The Gift – by Patrick Finley

Eyes open hands reach
a new day to each
Life springs from a dark void
Gods presence it does teach

Legs stretch , Arms open, a connection unbroken
A love that should be unspoken.
More then a choice, yet without a voice
Natures most vulnerable pleas, Yet Mankind fails to see

That which is right in front of their face,
A Gift only given by grace.

Understanding what lies before, a gift given to both
The prayer of one, the hope of another,
The bond between Child and mother.

So often thrown away, so often ignored. Known by the one, before he or she was made, Today, the voice that supports them is one

Celibacy.. What it is and isn’t

5For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:6If any be without crime, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot, or unruly.”

Titus 1 5-7

Since the earliest days of the Church, there have been those given in Marriage, who likewise, were made Priests, the original word being used, Presbyter, With Bishops being the fullness of that priesthood, and having received authority from other Bishops, can trace that governing authority back to Christ himself, who ordained the first Bishops.

Those twelve went out, and made other bishops, who made other bishops, who made other bishops, right up to the Bishops (Both “Catholic” and “Orthodox” that we see today). Consequently, those Bishops authorized, or Ordain others to help with their work. Those are the Parish Priests, and other priests that are assigned to do work in the vineyard. Those priests technically, carry as little or as much authority as their Bishop gives them (Though most can confer 6 of the seven Sacraments, I digress)

Somewhere in antiquity, Bishops eventually did not keep wives, probably because of the demand and danger of the work. After all in the early days of the church, it wasn’t uncommon for a bishop to have to travels hundreds of miles in a month, in order to visit and preach to his flock. This is why often, there were village priests and local churches. The faithful still had a need to be taken care of, so those Priests would Baptize, Confirm, Marry, Hear Confession, Say Mass (liturgy, which ultimately gave us Eucharist) and Anoint/Administer Unction.

Until about the 7th century in the west and east, Priests were Married, and then ordained. Its crucial to understand that “order” , as it keeps with Paul’s ordinance. Priests should be married once, and their house should essentially, be in order. Somewhere around this time, out of necessity, in the west, a discipline was exacted requiring those Ordained to the priesthood, to likewise not marry and to take a vow of celibacy. Celibacy here being, no longer knowing a woman. So , since then, it has been administratively (not doctrinally) impossible for a priest to marry in the West. This had already been the case with monastic priests(and is still the case with eastern monk priests, called “HieroMonks” ). More then likely as the “Parish” structure developed in feudal Europe, and often Bishops were very missionary in nature till the middle ages, this developed in tandem, as often those Bishops and Priests would live in community (if they were incardinated, and not already associated with a monastery, which was more the norm, especially in Germany, England, Ireland, Scotland)

Lately this has come back up, this discussion of so called “Married Priests”. Often our protestant brethren will use that as a main critique of the Roman Catholic Priesthood, and they will often cite Paul’s Epistle. Paul says priests yes indeed, should only be married once – However, he doesn’t insist that they should be married. Certainly the job is ridiculously demanding. Respectfully, a protestant community wont completely get that demand, as often their communities function in a more corporate manner, where quite often the traditional Pastoral duties have been split up among a pastoral “Team”, and the Pastor functioning as more of a CEO, working for the parish, as opposed to a true shepherd. Its not uncommon for many to find themselves ran out of town the minute they touch on something their bosses don’t want to hear.

Likewise, Our Orthodox brethren, (who like to presume they have kept it as is for 2000 years..alas there are holes in that argument) will argue that their priests are more in touch with the people, because they are of the people. A Married man of good character (read:AXIOS!), will first start as a Reader, then Cantor, Subdeacon, Deacon and then as a Priest(presbyter). Often they even have children after that point as well.

Still further we have the added curveball of the provisions allowed for the returning Anglican and Lutheran Pastors, as we recognize the formula for their Ordination. Still Further, we have Eastern Rite Priests who in some countries and Sui Juris churches, can accept ordination after marriage. All of this certainly makes a dynamic point to start at to understanding first and foremost, the concept of Celibacy.

Celibacy is a discipline, NOT a Doctrine – But it grew up from doctrine, namely Paul’s letter above. A Priest by nature, is married to the Bride, the Church, mystically, as he holds the place of Christ, by virtue of the Sacrifice he offers on our behalf (and in the Person of Christ, Persona Christi). As such, he needs to be able to give his whole attention to it.

Sadly the very nature of western “Parish” churches doesn’t allow this – We have to remember Anglican, Lutheran and Eastern churches are often a lot smaller number wise. In a lot of ways, they were able to keep to the small cell church format (so greatly lauded, and missed in the end by evangelicals) – So for them, the Priest being married is a doable thing, because the demand on their person just isn’t as great with a 100 Family community as it would be with a 400-1000 family community. Frankly Roman Catholic Parishes are too complex to allow that balance, and short of a complete administrative overhaul, could not sustain it.

Likewise, saying that a married priesthood would fix any infidelity issues the Priest might have, is preposterous, as everyday in the news you hear about some sick person abusing their own children. Even now if you pay attention, every day there are Pastors, Rabbis, Imans alike who are caught in precarious situations. There is no historical guarantee this would solve the issue – In Fact, history has proven just the opposite. In the middle ages we had Borgia, Medici alike, who had complete dynasties on the Papal throne! Its for reasons like this, let alone property issues, that the discipline was started in the West.

That brings me to the Crux of this (and an effort to prevent myself from droning on) . This week, the Pope Emeritus and His Eminence Cardinal Sarah, co-authored a book in defense of Priestly Celibacy. Both Conservatives and Liberals alike have attempted to use that as a sword against the other. However there is one great issue – The Holy Father himself, has also stated a defense of Celibacy (despite the Synodal discussions as of late)

My take on the Benedict/Sarah Book – Both care deeply for Holy Mother church. Benedict dealt with the crisis that he inherited, and knows first hand the shape the Church Militant is in. Couple that with Cardinal Sarah’s personal experience, having been in Africa, and knowing people like the once Bishop Milingo, as well as seeing first hand the problems they have. Both know that the Western Church couldn’t possibly sustain a married priesthood, and fight the battle focused that we are now in

Both know that the Western church has real issue and battle to fight. Both love their church deeply, and most importantly , at least for now, both are in union with Peter himself. Both have firsthand experience and wisdom and have seen what a distracted priesthood amounts to – Imagine leverage wife, children, estate against an already lonely thankless vocation – None of that would end up well for the church, and we would be alot worse then where we started.

Would a married priesthood be neat and trendy? Sure. Would it work? Possibly not, given the demands the average parish priest has. I personally know a few married Latin rite priests – Their schedule barely allows them piece of mind. Couple that with needing to still be fathers and husbands. Both have wonderful wives and stable families. These days that’s less and less the case – The most pious man/or woman in the world could have a family of lapsed heterodox, and through no fault of his own.

Its reasons like this that the Holy Father and Bishops over the centuries have maintained this requirement – Ultimately for the good of the church as it NEEDS to function for the west.

Emmanuel.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,exspectatio Gentium, et Salvator earum:veni ad salvandum nos, Domine, Deus noster.

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

Yesterday I went another parish, one that a friend is Music director at. Yesterday’s readings had the Isaiah verse that are apart of the readings for the day, which is neat because the Vesper for today, actually has this antiphon. I digress though – Father’s homily was on point, and he talked about in a nutshell, that God with us is so much more then a name. God is with us in the happiest and darkest times of our lives.

This hit home to me,because its easy to get wrapped up not only in the hustle of the lead up to Christmas -(lets face it, even the most “Pious” of us get caught up in some of the commercialism), but also in the depressive state that comes of spending money relentlessly (on multiple fronts personally right now), the anxiety of not having enough time to get it all done, and the eventual despair that is an end result. Emmanuel is more then who Jesus is, its the very core of how he is, and what he does.

I cant for a moment fathom.. WHY God would even bother at times. I mean, if you look at the world… its easy to say we deserve every bit of damnation we are working on. In Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, Marley, the ghost of Scrooges long dead partner, tells him he forged his chain in life, link by link. One has to wonder at the collective chain of humanity at these points, not only because of our in deference to our fellow man, but also by the black place we have gone with our sins. If you truly applied a legalistic approach to this, a mortal would greatly question the wisdom of a God, who sent the most precious of people , his Only Son… to Be like us, in everything but our sins, and to die like so many of us do, in obscurity, pain, and unceremoniously

The only answer is Love. Only pure love, which is the very essence of the +Trinity, could warrant such an undeserving action. God is with us, in every way through the Word made flesh. “He knows our pains, to our weakness no stranger, his Law is love and his Gospel is peace”. Love – Love is the only way something like this could happen. Not the lie the media has us believe now about people and their choices, or a presupposed acceptance of people on any level, but true Love. A love that never made a demand… and simply gave everything.

God is Love , and Love, in its purest form is among us. May it renew in us hope, hope that we are eventually saved from ourselves. That alone gives someone like me a chance. God loves me enough to truly meet me on my own terms, but very much on his terms, comes with invitation that I might take a step up the ladder, which eventually ascends to perfection.

Lighten My Darkness. O Oriens

O Oriens,splendor lucis aeternae, et sol justitiae:veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

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

As far as how I am spiritually wired… not really being overly western or eastern in my thinking on things, the concept of “The UnCreated Light” has always been fascinating to me. With the spiritual discipline of Hesychism, one seeks to encounter that. Most of us will never be able to find it in our mortal life, because of our many imperfections. Those few holy men who do, are living saints. Honestly, there have been as many in the west as they have been found in the east, but under different realizations. I would place any Stigmatic with any Schema monk. Both encounter God and angels constantly. Both become a reflection of that Uncreated Light, and as such we are able to encounter them

Advent is naturally during a very, very dark time of year. Imagine how much worse it would have been as a Christian in the Black forest for instance during the middle ages, where there were no street lights, indoor lights or heat.

The concept of Morning star speaks directly to the Uncreated Light. The First star, the star that cracks light into darkness. So too God Incarnate, becomes the light in the darkness of both a physical and metaphysical world

Our Salvation is a WORKING SALVATION. One can thump all the verse they feel like, but unless there is a deep, contemplative transformation, and an encounter with that light… we can only rely on the mercy of God.

So again keeping with our understanding of things in a non linear sense as it relates to Salvation, that of being something that Has, Is, and will happen to us, it is fitting that even now more then ever that we hope, pray and search for a deep encounter with Christ. in a rather dark world, our only hope for illumination, is a psychological and intellectual transformation. Only when we realize that the source of Truth is Jesus.. will our world be saved. May we come to comprehend that, so that one day we can take it in in fullness when we are perfected

The Key, O Clavis David! (DAH VID in Latin)

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel;qui aperis, et nemo claudit;claudis, et nemo aperit:veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

English: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.

Today shows us his authority. Keys are used to open and shut doors. This gives us a greater understanding that the Messiah, will be more then simply someone to eradicate temporal ills, but also allows us into heaven

One item that has always been maintained by Holy Mother church, is a ressurection of the Body, but more importantly, a last judgement. For us to truly understand the so called “End Times” we need to not think of things so linear, but in a mystical sense. What if I told you the end of the world has already happened, and it will happen , and its happening now?

Granted there are some real nut jobs who have stood on a box in the street and screamed that the end was near. They were only partially correct. Just like this also, the Advent isn’t something that is static in time that we simply recall, but it is something that exists for us in real time.

This is , with great respect to my protestant brethren , where we differ as Catholic/Orthodox vs traditions that broke away. This is no more prevalent then in the Eucharist, which we celebrate with a very Jewish Attitude. The Eucharist, just like the Passover meal.. is a reliving of an event. When either are celebrated we are back at that moment.

Likewise, advent is that way. Consider yourself waiting, 4000 years for the Christ. This is what we get when we recall these psalms, readings, etc. More then a recollection, but a reliving of things

The Key of David does more then show authority, it shows authority in action – Christ opens the gates of Heaven for us, those who try to follow. But he didn’t stop there. When that earthquake happened, he ripped from death the control over those who paved the way for him, the righteous. How much more wonderful is it when he rips from the clutches of Sin and death… those who are unworthy, which he does. Christ alone has authority to do this.

So again, we have more then just a “Messiah Ben Da’vid” as the Jews, and Messianics might profess. Neither of those manifestations could truly help us… or allow us entry in. Only He Can. He holds the key, and authority to break all of us from prison.

Jesse’s Stem

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,super quem continebunt reges os suum,quem Gentes deprecabuntur:veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

English: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.

Anyone who is moderately acquainted with scripture knows that Jesse was the Father of David, who eventually would become King. This kingship being mentioned is important, especially for the Israelites, as it establishes that the Messiah, or “Anointed King” will come from David’s line. Matthew in his gospel goes to great lengths to point this out in his genealogy. Honestly..its my least favorite/difficult reading to get through. As an engineer I’m very high level…. To Me the genealogy could be Adam had a bunch of kids… who one of them had David… and eventually Jesus was born to someone in the House of David. Boom. Salvation.

Alas, I digress – Holy Mother church knows there are people like me, so she has always given us the most choice cuts, in the liturgy. Things like these chants for centuries helped to teach, and give people the “Big Picture”. We have lost this with the newer music that was written in the 70’s,80’s and 90s (for the most part). All the more reason all of us who have even the most remote job in the liturgy, have a responsibility to learn, build and preserve these things.

This is why its also important to know the Rod of Jesse.. because it shows us the source, of not only God Among us coming from Jesse… but the catch 22 that Jesse ultimately came from the Source.

Oh Judge! Day two of the Ember and Antiphons

O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel,qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,et ei in Sina legem dedisti:veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

English:O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bushand gave him the law on Sinai:Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

This chant today is also echoed in the readings for today which state ”
“For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler, the Lord is our king; he will save us.” Isaiah 33:22

One of the unique aspects of Christ, and most confusing (especially to the people of God at the time ) is the Concept of Messiah. The concept is one of a Warrior King, one who would embody every aspect of rule.

When the people first ventured away from Pharaoh, they had God alone to rule them, with the Priests interceding for them, However, as they demonstrated an inability to follow, their hearts became more confused and they pressured the Prophet Samuel to anoint a King. That king would be Saul, then David, Then Solomon, etc.

Just like the people who couldn’t follow 10 commandments (which eventually became the 600+ mishnas of the Torah, or Law), so too, the Kings eventually became more and more flawed, starting with Saul’s original fall into insanity.

The truth is , the only pure King is one who is holy, pure and just. That is an impossibility for fallen man. Ego will be the root of every imperfection, no matter what race, creed or party a person sticks after their name.

The only pure King, the only Just Judge, is the King of Kings who comes. This is why advent isn’t just a remembrance, but a hear and now. Just like Joseph will hear also in the Gospel, Emmanuel, God is with us, so too, Advent is a Chance for us to know God with us now. Its a hope in that concept of a reliving of the experience, that can point us to and correct our path, so that we can seek in our midst, the true Judge, true king.

Final Stretch. The O Antiphons are coming!

I love the final lead ups to season changes. Whether it be Holy Week, Or the Novena to the Holy Spirit for Pentecost. My favorite without a doubt though has to be the Ember days leading up to Christmas in the Latin rite Church, where beginning at Vespers, the “O Antiphons” are chanted.

These antiphons are where the hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel” originates, from the text of these antiphons. Just like the hymn envokes a spirit of Joy and anticipation, so too, the antiphons show us in small pieces… Who we are welcoming. Each on embodies a different aspect of the Word made flesh, either in an abstract reference, or a more concrete reference

  • 17 December: O Sapientia (Wisdom)
  • 18 December: O Adonai (Lord)
  • 19 December: O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)
  • 20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
  • 21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
  • 22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
  • 23 December: O Emmanuel (With Us is God)

Today, at sundown (technically) – When Vespers are able to begin, we will chant the first O antiphon.

O Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti,attingens a fine usque ad finem,fortiter suaviterque disponens omnia:veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.[8]

Or the English:O Wisdom, coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,reaching from one end to the other,mightily and sweetly ordering all things:Come and teach us the way of prudence.

This reference is important on another level, in that today’s chant, also highlights the prophetic words of the Prophet Isaiah


The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord “

There is no better hint at the Perfection of Jesus Christ, then this verse. One who delights in something has abandoned (rather deliriously) all reason, and is fixated on that concept or person. We human beings are incredibly flawed. Something always gets in our way. This is why we needed a Messiah, and not just God the Father to come down, but someone tangible, and like us in everything except sin. Jesus in his very nature is able to delight

This perfection points us to our perfection, which ultimately begins with Wisdom, which for the rest of us is a Grace that can be obtained and lost, but for He who comes, is embodied in his very fiber of being. This Wisdom will shake the nations, and right the world.

If there is something we can foolishly attempt to grasp, its something simple – There is a difference between wisdom and knowledge. Most of us know who Jesus is, based off of facts and figures. Either we had as cradle catholics, catechism beat into our heads, or if we are converts we might even have what one friend refers to as a “Canned Christianity”, that being… readily witnessing with phrases that all the cool kids are saying.

To truly know the face of God… is way deeper then any knowledge we can profess though. True Wisdom penetrates us , and envelopes us, and that wisdom is what invites us into a deeper knowledge of God. That Wisdom is the Word made flesh.

The Lady in the Sky

A few years ago we went to Our Lady of Snows Shrine. We visited the church, as we got there early. As we were walking around, I pointed out the “Mary” to Abby  (Abby loves Mary). I was explaining to her that in Our Lady of Guadalupe’s mid section was Baby Jesus.  My mom, pointed out she had never heard such a thing, but it is semi common knowledge, especially if one is deep in the readings today.

Below, Ill point out each Section, with sections of the Image as well. It is truly amazing, among all the other appearances of Our Lady, how deep in The Revelation account this image is.

The Short Story – Juan Diego Sees Mary…dressed as a Spanish Maiden/Princess. The Bishop asks for a Sign. Our Lady tells Juan Diego to Gather flowers in his Tilma, or cloak. Upon opening his cloak, we end up with the Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe,,, which one can see to this day in Guadalupe Mexico.

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple. 


We Can see in the full image..our Lady is clearly in the heavens. Often, she appears in the Heavens. Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. The Old Covenant was kept in the Ark. The new Ark, is Mary (Why its silly to go all Raiders and try to find the ark, I digress)


A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,


with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

Again, we see more imagery –  The Lady is Standing on the Moon – This happened, and the Sun behind her for two reasons. The people she appeared to, native Mexicans, were Aztec, Mayan, etc… In other words, they worshiped the Sun and  Moon. Here she shows she is greater, even then the Pagan gods they worshiped

was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

 Look Closely at the midsection in the image. There are a couple things occurring here that are particular to Mexican Tradition.

First, the most obvious, the cloak. She is dressed in the garb of someone Betrothed, yet also a virgin, by the design and color of the dress, and the presence of a veil. The Veil includes stars…which also references revelation

However, if we look even more closely, we see the black lace..which is a belt.  Notice the HEIGHT of the Belt..and the Protruding Stomach.  She is with child.

A sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth. 
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.


The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”

Finally, we see the rest of the imagery in revelation. If you dint know… Guadalupe… is very much Desert area. Its most fascinating Our Lady..in the Imagery that she presents…appears in a desert area.. thus fully showing that the Lady in Revelation is Mary  (and not as some evangelicals will insist..is the church. I digress)

I’m not here to convince you..only to present facts. Like Juandiego, and the Bishop..it comes down to whether you want to believe or not.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patroness of the Americas…and the unborn. Sadly… We Americans are no different then the Aztec of the day. We sacrifice children under the guise of Choice. We make war and conquest. We very much have a caste system.. where people are heavily segmented often based off their roots.

We need her intercession more then ever, this New Ark of the Covenant. Its fitting we celebrate Her during  advent.. and at a Half way point between now and Christmas. She points us to Christmas…and the birth. Many will begin a Los Posadas tonight..the night journey… where for 12 days there will be visits to houses… searching for a place. We too can do our own journey.. and with any luck.. well find Him at the end of the Advent Journey.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Compline Thoughts

Tonight after all the hysteria in Missouri over the meteor strike, I decided to finish up the movie “Risen”. In it , a Roman tribune encounters the disciples and Christ himself after the Resurrection. He goes from disbelief, to belief.

It made me think..how amazing it must have been to see Jesus..in person. Sure, as a Catholic…I see him every time I receive communion, but to encounter him…in the flesh… to have put my hand in his side as Thomas did.

These men weren’t anything special. In fact, they were probably what we might consider hoosiers, rejects, undesirables. If we saw a Peter…or James today, we might ignore them walking down the street. Yet our Lord privileged them above all others in history. They knew him on a personal, intimate level. I am in awe when I consider this

More so..I am in awe of those Jesus healed. Lepers, the blind, demoniacs. If nothing else… that gives me hope. Those are REAL issues, and if he can heal those… how much of a swifter stroke is it to heal mine, or anyone’s soul.

“Now Master, you can let your servant go in peace, for I have seen your salvation” – Simeon