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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve in Washington

One of my favorite songs which brings back so many memories of Christmases over the decades and of friends, many of whom now live with the Lord and in my heart.  It is a beautiful and exciting city where, when I was growing up, I wanted to spend my life, and with God's grace, I had so many rich and extraordinary experiences.  Deo Gratias!


Sunday, November 29, 2020

An Advent Reflection: "Yet If His Majesty Our Sovereign Lord"

 


By Thomas Ford, 1580-1648 

Yet if his majesty our sovereign lord
   Should of his own accord
   Friendly himself invite,
   And say "I'll be your guest to-morrow night."
   How should we stir ourselves, call and command
   All hands to work! "Let no man idle stand.
   Set me fine Spanish tables in the hall,
   See they be fitted all;
   Let there be room to eat,
  And order taken that there want no meat.
  See every sconce and candlestick made bright,
  That without tapers they may give a light.
  Look to the presence: are the carpets spread,
  The dazie o'er the head,
  The cushions in the chairs,
  And all the candles lighted on the stairs?
  Perfume the chambers, and in any case
  Let each man give attendance in his place."
  Thus if the king were coming would we do,
  And 'twere good reason too;
  For 'tis a duteous thing
  To show all honour to an earthly king,
  And after all our travail and our cost,
  So he be pleas'd, to think no labour lost.
  But at the coming of the King of Heaven
  All's set at six and seven:
  We wallow in our sin,
  Christ cannot find a chamber in the inn.
  We entertain him always like a stranger,
  And as at first still lodge him in the manger.


 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Father Rutler: Christ the King

Father George W. Rutler
These days I am frequently asked if we are living in the “End Times.” As the grace of Holy Orders does not make me a seer, I defer, as is prudent, to the King of Universe: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42). So the answer simply is that we do not know, but as the Coast Guard’s “Semper Paratus” motto exhorts, we must constantly be prepared. That vigilance is contingent on everyone’s immediate obligation to be recollect for the end of one’s own life. For the Christian, this is a stimulus to faith rather than neurosis. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).  

The prophets were not like the boy who cried “Wolf!” They were inspired by God to tell what he wants his people to know about spiritual readiness, so that his kingly rule is that of a shepherd guiding his flock through the variables of human experience. In the film The Lion in Winter, Katharine Hepburn as Henry II’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, remarks with regal resignation about her dysfunctional family: “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?” Christ’s family the Church has always had its ups and downs, often big time, and many times it has been the lamentable case that the Shepherd King is tasked with herding cats rather than sheep.  

The Church began with a crucifixion when no one expected a resurrection. That sequence of death and life is repeated time and again. There were the persecutions under so many Caesars, heresies with volatile schisms in consequence, sieges, desecrations, destructions, corruptions and civilly institutionalized blasphemies. But each of these crucifixions was followed by a resurrection. This is to be remembered when distress in the Church is accompanied by a confluence of unrest and fear in politics and pandemics. Through it all, the Carthusian motto grows ever more stolid and incontestable: “Stat Crux dum volvitur orbis”—the Cross stands steady while the world revolves. This is most vivid when the revolving world seems to be whirling out of control.  

On November 5, the ninety-year-old Cardinal Tumi of Cameroon was briefly kidnapped by separatists who demanded that he endorse their propaganda. He told his captors that he must preach only what is true: “Nobody has the right to tell me to preach the contrary because I was called by God.” In every cultural crisis, this is the kind of witness that transcends any attempt to speculate about the end of the world, for it takes its strength from the assurance that Christ Crucified in Jerusalem is also Christ the King of the Universe. 
 
                           His dominion is an everlasting dominion  
                           that shall not be taken away,
                           his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14) 

Faithfully yours in Christ, 
Father George W. Rutler