24 December 2011

Coffee Cup Browsing

Grieve or die:  nine minutes of N. Korean propaganda.

No.  Mary was not an unwed mother nor was Baby Jesus an illegal immigrant.

This kid is grounded for life. . .and then some.

President Present is lazy.  Who knew?  Maybe we should have guessed, uh?

If you don't think that this vid is cute. . .you might be Scrooge's meaner second-cousin.

Where do I find an oil painting of circus clowns storming the beach at Normandy?

Change "Honey" to "Father" and "house" to "priory" and you have one of the friars talking to me.

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Be guided onto the way of peace. . .

4th Week of Advent (S)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

Zechariah and Elizabeth's neighbors watch a cosmic drama play out before their eyes. For months, Zechariah has been rendered speechless as a consequence of his disbelief. Elizabeth, miraculously pregnant all this time, gives birth to a son. Refusing to follow the traditional practice of naming a son after his grandfather or father, she names her child John. Over the objections of family and friends, Zechariah confirms the name in writing, and his tongue is set free. His first words are blessings upon God for the birth of his son. Watching all this, the neighbors become increasingly fearful, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” Though they do not yet know the specifics of John's ministry, they feel his arrival signal the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy: their freedom is at hand. The long-promised Messiah is coming! Zechariah's song of praise recalls God's promise of freedom to His people and confirms what they have all believed for generations. The Lord has never and will never abandon His people to the slavery of sin. The sign of our freedom is the Christ-child born to Mary and Joseph. And John—the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth—is his herald.

Zechariah's hymn of praise lays out for us—over and over again—a historical pattern: “[The Lord] has come to his people and set them free. . .He promised to show mercy to our fathers. . .He swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies. . .free to worship Him without fear. . .and to guide our feet into the way of peace. What prompts Zechariah to sing this hymn of thanksgiving? Notice that he addresses his new born son, "You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High. . .” Why is this child to be called a prophet? “. . .for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way. . .” How will John the prophet prepare the way of the Lord? “[by giving] his people knowledge of salvation [through] the forgiveness of their sins.” And it is through the forgiveness of our sins that we are set free. Since the establishment of the covenant with Abraham, God has promised His people freedom from the slavery of sin. Through the Law and the Prophets and with the advent of the Messiah, God's faithful people have been shown a path toward salvation, salutem in Latin, health. Our salvation is rightness with God, spiritual health, the fullness of peace.

Lest we forget, let Zechariah's song bring to mind again the whole point of our celebrations today and tomorrow: we are free; we are made free, given our freedom. We exchange gifts to mark the day. We do not buy stuff from one another. We do not work for one another in order to earn the stuff under the tree. We give gifts; we exchange graces, freely given and freely received blessings in celebration of our release from the bonds of sin. We cannot freely give or receive if we are bound by sin. Therefore, Zechariah reminds us to be prophets of the Lord, to prepare God's people for the arrival of the Christ-child, to give one another knowledge of our salvation by forgiving those who have sinned against us.

When you receive a brightly wrapped present from under the tree, you say, “Thank you!” Under a brightly lit star, lying in a stable, a tightly wrapped child presents himself to you as a gift. Receive his gift and say, “Thank you!” And do more than receive his gift of freedom and give him thanks, give freedom again and again. Release all those who have offended you. Free all those who have hurt you. Do not “dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.” Be guided onto the way of peace.

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

23 December 2011

Why are they afraid of John?

NB.  I got a third of the way through this homily before I remembered that Deacon John is preaching at this morning's Mass.  So, let's hear what you think about the question:  Why would all those who hear of John's birth be afraid?

4th Week of Advent (F)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

Doubting the word of the angel Gabriel, Zechariah's tongue is stilled. Because he failed to listen and believe, he is prevented from praising God's gift of a son while his wife, Elizabeth, is pregnant. In order to understand Zechariah's punishment we must remember that God has no need of our praise. Praising God benefits the one who praises Him and those who hear Him praised. Thus, Zechariah is denied the benefits he might have otherwise received by giving God thanks for his child. Once Zechariah agrees in writing to name his child “John,” his tongue is freed, and he heaps blessings on God for His gift. Zechariah's reaction to John's birth is perfectly understandable. Both he and Elizabeth are elderly, and Elizabeth was known to be barren. To be given a child is a spectacular blessing! Less understandable is the reaction of their neighbors. Luke reports that “. . .fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, 'What, then, will this child be? For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.'” 

Question:  Why would all those who hear of John's birth be afraid?

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

22 December 2011


 My thanks and Christmas blessings to Gregg F. for the Kindle Book!

I feel smarter just knowing that I have a Mamet book in my library. . .

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

The Way of Spiritual Magnification

4th Week of Advent (Th)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

Our Blessed Mother praises her Savior: Magnificat anima mea Dominum! My soul magnifies the Lord! She is “most blessed among women” b/c she believed that the Word of her Lord would be fulfilled. And even as she sings God's praises, His Word is being fulfilled in her body: the Christ-child readies himself to be born. The prayer we know as the Magnificat, or the Canticle of Mary is more than an outburst of joyful praise; it is also a recollection of God's promises to His faithful people. Not only do we hear a recitation of God's saving deeds, we also hear the Spirit rededicate Himself to the tasks of preserving, protecting, and providing for those who place themselves in His fatherly care. In other words, our Blessed Mother reminds us of all that He done for us; all that He is doing for us now; and all that He will do until Christ is among us once again. 

What has our Lord done for His people? “He has mercy on those who fear him. . .He has shown the strength of his arm. . .[He] has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones. . . [He] has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things. . .[He] has sent [the rich] away empty. . . .[and] He has come to the help of his servant Israel. . .” Why has He done all these things? “[Because] He remembered His promise of mercy. . .” To whom did He make this promise of mercy? “[To] our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever." We are the children of Abraham, the adopted sons and daughters of our father in faith, co-heirs to the kingdom of heaven through the grace of Christ Jesus. Our Lord has done these great deeds for us out of His mercy. . .not b/c we deserve them, not b/c we have earned them, not b/c we have purchased them but b/c He loves us and wills for us only what is good. Mary remembers the Lord's historical works; she proclaims His on-going works, and she prophesies His works for us in our future.

How do we as creatures—beings of ash and air—acknowledge the providence of God, His loving-care for us? Mary shows us the way when she sings, “My soul magnifies the Lord! My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Following the Blessed Mother, the way for us is the way of spiritual magnification: to set our souls to the task of bringing the Lord's love and mercy into sharper, keener focus; to amplify, to enlarge the works of the Lord by acting, speaking, feeling, thinking—doing all that we do for His greater glory. We labor to ensure that our words and deeds expand His love and mercy. We work at making sure that our thoughts and feelings prosper in His promises of forgiveness. We do not wallow in self-pity, recrimination, or vengeance. We do not nurture grudges or pick at our wounds. We make gratitude our minute-by-minute prayer, sacrificing entitlement and greed, exchanging ingratitude for humility and feeding the roots of holiness with the same song of joy that our Blessed Mother sings. She exults in her Lord and shows us the way to Christ.

Is there a better time in the Church year to practice being Christ among your family and friends? We all wait for the birth of the Christ-child among us. Will there ever be a better chance for each of us to be born into the world as bearers of the Good News? To arrive among those we love as a herald of Love Himself? If you nurture bitterness, anger, a desire for revenge, why not risk forgiveness? Gamble them all on the mercy of God. He will magnify your soul as you magnify Him!

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

What is the Incarnation? (Repost)

Just in time for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord:

The Nativity of Christ, or Christmas ("Christ Mass"), celebrates one of the most important events of the Church: the incarnation of the Son of God. Like the Trinity, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, etc., the Incarnation is one of those rock-bottom Christian beliefs that most Christians assent to but probably don't really understand. Though Catholics all over the world affirm their belief in the Incarnation every Sunday by reciting the Creed, how many could explain this tenet of the faith in the simplest terms?

Let's start with a story. . .

The archangel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces to her that God has chosen her to be the mother of the Christ Child, His Son. Mary says, "Your will be done" and the Holy Spirit descends on Mary, giving her the child. Nine months later the Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Simple enough story, right? If we left the incarnation there, we would still have the basic truth of Christ's arrival into the world. Things get a little more complicated when we start to think about what it means for the Son of God (who is God) to take on human flesh and live among us. How does the God of the Old and New Testament become incarnated yet remain sovereign God? We are immediately confronted by what theologians call "the Christological question": how is the man Jesus also God?

Before this question was settled by the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., a number of answers were offered and rejected:

Jesus is really a man who possesses God-like qualities.
Jesus is really God in the appearance of a man.
Jesus is half-God and half-man.
Jesus' soul is divine but his body is human.
Jesus' body is human but his mind is divine.

Complicating matters even more was the lack of an adequate theological vocabulary with which to think about and write about the incarnation. Early Christian theologians turned to the available philosophical vocabularies for help. The most prominent philosophical system in the first few centuries of the Church was a developed form of Platonism. Borrowing heavily from the Platonists, the Church Fathers crafted a creedal statement that said: The Father and the Son are the same in substance ("consubstantial"), meaning that they are the same God: "God from God, light from light, true God from true God." The Son was not created in time like man but rather begotten from all eternity. He "became incarnate" through the Virgin Mary--fully human in all but sin.

This creedal statement defined the orthodox position of the Catholic Church. However, interpretations of the creed abounded and additional councils had to sort through them all in order to discover the orthodox expression of the true faith. In the end, the Nicene Creed was taken to mean that Jesus was fully human and fully divine: one person (one body/soul) with two natures (human and divine). "Person," "essence," "being," "nature" are all terms borrowed from Greek philosophy. So, as the West discovered new ways of thinking philosophically, these terms took on different meanings and our interpretations of theological expressions of the truth developed as well. The basic truth of the incarnation does not change; however, how we understand that truth does change.

For example, the Greek word we translate as "person" is prosopon, or mask. This term was used in the Greek theater to denote the different characters played by one actor. A single actor would hold a mask in each hand and shift the masks in front of his face to say his lines, indicating that the lines were being said by different characters. Applying this term to God, the Blessed Trinity, we arrive at a single actor (God) using three masks (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Same actor, different characters. Ultimately, this metaphor is woefully inadequate for expressing the deepest truth of the Trinity. Yet, we still say that the Trinity is three divine persons, one God. "Person" as a philosophical term used to describe a theological truth had to be developed.

Eventually, we came to understand several vital distinctions: The Church uses the term "substance" (rendered also at times by "essence" or "nature") to designate the divine being in its unity, the term "person" or "hypostasis" to designate the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the real distinction among them, and the term "relation" to designate the fact that their distinction lies in the relationship of each to the others (CCC 252).

So, God is one substance; three divine persons; distinguished from one another not by their natures or persons but by their relations one to another. The incarnation then is the second divine Person of the one God becoming a human person with two substances or natures.

You are one person with one nature: "I am human."
God is three divine persons with one nature: "I am divine."
Christ is one person with two natures: "I am human and divine."

Aquinas, quoting Irenaeus, writes, "God became man so that man might become God." The incarnation of the Son makes it possible for us to become God (theosis). This is how Catholics understand salvation.

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

21 December 2011

A Catholic governor meets his bishops

Cardinal George and several bishops in Illinois held a meeting with IL Gov. Pat Quinn in order to re-teach him the meaning of Catholic conscience.  When the governor tried to downplay the teaching element of the meeting and play up the social justice angle, the Cardinal and bishops responded.

Their response is a good summary of Catholic teaching on the nature of moral conscience:

“As Catholic pastors, we wanted to remind the Governor that conscience, while always free, is properly formed in harmony with the tradition of the Church, as defined by Scripture and authentic teaching authority. A personal conscience that is not consistent with authentic Catholic teaching is not a Catholic conscience. The Catholic faith cannot be used to justify positions contrary to the faith itself.  It is a matter of personal integrity for people who call themselves Catholic to act in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

What is it to believe?

NB.  This is not a very Advent-y homily, I know.  But for whatever reason it needed to be preached.  The preacher preaches to himself first.

4th Week of Advent (W)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

“I believe.” We pray this sentence every Sunday when we recite the Creed, the Credo: I believe. The Creed is a set of beliefs that all Christians share. We believe in One God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things, visible and invisible, etc. We go on to repeat this nearly 2,000 year old statement of beliefs and, in doing so, we claim to believe in all sorts of outrageous things: a divine Son; his virgin birth as a man; his resurrection from the dead; even our own eventual resurrection from the dead! We claim to believe in someone named the “Holy Spirit” who proceeds from both the Father and the Son, and we believe in the oneness, holiness, catholicity, and apostolicity of a universal Church. As I said, we believe in sorts of outrageous things. And we believe these outrageous things without any obvious anxiety or fear of contradiction. If we were given some time and had the inclination to reflect critically on what we are claiming to believe, we just might feel the absurdity that so many of the early Church Fathers felt in repeating and defending these claims. Ultimately, we would likely say something like, “Well, this is what we believe to be true about the faith. It's just what we believe.” Leaving aside for the moment the content of the Creed, let's reflect on what it means to believe in something or someone. What is it to believe?

Mary, pregnant with the Christ, visits Elizabeth in Judah. Upon greeting one another, the child in Elizabeth's womb jumps for joy. Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaims, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. . .Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Mary is blessed b/c she heard the Lord's Word spoken by Gabriel, listened to that Word, trusted in it, and acted accordingly. Think back to the scene with Mary and Gabriel. The angel tells Mary that she will conceive and bear a son, a son who is the promised Messiah. Despite her doubt and fear, Mary says, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” She doesn't merely say, “I hear you and trust what you say.” She says—in effect—I hear; I listen; and I assent to all that I have heard. Let it be done. Elizabeth calls this attitude “belief.” When Mary permitted the Lord to give her the Christ-child, she believed.

As we get closer and closer to our celebration of the world's most important event—the coming into human history of God's Son, the birth of our Savior—let's reconsider what we are saying when we pray the Creed. We are not merely giving intellectual assent to a series of theological statements. Yes, yes, I believe X, Y, and Z. Nor are we staking out a few controversial philosophical positions. Nor are we simply muttering $15 academic words and phrases: “consubstantial,” “incarnate,” “proceeds from,” “resurrection of the dead.” What we are doing—as we wait on the coming of the Lord—is committing ourselves to a way of thinking about the world and ourselves and a way of behaving in the world and among ourselves. We must believe and behave; we must accept and act, trust and perform according to what we know to be the truth. Otherwise, when we pray the Creed, we lie. We present ourselves falsely before God and His Church. The Blessed Mother—doubtful, fearful, probably deeply surprised—heard the Word, trusted in it, and acted accordingly. She believed. And b/c she believed, Elizabeth named her, “Blessed among women.” If you and I will be blessed among men and women, we too must believe; we too must pray, “Let me do your will, Lord!”

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

On Christmas gifts and much gratitude. . .

Another happy surprise this morning!  Several Kindle Books from faithful HancAquam reader, Jenny K. 

Thanks so much, J.K.!  

A note on Christmas gifts:  several readers have written to ask what I might need/want as a Christmas gift (an annual question).  Honestly, truly, I need nothing.  My brothers in community and I have what we need.  Now, having said that, I want all sorts of stuff!  And that stuff is available on the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List.

I have NO expectations of receiving anything from either list.  I am always deeply grateful and often surprised to discover a package in the mail. . .BUT I never expect anything.  This really can't be emphasized enough.  Dominicans are mendicants (beggars), so when I need something, I ask for it.  And H.A. readers have always come through.  

For example, we asked for a newly translated English Missal for the chapel in Rome.  And one appeared in the mail.  I asked for books for our novices once.  And they appeared.  I asked for a DVD set one time to give to the novices.  And it appeared.  Also, the many books I've needed and used for my studies. . .all sent to me and received with gratitude. 

So, I try to think/behave with my readers the same way I am with God: I expect nothing from Him that He has not already given and receive everything He sends with thanksgiving and praise!  

Merry Christmas to you all! 

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

19 December 2011


Received another poetry book quite unexpectedly today!  Always a good surprise. . .especially this close to Christmas.

My thanks to C.N., B.J.N. and their kids:  S., N., and J.  You know who you are.  :-)

God bless, Fr. Philip

P.S.  I also rec'd my cell phone today. . .so, Big Brother knows where I am now.  Sigh.

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Individual Conscience & the Magisterium (Repost)

Reposted by special request. . .
The relationship between an individual's conscience and the authority of the magisterium is often easily confused and intentionally distorted.   

Let's start with a definition:  "Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right. It is by the judgment of his conscience that man perceives and recognizes the prescriptions of the divine law. . ."(CCC, no. 1778).

Conscience "perceives and recognizes" moral truth.  Contemporary Catholics often seem to believe that conscience is the ability to choose freely among available moral options.  So long as I preface my choices with something like, "In good conscience, I believe. . .," I am safeguarded from error.  This is false.  Conscience is not the ability to magically turn an evil choice into a good choice.  Conscience is what helps us to perceive the Good and recognize that Good in making moral choices.

When I walk into a bookstore, I perceive and recognize items that we call books.  I do not walk into a bookstore and choose to perceive the books as squirrels and recognize them as squirrels.  If I do this, I am in error.  Announcing my erroneous judgment about the books with, "In good conscience, I perceive and recognize this collection of paper and cloth bound pages of printed material as squirrels," does not magically transform the books into squirrels.  

Catholic teaching holds that the morality of human acts is as real as the books in a bookshop.  Calling the intrinsically morally evil act of abortion "good" is the same error you make when you call a book a squirrel.*  Conscience empowers you to perceive and recognize abortion as evil.  If you do not perceive and recognize abortion as evil, then you are either ignorant and need to be instructed, or your conscience has been twisted into folly by sin and you need both instruction and confession.

The Church's role in conscience formation is to present the truth of the faith.  Ideally, a Catholic will immediately perceive and recognize the truth and act accordingly.  But because we have been mislead for a generation or two about the nature of conscience, many Catholics fail to perceive and recognize moral truth when they see it.  Basically, we have been told for decades now that conscience makes truth, or that conscience assigns truth value to moral acts according to subjective, private standards of judgment.  This is how we end up with pro-abortion Catholics, pro-same sex "marriage" Catholics, pro-torture Catholics, pro-women's "ordination" Catholics, ad. nau.  These Catholics have falsely perceived and falsely recognized moral truth and misused "conscience" as a defense of their errors.

To repeat:  conscience perceives and recognizes truth; it does NOT create truth. 

Tom Krietzberg at Disputations has a very good post on how Aquinas' thoughts on conscience have been misunderstood and misused to push the Free Choice notion of conscience.

*Of course, the eternal consequences of these two errors are not the same.

 Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Aquinas & Augustine on the Incarnation

Excellent read for your Christmas contemplation! 

10 Reasons for the Incarnation

1. Faith: Certitude in the Living God

2. Hope: A Strengthening

3. Charity: The Great Kindling

4. The Exemplar: The Life of Right-Doing

5. Theosis: Full Participation in Divinity

6. United to Christ: The Bodiless Evil Spirits

7. Dignity of Humanity: To Shun Sin

8. Human Presumption: Unmerited Grace

9. Human Pride: The Humility of God

10. The Thralldom of Sin: Divine Rescue

Go to the link above for an explanation of each point.

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Monday +2

Despite sharply cutting back on my caloric intake this last week, I still managed to gain 2lbs. 

How?  No idea.  But I'll keep on trying to lose!

Thank you for your prayers. . .

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Coffee Cup Browsing

When my Nunya Libertarian Streak meets my Grouchy Driver streak. . .how many times have I almost been run over by drivers chit-chatting on a cell phone?

A vast Jesuit conspiracy!  Oh No.

"Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62."  Like a lot of Catholics, I found Hitch to be engaging and masterfully infuriating.

N.Korea's Dear Leader is dead.  Dear Leader, Jr. is now. . .um. . .Dear Leader.  Why do socialist worker paradises always end up being quasi-medieval serfdoms with hereditary princes?

The "serfs" mourn Dear Leader.  The sad part is that this is probably genuine grief.  

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List

Doubt His method but never His will. . .

4th Week of Advent (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, New Orleans

The elderly priest, Zechariah, is inside the temple burning incense on the altar. While going about his priestly duties, he is visited by Gabriel, the archangel. If this heavenly visitation were not surprising enough, he is also told that he and his barren wife, Elizabeth, will soon have a child and this child will grow up to be the herald of the Messiah, a second Elijiah who will “prepare a people fit for the Lord." Hearing this news, Zechariah asks, in an impious outburst, “How shall I know this?” His doubt earns him an unusual punishment: he is struck speechless by the angel, unable to speak until his son is born. We might wonder how a muted Zechariah serves as a warning to those who would question the power of the Lord to accomplish apparently impossible deeds? How does a still tongued punish a doubter?

Let's compare and contrast Gabriel's visit with Zechariah and his visit with Mary. First, both Mary and Zechariah are shocked by the appearance of an angel of the Lord. Sensing their fear, Gabriel assures both Mary and Zechariah in the power of the Lord and tells them not to be afraid. When Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive and bear a son, her reaction sounds very familiar. Like Zechariah, she too questions the news, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” Despite her doubt, Mary is not silenced; she is not punished for questioning the angel's announcement. What's the difference btw Mary and Zechariah that merits this divergent treatment? There are the obvious differences. Zechariah is an elderly priest, a man. Mary is a young woman, a virgin. But it's not clear why these differences would matter in their treatment by the angel. We could point to Gabriel's greeting to Mary, “Hail! Full of grace!” and note Mary's unique nature as a sinless person—her immaculate conception in her mother's womb, a singular grace. Despite this gift, she still doubts Gabriel's news. Maybe the difference that matters is to be found in what it is that each doubts. Notice: Mary accepts the truth of Gabriel's news and only questions the method of conception. Zechariah doubts both the truth of Gabriel's news and questions how his wife will conceive. Mary receives in faith the news of an apparently impossible feat. Zechariah fails to trust fully the news from the one who stands before the Lord.

For his failure, Zechariah loses the ability to speak. Why is this a just punishment? Rather than use his gift of speech to praise the Lord for accomplishing the apparently impossible, the elderly priest uses a God-given gift to express a deeply seated doubt. Even as he worships at the temple's altar of incense, he willfully denies the possibility that God can do what He says He can do. Zechariah's tongue is stilled to prevent him from sullying the good news of his son's impending conception. When Elizabeth becomes pregnant with John the Baptist, Zechariah is unable to rejoice out loud. He is denied the privilege of praising God for this gift until John is born. However, his rejoicing at John's birth is all the sweeter b/c he has spent so long unable to speak. So sweet is his rejoicing that we sing the words of his song every morning at Lauds—the Canticle of Zechariah, “Blessed be the Lord, The God of Israel; He has come to His people and set them free.”

Doubt if you must how the Lord will accomplish His wonders in your life. But never doubt that He will. Rely wholly on His loving care and be vigilant in waiting for the miraclous appearances of His mercy. Let your mouth be filled with His praise and your tongue everyready to give thanks!

Follow HancAquam and visit the Kindle Wish List and the Books & Things Wish List