My favorite Advent hymn

(I’m posting this again this year to redeem the musical selections from our parish this year. Really? “City of God”? Are you serious?)

I doubt this will be played at all but .05% of Masses this weekend, and those will probably be monasteries. But, “Lo, He Comes” is a tune that is both beautiful in its melody and profound in its lyrics. There was a day when I could play this on the organ (it sounds marvelous on the organ at St. Vincent Ferrer in NYC). (The lyrics are Wesley’s, so I’m not guaranteeing doctrinal purity for Catholics.) Enjoy a bit of meditation this beautiful Sunday as we begin our Advent journey.

Lo! He comes with clouds descending,
Once for favored sinners slain;
Thousand thousand saints attending,
Swell the triumph of His train:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
God appears on earth to reign.

Every eye shall now behold Him
Robed in dreadful majesty;
Those who set at naught and sold Him,
Pierced and nailed Him to the tree,
Deeply wailing, deeply wailing,
Shall the true Messiah see.

Every island, sea, and mountain,
Heav’n and earth, shall flee away;
All who hate Him must, confounded,
Hear the trump proclaim the day:
Come to judgment! Come to judgment!
Come to judgment! Come away!

Now redemption, long expected,
See in solemn pomp appear;
All His saints, by man rejected,
Now shall meet Him in the air:
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
See the day of God appear!

Answer Thine own bride and Spirit,
Hasten, Lord, the general doom!
The new Heav’n and earth t’inherit,
Take Thy pining exiles home:
All creation, all creation,
Travails! groans! and bids Thee come!

The dear tokens of His passion
Still His dazzling body bears;
Cause of endless exultation
To His ransomed worshippers;
With what rapture, with what rapture
Gaze we on those glorious scars!

Yea, Amen! let all adore Thee,
High on Thine eternal throne;
Savior, take the power and glory,
Claim the kingdom for Thine own;
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Everlasting God, come down!

The organ-only version is here:

Mysteries of the Virgin Mary (Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP)

Fr. Peter John Cameron’s new book, Mysteries of the Virgin Mary: Living Our Lady’s Graces, is a wonderful book. Cameron proceeds through the various Marian feasts of the liturgical year and provides a fresh meditation on these important feasts. At times, Mysteries reads like a catena aurea of quotes from spiritual masters. Through Cameron’s particular choice of quotes, the mysteries manifest a new meaning for the average Catholic.

Cameron gives the reader an insight into the history and original meaning of the various feasts. At the same time, Cameron presents the feasts in a new light. For instance, Cameron speaks of the Visitation as reflecting the state of the Christian life. We live in expectation, rising to meet Christ Who is hidden in the womb. Christ comes to us in the simple gesture of a visit by a loved one–but He comes to us and seeks us out. We rejoice when we find Him among us and leap for joy like John the Baptist.

The discussion of Our Lady of Sorrows is particularly powerful. Cameron talks about Our Lady’s emotion during the crucifixion as instilling a sense of humanity in a scene of utter inhumanity. With his usual theatrical sense, Cameron sets the scene and makes sense of the major players. Cameron tells the story like a master playwright and draws us deeper into the mystery of Mary’s suffering and her sharing in Christ’s own suffering.

Overall, this is a great book. I’ve been a big fan of Cameron’s work in the past–some of you may know he is the Editor of Magnificat–and I actually lived with him for a summer. The book is a clear reflection of Cameron’s own spirituality. He draws from the best, and sometimes obscure, sources of spirituality to shed light on these mysteries. Cameron has his favorite sources–John Paul II, De Montfort, Benedict XVI, Therese, Giussani, Bernard, Bossuet, and Rilke. But there are an equal number of new (to me) saints and spiritual writers from both the Eastern and Western Church. It is a rich book that is worth reading through once and returning to before each feast during the year.

I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to know more about Marian feasts, and those seeking to deepen their Marian spirituality in general.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company‘s reviewer program. For a fair and honest review, the author was given a complimentary copy of the book. To learn more about Mysteries of the Virgin Mary, go to The Catholic Company. Also check out their great selection of Baptism gifts.

The Divine Office

A few months ago now, I rediscovered the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours (the Divine Office). I had prayed the LOTH for years as a seminarian and religious, but gave it up for a while over the last few years. I’ve rediscovered it in the last year, though, and it has been my staple in my prayer life.

And although I’ve meant to write about it, someone has beaten me to it and done a much better job. I commend to you this article by Elizabeth Scalia. It sums it all up.