the candle

A hodgepodge of beauty, truth, and goodness.

Baptism of the Lord

Baptism_of_Christ_Pietro_PeruginoBaptism of Christ by Pietro Perugino (c.1446-1523)

And so, with the feast of the beautiful and mysterious Baptism of the Lord this Sunday, the Christmas season comes to a close.


Love one another

Is there anything more beautiful than love? Yesterday’s first reading from Mass:

Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only-begotten Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. (1 Jn 4:7-10)

Five more days of Christmas!

I’m not letting go of the Christmas season yet. Here’s the King’s Singers with their arrangement of the traditional French carol Noël nouvelet.

‘Let your light shine’

Candle_BanginI think this is my hundredth post since I started the candle on Oct. 11. For the occasion, I’m going to get back to fundamentals and quote the scriptural justification for this blog’s name. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Mt 5:14-16)

Photo by Bangin.

‘God has acted to make his divine nature known’

Giotto_Adoration_of_the_MagiAdoration of the Magi by Giotto (1266-1337)

Reading today, I happened upon a passage that strikes me as very appropriate for the feast of Epiphany. From Exploring Reality: The Intertwining of Science and Religion by John Polkinghorne, pp. 95-96:

If the quantum world requires its own form of logic, one might anticipate that everyday habits of thought may also require some revision when one engages in the task of seeking to understand divine reality. In addition to that general consideration, there are also particular limitations to be expected in the degree of success attainable in the specific case of theology. The infinite nature of God is never going to be exhaustively contained in the finite categories of human thought. The mysterious ineffability of the divine, emphasised by what is called apophatic theology, must always be borne in mind in the course of honest enquiry. Yet the mystery card should be the last one to be played in theological discussion, for Christians believe that God has acted to make the divine nature known in humanly accessible ways, particularly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The journey of the Magi

The_Magi_Journeying_James_TissotThe Magi Journeying by James Tissot (1836-1902)

For Sunday’s feast of Epiphany, do yourself a favor and go here to listen to a recording of T.S. Eliot reading his wonderful short poem “Journey of the Magi.” It starts out like this:

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

And it only gets better. The third and final stanza is quite thought-provoking, and haunting. Read and listen to the rest here.

‘Glory be to God for dappled things’

Cow_in_Iceland“Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins (forgive the lack of formatting)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Photo by Christian Bickel.

Why are we here?

From the beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life. (CCC 1)

The Incarnation in musical form

In light of yesterday’s feast of Mary, Mother of God, and the ongoing Christmas season, now seems a perfect time for Chanticleer’s rendition of Franz Biebl’s glorious Ave Maria. The piece, composed in 1964, is a setting of a portion of the Angelus prayer, a great celebration of the Incarnation. Here is a translation of the text:

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary,
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord,
Be it done unto me according to your Word.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

And the Word was made flesh,
And dwelt among us.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Music for Mary, Mother of God

Happy Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God! This is a video a few friends and I recorded on this date last year at beautiful Blessed Sacrament Church in Seattle. Please excuse the background noise and the less-than-perfect singing on the bass line. Singing are, from left: Kevin Birnbaum (bass), Alan Stout (baritone), Doug Fullington (tenor 2), and Jesson Mata (tenor 1).