#12 Catholic and Curious

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Dear DOCTIMUS PRIME,
It is the beginning of a new Liturgical Season, the beginning of a new Church calendar year. Happy New Year to you. I discovered that most Catholics have an intuitive understanding of Advent, based on experience, but not so many know what the Church’s official documents actually say about Advent? So I collect my ideas in 10 easy questions as follows:

1. What Is the Purpose of Advent?
Advent comes from the Latin word ‘Adventus’ meaning “coming.” Advent begins the church year, starting four Sundays before Christmas. The season of Advent has been set aside as a time of preparation for Christmas since at least the last half of the 6th century. Advent is a time for SELF-EXAMINATION and ASKING FOR FORGIVENESS as the church is preparing for Christ’s SECOND COMING even as it prepares for CHRISTMAS.
The other seasons are Christmas, Lent, Easter and Ordinary Time.

2. Every Liturgical season has a colour. What Liturgical Colour(s) are used in Advent?
Particular days and certain types of celebrations can have their own colours (For example, RED for martyrs, black or white at funerals), but the normal colour for Advent is VIOLET OR PURPLE. The colour violet or purple is used in Advent and Lent. It may also be worn in Masses for the Dead.
Advent, as a season, lasts for four weeks. In many places, there is a notable exception for the Third Sunday of Advent, known as GAUDETE Sunday (“GAUDETE” MEANS “REJOICE”):
The colour ROSE may be used, where it is the practice, on Gaudete Sunday (Third Sunday of Advent) and on Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent).

3. Is Advent a Penitential Season?
We often think of Advent as a penitential season because the liturgical color for Advent is VIOLET, like the colour of Lent which is a penitential season. However, in reality, Advent is not a penitential season.
According to the Code of Canon Law: Canon 1250, The penitential days and times in the Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Although local authorities can establish additional penitential days, this is a complete listing of the penitential days and times of the Latin Church as a whole, and Advent is not one of them.

Advent

4. When Does Advent Begin and End?
Advent begins with evening prayer I (Saturday Evening) of the Sunday falling on or closest to 30 November and ends before evening prayer I of Christmas. The Sunday on or closest to November 30 can range between November 27 and December 3, depending on the year. Advent ends on the evening of December 24th, which holds Evening Prayer I of Christmas (December 25th).

5. What Is the Role of Sundays in Advent?
There are four Sundays of Advent. We have already mentioned that the Third Sunday of Advent has a special name–Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is the Latin word for “Rejoice,” which is the first word of the entrance antiphon of the Mass for this day.
The Church ascribes particular importance to these Sundays, and they take precedence over other liturgical celebrations. What this means is that no other Church celebrations can take their place. They are that important.

6. What Happens on Weekdays in Advent?
It is especially recommended that homilies be given on the weekdays of Advent. On Sundays and Holydays of Obligation there is to be a Homily at every Mass that is celebrated with the people attending and it may not be omitted without a grave reason. On other days it is recommended, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent and Easter Time, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers.
The weekdays from 17 December to 24 December inclusive serve to prepare more directly for the Lord’s birth.

7. How Are Churches Decorated During Advent?
During Advent the floral decoration of the altar should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. During Lent it is forbidden for the altar to be decorated with flowers. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.

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8. How Is Music Performed During Advent?
In Advent the use of the organ and other musical instruments should be marked by a moderation suited to the character of this time of year, without expressing in anticipation the full joy of the Nativity of the Lord. Exceptions, however, are Laetare Sunday (Fourth Sunday of Lent), Solemnities, and Feasts.

9. Is the “Gloria” said or sung during Advent?
Neither. The Gloria or “Glory to God in the highest” is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, and also on Solemnities and Feasts, and at particular celebrations of a more solemn character.

10. What Private Devotions Can We Use to Grow Closer to God During Advent?
There are a variety of private devotions that the Church has recognized for use during Advent. The most famous is the ADVENT WREATH. That is a topic for another time.
It is important that one knows these facts before hand so that they can follow the Season easily and prayerfully.
Yours,
BLOGATRON

#11 For The ‘Mouthed’

akeelah1

Dear Doctimus Prime,
You know how I love the “Transformer” trilogy. The movie is just too much. You also know how much I like WORDS. No be like say I dey use am set P o! But I love it when I can express just what I feel at a moment. That is why another movie that sits comfortably in my ‘Best Movies of All time’ shelf is “Akeelah and the Bee”. When I saw those kids, I knew I was just a learner. The movie came at a time I needed something of a motivation to keep me going. Guess what? The movie was on the Universal channel last Saturday. And afterwards I asked myself: “Is it possible to create a list of all the words used in the movie so that anyone can go through them and pick out one or two for their own use?” That was when I went online and believe it or not, someone had already beaten me to the task. Na im make I like oyinbo. Dem know how to use dere time well sha. Here are the words someone picked out. You can steal a couple of them. And if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop dulling and look for it.

akeelah3

brunneous -brown (scientific)
grovel – to creep with the face to the ground
doubt – to lack confidence in
placid – serenely free of interruption or disturbance
fanciful – marked by or as if by fancy or whim
prestidigitation – sleight of hand
ambidextrous – able to use both hands with equal ease
pterodactyl – any of various pterosaurs of the Late Jurassic and Cretaceous
pulchritude – great beauty or appeal

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sacciform – having the general form of a sac
empennage – the tail assembly of an airplane
souchong – a tea made from the larger older leaves of the shoot
intussusception – the reception of one part within another
staphylococci – bacteria (as skin infections, food poisoning, and endocarditis)
dictatorial – oppressive to or arrogantly overbearing toward others
truculent – feeling or displaying ferocity
supercilious – arrogantly superior
insolent – exhibiting boldness or effrontery

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fuchsia – vivid reddish-purple
imbrication – an overlapping of edges
rhesus – pale brown Asian monkey often used in medical research.
eminent – standing out so as to be readily perceived or noted
hypertrophic – excessive development of an organ or part
concierge – hotel staff member who handles luggage and mail, makes reservations, and arranges tours
polydactyly – the condition of having more than the normal number of fingers or toes
syllogize – to reason by means of syllogisms
synecdoche – a figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole.

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carmagnole – a lively song popular at the time of the first French Revolution
pastiche – stylistic imitation
xanthosis – an abnormal yellow discoloration of the skin
euphoric – incredible happiness
maculature – blotting paper
fibranne – fabric made of spun-rayon yarn
vivisepulture – an act or instance of burying someone alive
placebo – an inert or innocuous substance used especially in controlled experiments testing the efficacy of another substance
lucid – having full use of one’s faculties
limn – to draw or paint on a surface
cabalistic (also kabbalistic) – a medieval and modern system of Jewish theosophy
soliterraneous – Sun and Earth working together
grandiloquent – extravagantly colorful, pompous, or bombastic style, manner, or quality especially in language
catastasis – the climax of a drama
edentulous – toothless
bioluminescent – the emission of light from living organisms
objurgatory – a harsh rebuke
effervescent – to bubble, hiss, and foam as gas escapes
alfresco – taking place or located in the open air
loquacious – full of excessive talk
malloseismic – region subject to frequent earthquakes
doublure – an ornamental lining of a book cover
ratatouille – a seasoned stew made of eggplant, tomatoes, green peppers and squash
gabbro – granular igneous rock
panache – an ornamental tuft (as of feathers) especially on a helmet
anachronism – an error in chronology
ratiocinate (verb) – to reason
oersted – the unit of magnetic field strength
xylem – complex tissue in the vascular system
miscible – capable of mixing in any ratio
argillaceous – relating to, or containing clay or clay minerals
Merovingian – relating to the first Frankish dynasty
effleurage – a delicate stroking motion in massage.
lagniappe – small gift given a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase
scheherazadian – relating to the Arabian Nights’ (Entertainment) the wife of the sultan of India, who relates such interesting tales nightly that the sultan spares her life
palynological – having to do with a branch of science dealing with pollen and spores
logorrhea – excessive talkativeness

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And yea, I found at least one word that was not added to the list: FILIOPIETISTIC, which means “relating to an often immoderate reverence for forebears or tradition.”

I will try using one or two of this words in my conversations this evening (*lets out a throaty laughter*). I hope I don’t get pummeled *oOps*.
Yours,
BLOGATRON

#10 Legacy

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Dear Doctimus Prime,

Today’s entry is a breath of consolation for me in the midst of so much moral indifference. It is a tribute from a grand-daughter to a granddad. I couldn’t stop marvelling at the power of good upbringing:

“’Were you close?’

It’s the first question I get asked every time I talk about your departure. People want to know if we were close, so that they can know how to sympathise better. They forget that close or not, it is your blood that flows in my veins. My memories of you are the same:

Hair with grey that morphed from the black of youth;

Telling stories of struggles and victories,

Face creased with folds and slack skin;

Holding histories of smiles and worries.

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I wish I had known you when you stood tall like your wedding picture, giving out words of wisdom that have transcended generations. Yet, every time I think of you, I see a man whose teachings and actions are immortalised in the body of a fragile old man that had the strength of a thousand men. You taught your children the meaning of hard work; they taught us too. You taught my father what it means to separate one’s self from the crowd; he taught us too. You taught the importance of being principled; we learnt it too. Your stories will outlive you, this I know. And for generations to come, your teachings will stand solid, shaping men and women that you will smile down on from where you have gone to rest. We leave you now to sleep, a well-deserved rest after your long sojourn on earth. Thomas Campbell said that to live in the hearts of those we love is never to die. Oh, are there many hearts beating with thoughts, memories and images of you, Papa! So I dedicated this to you, in honour and celebration of your memories….Sleep well, Papa, sleep well.”

*sighs* When I read this for the first time, I wish I was the late old man and my granddaughter wrote this for me. I feel like there is something to live for after all; if not for me but for those who will come after me.

Yours,

BLOGATRON

Rest in peace Pa Joseph Eshikhena (1908-2013).
Shout out to Marilyn Eshikhena for the permission to blog her tribute.

#9 Bite Me

heaven

Dear Doctimus Prime,
A question that troubles the average Catholic and haunts him/her so much is six-worded: “Where is it in the Bible?” I call it the oldest trick in the book and it still spooks them. It still gets them because they fail to read the bible themselves. This won’t be the case if the Catholic has the Bible for his daily companion. If this were to be, he will soon discover that not only does the Bible speak of controversial topics like PURGATORY but that many other teachings in the Church have biblical roots. And note, there are two sources from which the Church draws its teachings; the Bible (which I love to call the Scriptures) and the Church’s Oral Tradition (cf. 2Thess 2:15; 3:6).
If anyone expects to find the word “Purgatory” printed in the Bible they would be disappointed. Other words like “Trinity” are not written anywhere in the Bible still we believe it.
Clearly, all Christians are agree on the existence of Heaven and Hell. Heaven is where those who have died in friendship with God go. They are those who have loved God in their neighbours and professed Him in their words and deeds. Hell is where those who have rejected God’s friendship go (cf. Mt 25:31-46). A person in hell desires peace but unfortunately, he will never find it, because he has rejected god who is peace. Both heaven and hell are PERMANENT destinations for souls both good and evil. Purgatory is different.
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The Catholic Church teaches that purgatory is a TEMPORARY STATE OF PURIFICATION THAT TAKES PLACE AFTER DEATH FOR THOSE WHO DIE IN THE STATE OF GRACE AND FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD (cf. Rom 11:22). Why then do they go to “purgatory” if they are already in “Friendship with God”?
Rev 21:25-27, 1Jn 5:17 and 2Maccabbees 12:45 (if this last quotation is not in your Bible, then you need to UPGRADE). The passage from Revelation says that nothing UNCLEAN shall enter heaven. The passage from 1 John admits this fact but stresses that not all sin leads to death. If those guilty of this sin do not die (are not condemned to Hell), where then do they go? 2Maccabbees points to an ancient Jewish practice of praying for persons of this sort. The prayers of the living obtain purification for these souls after which they are admitted into God’s presence. God’s kindness will not allow them to go to Hell with evil doers.
God’s justice will not just accept them into heaven with their imperfection. It is this process of purification that we call PURGATORY (You can choose to call it something else if you so please!). It’s good to note that Purgatory won’t go on forever. It will cease at the end of time. Christ has specifically revealed two conditions that will remain at the end of time: Heaven and Hell (Mt 25:34,41).
Yours,
BLOGATRON

#8 State of Urgency

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Dear Doctimus Prime,

 “E jere enu, E jere ana, kponatara m Peter nwam.”

At this point, the congregation was in stitches. You could hardly tell from their muffled laughter that they were at a wake keep service. Father James had used a story to explain the inevitable nature of death. He told the story of a boy who had gone to serve his uncle and learn a trade in Lagos. For four years, no word had reached his mother. Nothing was told her about his well being or how he was faring. His mother had sent words by mouth through fellow villagers who visited Lagos. Still, it was no good. So his mom got reeeeeallllllyyy worried. She sent for Mike. Mike was supposedly the brightest student in the village (I wonder why no one notices such a person until they have a need for him). She wanted Mike to take down her words in the form of a letter for her son. That was when she said, “Tell my brother Hyginius, “E jere enu, E jere ana, kponatara m Peter nwam.”

Mike was confused. He barely had grip of the pen. He turned over the words in his mind, wondering how best to translate the words in English. Finally, he attempts a translation: “Go up, Come down, bring Peter home!” The poor woman had used an untranslatable proverb to communicate the urgency of her plea to see her son.

The death of a loved one is sometimes a reminder of the seriousness of life and the inevitability of death. Father James reminded us that we have homes to return to but the one who is dead has nowhere to go; for him there is no hurry (I understood then the reason for the murmuring when we first arrived). Those who are gathered to mourn, are there to ‘escort’ the dead to the ‘border’ to bid him farewell until they all are reunited.

I understood that death is not something to run away from. Death is as the Hausas will say a cloth which we all must wear (‘rigan mutua na kowa ne!’). The sooner we plan for our own death, the better and wiser we become. This immediately brings a verse to my mind from the most popular book in the world: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain wisdom of heart.” (Psalm 90:12).

Yours,

BLOGATRON

#7 Halloween

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Dear Doctimus Prime,

I got an email this morning and a friend wanted to know if he can celebrate Halloween. I had to ask what the celebration was all about:
“It’s done at night and people make terrifying images and wear Dracular costumes. Kids go from house to house ‘trick or treating’ and the celebration is tonight, the last day of October.”
Halloween is actually a shortened form of “All Hallows Eve” (a hallowed person is a Saint or holy person), “the evening before” All Saints’ Day. Well, the origin, I found out is Celtic (from Ireland), and it dates back to a period about the time of Christ. It was done because people were scared of the change from summer to winter, since in those parts there was the belief that spirits of dead people hovered during the period. So to scare them away, people would dress their children in scary attires and make sounds to frighten any of these spirits.

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For us Christians, we do not hold this belief, namely the power of spirits of dead people to take possession of us us at any time or at any season. If ever there is the threat of evil, we counter it with our prayers and trust in the protective omnipresence of our God, and by our trust in the power of God’s angels to watch over us. What’s more, we have the saints who enjoy God’s presence to help us with their prayers. It is the eve of their feast fortunately. So it is a time to ask for their protection and fraternal intercession. Since they are alive with God, we can be sure they hear our prayers and present our plea before God. Let the eve of their feast day remind us that we are not alone, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we walk to God’s kingdom and as we daily battle temptations to sin (cf. Heb 12:1-2). We could imitate the practice in some places where children go from door to door requesting for small cakes in exchange for promises to pray for the ones who give them something. So, I would say, Happy All Saint’s Eve and Happy All Saints Day in advance.
Yours,
BLOGATRON