Saturday, January 2, 2010

"Swaddling clothes" (Luke 2:7 & 12) - Saints Basil and Gregory Nazianzen - New Year Visitors and a Levee

Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Madonna and Child (c.1319)

Did anyone notice that the reading of the Gospel at Midnight Mass restored the use of the term "swaddling clothes" in place of what the New Revised Standard Version has (and which we had read since 1992) "bands of cloth" (Luke 2:7, 12)?

I had forgotten that, when the bishops' committee was adjusting the Lectionary readings in keeping with the requests of the Holy See, committee members took the liberty of making several such changes in favour of traditional language to which people had been accustomed. Still, the return to the traditional terminology made a deep impression as I heard it read during Midnight Mass (perhaps out of inattention, I had not adverted to it while looking over the texts before Mass).

So impressed was I that I conducted a web search to see what is said these days about the "swaddling" of infants:

Swaddling is an age-old practice of wrapping infants snugly in swaddling cloths, blankets or similar cloth so that movement of the limbs is tightly restricted. Swaddling bands were often used to further restrict the infant. It was commonly believed that this was essential for the infants to develop proper posture.

Swaddling fell out of favour in the seventeenth century. It has become popular again as modern medical studies indicate that swaddling assists babies to sleep, and to remain asleep; and that it lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

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Remembering a couple of theological giants: St. Basil the Great & St. Gregory Nazianzen

Today is the ninth day of Christmas and the liturgy allows for a memorial of the renowned theological "friends in the Lord", Saints Basil and Gregory.

St. Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea and one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church, was probably born in 329 and died on January 1, 379.

Basil ranks after St. Athanasius as a defender of the Oriental Church against the heresies of the fourth century.

With his friend Gregory of Nazianzus (see below) and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, Basil makes up the trio known as "The Three Cappadocians", though far outclassing the other two in practical genius and actual achievement.

St. Gregory (c. 325-389) was also from Cappadocia. A friend of Basil, he too followed the monastic way of life for some years.

Gregory Nazianzen was ordained priest and in 381 became Bishop of Constantinople. It was during this period when the Arian heresy was at its height.

Gregory was called "The Theologian" because of his great learning and talent for oratory.

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The Kerrs come a-visiting

On New Year's Eve , Annemarie Kerr returned from Prince Edward Island and her sister's wedding there.

Her husband Colin and their four children (Isaiah, Sarah-Grace, Rebecca and Stephen) came from Barry's Bay to the Ottawa airport to meet her return flight, so this seemed like a good time for us to make good on a planned visit to the Capital.

The children helped me open some Christmas presents I had received and we shared a couple of meals on New Year's Day before and after the noon English-language Mass for the Feast of St. Mary's Divine Motherhood.

For the occasion, I dressed "in choir" to greet the francophone faithful after the 10:30 Eucharist:

A few days ago, Colin, who teaches at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barry's Bay started a blog of his own ( The Theology of Dad, so anyone visiting his site may expect some overlap in themes with this blog in these days.

A family to help develop "The Theology of Dad"

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The Levee of the Anglican Primate and Bishop of Ottawa

Having become a devotee of levees while in Halifax (where almost every official and entity held such on New Year's Day), I was pleased yesterday afternoon to drop by Ottawa's Christchurch Anglican Cathedral to visit with Anglican Primate Archbishop Fred Hiltz and Mrs. Lynne Samways and Ottawa Bishop John and Mrs. Catherine Chapman.

While mingling with visitors there, I met Ottawa Emeritus Bishop John Baycroft and Bishop Peter Coffin (former Bishop of Ottawa and now Canadian Anglican Military Ordinary).

Bishops Coffin (centre) and Baycroft (right)

The mood in the cathedral parish hall was festive, joyful and ecumenically welcoming.

Archbishop Hiltz exchanges good wishes for the New Year


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