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Sunday, December 02, 2007

And So Advent Begins....

From today's Office of the Readings, the first chapter of the prophet Isaiah:

The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

Isaiah kicks some backsides here:

Listen, you heavens; earth, attend
for the Lord is speaking,
‘I reared sons, I brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.

The ox knows its owner
and the ass its master’s crib,
Israel knows nothing,
my people understands nothing.’
A sinful nation, a people weighed down with guilt,
a breed of wrong-doers, perverted sons.

They have abandoned the Lord, despised the Holy One of Israel,
they have turned away from him.
Where shall I strike you next,
since you heap one betrayal on another?
The whole head is sick, the whole heart grown faint;
from the sole of the foot to the head there is not a sound spot:
wounds, bruises, open sores
not dressed, not bandaged,not soothed with oil.

Your land is desolate, your towns burnt down,
your fields-- strangers lay them waste before your eyes;
all is desolation, as after the fall of Sodom.

The daughter of Zion is left
like a shanty in a vineyard,
like a shed in a melon patch,
like a besieged city.
Had the Lord not left us a few survivors,
we should be like Sodom,
we should now be like Gomorrah.
Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the command of our God,
you people of Gomorrah.

Here he takes the gloves off:

‘What are your endless sacrifices to me?
says the Lord.
I am sick of holocausts of rams
and the fat of calves.
The blood of bulls and of goats revolts me.
When you come to present yourselves before me,
who asked you to trample over my courts?
Bring me your worthless offerings no more,
the smoke of them fills me with disgust.
New Moons, sabbaths, assemblies--I cannot endure festival and solemnity.
Your New Moons and your pilgrimages
I hate with all my soul.
They lie heavy on me,
I am tired of bearing them.
When you stretch out your hands
I turn my eyes away.
You may multiply your prayers,
I shall not listen.

How often are my prayers and sacrifices an offense to God?

Your hands are covered with blood,
wash, make yourselves clean.
‘Take your wrong-doing out of my sight.
Cease to do evil.
Learn to do good,
search for justice,
help the oppressed,
be just to the orphan,
plead for the widow.
‘Come now, let us talk this over, says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’

Is it any wonder that some of the prophets were killed off? But then again, that's what they were there for: to preach and teach, and correct. Certainly Isaiah was not politically correct in this reading. Every priest and bishop should be prepared to die for his flock - whether that death is one of red martyrdom(rare in our country) or white martyrdom, where

This is a good way to start Advent: to recall our sins, start penance, and prepare internally for Our Lord.

This week I am off work, even though I have to spend two days working on continuing medical education and next weekend on retreat. Be that as it may, I resolve to waste as little time this week as I find myself with my wife and children. This will be my offering this week. Wifeofdadwithnoisykids will be the temporal judge of this...

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Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation
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Prayer to Our Lady of the Mysterious Decapitation

Mary my mother, take my hand today, and all days.
Lead me away from all occasions of sin.
Guide me in fulfilling your last words in the Gospel,
"Do whatever He tells you."

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