Thursday, October 31, 2013

Welcome+Weekly Q&A- All Saint's Edition

Photo: In honor of the upcoming All Saints Day, children and teachers from our REP program showed us their interpretations of their favorite saints.
photo:St.Michaels Church, Fryburg, PA

Reminder: Evening Prayer I for All Saint's Day tonight.

Welcome new (or recent, since I haven't checked for quite a while) blog followers Raymond, Maryrose, Shanti, Lynn, RCC Soldat44, Edgar and Kyle! Also welcome, Mike Demers to the "followers" page, although you've already been a devoted Coffee&Canticles follower for ages. 

It's weekly Q&A Time. If you have any questions of confusion about the Liturgy of the Hours, breviaries, or breviary apps, just ask here. You are extremely likely to get the answer you need.

Isn't it marvellous to reflect that, so long as we make it into heaven, by however long a detour through Purgatory, we will be  among those officially honored in the liturgy on November 1st? And not just with a little optional memorial, but with a Solemnity?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pleiades and Orion Plus Q&A

Coming across this little reading from Amos at Daytime Prayer today reminded me of this old post.
And since I have another article deadline coming up, it all fits into my present week.

It's weekly Q&A time--ask your Divine Office question here.

Here I am going back on my word about not posting until a magazine article was done. But I can't help commenting on a snippet from today's Daytime Prayer, the Midday reading from the book of Amos:

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
  who turns darkness into dawn,
  and darkens day into night;
Who summons the waters of the sea,
  and pours them out upon the surface of the earth;
  whose name is Lord. (Thursday, week I)

Every time I read this, I visualize Amos looking at the stars, maybe with his children, pointing out the constellations, just as Bill and I have done with our own children. Then I get wondering: didn't the Israelites have their own names for the constellations? (Guess not) Wouldn't they have thought it borderline idolatry to use the names of these pagan goddesses and  demi-god?  (Guess not. Looks like ancient Israel was a little more tolerant and cosmopolitan than one would have thought. Or maybe they were at this period a little too cosmopolitan, and were worshiping Greek gods. Certainly idolatry is one of the many sins of Israel which God mentions to Amos.)

So, each time I get taken aback by reading about Orion and the Seven Sisters in the Old Testament, I remind myself not to fall into the mindset that Dorothy Sayers says she had as a child. That is, to think about "Bible Characters" as somehow separate and removed from the rest of history. They are real, they are history, and very much enmeshed with all the other history that was going on at the time.

Okay. Back to the article. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Memorial of Blessed John Paul II Today! Reading Available!


Today is the (optional) memorial of Blessed Pope John Paul II. Even the most hardcore printed breviary fans will want to go online for the Office of Readings (second reading) and the concluding prayer. Find these at (widget on right side of this page, or at the Vatican website. 

What makes this second reading unique is that many who read today  it actually witnessed it being delivered--either in person or via television. It is John Paul's inaugural homily. There were no EWTN live broadcasts back in 1978, but many of us caught a bit of it on the evening news.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2nd Reading for St. Margaret Mary Alacoque...


...kind of makes today into a mini-feast of the Sacred Heart. I just love this:

This divine heart is an abyss of all blessings, and into it the poor should submerge all their needs. It is an abyss of joy in which all of us can immerse our sorrows. It is an abyss of lowliness to counteract our foolishness, an abyss of mercy for the wretched, an abyss of love to meet our every need.

Read the whole thing on the widget on the right. Choose Office of Readings for October 16 and scroll down to near the very end.

Youth of Eagles + Q&A

Reading Psalm 103 during Office of Readings today, I remembered this 2011 post wherein I satisfied my curiosity about the eagle verse. Have you ever wondered why it's an eagle's youth that is renewed, as opposed to that of, say, a chickadee?   I finally looked it up and here's the result:

Psalm 103 comprises the psalter for today's (Wednesday, week IV) Office of Readings.In verse 5, after listing some of God's blessings--forgives guilt, heals your ills, redeems you, crowns you with love and compassion, fills your life with good things--the psalmist adds, renewing your youth like an eagle's.

Every time I read this line, I first give the little happy sigh with which I respond to beautiful  biblical nature imagery, a mini Hallmark poster of the image flashing in my brain.

Then I stop and say, Wait!...  what?

 Because I can't figure out what's so special about an eagle's youth.
Not his strength, power, beauty, far sight, but his youth.

My first guess--could it be there was a phoenix-type myth going on about eagles that the psalmist had picked up on?

I did a search and found that many people share my question. An interesting "biblical birdwatching" site gave a lengthy description of how many times a bald eagle molts until he acheives the mature, white-head-and-tail plumage at 5 years of age. The evangelical writer considered this molting a kind of renewal. Not bad, but 1. this would teach a lesson about the desirability of Maturity, the wisdom of old age, not about youth. and 2. the bald eagle is a North American bird.

Luckily, I remembered that the Fathers of the Church have commented at length on just about every verse of scripture. Good old New Advent has St. Augustine's comments. Augustine claims that an eagle's beak tip never stops growing, and that after many years have gone by, it curves down and around the lower mandible such that the eagle would be unable to eat.  He grows weak from hunger, and then, in desperation, bashes the end of his beak off against a rock. Once again able to eat, his strength, vigor, and plumage are renewed, and he is once more like a young eagle. Augustine concludes:

 ...the eagle is not restored unto immortality, but we are unto eternal life; but the similitude is derived from hence, that the rock takes away from us what hinders us. Presume not therefore on your strength: the firmness of the rock rubs off your old age: for that Rock was Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:4 In Christ our youth shall be restored like that of the eagle....

My own knowledge of birds tell me that eagles don't really need to break off their beaks. I have seen crows and pet parrots rub their beaks against hard material.  And I've known pet parakeets to need a beak trim when they haven't had something hard to chew on. Probably eagles wear their beaks down by tearing at the bones of their prey.   But as St. Thomas points out, an analogy does not have to be true to be a good analogy.

So it looks like Christ, our rock, rubs off or breaks off our weary, aged sinfulness, and restores to us the youth of our baptismal purity. Enabling us to soar to heaven. On eagles wings  the wings of eagles.

Now it's time for weekly Q&A, which I"m afraid  missed last week. Just too much family stuff going on. So fire away if you have any questions about the Liturgy of the Hours. Or comments about the youth of eagles.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Where Do You Put Each Ribbon in Your Breviary?

A reader asks:

I've been praying the LoH for several months from the app. Today I picked up a copy of the single-volume CBC LoH. One question - what`s the best (or most common) way to use the bazillion and one ribbons in the book to mark out pages?

I haven't used the one-volume for quite a while, but here's what I did back in the day. 
Of the five ribbons in Christian Prayer one would always go in the four-week psalter. Another would be in the proper of seasons, since this section is used every Sunday in ordinary time, and every day during the holy seasons. 
Ribbon #3 would mark Night Prayer, and #4 in the Proper of Saints. The last one came in handy on days when one of the commons was used. 

This system worked for me because I was not using the Daytime Prayer or the selections of Office of Readings that are in Christian Prayer. When I added the OOR to my routine I purchased a single volume containing just this hour, a book now sadly out of print. 

A beginner to the Liturgy of the Hours might want to keep a ribbon in the Ordinary for the Invitatory Psalm and the gospel canticles until these are eventually memorized. But it is actually easier to make photo copies of these and paste them onto the inside front and back covers.

It is also a good idea to keep one or two holy cards in your breviary in case you want to mark the location of a hymn or some other spot in Christian Prayer. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Weekly Q&A - I love October edition

I say it every year. October is my favorite-est month of all. It is just too beautiful around here to be believed. The temperatures are perfect. Several of my favorite saints are commemorated during this month.
The only drawback to October in my part of the world is that is becomes extremely scary to drive after dark. I call it Night of the Living Deer syndrome. Actually, it's even scary in the middle of the day sometimes.  But I already wrote about that last year, along with some homage to the angels who keep me alive through it all. 

It's weekly Q&A time. One reader already asked  a question on the previous post: Why Sunday week I Psalms for the memorial of the Guardian angels, which is not designated as a feast, and therefore not normally deserving of anything other than normal weekday psalms? I gave him an off the cuff answer, which was okay, but since then I looked up what the General Instruction says about the psalter for obligatory memorials:
235. In the office of readings, at morning prayer, and at evening prayer:
a. the psalms and their antiphons are taken from the current week and day, unless there are proper antiphons or proper psalms, which is indicated as the case occurs.

So clearly, we had an "otherwise indicated" situation yesterday. I guess angels are special enough to rate Sunday week I psalms, even when their day is only a memorial.

Any other questions? 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Favorite photo of St. Therese

" In the heart of the Church, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.