Catholic Curiosities

The other day I picked up a pamphlet about a Novena to St. Jude in the back pew of Church.  To those who work for the Church this is a regular occurance.

It’s a sort of chain-letter kind of thing:

      1. Make this Novena to St. Jude
      2. Publish in a newspaper the results OR leave a copy (or LOTS of copies) of this novena in Church

Lots of church vestibules constantly see these sorts of things, sometimes with stern warnings to not remove the novena material and so forth.

Why do some Catholics do such a thing?  Well, in a word, superstition.  There are lots of superstitious things that well-meaning (although mistaken) Catholics do.

For example, even more popular than the St. Jude Novena (NEVER KNOWN TO FAIL, BY THE WAY!) is the goofy practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph in order to sell your home (HE WORKS FASTER IF YOU BURY HIM UPSIDE DOWN!).

And, of course, often enough the home is sold, or the novena request is granted, thus reinforcing through lived experience and the resulting word-of-mouth how effective such activities are.

Thankfully Joseph and Jude are both Jewish; so they can smile when I say, oy vey!

Leave the propaganda at home and just pray the novena, people.  And for God’s sake quit burying St. Joseph in the ground – not only disrespectful, but a violation of the First Commandment for sure, and likely the Fourth Commandment to boot.

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All I want for Christmas is a Big XII Trophy

Nothing would taste sweeter than to see Big XII Commissioner Dan Beebe have to swallow his pride and present NU with the Big XII championship trophy to be hauled off to the new and improved Big Ten next year.

By the way, throughout antiquity it was very common to take artifacts from those defeated in battle, or from conquered sites.  The Romans were very proficient at this.  Shown here is a closeup detail from the Arch of Titus, one of the triumphal arches found in the Roman Forum. The relief shows Roman soldiers taking the candelabra (menorah, in Hebrew) [מְנוֹרָה‎] after destroying the Temple in the year 70.  We know that this depicts the menorah from the Temple, because it is seven-branched, unlike the nine-branched menorah used during Hanukkah.

And, before any of you share your smart-alec remarks — I know, I know, only Deacon Chris would mix Husker football with a teaching-aside regarding menorahs.

Categories: Catechetics | 1 Comment

O Antiphons – Messianic Titles

If we arrange the titles of the O Antiphons in reverse order, we receive a lovely message:  ero cras, Latin for “tomorrow, I will come.”  Take a look at the chart below:






Dec 17th




Dec 18th




Dec 19th

Radix Jesse


Flower of Jesse

Dec 20th

Clavis David


Key of David

Dec 21st



Radiant Dawn

Dec 22nd

Rex Gentium


King of Nations

Dec 23rd





(at right is shown the star marking the place in Bethlehem where Christ entered the world)

Tomorrow indeed our Lord comes to us.  He comes not as a conquering hero, but rather, as a vulnerable, darling child born in a cave.  Kept warm by the livestock that share their shelter with Him.  God has touched our world — and changed it forever.

Merry Christmas to all of you – please remember to keep the “Mass” in Christmas.  We’d love to celebrate this holy event with you at Mass.  God bless you who seek the one who comes.

Categories: Catechetics, Etymology, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

O Antiphons – Emmanuel – Dec 23

The final O antiphon appears tonight.  The title of our God that is truly remarkable:  God-with-us, or in Hebrew, Emmanuel.  How blessed we are that the Creator of everything chooses to become part of His creation; to enter into this world as one of us.

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

Blessed are we to have such a God!  How marvelous is our Lord Jesus who enters our world to save us!

It is only through love that our God comes to us as one of our own.  The creator becoming a creature is a truly humbling thing, if we spend a moment and think about that.

Any among you that have artistic talent can relate to how remarkable this is:  when you paint or sculpt or throw pottery do you ever wlionlamb1ish to that you could enter the piece?

Of course inanimate objects aren’t the same as people; but it gives us a glimpse into the love that is beyond our understanding that motivates our God to send his Son to us, to die for us, and to save us.

Blessed by the Lord, the God of Israel, He maintains all things and keep the world spinning at every moment.  Thank you for the gift of You!

Categories: Catechetics, Theology | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

O Antiphons – King – Dec 22

rex-gentiumThe Lord comes with a surprising title tonight Rex Gentium means “King of the Nations.” 

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

The children of Israel awaiting their messiah did not expect him to come for the gentiles, for the nations, but rather, exclusively for Israel.

But our God oftentimes suprises us with unexpected actions.  The gift of God-with-us is too great for any one tribe, for any one clan.  It’s an eternal gift that comes anew each year and sanctifies all time and all things.  The Lord pours out his love and care for all to experience.

If we want to be close to the King of the Universe, we need merely avail ourselves of the mysteries He left for us – the holy Sacraments.  Encounter your God by going to Confession this week – prepare your heart to receive the eternal gift of your loving Heavenly Father.

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O Antiphons – Radiant Dawn – Dec 21

dawnTonight’s antiphon speaks to the brilliance of the Son, not the sun.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:  come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Many of us stumble about through life with little direction.  Easily moving from one fad to another.  Why is that?  What is so difficult about maintaining a steady course?

We stumble about in darkness – most of us not all the time, but nearly every one of us some of the time.  Doubts and discouragement are part of the human condition, and no one is exempt from them.

Last year when letters to her spiritual director and journal entries were made public, Mother Teresa was in the spotlight of the media for a short time.  Reporters pounced on the fact that this holy woman had doubts – doubts about God’s care for her, doubts about her faith in Him.  

Blessed Mother Teresa is not unique – many of the greatest (holiest) saints among us endured [sometimes looooong] periods of doubt.  Of trouble with their faith, of discouragement and feelings of isolation, of being alone.  But they continued on, just as Mother Teresa did with her work, her prayer, her ministry to Christ.  And that makes all the difference.

If we doubt and worry and feel alone — but continue the course of our lives, we’ll work through it, and most likely become holier and wiser for it.  If we let it consume us, and destroy all hope within us, then the end will never seem to appear.

Whenever you find yourself in the darkness of doubt, and struggling with your faith, pray to the Radiant One for the gift of hope.  Our Lord Jesus is waiting to illuminate your path, and wrap his loving arms of comfort around you.  Let the Son shine upon you, and warm your face with his radiance.

Categories: Catechetics | 1 Comment

O Antiphons – Key of David – Dec 20

Tonight’s antiphon speaks to the saving power of Christ.  The “key of David” is the key that unlocks heaven for all the rightedescentintohadesous dead awaiting the messiah.

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven:  come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

There is a beautiful icon showing Christ’s decent into Hades to bring the righteous dead into heaven.  The icon depicts our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ pulling Adam and Eve from Hades into heaven.  This is what our Lord did after dying on the cross, and before he rose on Easter morning.

Keys are important symbols today, and were even more so in ancient Israel.  The keeper of the keys held the authority of them.  This tradition carries on in our modern-day verbiage of the Successor of Peter holding the keys entrusted to the Blessed Apostle by Jesus.  These keys are shown on the flag of Vatican City State, incidentally.


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