Saturday, December 31, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Family. In this day and age when the family is under great attack, let us have recourse to the Holy Family of Nazareth, following their example of unity, simplicity and holiness.
One of our priests at Mass today gave this acronym for family to demonstrate the importance of family.
Monday, December 26, 2011
"Lest we be tempted to sentimentalize the mystery of Christ's birth, the Church today sets before us the example of Stephen, first of martyrs, icon of the Crucified. Bethlehem is the prelude to Calvary. We may not merely stand adoring at the crib; we must also follow to the cross."
(Commentary from Magnificat Morning Prayer; Dec. 26, 2011)
I use to wonder why the Church gave us the feast of St Stephen immediately after Christmas. The above quote explains the reason perfectly and simply. To remind myself of this very fact, and to keep me from over~sentimentalizing the Nativity scene, I place a small crucifix at the back of my manger.
In Stephen we see Christ Crucified and hear His words. Stephen's words at his death were the same as his Lord's at His death on the cross.
Jesus was the only baby who was born to die. That was His sole reason for coming. He did not die in vain, but to save each of us, and to bear witness to the Father.
The journey to the cross began in the heart and mind of the Trinity with the Divine decision of the Incarnation. Jesus took the first step toward the cross with His birth. In these days if Christmas as we kneel before the crib of the infant Jesus, let us vow to take the journey with Him to the cross by bearing witness to His life and Gospel just as St Stephen did.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Before starting from my inn, I sat down on my bed and began to sob bitterly. My servant, who had acted as my nurse, asked what ailed me. I could only answer, "I have a work to do in England." I was aching to get home, yet for want of a vessel I was kept at Palermo for three weeks. I began to visit the churches, and they calmed my impatience, though I did not attend any services. At last I got off in an orange boat, bound for Marseilles. We were becalmed for whole week in the Straits of Bonifacio, and it was there that I wrote the lines, Lead, Kindly Light, which have since become so well known.
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!
Will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith,
Home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life."
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Fr. Francis Ferdinand, in In Conversation With God, writes in his meditation for this Sunday:
"There is no better way of preparing for Christmas, which is now so close, than by keeping Mary company, getting to know her and deepening our love and trust in her."I love this thought of keeping Our Lady company, of being in her company. Fr. Joseph Homick also uses this same phrase in his book A Place Prepared By God when speaking about praying the Rosary. When I read those words in Fr. Joseph's book, praying the Rosary took on a much deeper dimension. I could imagine myself in Mary's presence and be assured of her constant presence with me.
Staying in the company of Our Lady will keep us close to Jesus, for Mary is not the way but she will always lead us to her Son who is the Way.
In this final week of the Advent season when things in our everyday life get busier, let us remind ourselves to slow down and spend some time with Mary in preparing for Jesus' coming. In doing so we will be able to say with her: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Luke 1:46~47)
You sent Your Son, conceived in the Virgin's womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. May this same Holy Spirit overshadow us so that Christ will be born in us. In staying in the company of Mary we are drawn closer to Christ; with her and through her intercession, may we lead others to Him as well. May Jesus be born in the hearts of many this Christmas.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Last year I wrote a post titled Our Advent Prayer Intensifies. At the end of that post are links for reflections I wrote for each of these seven days~one on each antiphon. There is also a link in that post to Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio's site. His article explains the history of the O Antiphons.
These antiphons are also expressed beautifully in song in the hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel. One of my favorite versions is the one below performed by Selah.
Let us join together with the Church as she calls for the Messiah to draw ever nearer to us.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
My parish celebrated the 15th anniversary of its Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Given that adoration began on this date, I know that Our Lady has had much to do with the longevity of the chapel.
To mark this great occasion, we had a four day parish mission given by two of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. These two priests were very powerful preachers. Their homilies were wonderful, full of reminders of how much Jesus loves us to remain with us in this Most Blessed Sacrament.
Friday and Saturday were the most powerful and beautiful of the entire mission. There was exposition of the Blessed Sacrament both nights, on Friday night, to go along with his homily on the healing power of the Eucharist, Fr. Giuseppe held a healing prayer service at the end of which you were invited to come forward as he went from person to person with Jesus in the monstrance. Saturday evening continued the healing theme, but this time with Jesus as Divine Physician in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
For me personally this was the most powerful evening. I enjoyed Fr. Giuseppe's homilies and got the sense he would be a good confessor. Despite two of our parish priests hearing confessions, I still had to wait an hour and a half to have my confession heard. It was worth the wait. That wait was also spent prayerfully as there was exposition that night as well. Normally when I am on line for confession, I am a little jittery, not so on this night. Waiting in Jesus' exposed Presence had a very calming effect. It had been some time since my last confession, and I had made up my mind that I would go during the mission.
I don't know if you have ever had the experience of a priest telling you what your root sin is, but this happened during my confession. Strangely and divinely enough, I had been thinking about exactly what Father told me. This truly was one of my best confessions.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist really do go hand in hand. We need both desperately. One gets us ready for the other, and both sustain us spiritually.
Many graces were poured out over the course of these four days, not only on me individually, but also on our parish. Our Lord's gifts and generosity are never out done. May He be praised, adored, worshiped and loved always and everywhere.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Last night it was my turn to choose a saint for this coming year. In reading the name I had pulled from the basket, I found that not only does God have a sense of humor, but His saints do as well, more specifically, His earthly grandmother. That's right, St Ann has chosen to be my spiritual companion for a third consecutive year! This has to mean something. Either she has decided to become my permanent companion, or perhaps I have missed something important that she has been trying to teach me these last two years. In any case, she was good enough for Jesus and Mary, she is certainly good enough for me. I think I will adopt her as my spiritual grandmother.
On a more serious note, I have always felt that this great saint has much to teach me about motherhood. In my case it is spiritual motherhood. Those of you who know my story have heard the story of how I was given the name of my daughter in heaven while praying the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. Elizabeth Anne is named for Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist and St Ann. So I also feel that having this humble woman as my companion is a good way to help me remember my daughter as well.
Given that St Ann has chosen me again, it may be time to put more tangible reminders of her in my life~ a picture, a small statue or perhaps a medal.
Thank you good St Ann for putting up with me and for praying for and guiding me for another year.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
John the Baptist is a key figure during the Advent season because he sums up what Advent is: preparing for Jesus, the Messiah.
While John is a somewhat larger than life figure, I don't think we always give him enough thought. He becomes a kind of "given" in the scheme of our Salvation History. He's the guy who baptized the people of his and Jesus' day down by the Jordan River, and yes, he even baptized Jesus, but upon reflection, I find so much more to him.
John knew his vocation and he lived it. In fact he lived it from the time he was in Elizabeth's womb. In the presence of Jesus in Mary's womb, he leaped within Elizabeth. This may have been his first act of evangelization. His little leap led to his mother's recognition of Mary as the "Mother of my Lord" (cf. Luke 1:43) and to Mary's Magnificat. (Luke 1:46~55)
John spends most of his brief adult life living in the wilderness clothed in animal skins and living off of locusts. That, taken out of context, might make John a bit of an eccentric, but as Fr. James Torrens wrote in one of his Advent meditations: "John the Baptist was the last of the great servants preparing God's way. With his rough austerity, he had learned to live wholly off of God." (Daybreaks:Daily Reflections for Advent & Christmas)
I believe that this is what John is telling us as he leads us more deeply into Advent~ that we too should learn to live wholly off of God. We don't need to live in the wilderness clothed as John was or live on a diet of locusts to do it. We can do it in how we live our everyday lives in the vocation God has called each of us to live.
Over two thousand years ago, John was telling the people of that time to prepare the way for God who would walk in their midst in the person of Jesus Christ. The message is the same for us~Jesus is still in our midst in word and sacrament and he will come again in His person at the end of time.
As my pastor said in his homily for this Sunday: our entire life is an advent. If lived according to the message of John and the message of the Gospel, we are preparing the way. We are preparing the way of the Lord in our lives, and in the lives of those who God puts in our path, and that way will lead all of us to our heavenly home.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
December is the month dedicated to Our Lady under the title of the Immaculate Conception. As I thought, meditated and prayed about this dogma of our faith, I thought about how Mary is the perfect example of how to live, not only our every day lives, but also this season of Advent.
Advent is about waiting and preparing. We live in a culture that does not like to wait for anything so turning to Mary during this potentially busy season can teach us how to wait and prepare prayerfully.
Our Lady waited nine months for the birth of Jesus, but in a real sense she had been preparing her whole young life for this moment, even if she was not aware of it before Gabriel's announcement to her.
We await Jesus too. Not just at Christmas, but at the end of our lives, and at the end of time. We also await His coming to us each time we celebrate the Eucharist.
Let us turn to our Blessed Mother who will teach us how to wait and prepare for Jesus' coming prayerfully and lovingly as she did.
Prayers and some history of the feast are found by clicking the picture for December's Devotion on the left sidebar.
Psalm 45: Canticle of Love to the King
My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One,
In Your splendor and Your majesty!
And in Your majesty ride on victoriously,
For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness;
Let Your right hand teach You awesome things.
Your arrows are sharp;
The peoples fall under You;
Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies.
Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of joy above Your fellows.
All Your garments are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia;
Out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made You glad.
Kings’ daughters are among Your noble ladies;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.