31 December 2008

New Year's Eve

Happy New Year's Eve! What can I say? We're in quiet little Gaming, Lisa is very pregnant, and I'm a touch under the weather. We opened a tiny bottle of Sekt, and toasted the New Year 3 hours early. In fact, we didn't stay up until midnight last year either...

Prosit Neujahr!

30 December 2008

Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas

A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us: Whose government is upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called the Angel of great counsel. (Psalm) Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things.

Another short and belated post because I spent the whole day sick, with the exception of about another hours worth of work for the school, taking out a bunch of recycling.

29 December 2008

Commemoration of St. Thomas of Canterbury

Bishop and Martyr
Let us all rejoice in the Lord, celebrating a festal day in honor of blessed Thomas the Martyr: at whose martyrdom the Angels rejoice, and praise the Son of God. (Psalm) Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just: praise becometh the upright.

A short and belated post because I spent the whole day (10 hours) working for the school to prepare our new location in Trumau, nearer to Vienna. Our two tasks were raking the leaves in the courtyard of the castle, and taking down a whole lots of curtains for the sake of coming electricians who needed them out of the way. It was rather fun, and it is a huge blessing to be able to earn some money over the winter break.

28 December 2008

Sunday within the Octave of the Nativity

While all things were in quiet silence and the night was in the midst of her course, Thine almighty Word, O Lord, leaped down from heaven from Thy royal throne. (Psalm) The Lord hath reigned, He is clothed with beauty: the Lord is clothed with strength, and hath girded Himself.

The Holy Innocents, Martyrs
Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings, O God, Thou hast perfected praise, because of Thine enemies. (Psalm) O Lord our God: how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth!

Two travel updates: (1) I have news from Katie that she and her co-adventurer have arrived safely in Florence, and are enjoying themselves greatly. They'll stay there again tonight before heading on to Siena. (2) The Dublin Airport's website reports that Aer Lingus flight 124 from Chicago is delayed, with a new arrival time estimated as 8:46 (Dublin time); and now we see that they have landed safely at 8:55.

27 December 2008

St. John

Apostle and Evangelist
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory. (Psalm) It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy name, O Most High. Glory be to the Father. In the midst...

Happy feast of St. John. Today is John's name day, and we celebrated by relaxing. There's not much to post about, because we didn't do much today. But that's a good thing, because after the baby arrives I think days like this will be few and far between.

26 December 2008

St. Stephen

First Martyr
Princes sat, and spoke against me: and the wicked persecuted me: help me, O Lord my God, for Thy servant was employed in Thy justifications. (Psalm) Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. Glory be to the Father. Princes...

I dropped Katie and her friend Jessica off at the train station this morning at 6:30 for the beginning of their Italian vacation. We have news that their flight from Vienna landed safely in Venice early this afternoon, and I'm sure that they are strolling around in Venice right now. They were still adjusting their travel plans even late last night, but it's settled as least that they'll stay tonight in Venice, and then two nights in Florence, two in Siena, and two in Norcia. After that point it's not so clear, but they should be in Rome from about 2 Jan. '09 until their flight back to Bratislava on 9 Jan. '09.

Into the way of peace and prosperity direct them, O almighty and merciful God: and may the Angel Raphael accompany them in the way, and may they return in peace, health and joy unto their own homes.

Christmas Greetings from Maria

25 December 2008

The Nativity of Our Lord

A Child is born to us, and a Son is given to us: Whose government is upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called the Angel of great counsel. (Psalm) Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: because He hath done wonderful things. Glory be to the Father... A Child is born...

Frohe Weihnachten! 
Merry Christmas!

Pictures of our Christmas morning are here. Divine Liturgy was at 10:00 and now we are back home preparing a lasagna feast for dinner.

24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

This day you shall know that the Lord will come, and save us: and in the morning you shall see His glory. (Psalm) The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof: the world and all they that dwell therein. Glory be to the Father... This day...

Merry Christmas Eve! We got up today and started cooking. Of course, when I say "we" I really mean "they", as in Lisa and Katie, but as you can see, I did help with the rolling of the pasta dough for the ravioli.

The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great with Great Vespers was at 3:00, which was very nice, although it meant that we again missed the arrival of the Bethlehem light. After the Liturgy, I went over to the parish church to light our Christmas candle from the above mentioned light, while Lisa got the ravioli cooking. Dinner was delicious, and I insisted on playing Pavarotti's Christmas album to accompany our Italian dinner.

Maria is sleeping now, and is very excited that baby Jesus is coming tomorrow (and that she gets to open her presents tomorrow). Some of her grandparents (which is to say all of them) made sure that there is quite a little pile under the Christmas tree for her.

23 December 2008

O Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the desire of the nations and the Savior thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God.

Vienna was very nice today, good weather, etc. We wanted to have lunch in the Naschmarkt and to wander around the big Adventmarkts, and we did both. Below is the Christkindlmarkt in front of the Rathous in Vienna.

It only rained on us for about 20 minutes, and we managed to take shelter in the Adventmarkt in the Museum Quarter to wait it out with hot chocolate. Maria enjoyed that idea thoroughly.

22 December 2008

O Rex Gentium

O King of the Gentiles and the desire thereof, Thou cornerstone that makest both one, come and deliver mankind, whom Thou didst form out of clay.

What a day! Wow, this one will live in infamy. It started out innocently enough. We all piled into the Toyota van (yes, it matters that it was the Toyota, keep reading) with the Sinitsins and their two kids, and headed for Wieselburg for Lisa's doctor's appointment (everything is going well on that front) and some shopping in the big (relative only to Gaming) Mall. After that, we would head back toward Gaming, stopping in Purgstall first and then in Scheibbs for groceries. 

Well, first there was poor little Amalia's vomiting in the car on the way to Wieselburg, then, half way through our time there we were told that someone else was coming to trade us the VW van for the Toyota; fine and good. We also learned that the VW was needed back in Gaming by 3:30, latest 4:00, so that the Ave Maria students could head for the airport for their flights home. Well that meant that we really had to hurry. 

So we finished eating lunch in Wieselburg, and headed for Purgstall where we made the van exchange. Lisa and Katie ran into Kik (something like a dollar store, but a pretty good one) for some 5 minute Christmas shopping, and we headed for Scheibbs with about 45 minutes to do serious Christmas grocery shopping for two families. We made it through one store, but on the way through the parking lot toward the next I made a turn too sharply in an excessively large van and hit a curb with the right rear tire.... which blew. 

Slawa and I spent the next 40 minutes or so (rusty screws) changing the tire, while the women made record time shopping. We pulled into the Kartause courtyard at 3:50 where we met the surprisingly calm Ave Maria students, who, hopefully, made their flights on time. We, of course, since we had to rush to get them the van, had no choice but to unload our shopping at the Kartause, with far too much to carry the kilometer or so to our homes. I had to borrow the ITI car, which since it was too small for all of us meant that we first loaded it up with the Sinitsins' groceries, and I drove them home and unloaded, and then came back to load up again with our stuff (and ourselves). 

On the bright side, before driving our stuff home, we checked out the abandoned stuff in the Ave Maria common room and made out like bandits. I think we picked up as much there as we did on our entire trip. So, that's my story.

21 December 2008

Fourth Sunday of Advent (O Oriens)

O Day-Spring, Brightness of light eternal, and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

St. Thomas, Apostle (II Class)
St. Thomas doubted the Lord's Resurrection... but invited by our Lord to place his fingers into the Holy Wounds he passed suddenly from incredulity to ardent faith, exclaiming: "My Lord and my God!" He became one of the greatest Apostolic missionaries and died in India in the first century.

For some reason the Divine Liturgy was cancelled this morning, which meant that we went to the Roman Rite Mass in the main Kartause chapel. Although I could have done without the guitars (see Tra le Sollecitudini), it was nice to hear the Gospel of the Annunciation at Mass. In the Tridentine Rite it would have been read last Wednesday for the Golden Mass, while today's would be John the Baptist preaching repentance. Anyways, though, the point is that there is a beautiful connection between Christmas and the Annunciation as the two feast days that highlight above all the Incarnation of our Lord.

At the end of his homily, the priest read an excerpt from St. Bernard of Clairvaux's In laudibus Virginis Matris, homily 4, 8:

The angel awaits your answer, for it is time for him to return to the one who sent him. ... O Lady, answer with the word that earth and hell and, yes, even heaven are waiting for. Just as the Lord and King yearned for your beauty, so equally now he longs for you to respond with your agreement.... Why are you hesitating? Why are you fearful? ... Behold, the one for whom all peoples are longing stands without and knocks on the door. Ah, what if he were to pass on because you hesitated.... Stand up, hasten, open up! Stand up in faith, hasten in your devotion, open up by your assent! 

Text copied from God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life by Joseph Ratzinger, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2003), p. 19.

20 December 2008

O Clavis David (Ember Saturday)

O Key of David, and Scepter of the house of Israel, that openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: come and bring the prisoner forth from the prison-house, and him that sitteth in darkness and in the shadow of death.

I have some nice pictures of Maria sitting at her new little play table, but the webpage won't load them for some reason. I'll try again later.

Okay, here they are:

19 December 2008

O Radix Jesse (Ember Friday)

O Root of Jesse, Which standest for an ensign of the people, before Whom kings shall keep silence, Whom the Gentiles shall beseech: come and deliver us, and tarry not.

Well, it's all over. Another semester in the books. The German exam wasn't too bad this afternoon, although it was long. We did have plans to spend the day tomorrow in Vienna in celebration, but the weather forecast looked like some rain, which is really miserable when it's this cold. If only it were a few degrees colder, then we'd have snow instead, which would be really nice. So, we're going to try for Vienna again on Tuesday (Lisa has an appointment with the doctor on Monday), and the forecast for now is good. We really want to make it there before Christmas because the city is full of great big Adventmarkts. The atmosphere is great, and so is the Glühwein.

So, tomorrow we'll spend the day cleaning the apartment instead (although I doubt it will take all day, it's not that big a place).

18 December 2008

O Adonai

O Adonai, and Leader of the house of Israel, Who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and didst give unto him the law on Sinai: come and with an outstretched arm redeem us.

Congratulations to Katie for the successful completion of her first semester of studies here. She is now off at the Kartause having a grand old time with the Ave Maria students (who will sadly soon be leaving), while I've been here studying German for the past three hours. I'm not jealous, though. Nope, not at all. Frankly, there is very little that is more fun than studying German ;-)

Update: I should add, of course, that I've added my last writing assignment of the semester to the sidebar. It's an exegetical exercise on the death scene of Christ in the Gospel according to Matthew (27:45-50), focusing especially upon the words of Christ, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Oh, and one more thing. Katie baked something like 79(!) oatmeal raisin cookies today, some of which she is taking to the Kartause for this evening's end of year bash in the Ave Maria common room.

17 December 2008

O Sapientia (Ember Wednesday)

O Wisdom, Which camest 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.

On the Wednesday of Ember week in Advent, the Mystery of the Annunciation is commemorated by many Churches. The Mass is sung early in the morning. That Mass is sometimes called the Golden Mass, Rorate Mass, or Messias Mass. On that occassion the Church is illuminated, as a token that the world was still in darkness when the Light of the world appeared.

At home Katie and I are still in the midst of exams. She had another one this afternoon, while I spent a good part of the day preparing for tomorrow. Katie has her last exam tomorrow afternoon, but is spending the evening baking cookies at the Kartause instead of studying! What would her mother say?!?

Let's see, what else? Maria is still very cute, but she has been a bit sick of late, which means that the frequency of her total emotional meltdowns has increased proportionally. Lisa is still very cute too, but she is also getting ever more emotional, what with the pregnancy and all that...

16 December 2008

Exam Week

John's Exams

2 completed
Monday 6:00 Moral Theology II: Human Acts and the Final End
Tuesday 11:00 Fundamental Theology: Fides et Ratio

2 remaining
Thursday 2:00 The One God I: Existence and Attributes of God
Friday 3:00 Advanced German

Katie's Exams

3 completed
Friday Natural Philosophy I: Principles of Nature
Monday 3:00 Introduction to Philosophy: Logos and Eros
Tuesday 9:00 Logic

2 remaining
Wednesday 2:40 Introduction to Scripture I: Old Testament
Thursday 4:00 Mysterium Salutis I: Catechism of the Catholic Church

14 December 2008

Gaudete Sunday

Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in everything by prayer let your petitions be made known to God. (Psalm) Lord, Thou hast blest Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Gloria Patri...

Just as last year, John and I are trying to determine what sort of traditions we want to start for important holidays such as Christmas, incorporating some from each side of our families, and coming up with some of our own. This year, we heard of people setting up their Christmas tree on the first Sunday of Advent, but only decorating it with purple ornaments. Then on Gaudete Sunday, adding pink (or rose, whichever is your preference) to the mix, and finally decorating the tree in all its glory Christmas Eve. We liked the idea, and so up until now we've only had purple ribbon on the tree. To honor my family's tradition, we decided to decorate the tree, without lights, today. We'll wait to light the tree until Christmas Eve night. After all the ornaments were on, we realized that we had a bouquet of pink roses from my shower Friday night. We decided to add them, and from now on, perhaps we'll add pink roses every Gaudete Sunday.

We sampled the fruits of all our cookie baking after Divine Liturgy this morning. But don't worry, the rest are packed safely away until Christmas!

I think Maria had more fun decorating the tree this year.

If you look very carefully, you can see roses peeking out between the branches.

13 December 2008

St. Lucy

Virgin, Martyr (III Class)
Born at Syracuse in Sicily of noble parents, St. Lucy gave herself to Jesus and chose death rather than lose the incorruptible treasure of her virginity, in 303. Her name occurs in the canon of the Mass.

Today was a busy day for all of us! Lisa made 67 chocolate truffles in four varieties: brandy, amaretto, coconut and rum, and coffee and irish cream. UPDATE (by Lisa): After finishing his paper, John set to work making "Nana cookies," with a total of 89. For an explanation of "Nana cookies," visit the Scavone Family Cookbook.

Katie made 64 chocolate chip cookies, with big chocolate chunks (in which Maria seemed rather interested).

And, least interesting of all, I wrote my last paper of the semester (it's all but finished, I just need to look up a reference for a footnote).

12 December 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Patroness of the Americas (III Class)
O Holy Mary, Virgin Mother of God, who as Our Lady of Guadalupe didst aid in the conversion of Mexico from paganism in a most miraculous way, we now beseech thee to bring about in these our times the early conversion of our modern world from its present neo-paganism to the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of thy Divine Son Jesus Christ, starting in the Americas and extending throughout the entire world, so that soon there may be truly "one fold and one shepherd," with all governments recognizing the reign of thy Son, Jesus Christ the King. This we ask of the Eternal Father through Jesus Christ His Son our Lord and by thy powerful intercession - all for the salvation of souls, the triumph of the Church, and peace in the world. Amen.

In honor of our Lady of Guadalupe, we had a Mexican feast in the ITI common room. Huge burritos of black beans, rice, potates, peppers, etc. Big bowls of homemade salsa. Even a mini keg of beer. Delicious!

Lisa also had a baby shower this evening with a Mexican theme in honor of our Lady. She says that Mexican cheesecake is quite good. We got lots and lots of diapers...

11 December 2008

New Prefect for Liturgy!

The news is a couple of days old now, but it is nonetheless exciting: the retirement of Cardinal Arinze has been accepted by the Holy Father, and Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain, has been named as his successor as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. Read about the appointment on the New Liturgical Movement here and here.

If one can judge by the vestments that a Cardinal wears, the sacred Liturgy would appear to be in good hands.

10 December 2008

Principles of Catholic Biblical Interpretation

I turned in my next to last assignment: a synthesized journal of principles of Catholic biblical interpretation. It's linked on the sidebar, but you can also read it here.

My last assignment is a 7-10 page exegetical exercise on the death scene of Christ in Matthew's Gospel (27:45-50). It promises to be rather interesting in light of the atonement on account of Christ's enigmatic cry from the cross: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

09 December 2008

One class laid to rest

One class down, six to go. This morning we had our last session of the thesis tutorial class, which, because there is no final exam, means that it is finished for the semester. Tomorrow, it's Greek's turn (also no final exam).

08 December 2008

The Immaculate Conception

On this day in 1854, Blessed Pope Pius IX defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of our Lady, in these words:

"Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own:

"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful" (Ineffabilis Deus, 29).

07 December 2008

Second Sunday of Advent

Numerous allusions appear in the Liturgy of this day to Jerusalem and her people. Let us be filled with sentiments of hope and of joy, for the coming of Jesus is near. Let us prepare the way in our hearts for the Messias, our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

St. Ambrose, Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church
This Bishop of Milan was one of the four great doctors of the Western Church. As an orator he opposed the heretics, as a writer he enshrined Latin literature with his sacred hymns. He died in 397.

Our little pilgrimage to Milan for the feast of St. Ambrose was quite an up and down experience. We left Saturday morning for Vienna, only to discover upon our arrival there that one of our party had forgotten his passport. We continued on to the airport hoping that he'd be able to board the plane anyways, but no such luck. It was quite disappointing to all of us to leave him behind. The remaining two of us landed uneventfully and proceeded into the city to be greeted by this truly magnificent sight: the Duomo of Milan.

The Duomo is the second largest cathedral in Europe. Beautiful. After wandering through a crowded market in the castle quarter, we headed off to find our hostel. Upon arriving however, we discovered that they had overbooked and were sending us off to stay at another place. Ah, well. We found the place eventually. Sunday morning we awoke early and headed back into the city to visit the Basilica of St. Ambrose (below), wherein his body lies. Ambrose himself had the bodies of the second century martyrs Ss. Gervase and Protase (feast: June 19) placed under the altar of this church, where they still lie with Ambrose now between them. Ambrose himself was vested in white pontificals, with a mitre on his head, while the martyrs were robed in red dalmatics with golden crowns upon their heads and the palm branches of martyrdom in their hands.

After hearning Mass in the traditional Ambrosian rite at the little Church of San Rocco al Gentilino, we had some time before the crypt of St. Charles Borromeo would be opened at the Duomo, and so we went back to the castle of the Sforza family to see it in the daylight, and to walk through its courtyards.

The crypt of St. Charles, as I mentioned, was supposed to open at 1:30, which would give us just time enough to venerate the great cardinal and bishop of Milan before running off to catch a bus to the airport at 2:00. However, stand there as we might, the door to the crypt was not opened for us and we had to leave without seeing St. Charles. Ah, well.

Our adventures were still not over. We landed in Vienna around 6:20 and headed into the city to meet some ITI folks who were there to celebrate the intsallation as Lector and Acolyte of a seminarian-professors of ours. We knew they were near the Votivkirche, but nothing else. And my fellow traveler's cell phone, upon which we were relying heavily, completely failed us. No service in Vienna. We spent the next few hours looking for our ride home. We pumped about 7 euro into a pay phone and only managed to get a message through to the Kartause that if they were able to communicate with our friends to tell them to pick us up at the Votivkirche. Having arrived in the city center around 7:30 we finally found our ride back to Gaming between 9:30 and 10:00. We are back, though, safe and sound, and happy to have paid our respects to the great bishop of Milan.

06 December 2008

St. Nicholas

Bishop, Confessor (III Class)
The Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor is one of the most popular oriental saints. The spiritual and temporal needs of his flock were the first object of his pastoral care. This worker of miracles died in 342; his body was eventually enshrined at Bari in Italy.

This morning we woke up early, so John could celebrate St. Nicholas Day a little while with Maria before leaving for Milan. She was very excited to find that St. Nicholas had eaten the cookies she left for him, but he had left some for her too! He also left chocolate coins in her shoes (and some in Katie's shoes as well).

Divine Liturgy was in the main church, and was the only Eucharistic celebration today at the Kartause, so that all the students from both the ITI and Franciscan University could participate. St. Nicholas is a major saint in the Eastern Churches. After Liturgy the children were all called up to the front, and told that if they sang for St. Nicholas, maybe he would come visit them. Sure enough, as you can see below, he came and asked them many questions, as well as asking the parents if their children had been good this year, and then he handed out presents to each of them. Then everyone was able to receive a blessing with oil. After we arrived home this afternoon, Maria told us, "St. Nicholas looks like Br. Basil." Indeed he does.

We hope that John is having a great time in Milan with Max and Rob. Please pray for a safe journey home for them!

05 December 2008

Cookie Baking Day

With St. Nicholas' Day coming tomorrow, the family tradition of cookie baking began today. Lisa and Katie (with lots of help from Maria) made 125 sugar cookies (also about 40 truffles).

Some cookies and milk for St. Nicholas, of course!

04 December 2008

St. Peter Chrysologus

Bishop, Confessor, Doctor of the Church (III Class)
The holy Bishop of Ravenna was one of the most eloquent preachers of the Church (Chrysologus means "golden speech"). He died at Imola in 450.

This morning the second low Mass of the semester was offered in the traditional Latin Rite of Mass. It was offered in honor of St. Peter Chrysologus, with commemorations both of Advent and of St. Barbara (which made it rather complicated for me to prepare the propers, but I figured out how it all works together eventually - I hope).

03 December 2008

St. Francis Xavier

Confessor (III Class)
One of the first companions of St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier, one of the greatest missionaries of all time, preached the Gospel in India and in Japan. He converted innumerable pagans and died in 1552 on his way to China.

02 December 2008

St. Bibiana

Virgin, Martyr (III Class)

St. Bibiana was martyred at Rome under Julian the Apostate in 363.

It seems to be the case that as exams approach, time slips by faster and faster... We have only a week and a half of classes left, I've already received one study sheet for an exam, and I still have one more paper to write!

I don't think I've mentioned, by the way (and I'm very excited about it), that I and a couple of friends are going to spend the coming feast of St. Ambrose in Milan! His feast falls this year on Sunday (Dec 7), and so we are flying into Milan on Saturday afternoon and returning Sunday evening. I am most looking forward to hearing Mass in the traditional Ambrosian Rite.

01 December 2008

Concerning beer

Our favorite Austrian beer maker (Berg König, Mountain King) has introduced a seasonal brew called Festbock. It is quite good, with an excellent deep red coloring. The incredibly sad news, however, is that Berg König's wheat beer, which had heretofore been our staple, has disappeared entirely.