Previous month:
November 2009
Next month:
January 2010

December 2009

Parent Meeting at Rumson-Fair Haven High School

Buildings_educate_188918 As many of you know, last May the students of RFH High School completed an anonymous survey on their drug and alcohol use. Two meetings have been scheduled by the school to discuss the results with their parents: January 6th and January 14th in the school's auditorium.

The school has made this meeting mandatory for all parents of any students who wish to participate in any extra-curricular activity or receive a parking permit from the school. Obviously, the hope is for all parents to attend one of these important meetings.

Before planning a strategy to minimize the impact of drug and alcohol in the school, parents must have the results and analysis of this survey.

Feast of the Holy Innocents

Only two days after Jesus' birth in the liturgical calendar, the feast of the Holy Innocents hits home with the stark reminder that the world is not necessarily a safe place for innocent human life.

We find brutality to children and the massacre of the innocents offensive in art, but perhaps are not so attuned to its presence right under our noses. Would a representation of the Massacre of the Innocents find its place in any of our churches today? They are abundant  in history.

Yet, the brutality of violence to the unborn in abortion is "too graphic" for us to see, but not for us to permit, even perhaps, to fund with tax dollars.

There is a famous work of art by Peter Breughel called the "Massacre of the Innocents" set in a village in the Netherlands. Art historians differ on whether the painting represents a modern interpretation of Herod's slaughter, or it depicts the brutality of King Philip of Spain in crushing the Protestant revolt in the middle of the sixteenth century, or both.

The owner of the painting asked that the children in the violent scene be overpainted, and they were. Children became packages or animals to erase the offending brutality. Out of sight, out of mind.

Here are two versions. Can you find the differences?

Before Mass
















Wouldn't it be great if violence against the unborn and children could be eliminated from our world as easily?  What can we do today to make the world a safer place for children?

Advent Prayer


Angels Appearing Before the Shepherds, Henry Osawa Tanner


One of my favorite Prefaces in the Sacramentary (the book of prayers for the Mass)  is the Preface for  Advent II. It's poetry and theology combined.

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give You thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

His future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets.
The virgin mother bore Him in her womb with love beyond all telling.
John the Baptist was His herald
and made Him known when at last He came.
in His love Christ has filled us with joy as we prepare to celebrate His birth,
so that when He comes He may find us watching in prayer,
our hearts filled with wonder and praise.

And so, with all the choirs of angels in heaven
we proclaim Your glory and join in their unending hymn of praise:

O Emmanuel

6a0120a4f88a1c970b0120a776b913970b Today would be a wonderful day to play the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel as a melodically prayerful summary of our preparation for Christmas and the spirit of the O Antiphons.

Many parishioners have brought their infant Jesus's from their mangers to be blessed, and the school children took home a bit of straw from the creche at church to place in the creche at home.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Saviour:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

O King of Nations

King O King of Nations.

We can almost hear Pilate ask the question even though it's Christmas that approaches, not Easter: "So then, you are a king?"

Kingship is hard to imagine for a baby. And for us it's a difficult metaphor for Jesus, first because it emphasizes his sovereignty not his warm-fuzzy compansionship and second because it's not just "us" over which Jesus is sovereign, but the entire world, even better, the universe.

Something to pray about as we place the infant Jesus in our mangers.

O King of the nations, and their desire,
the cornerstone making both one:
Come and save the human race,
which you fashioned from clay.

O Oriens

Oriens We had a true Advent sunrise this morning; I hope you saw it.

And if you saw it and "noticed" it, then you prayed at the crack of dawn.

The beautiful rose and blue colors of the sky were a welcome relief from the storm.

While pious Jews traditionally pray toward Jerusalem, and Muslims toward Mecca, Christians have traditionally faced not in the direction of a city, but East.

Our hope comes from the Lord, the Rising Son.

O Rising Sun,
splendour of light eternal and sun of righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

The Weather Outside Was Frightful


But all six of our babies to be baptized arrived safe and sound and warm. Two expectant couples arrived for their blessing and to pray for the health of their babies-on-the-way. Several families brought the Infant Jesus from their Christmas mangers to bless as well, probably over a dozen Infant Jesus's of all shapes, sizes and styles.

Our own maintenance crew did a great job of cleaning up the walkways and sidewalks and augmented the basic plowing job by our snow removal contractor. The driving winds virtually cleared some areas of snow entirely, while accumulating drifts of three, four and five feet or more in certain areas, especially against the school building.

Evening 7 PM mass is still on schedule and, as usual, will be the Traditional Latin Mass.

O Key of David


The Messiah's lineage from the house of David the King is echoed by the key, a symbol of authority and power.
This prison which this Messiah will open will be the gates of Hell and the kingdom which will be ours instead, the kingdom of eternal life. Jesus builds on this imagery when he gives Peter the keys to the kingdom.

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel;
you open and no one can shut;
you shut and no one can open:
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house,
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

O My !


This photo was snapped not too long after the snowfall had begun, well before our manger figures became partially buried.

Spaces have been cleared in the parking lot and the pathways to and from the church are clear. Masses are being celebrated as usual.

CCD classes were cancelled for today.


O Root of Jesse

Root  The Incarnation, with both its historical and transhistorical importance, takes place in history, in a particular place and time, to Mary and Joseph. The genealogy of Jesus celebrates the Messiah's historicity, yet emphasizes his origins as God.

The Christmas proclamation at just before midnight mass is such a beautiful proclamation of this truth as well.

Jesus is not a myth, an ideal, or a symbol, he is True-God/True-Man.

O Root of Jesse, standing as a sign among the peoples;
before you kings will shut their mouths,
to you the nations will make their prayer:
Come and deliver us, and delay no longer.


O Adonai


The name of the LORD in Hebrew which pious Jews were permitted to pronounce aloud.
O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

The God of Moses who appeared in the burning bush, gave the tablets of the Ten Commandments, and led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt.

A God, who for the first time in human history, made a covenant with his people.

A God whom Christians believe comes again to make a New Covenant, a covenant He will ratify with His Body and Blood.

Let us give thanks for our God who comes among us and keep holy God's Name.

O Wisdom

Today begins the seven days of "O Antiphons" - seven titles of the Messiah from the book of the prophet Isaiah. Wisdom  
Today the first of the antiphons, is the Messiah's title as "O Wisdom."

O Wisdom, Who didst come out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.

Wisdom and prudence are often contrasted with knowledge or technical expertise. A prudent person knows when and how to apply all the other virtues. How does one temper justice with mercy? Courage and patience? When to speak up and when to keep silent? One of the most difficult tasks of the spiritual life is to find balance - O Wisdom. Jesus is the wisdom and the prudence.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel


Thank you to all the parents who brought young children and to those who helped plan our annual Stations of the Creche and Christmas tree lighting.

The relatively mild weather and the clear night added to the festivities and so did our little flock of sheep and goats. It's easy to for me to say, since I didn't have to lead any of them, but it seemed like they were pretty well behaved -- at least no one got away! Even the three candles on the outdoor Advent wreath stayed lit.

Our tree is decorated with many more lights this year and the newer LED's make a more brilliant display of color.

The children did a great job of reading and Mary and Joseph and "Seymour" the pony who plays the part of the donkey, were right on schedule. Our portable sound system worked perfectly this year and the inside of the church looked festive and dignified. Everyone seemed to enjoy the snacks after the prayers (even our sheep who got to eat grass and treats too.)

Each year we celebrate the Advent Stations with Christmas creche blessing and tree lighting to gather as a parish family for a holy and happy event during the Advent season. Thanks again to everone who made the evening such a success.

Check out the rest of the photos in the Christmas Album.

Christmas Tree Lighting and Stations of the Creche TONIGHT

Join us at 7 PM tonight for a festive blessing and lighting of the Christmas tree and a celebration of the Stations of the Creche. We wil be joined by "Seymour" our Christmas donkey as usual along with his friends - a mini-flock of sheep and assorted other animals - meet, greet and feed them after the celebration. This year, for the first time,  our tree sports hundreds of LED Christmas lights.


Saint John of the Cross

Stjohnofcross Because our parish is named for the Holy Cross, I think we should become very familiar with saints of the same name, or saints with particular devotion to the Cross. Surely, St. John of the Cross is an excellent beginning: mystic, poet, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

John's writings insist that progress in the spiritual life is only made with difficulty, and with suffering. Asceticism, i.e. leaving something behind or separating oneself from the world is never easy. Suffering, in his writings, produces understanding. His Spiritual Canticle is a poetic reflection on the Song of Songs and has been put to music by John Michael Talbot, "One Dark Night."

St. John's own artwork provided the inspiration for Salvador Dali's painting, Christ of St. John of the Cross. One unique aspect of St. John's sketch was that it took God's point of view and looked down on the crucifixion from heaven.

"In the end, you will be judged by love."