, the power is back to the individual (at the @Heritage Foundation). #ProLifeCon

Putting out an advertisement on Twitter, the conversation remains on Twitter. #ProLifeCon

Still having problems with blocked content (because it's "sensitive"). Screenshots of the suppression are encouraged. #ProLifeCon

"Our facts about Planned Parenthood are coming from their own annual reports." #ProLifeCon

"The younger generation can see the details in the sonograms, and that is very powerful." #ProLifeCon

Beyonce showed her unborn child as a sonogram on Instagram. "How cool is that?" #ProLifeCon

Leah Jacobson, Founder, The Guiding Star Project #ProLifeCon
10:22am #ProLifeCon

"I didn't set out to do pro-life work. Young women who found themselves pregnant would approach me on campus, with questions about what they didn't know?" #ProLifeCon

"We believe in a model of holistic women's health care." #ProLifeCon

"Wholistic Women's Healthcare" provides complete women's health care from the time just prior to the first onset of menses. #ProLifeCon

"We do not reduce women to their reproductive body parts. That is a narrow and self-destructive outlook." #ProLifeCon

Available on Facebook and Twitter. #ProLifeCon

Missy Stone, Spokesperson, Students for Life of America #ProLifeCon

"I worked with a lot of students around the country on a personal level." #ProLifeCon

A young lady who was pregnant asked a student leader: "Aren't pro-life people supposed to help?" #ProLifeCon

It used to be "click and send and I'm done," but social media has become more engaging. #ProLifeCon

"Being where they are, showing them what is happening, and getting them involved." #ProLifeCon

More activists are using Snapchat. #ProLifeCon

"One of our messages with young audiences is, for example, 'Planned Parenthood, go fund yourself.'" #ProLifeCon

"We can't be afraid of the comments section. We're going to be honest about pro-life issues." #ProLifeCon

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) #ProLifeCon

"If you want to know a lawmaker's true pro-life views, ask their wife what theirs is. That's very wise advice." #ProLifeCon

"You're only as happy as your unhappiest child. You feel the pain with the child." #ProLifeCon

"At twenty weeks, a baby feels pain." #ProLifeCon

As a chemical engineer with Procter and Gamble, a personal donation of a box of shampoo saved a baby's life. #ProLifeCon

From the Gospel of Luke: "When Elizabeth greeted Mary, the baby lept in her womb, and Elizabeth cried out with joy." #ProLifeCon

He told his colleagues to just Google "20 weeks" on the floor of the US Senate. #20Weeks #ProLifeCon

Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) #ProLifeCon

Author of the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" on the floor of the Senate. #ProLifeCon

"I don't think we're gonna get sixty [votes], but we're gonna get over fifty." #ProLifeCon

Seven countries allow abortion on demand at 20 weeks. #ProLifeCon

"Remember the partial-birth abortion debate?" #ProLifeCon

"Laws against partial-birth abortion because of people like you." #ProLifeCon

"This [bill] is the centerpiece of the pro-life movement. Our time is now." #ProLifeCon

David Scotton, Producer, I Lived on Parker Avenue #ProLifeCon
11:04am #ProLifeCon

The mother was told by a sidewalk protester that "your baby has ten fingers and ten toes." Scotton was that baby 24 years ago, and is now sharing the truth about "the adoption option." #ProLifeCon

Lila Rose, President, Live Action @LilaGraceRose #ProLifeCon

"Abortion advocates paint this as a positive thing. But women don't walk into an abortion clinic because they feel powerful, but because they feel powerless. This is what actually happens in an abortion clinic." #ProLifeCon

Pro-choicers encountered on the street in Berkeley(!!!) were shown a video of an abortion procedure. They were interviewed both before and after. #ProLifeCon
11:24am #ProLifeCon

Tony Perkins of FRC: "We are closer than ever to defunding Planned Parenthood." #ProLifeCon

@LilaGraceRose receives this year's Digital Pro-Life Pioneer Award. #ProLifeCon

"Thank you for being a part of this." - Tony Perkins, FRC #ProLifeCon

Sarah Perry: "Let's go March. See you soon." #ProLifeCon

And ... we're out! #ProLifeCon

Thanks to all who followed our annual “Twitcast,” and a special welcome to 7 new followers. Catch the complete summation at #ProLifeCon

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Festum Asinorum

The fourteenth of January was remembered since the Middle Ages as “The Feast of the Ass.” Best known by its Latin name (as seen above), and mostly celebrated in France as “Fête de L'âne,” it commemorates the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt. It was celebrated in a manner similar to other "Feast of Fools" celebrations elsewhere in Christendom.

Wikipedia reports, albeit without citation, of how ...

A girl and a child on a donkey would be led through town to the church, where the donkey would stand beside the altar during the sermon, and the congregation would "hee-haw" their responses to the priest.

... which may explain why it failed to endure so much as other folk celebrations.

Closer to the present, The Watersons, best known as folklorist and singers in the UK, recorded a ballad combining two accounts from various apocryphal gospels, that of "Herod and the Cock," and one other of the flight into Egypt. It was later recorded by New England folk artists John Roberts and Tony Barrand, fronting a quartet known as “Nowell Sing We Clear.”

King Pharim sat a-musing
And a-musing all alone.
There came a blessed Saviour
And all to him unknown.

Saying "Where did you come from good man,
And where did you then pass?"
It was out of the land of Egypt,
Between an ox and ass.

Well if you come out of Egypt, man,
One thing I fain would know.
Whether a blessed Saviour
Sprang from an Holy Ghost.

For if it is true, is true good man,
What you've been telling me,
This roasted cock, that's in the dish,
Shall crow full fences three.

Well the cock soon feathered and he grew soon well,
By the work of God's own hand.
Three times that roasted cock did crow
In the dish where he did stand.

Joseph, Jesus, and Mary
Were a-travelling further West
When Mary grew a-tired,
She might sit down and rest.

They travelled further and further,
The weather being so warm,
Until they came upon a husbandman
A-sowing of his corn.

"Come husbandman," cried Jesus,
"Throw all your seed away
And carry home your ripened corn,
That you've been a-sowing this day."

By there came King Herod,
With his train so furiously,
Enquiring of the husbandman
Whether Jesus had passed by.

Well the truth it must be spoken,
And the truth it must be known.
For Jesus he passed by this way
Just as me seed was sown.

But now I have it rippen
And some laid in my wain
Ready to fetch and carry
Into my barn again.

"Turn back then," said the captain.
Our labour's all in vain.
Tis full three quarters of the year
Since he his seed has sown.

So Herod was deceived
By the work of God's own hand.
No further he proceeded
Into the Holy Land.

This writer has also performed “The Ballad of King Herod” accompanied with guitar, to the tune of "The Wife of Usher's Well."

And so it goes.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Plowing Through Monday

Today was the traditional start of the agricultural year in England, and so was known as “Plough Monday” or the day after “Plough Sunday” which was the Sunday following the traditional observance of Epiphany on the sixth of January. This was the Monday when everyone would end the Christmas revelry and get back to work.

John Brand, in his 1777 book Observations on Popular Antiquities, gives an account of the formalities:

The FOOL PLOUGH goes about: a pageant consisting of a number of sword dancers dragging a plough, with music; one, sometimes two, in very strange attire; the Bessy, in the grotesque habit of an old woman, and the Fool, almost covered with skins, a hairy cap on, and the tail of some animal hanging from his back. The office of one of these characters, in which he is very assiduous, is to go about rattling a box amongst the spectators of the dance, in which he receives their little donations.

Well, maybe not directly back to work. Personally, I'd rather be molly dancing. What is that, you ask?

“Molly dancing” traditionally only appeared during the depths of winter and is regarded by many people as the East Anglian form of Morris dancing. It is characterized by blackened faces, heavy boots (usually hobnailed) and the presence of a "Lord" and a "Lady", two of the men specially attired respectively as a gentleman and his consort, who lead the dances. Blackening faces was a form of disguise since the dancers could not afford to be recognized. Some of those people from whom they had demanded money with menaces would have been their employers. Molly dancing is by nature robust and, some would say, aggressive. These qualities are emphasized by the sound of the hobnailed boots worn by the dancers, which were the normal form of footwear for farm workers in the East of England right up until the second half of the twentieth century. (Information courtesy alexandersanders.)

On a promising note, and according to the Olde Farmer's Almanac: “In the evening, each farmer provided a Plough Monday supper for his workers, with plentiful beef and ale for all.

They could do worse.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Not Epiphany!

Today, in the traditional Roman calendar, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family, which in the reformed Roman calendar was celebrated last Sunday, with this one being the Second Sunday After Christmas (universally), and in some places (such as all dioceses in the USA), the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

But it isn't really. And even in diocesan parishes that have both forms of the Roman Rite, the parish priest will get off easy with preparing only one homily if he resorts to this being an "External Solemnity" of the Epiphany. (Yes, they can do that, even back in the day.)

Meanwhile, the reformed Roman calendar observes either (universally) the Second Sunday After Christmas, or (in the Dioceses of the USA and elsewhere) the Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Moving a feast that has a tradition of (and a very good reason for) being associated with a fixed date, is a judgment by a competent territorial body of bishops. In this instance, the term "competent" is used guardedly. You see, they think you are entirely too lazy to celebrate anything on a weekday. So they make it convenient for you. They would probably provide drive-thru confessions and probably had to ignore the advice of an army of lawyers and "risk assessment specialists" to pass on the idea. Perhaps once we succeed in converting the culture for Christ, they'll move Christmas to a Sunday as well, to coordinate our schedules with the department stores. Almost seems worth it, right?

We can say all we want about "the reason for the season" and "keeping Christ in Christmas" and all that. But such festivity presumes a priority attached to, and a meaning for, the value of sacred time. We can also assure ourselves that "our bishops must know what they're doing." But how can something be sacred if we can bend it and twist it to suit our convenience?

And that's when we beg the question, as to whether they really know what they're doing. Even worse, what if the answer is, yes, they do?

Curiouser and curiouser ...

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Christus Mansionem Benedicat!

VIDEO: A 2008 performance of "March of the Kings" ("Marche Des Rois") by Nowell Sing We Clear (Tony Barrand, Fred Breunig, Andy Davis and John Roberts) at Latchis Theater, Brattleboro, Vermont.

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At the Mass for the Day, the faithful are given chalk that has been blessed by the priest, as well as special holy water known as "Epiphany water." The blessing for it, which takes place only for this occasion, is to be found in the traditional Rituale Romanum, and includes a prayer of exorcism. The blessed chalk and the holy water are then taken home, to be used that evening.

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The Blessing of the Entrance to the House (“Chalking the Door”)

We begin with the Sign of the Cross, and the words of Psalm 71(72) "Deus, judicium":

Give the King your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to the King's son;

That he may rule your people righteously
    and the poor with justice.

That the mountains may bring prosperity to the people,
    and the little hills bring righteousness.

He shall defend the needy among the people;
    he shall rescue the poor and crush the oppressor.

He shall live as long as the sun and moon endure,
    from one generation to another.

He shall come down like rain upon the mown field,
    like showers that water the earth.

In his time shall the righteous flourish;
    there shall be abundance of peace
        till the moon shall be no more.

He shall rule from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

His foes shall bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.

The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall pay tribute,
    and the kings of Arabia and Saba offer gifts.

All kings shall bow down before him,
    and all the nations do him service.

For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress,
    and the oppressed who has no helper.

He shall have pity on the lowly and poor;
    he shall preserve the lives of the needy.

He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence,
    and dear shall their blood be in his sight.

Long may he live!
    and may there be given to him gold from Arabia;
        may prayer be made for him always,
            and may they bless him all the day long.

May there be abundance of grain on the earth,
    growing thick even on the hilltops;
        may its fruit flourish like Lebanon,
            and its grain like grass upon the earth.

May his Name remain for ever
    and be established as long as the sun endures;
        may all the nations bless themselves in him
            and call him blessed.

Blessed be the Lord GOD, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous deeds!

And blessed be his glorious Name forever!
    and may all the earth be filled with his glory.


Then one who is the Officiant says the following prayer:

Lord God of Heaven and Earth, who hast revealed thine only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star: Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill them with the light of Christ, that their love for others may truly reflect thy love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

If necessary, the Officiant or another steps up onto a chair or stepladder, and with a piece of blessed chalk, writes over the entrance to the house.

“Christus ...” (“May Christ ...”)


“Mansionem ...” (“this dwelling ...”)

          C      M

“Benedicat.” (“... bless.”)

          C      M      B

“In the coming year ...”

20      C      M      B

“... and in the years to come.”

20      C      M      B      18

“In the name of the Father ...”

20  +  C      M      B      18

“and of the Son ...”

20  +  C  +  M      B      18

“... and of the Holy Spirit.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B      18

Everyone responds: “Amen.”

20  +  C  +  M  +  B  +  18

The doorway is sprinkled with Holy Water blessed for the Epiphany. The inscription is to be removed on the Feast of Pentecost.

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For those who require "the short form," there is this one from the Church of Saint Mary in Clifton Heights, New York. On those nights when the weather is particularly inclement, one can simply read from the Gospel of John while inscribing over the door ...

In the beginning was the Word, (inscribe 2)

and the Word was with God, (inscribe 0)

and the Word was God. (inscribe +)

He was in the beginning with God. (inscribe C)

All things came to be through him, (inscribe +)

and without him nothing came to be. (inscribe M)

And the Word became flesh (inscribe +)

and made his dwelling among us, (inscribe B)

and we saw his glory, (inscribe +)

the glory as of the Father’s only Son, (inscribe 1)

full of grace and truth. (inscribe 8)

… then with the Holy Water, making the sign of the cross three times over the entrance, proclaiming “Christus ... Mansionem ... Benedicat” and calling it a night.

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This day is remembered throughout the world by various names. In many parts of Europe, Epiphany retains its distinction as "Little Christmas." Among the Greek Orthodox, the waters of the harbor are blessed by the local priest. In Spanish-speaking countries, it is known as “Dia de los Tres Reyes” (“Day of the Three Kings”). There are parades on the main street, such as this one in Madrid, Spain.

Although we know the "kings" were not actually royalty at all, but scholars in astronomy and other sciences who came from Persia, tradition has associated Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar (their names as rendered in the apocryphal gospel accounts) as representing the Orient, Arabia, and Africa, the three great land masses of the known world in the first millennium.

As with the eve of Saint Nicholas Day in parts of western Europe, children in the Hispanic world are known to leave their shoes out and receive candy and other treats by the next morning. In Spain, children traditionally received presents on this day, rather than on Christmas, although recent years have seen both Christmas and Epiphany as a time for gift-giving.

I just love parades.

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This is also occasion for the solemn pronouncement of movable feasts for the coming year, using the chant from the Pontificale Romanum, including the news that Ash Wednesday will fall on Valentine's Day, and that Easter will fall on April Fools Day.

Should make for an interesting year, don't you think?

Or don't you?

(H/T to Father Z.)