Alma Redemptoris Mater
Mother of Christ! Hear thou thy people's cry,
Star of the deep, and portal of the sky!
Mother of Him Who thee from nothing made,
Sinking we strive and call to thee for aid;
Oh, by that joy which Gabriel brought to thee,
Thou Virgin first and last, let us thy mercy see.
Marian Prayer for Advent
Prayer for Good Humour by Saint Thomas More
Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest. Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humour to maintain it. Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place. Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called ‘I’. Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humour. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke, to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others. Amen.
One SONG can spark a moment
One FLOWER can wake the dream
One TREE can start a forest
One BIRD can herald spring
One SMILE begins a friendship
One HANDCLASP lifts a soul
One STAR can guide a ship at sea
One WORD can frame the goal
One VOTE can change a nation
One SUNBEAM lights a room
One CANDLE wipes out darkness
One LAUGH will conquer gloom
One STEP must start each journey
One WORD must start a prayer
One HOPE will raise our spirits
One TOUCH can show you care
One VOICE can speak with wisdom
One HEART can know what is true
One LIFE can make a difference.
In the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the bridegroom represents Jesus, and the virgins symbolize his followers or believers. The lamps are the outward signs of their faith, and the oil is often interpreted as a symbol of spiritual preparedness and the Holy Spirit.
The main lesson of this parable is the importance of being spiritually prepared and watchful for the return of Christ. The wise virgins represent those who are spiritually prepared, with an adequate supply of oil, and are ready to meet the bridegroom when he arrives. The foolish virgins, on the other hand, represent those who are not prepared, and they miss the opportunity to join in the wedding banquet, which is often seen as a symbol of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven.
The parable emphasizes the need for vigilance, readiness, and a constant state of spiritual preparedness because the return of Christ is unknown and can happen at any time. It encourages believers to keep their faith strong, live according to their beliefs, and be watchful for the coming of the Lord.
Ten Ways to Make Yourself Miserable
I am the Great Sun
From a Normandy crucifix of 1632
I am the great sun, but you do not see me,
I am your husband, but you turn away.
I am the captive, but you do not free me,
I am the captain but you will not obey.
I am the truth, but you will not believe me,
I am the city where you will not stay.
I am your wife, your child, but you will leave me,
I am that God to whom you will not pray.
I am your counsel, but you will not hear me,
I am your lover whom you will betray.
I am the victor, but you do not cheer me,
I am the holy dove whom you will slay.
I am your life, but if you will not name me,
Seal up your soul with tears, and never blame me.
The OtherThere are nights that are so still
I can hear the small owl calling
far off and a fox barking
miles away. It is then that I lie
the lean hours awake listening
to the swell born somewhere in the Atlantic,
rising and falling, rising and falling,
wave on wave on the long shore
by the village, that is without light
and companionless. And the thought comes
of that other being who is awake, too,
letting our prayers break on him,
not like this for a few hours,
but for days, years, for eternity.
R. S. Thomas
The Peasant Wedding, Pieter Breughel the Elder, 1567
The painting is called The Peasant Wedding, and it shows a summer party set in a barn. We can see the bride sitting in front of a green hanging, wearing a crown, but she is sitting there passively, not participating in the eating or drinking taking place around her. She is almost statuesque, like a sculpture of Our Lady. The wooden tables and chairs are roughly fashioned and the food on offer appears to be bread, porridge and soup. Humble food is being served in a humble setting. Like all of Breughel’s paintings, scholars identify symbolic references and clear moralistic undertones to them. Here it has been suggested that the painting serves as a warning against the deadly sin of gluttony, as almost every guest (except the bride), seem to be preoccupied with eating. Even one of the two musicians stares in the direction of the food servers, keen to eat.
Certainly no one appears to be interested in the spiritual nature of the occasion. The largest figure in the whole painting, is the servant in his light blue shirt and white apron who is the focal point. It isn’t the bride or the officials, but the servant that is celebrated here by Breughel. The feast seems sumptuous but there is not much food on the plates and with the bride being reserved, the painting depicts humility versus the gluttony it is surrounded by.
God is inviting everyone to the wedding with great generosity. All we have to do is accept the invitation and take our place. It is an invitation to the Kingdom of Heaven which is sent out to everyone. But like with any invitation, we are free to accept it or not. We are free to say yes or no. But as generous and all-inviting as God’s invitation is, it is not to be taken for granted. We should feel privileged that we are invited and love God all the more for it.
O God of earth and altar
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!
Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.
From a Distance
From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.
From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.
From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.
From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man.
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance.
From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.
From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
it’s the heart of every man.
It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.
This is the song of every man.
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance.
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance
Father Alex McAllister SDS