Sunday, December 04, 2011

  • The seasonal office hymn and Marian anthem. The latter’s versicle (angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ) and collect are a pro-life reminder that the real feast of God being made man (less celebration because it’s invisible, the winter solstice is a natural time for a cheer-yourselves-up feast, and the spring equinox basically has been given to Easter*) was about nine months ago. (*The Roman Rite can’t have the Annunciation and Holy Week/Easter at the same time; the Orthodox can. Kyriopascha is considered lucky.)
  • The revival of the Christmas carol was an almost entirely Tractarian/Anglo-Catholic development in the nineteenth century – part of the Catholic revival’s re-enchantment of English religion, like so much of what we consider these days to be mainstream Anglican, or even just Catholic. Their uncompromising and popular restatement of orthodox faith in the Incarnation speaks for itself. From Let Nothing You Dismay. Another case of ‘during secular Christmas (Advent) the Protestants sort of come home’ (they forget their fear of the church, put up statues of Jesus and Mary, and sing in Latin). In the midst of it all, you still hear the truth about Jesus, in popular songs. Also, regular readers over the years probably remember that much of what we think of as Christmas is by way of Germany, through Prince Albert in Victorian England, which people are curiously nostalgic for this time of year, not directly about God being made man. (English-speakers didn’t have Christmas trees in the 1700s.)
  • A great German one. From Joshua.
  • Also from Fr G, Evelyn Underhill on the problem of evil. Christian spirituality does not explain evil and suffering, which remain a mystery beyond the reach of the human mind, but does show us how to deal with them.
  • My diurnal has Cranmer’s collects as an alternative, which is great supplemental reading. The Roman Rite is often terse. O God, who didst X, grant, we beseech thee, Y, through Christ our Lord. As John Hunwicke has noted, Cranmer could cut loose in masterly English prose, and he was still orthodox enough that the prayers work (why the American Missal, C’s prayers fitted into the old Mass, against what he stood for, works). Last Sunday’s: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
  • LCMS pastor Paul Gregory Alms: One of the beautiful lessons of Advent is that it places the fearful judgment and second coming of Christ in the context of Christmas. The Incarnation is the necessary prerequisite to the judgment. The one who sits on the throne is the one who sits on Mary’s lap. The Second Coming must always be shaped by the first. There is only one Jesus. The one who will judge you is the one who was born for you and bled for you.
  • Something to study: In the 19th century religion prospered in America while theology slowly went bankrupt. – Henry Steele Commager
  • How to shrink the church.

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