Thursday, December 28, 2006

Traffic Waves

An interesting research article by Electrical Engineer William Beaty. Beaty spent a lot of time evaluating traffic flow in terms of fluid dynamics and came up with some interesting ideas concerning how just one car can dislodge a traffic jam. Be sure to check out the FAQ as well. Some if his observations are pretty obvious, while others are pretty insightful. If you spent a lot of time in traffic (hello, Houston!), check it out.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

This year marks our first Christmas in Texas away from our respective families. We're making the best of it by cooking a plump goose this year.

Since becoming Catholic, Midnight Mass has been somewhat of an annual tradition for me, and my wife has joined me in me in this. We went last night and experienced an incredible midnight liturgy. My wife sings in our parish choir, and so last night I experienced the fruit of their many weeks of practice as they sang, as a choral prelude to the mass, Antonio Vivaldi's setting for the Magnificat, complete with chamber orchestra. The new, most dignified and awesome tabernacle in our newly renovated sanctuary was flanked by flowers, with the blessed sacrament now reserved there for the first time. The Christmas liturgy was magnificent. It's good to be home here in Texas.

I could go on and on, but let me just say that I was also pleased that, at the very beginning of the liturgy, our pastor chose to read from a sermon given by 5th century Pope St. Leo the Great on the meaning of Christmas, a reading also taken from today's Office of Readings, which I had only just read privately before the mass! Here is the text, and this is all I will say today:
Sermo 1 in Nativitate Domini, by Pope St. Leo the Great

Dearly beloved, today our Savior is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.

No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.

In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God's wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.

And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: "Glory to God in the highest", and they proclaim, "peace to his people on earth" as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvelous work of God's goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?

Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, "and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ", so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.

Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God's own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God's kingdom.

Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.
Merry Christmas to all.


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