Thursday, January 14, 2016

Rosary Riff

This article was originally posted at New Evangelizers, and links to Convert Journal.

Beyond Standard

I pray the Rosary. I like to meditate on the mysteries, but I've been doing them for a long time, and like to reflect on other themes besides the 3, oops, 4 sets that we have to choose from. So I make my own sets. And if you're familiar with the Rosary, maybe you’ve prayed a scriptural Rosary, in which a relevant Bible verse is read before each Hail Mary is prayed. At the minor seminary I attended long ago, we used to pray a scriptural Rosary every evening at Vespers. One of the priests had a little book with all the verses, and each evening he'd hand it to whomever he chose to lead the praying. It was a terrific experience, even for a callow teenager as I was then.

Here's one of my homemade sets. I call it the Fruitful Mysteries; each one is named after what in 6th-grade Catechism class we call a Miraculous Mother. Given that they end with the birth of John, I think they make a good lead-in to the Joyfuls, which begin with the most Miraculous Mother of all.

The First Fruitful Mystery: Sarah

1. Gen 1:27 God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

2. Gen 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 

3. Gen 16:1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife, bore him no children.

4. Gen 17:15  And God said to Abraham...Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.

5.   Gen 18:10 The LORD said, "I will surely return to you in the spring, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him.

6. 12 Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?"

7. 13 The LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, in the spring, and Sarah shall have a son."

8. 15 But Sarah denied, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. He said, "No, but you did laugh."

9. Gen 21:2 And Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son... 3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.

10. 6 And Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; every one who hears will laugh over me." 

The Second Fruitful Mystery: Rebekah

1. Gen 25:20 Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebekah...

2. 21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren...

3. ...and the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 

4. 22 The children struggled together within her; and she said, "If it is thus, why do I live?"

5. 23 And the LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples, born of you, shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the elder shall serve the younger."

6. 24 When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 

7. 25 The first came forth red, all his body like a hairy mantle; so they called his name Esau. 

8. 26 Afterward his brother came forth, and his hand had taken hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. 

9. Gen 25:27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 

10. 28 Isaac loved Esau, because he ate of his game; but Rebekah loved Jacob.

The Third Fruitful Mystery: Rachel

1. Gen 29:16 Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. 8 Jacob loved Rachel; and he said, "I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel." 

2. 20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her. 21 Then Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife that I may go in to her, for my time is completed."

3. 22 So Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast. 23 But in the evening he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. 

4. 25 And in the morning, behold, it was Leah; and Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? 

5. 26 Laban said, "It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born. 27 ...we will give you the other also in return for serving me another seven years." 

6. 28 Laban gave him his daughter Rachel to wife.  30 So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. 

7. Gen 29:31 When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren. 

8. Gen 30:1 When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!" 

9. Gen 30:2 Jacob's anger was kindled against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

10. Gen 30:22 Then God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her and opened her womb. 23 She conceived and bore a son... and she called his name Joseph.

The Fourth Fruitful Mystery: Hannah

1. 1Sam 1:1 There was a certain man...whose name was Elkanah. 2 He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

2. 1Sam 1:4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters; 5 and, although he loved Hannah, he would give Hannah only one portion, because the LORD had closed her womb. 

3. 1Sam 1:6 And her rival used to provoke her sorely, to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.

4. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, "O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thy maidservant, and remember me, and not forget thy maidservant, but wilt give to thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life."

5. 19 And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her; 20 and in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel.

6.  24 And when she had weaned him...she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. 

7. 1Sam 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD. 

8. Ps 128:1 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! 2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. 

9. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD. 

10. 5 The LORD bless you from Zion! May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! 6 May you see your children's children! Peace be upon Israel!

The Fifth Fruitful Mystery: Elizabeth

1. Mal 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the LORD comes.

2. Lk1:5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 

3. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 

4. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God, [an] angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

5. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah.

6. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying, 25"Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men." 

7. 57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. 58 And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 

8. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother said, "Not so; he shall be called John."

9.  62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. 63* And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, "His name is John." 

10. 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Anything you do to customize your Rosary, leave a comment.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


This post links to Convert Journal
We still get where we're going

The kids were just right tonight.

Every year the children in my catechism class need a month or so to acclimate to how class works. The first meeting is always leaden- they don't know me and are cautious and reticent. But tonight they were fully alive, and this high will last through the end of April.

The lesson plan began with the Shekinah Cloud over Mt. Sinai, and would run through the Golden Calf to the Meeting Tent. Which is plenty interesting, but extra spark was in all the digressions prompted by kids' questions. For example, I was explaining how the Levite men were put in charge of offering sacrifice after the other tribes blew it with the Golden Calf:

"Were the Levite women priests too? Good question, no they weren't, just the men. But who sacrificed the lambs at the first Passover? The elders! Yes the elder men. All the way back to Abel, the men did the sacrificing. So what did the Levite women do, they didn't have to work? Sure they worked, they ran the households, that's work. But I mean work that makes money. Maybe they did, but it would be connected to running the household. Hey, there's a great bit in Proverbs about that called the Good it is:

"Who can find a woman of worth? Far beyond jewels is her value.
Her husband trusts her judgment; he does not lack income.
She brings him profit, not loss, all the days of her life.
She seeks out wool and flax and weaves with skillful hands.
She picks out a field and acquires it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She watches over the affairs of her household,
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, too, praises her:
“Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.”

"That sounds just like my wife. I kiss her and tell her she is the prize of a lifetime. But her work is much bigger than just what she may make and sell. And a Levite priest could hardly tend to his sacrificing business if his wife was not running the household and tending to the family's business."

It's gonna be another good year.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Dew Drop In

This post links to Convert Journal

Here’s a favorite bit from Isaiah 45:

“I am the LORD, there is no other.
I form the light, and create the darkness,
I make weal and create woe;
I, the LORD, do all these things.
Let justice descend, you heavens, like dew from above,
like gentle rain let the clouds drop it down.
Let the earth open and salvation bud forth;
let righteousness spring up with them!
I, the LORD, have created this.”

I like occasions when Scripture refers to rain or dew: I imagine both precipitations would figure prominently in the imagination of anyone living in an arid land.  And I’m guessing, but I bet anytime a prophet figuratively referred to rain or dew, his hearers would reflect on this bit of Exodus:

“Then the LORD said to Moses: I am going to rain down bread from heaven for you. Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion…”

And I love the way the bread came down: not in a torrent, but lightly, softly-

“In the morning a layer of dew lay all about the camp,
and when the layer of dew had gone up, fine flakes were on the surface of the wilderness, fine flakes like hoarfrost on the ground.
On seeing it, the Israelites asked one another, “What is this?” for they did not know what it was. But Moses told them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”

It’s especially relevant for Catholics, because Eucharistic Prayer #2 riffs elegantly on that bit of Exodus:

“You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness.
Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them
like the dewfall, so that they may become for us
the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Exodus, first came the dew. When the dew went up, the miracle bread was present. And at Mass we pray for a similar miracle: that the Holy Spirit will, dew-like, cover our offerings; and shortly after, there will be miracle bread to eat.

Stay fired-up about Jesus and his Church.