Thursday, December 31, 2009
Do you do a daily pocket check? No really? Before you leave the house, do you check to see if you have everything? Cell phone? Keys? Handkerchief? Pen?
What we really need to see is, if Christ in the pocket of my heart. Is Christ's presence there as my day begins... like Mary who kept the memories of Jesus' birth in her heart and reflected on them...
So take a look at this video: it's humorous as it starts out but ends up in the pocket of our hearts...
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
They are peasants: simple, hard-working, honest people. Under our layers of modern sophistication and education, we are all peasants. It’s the peasant soul in us, the child in us, that hears angels, that is hailed by the heavenly glory, that dares to hope and wonder with awe.
The shepherds are outdoors, exposed to God’s sky, not protected by human artifice. Even when we’re in an office, surrounded by technology, the shepherd-self in us is always in this situation. No place is safe from God’s invasion.
What the simple shepherds do is the highest and holiest thing any saint or mystic ever does, on earth or in heaven.
They are “keeping watch by night.” In the darkness they wait and watch, like the little child at the center of our souls. And it’s in the darkness that the heavenly light dawns. In the silence is heard the angels’ song. Kierkegaard said, “If I could prescribe only one remedy for all the ills of the modern world, I would prescribe silence. For even if the Word of God were proclaimed, no one would hear it; there is too much noise. Therefore, create silence.”
The shepherds are “keeping watch over their sheep,” as our soul watches over its body with its flock of desires, responsible for the care and direction of our herd or instincts. It’s as we go about this humdrum daily business that supernatural grace comes to us through the ministry of angels. We do not usually see them, as the shepherds did, but they are there. In heaven we will recognize them, and their role in our lives. “So it was you all the time! It was you who were there...then...”
“The glory of the Lord shone round about them.” This is the shekinah, the heavenly light that had appeared visibly over the Ark of the Covenant and on Mount Sinai. We can still see it, but only with the inner eye of faith. Only if we believe, do we see.
“They were afraid.” We fear the unknown, the opening skies, the passages between worlds, like birth and death. Even when the angel says, “Fear not,” the event is no less momentous, The awe is now joyful, not fearsome; but it’s still “awe-full.” It is “good tidings of great joy.” Joy can be as awesome as fear. The Good News, the incredible event of the Incarnation, is the most joyful and the most awesome news we have ever heard.
The angel tells the shepherds that this event is “to you.” Not just to “mankind” in general, but to us, these ordinary individuals — Almighty God comes to our fields, stables, offices and homes. This is no prerecorded message; this is God calling us up personally.
The shepherds’ response is immediate and practical: “Let us go to Bethlehem.” The angel’s message has power; it moves people to go. When Cicero addressed the Roman senate, everyone said, “How beautifully he speaks!” But they remained in their seats. Yet when Demosthenes addressed the Greek army, they leaped up, clashed spear upon shield and said, “Let us march!”
The angels are like Demosthenes. Scholars, seeing angels, say, “Let us interpret this.”
Shepherds, seeing angels, say, “Let us go.” Karl Marx was profoundly right when he said, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world, the thing is to change it.” Both bad religion (Marx’s) and good religion (Christ’s) change the world.
Unlike the wise men, the shepherds have no gifts to bring Christ. They are poor beggars — like us. “Just As I Am” is our song. They come with dirt under their fingernails and in their souls. They come to receive, not to bargain; to wonder, not to understand. They run to Bethlehem to fall on their knees — that is, to fulfill the ultimate purpose for which we were all created.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Fools think they are wise, so they do not search. The three wise men go on a pilgrimage, on a search, because they know they are not wise.
Just as saints know they are sinners but sinners think they are saints, good people do not call themselves “good people” and wise men do not call themselves wise.
Thus, the wise seek. And all seekers find, according to our Lord’s own promise. But only seekers find. If the wise man in us will travel far from home, comfort and security, then we may arrive at Bethlehem.
As Pascal says, there are only three kinds of people: those who have sought God and found Him (these are reasonable and happy), those who are seeking God and have not yet found Him (these are reasonable and unhappy), and those who neither seek God nor find Him (these are unreasonable and unhappy). Everyone in the second class makes it into the first; all seekers find. But only seekers.
The wise men came from “the East,” the land of the rising sun, the symbol of hope. Any pilgrimage we begin in seeking God, in any part of our lives, is undertaken for this motive. Hope is one of the three most necessary things in the world, one of the three theological virtues. Hope is our energy, our trigger, our motive power.
The wise men come to worship, just as the shepherds do. That’s why they are wise; not because they know the means, the way, but because they know the end; not because they lift their heads to the stars but because they bow their knees to the Baby. Wisdom is not the pride of cleverness in knowledge, but the humility of holiness. “The fear of the Lord, that is the beginning of wisdom.”
They make their pilgrimage from East to West. Oriental wisdom must turn West to find Christ, and the West — Rome — must go East. For Christ is born at the center. He is at the center of all things metaphysically, so it’s fitting that He be born at the physical center of the world as well, between East and West, North and South, between ancient and modern times. All time centers on Him; all dates are B.C. or A.D. Everything is relative to Him. He is the absolute.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Today’s scripture announces an order of family behavior that should apply in all families: honor, authority, respect, prayer, reverence, obedience,care, kindness and consideration of others –all meant to establish a household of loving justice.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist say it well.
God has always been with us, but the Incarnation radically changed His manner of being “with us.” The most sacred item for the people of the Old Testament was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained several holy objects: the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, God’s word inscribed by God Himself; a jar of the manna with which God fed them in the desert; and Aaron’s rod, the symbol of his priesthood (Heb. 9:4).
From the moment of the Incarnation, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is called the Ark of the New Covenant, she held within her womb the Word of God in the flesh, who is the true manna in the Most Holy Eucharist, and who is the Eternal High Priest. Emmanuel, “God with us,” loves us with an intensity that is beyond our human comprehension, but we can begin to grasp it when we approach Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and receive Him into ourselves.
O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God!
Brother David prepares the altar at the Province Christmas Day Mass.
The second reading is proclaimed by Brother Stephen at the Christmas Day Mass in the Community Chapel.
Friday, December 25, 2009
to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Today you fill our hearts with joy
as we recognise in Christ the revelation of your love.
No eye can see his glory as our God,
yet now he is seen as one like us.
Christ is your Son before all ages,
yet now he is born in time.
He has come to lift up all things to himself,
to restore unity to creation,
and to lead humankind from exile into your heavenly kingdom ...
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free,
Lord our God.
Jesus, God-with-us, all compassionate and loving God whom we honor and adore, You have unlocked the gates of heaven and cleared the pathway for all humanity to come to You in the glory of the Father. Save us from the chains of sin and darkness. We thank you for the gift of redemption and look forward to the day of Your coming in glory. Amen.
Today we consider the second strange circumstance surrounding a Child who is God.
He is not recognized by anyone.
Let us think, for example, of the innkeepers at Bethlehem. If they knew that God was there in their ole place, they would have opened the door. They would have sheltered him. But they thought it had to do with vagabonds, refugees from who knows where, a pair of unknown persons.
And they did not want to receive them.
And we, would we have received them?
How could we believe that God wanted to present Himself to us in this form?
Chris Calabrese joins in the afternoon caroling.
Sister Patrice assists one of the Residents during Lessons & Carols.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
the only joy of every human heart: O Keystone of the mighty arch of man. Come and save the creatures you fashioned from the dust.
Lord, every nation on earth adores You, for by Your passion, death, and resurrection, You have saved all humanity. Your constant love and friendship reach from the heavens to the ends of the earth. You alone have bridged the deep chasm created by sin; You have protected us from the grasp of the evil one. You are the source of all life; help us to be as one family in You, our God and Savior. Amen.
Christmas is just around th corner. And so, what is it that we celebrate at Christmas?
We surely celebrate the birth of a child, but not that of a common child, rather, it is a Child who is God. Now, if we compare this birth with other births, for example, with the births of other children, then we notice some strange things. This child is born in unusual circumstances, disconcerting, even annoying circumstances – since it has to do with the Son of God.
A first strange circumstance. He makes himself known to the shepherds. He came to earth. He did not warn the great ones. He did not warn the mighty ones. He made nothing known to the priests. He cast aside the hierarchy.
There was no press conference to announce to the world an event of such significance. Nevertheless, he was greatly interested that someone would know. Someone had the right to be the first to know the news. He sends his messengers to some shepherds who were camped near the city guarding their flocks. The shepherds live on the margin of society and also often on the margin of religion. They are uneducated and they do not know the law. It is precisely to these to whom Christ sends his angels to announce his coming.
Jesus wants to make everything clear from the beginning. He sees everything in reverse. In his eyes, the great ones are the small ones. The last are the first. Those shunned by society are his privileged. The Good News is communicated first and first belongs to those who are “on the outside.”
Monday, December 21, 2009
(Suzie Craven & Tim Lynch spend some time singing carols in the dining area.)
(Santa and the students from Chaminade & Kellenberg Memorial share their joy with the elderly of Queen of Peace Residence.)
Sunday, December 20, 2009
O royal Power of Israel controlling at Your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
and lead Your captive people into freedom.
Christ Jesus, You are the key to the happiness of our hearts.
The darkness of sin and the awareness of our weaknesses drag us down,
but You have come to lift us up and redeem us.
We place all our hope in You who have freed us from sin.
Teach us to open the doors of our hearts to You
and to one another through awareness of the mystery of Your Presence in others.
Lead us into the light of Your love and grace. Amen.
When discerning your religious vocation it helps to ask, “What gives me hope?”
Remember Mary running to Elizabeth sharing her great Hope and rejoicing.
So what brings you hope?
Pay attention to what pulls at your heartstrings.
I remember last year when I visited the Missionaries of Charity in the South Bronx. I was walking through a room near the chapel when a little poster caught my eye. It read, "The surest sign of God’s presence is Joy.”
A calling, a vocation, is an invitation to a particular path of nurturing and loving Jesus supernaturally conceived inside you. Think about joy!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
O Christ, living sign of the Father’s love, we adore You as the Center of our lives. You are our model for grace, truth, and living in the light of the Father. Be our strength in times of sorrow and trouble; be our joy in times of sadness; be our light in the darkness of sin and our troubled world. We are in awe of Your holy Presence. May we rejoice and share the signs of Your coming with one another. Amen.
People who fear their vocation decision will disappoint others need open, honest dialogue with family and friends about their vocation. Like the one in discernment, family and friends have been in a questioning state of mind. Thus, they too, may gain peace of mind if the vocation is at least tested.
This is an important point. Rather than being disappointed, if the loved one doesn't continue, family and friends may be put at ease knowing a serious question has been explored and answered. Never exploring the vocation question would probably be more disappointing.
Friday, December 18, 2009
There are all kinds of excuses for not following a vocation. Why not go back to Scripture for various excuses used by folks we now hail as our faith heroes. If you think you are too young, check out the story of Jeremiah. If you feel you cannot speak, read the story of Moses. If you ever wonder how a vocation could be yours, read the story of Mary's Annunciation. If you feel you are too sinful, read the life of Saint Peter. If you think you are not capable of being called by God, read the story of Sarah. This list goes on and on. Scripture is filled with the stories of people who had excuses just like us. What makes them great? They moved forward in faith, relying on God.
Is God calling you to religious life? If so, what are you doing about it? What is your excuse not to follow?
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Hey, I DON'T THINK I AM HOLY ENOUGH, I AM NOT WORTHY. There seems to be a strange belief going around that anyone thinking of becoming a religious must be totally holy or worthy. The truth here is this: To say that one IS holy enough or worthy enough is a sure sign of the sin of Pride, the Original Sin that got us into trouble a long time ago! To focus on being holy or worthy enough is to miss the whole point of having a vocation.
In the Book of Genesis we read that God made us in His image and likeness. What is that image and likeness? It is love and holiness. We are holy people. Since any call from God is a gift, the excuse of not being holy or worthy enough simply falls short. At no time will anyone ever be holy or worthy enough. That is what makes this vocation a real gift.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
If others have agreed that a religious vocation seems fitting -- or worth investigating all the more reason to step forth. By entering a formation program, people commit to a particular time of exploration, not to the end result of religious life. The degree of certainty becomes more important as people move through and near the end of formation.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
by our union with him -
his prayer is our prayer;
it is he who offers our prayer,
which is also our prayer.
All of us are called to be conscious of the presence of the God of Love.
This is what Blessed William Joseph Chaminade calls the time of "meditation on the presence of God."
This meditation is "a calm attention to the presence of God."
In order to do this during our time of prayer, Father Chaminade recommends great simplicity. "This simple attention of the mind, accompanied by a gentle ardor of the heart, together with this aspiration or thrust of the heart."
Be conscious of God's love today!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Today is Gaudete Sunday, a day in which we are exhorted to "REJOICE."
There will be a day, there will be a time, Zephaniah says, when men and women will “sing aloud” and “shout,” where they will “be glad and rejoice” with all their hearts. This true, authentic joy will well up not as a result of piling up enough money or achieving certain levels of success. No, this lasting joy will flow from the fact that God has found his joy in us, in you!
One of my favorite spiritual authors sums it up beautifully as follows:
It sounds too good to be true. It sounds like pious exaggeration, a salesman's pitch. Instant joy? All you have to do is surrender to God? What's the catch?
There is a catch. It's a big one, but a simple one: you have to really do it, not just think about it.
To do it completely requires something we dislike very much: death. Not the death of the body. The body is not the obstacle. The ego is. Self-will is. We fear giving that up even more than we fear giving up our body to death—even though that ego, the thing St. Paul calls "the old man" in us, or the Adam in us, is the cause of all our misery.
That old self has sold itself to the devil. It's his microphone. It sits there behind our ears chattering away. When we're about to give ourselves to God, it instantly whispers to us: "Careful, now. Hold back. Don't get too close to him. He's dangerous. In fact, he's a killer."
The voice speaks some truth. Even the devil has to begin with some truth in order to twist it into a lie. It's true; God is a killer. If you let him, he will kill your old, selfish, unhappy, bored, wretched, mistrusting, loveless self.
But he will do it only if you want him to; and he will do it only as much as you want him to. God is a gentleman. He will never rape your soul, only woo it.
And when he does, you understand one of the reasons why sex is so different, so special, so holy: it is an image of this, of heaven, of the ultimate meaning and destiny and purpose of your life.
Even the tiny foretaste of heaven that we can all have here on earth by surrendering to God is as much more joyful than the greatest ecstasy sex can give, just as being with your beloved is more joyful than being with her picture.
You either believe all this, or you don't. If you do, then do it! If you don't, then try it. You'll like it.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
He is more famous for the amazing miracles he witnessed at the hands of Heaven; Our Lady appearing to him, the roses the bishop asked for blooming in winter, and the magic of the tilma, a stunning work of art painted by Heaven itself on his burlap clothing (which still exists today, defying all scientific comprehension and study).
But in all this, it was still his walk that strikes us. The dedication, the patience, the sheer strength of his character, his obvious passion for the Eucharist….. staggering. And when Mary Immaculate called him to his special mission, he called himself a “nobody.” Wow!
Walking 15 miles through desert terrain to stand, to kneel, and to bask in the glow of that Divine Fire of the Eucharist…. Wow!
Today we celebrate this Lady of Guadalupe! According to the traditional account, the image appeared miraculously on the front of Juan Diego's cloak. The image still exists; it is on display in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City. It is perhaps Mexico's most popular religious and cultural image, and the focus of pilgrimage.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. " –Isaiah 40:28-31
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” -Matthew 11:28
Trust is the most difficult thing in the world; but when we trust, if we can trust, then everything is easy.
We are free.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I don't know about you but, to be honest, it might just be the last question I'd want to be asked. At least, so far -- there's still too much to do... and I'm not talking about the tree, the lights, the cards, or the Christmas shopping, either.
Luckily, though, time still remains for those of us who've got some catching up to do with the preparation that counts the most -- we've just gotta make the most of it. And, well, there are as many ways of approaching the task as there are the number of us.
Maybe the answer is to take an Advent minute to step back and breathe (...or ten ...or more), an extra smile or helping hand to someone who could use it, a night off from shopping or the party circuit, or maybe that call, note or email we've been meaning to get to... whatever it is, just do it... or, at the very least, try to... because especially in these days, it's all in the little things.
No question, we can focus on and devote no shortage of time to no shortage of things in these crazed days... but along the way, let's just make sure whatever we do in the days ahead begins and ends with what it's (really) all about:
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Here is part of the Pope's reflection on this feastday:
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
The Spirit is there to cause things to happen in peoples' lives that bring them more in tune with God's purposes on earth (and beyond). When the Spirit starts changing someone, it shows as a growth in character, a change in their way of life that is good for the people they live among. This change in character is called a 'fruit of the Spirit', like the fruit grown by a tree can feed people and wildlife.
From ancient times to today, abundant fruit from an orchard is seen as cause for hope and celebration. Abundant spiritual fruit also breeds hope and is well worth celebrating.
Seems the fruits of the Spirit are present with this group of consecrated women. So much that they seem to be coming out of the woodwork. Check out these Franciscan nuns in Spain:
A 43 year-old prioresses has revolutionized an old Poor Clares convent in Spain, turning it onto a magnet for dozens of young professional women. . . .Sr. Veronica joined the convent which had not seen a new vocation in nearly 23 years.
. . .
The Spanish daily newspaper could not resist publishing an extensive report on Sr. Veronica. According to the newspaper, she “has become the biggest phenomenon in the Church since Teresa of Calcutta,” as “she has made the old convent of Lerma into an attractive recruiting banner for female vocations, with 135 professional women with a median age of 35 and 100 more on a waiting list.” The paper adds that Sr. Vernoica has also “opened a house in the town of La Aguilera, 24 miles from Lerma, at a huge monastery donated by her Franciscan brothers.”
A joyful 21 year old postulant said, “…I asked Our Lady to teach me to love her son like she does.” Such perfect Mariology; Our Lady is not the object of our worship, but she points to that object, teaches us about Him, guides and prays, precisely as Pope Benedict described.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The Cause of Faustino was treated in the Archdiocese of Valencia between October 1988 and October 1991. The positio was written by the then Postulator Father Enrique Torres and deposited with the Congregation on 31 October 1994. Since then it has been awaiting its turn to be studied. The moment has finally arrived and at next November’s meeting the theologians will discuss the theological and cardinal virtues of the Servant of God Faustino Pérez-Manglano.
This news fills us with an immense joy because Faustino inspires a multitude of Christian life groups, Marianist lay communities, and pastoral and educational activities throughout the entire Marianist Family.
Let us pray that Faustino might be declared “Venerable” by the Pope.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
increase our strength of will for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
As we begin Advent, every blessing, joy and grace to one and all....