Friday, November 30, 2018

1st Sunday of Advent

Today is the 1st Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year.   So, Happy New Year!   The word Advent comes from a Latin term that means “coming or arrival.”  Catholics associate Advent with the days leading up to Christmas.  This is the season when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ.  We celebrate how Jesus comes to us in three ways.  We rejoice in the first coming of his birth over 2000 years ago (1st reading).  We celebrate his coming among us here and now, every day, in our hearts, minds and spirits (2nd reading).  And, we prepare for Jesus’ Second coming, when he will come again to judge creation and us according to his Word (Gospel).

How can we as committed Catholics prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ?  Advent invites us to stop, to ponder and to look beyond the frenzied activity that surrounds us during this season.  It invites us to view our world through a different lens.  This year the first reading for today’s liturgy struck me in a new way.  Jeremiah reminds the people of Israel, Judah and us that God’s promises will be fulfilled.  God, speaking through Jeremiah, assures the people that when the Messiah comes, “In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure…”.  But we know that neither Judah nor Jerusalem were safe and secure when Jeremiah wrote these words.  They were not safe and secure when Jesus was born and they are not safe and secure today.  If we plan to wait for safety and security in our world, we will be waiting a very long time.  This is where the different lens becomes important.  Rather than look at the world through our limited, time constrained vision, why not try to imagine the world as God sees it?   Impossible?  Maybe.  In Isaiah 55:8-9 God tells us that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways…. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  Yet in spite of this reality, God asks us to “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near” (Is 55:6).

As faithful disciples we recognize that our lives are moving towards the fulfillment of God’s reign when “the Son of Man” comes with “power and great glory” and our “redemption is at hand” (Luke 21:27-28).  If we don’t want to be caught unaware and unprepared, then we must live our lives in a state of continual Advent and  our lives must be built on love, justice and holiness. 

The second reading today from St. Paul’s 1st Letter to the Thessalonians, gives us a guide to prepare ourselves, “Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.”  Our Advent adventure is just the beginning. 


God our Savior, 
you utter a word of promise and hope
and hasten the day of justice and freedom; 
yet we live in a world forgetful of your word, 
our watchfulness dulled by the cares of life.
Keep us alert.
Make us attentive to your word, 
ready to meet your Son
when he comes with power and great glory.
Make us holy and blameless, 
ready to stand erect 
when the day of his coming 
unveils a New Heaven and a New Earth.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain, 
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
God for ever and ever.
Amen.

In Search Of Our Kneeling Places

In each heart lies a Bethlehem, 
an inn where we must ultimately answer
whether there is room or not.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we can no longer look the other way
conveniently not seeing stars
not hearing angel voices.
We can no longer excise ourselves by busily
tending our sheep in our kingdoms.

This Advent let’s go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that the lord has make known to us.
In the midst of shopping sprees
let’s ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts.
Through the tinsel
let’s look for the gold of the Christmas Star.
In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos,
let’s listen for the brush of angel’s wings.
This Advent let’s go to Bethlehem and find our kneeling places.

Ann Weems

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Never Too Late

Katherine Hepburn once said, "Life is hard. After all, it kills you." And it can kill you early if you don't figure out how to change. Let me explain.

The expression "turning over a new leaf" refers to turning pages of a book. Just as the plot of a novel changes from page to page, people, too, can change their lives. Indeed they have to if they are  to live well.

I enjoy reading about ancient cultures. And it occurs to me that most of the old civilizations are gone. Some have left little behind except ruins and rubble. What happened? Where are the people, their music and ideas? Why are they nothing more today than a collection of stones visited by tourists and curious historians?

The answer, of course, is not the same the world over. But Arnold Toynbee, in his work The Study of History  (1987), says that the great lesson of history is this: civilizations that changed when confronted with challenges thrived. Those that did not change died.  In other words, when life got hard, it killed off those who didn't make needed changes. The key to survival is often about "change."

And what about us? What about you and me? It's good to accept ourselves as we are, but when an unhealthy attitude or a destructive behavior gets in the way, when we wish we could change something about ourselves, we had better change. People who embrace change thrive; those who resist it die.

If you have been waiting for a sign to make that needed change, this may be it. I am convinced that it is never too late to be the person you might have been. It's never too late to be happy. It's never too late to do something different or to do something better. It's never too late to change a habit. It's never too late to live.

Begin making that necessary change today. Then tomorrow, and every tomorrow thereafter, can truly be different.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Bad Parrot

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. 

Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity.

John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer... The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very softly,

"May I ask what the turkey did?"

Monday, November 26, 2018

Faith Should be Strong

In our spiritual life, we should be attuned to the seasons and strive to get the most out of every breath we take and every prayer we speak. Stopping to look back on the year, not to relive, but to learn, we have an opportunity to assess: how has my relationship with Jesus grown, how has my prayer life deepened and how have I allowed the Holy Spirit to help me to live the beatitudes?

In the Gospel of Luke 21:34-36, we are called to be wary that our hearts do not become drowsy, that we will be vigilant at all times. Jesus calls us to be watchful and to pray for the strength to be what we need to be for God and for all the people of God.

In other words, our faith should be strong and have a firm foundation in Jesus our Lord, and guided by that, all our actions should be oriented to follow Jesus as closely as we can.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Commandments for Contentment

1. Remember: I am the Lord thy God – and you’re not!
2. Thou shalt learn to trust.
3. Thou shalt learn to live in the here and now.
4. Thou shalt learn to honor and respect thy boundaries and the boundaries of others.
5. Thou shalt keep thy word.
6. Thou shalt not be in a hurry.
7. Thou shalt not take thyself too seriously.
8. Thou shalt not expect life to be fair.
9. Thou shalt not “should” on thyself.
10. Thou shalt learn to laugh.
11. Thou shalt help another each day.
12. Thou shalt be grateful.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Our God is a mighty God! Worthy to be praised!

From the Book of Daniel, that beautiful hymn of praise echoes all creation in praising His might and beauty:
"Dew and rain, bless the Lord . . .
Frost and chill, bless the Lord . . .
Ice and snow, bless the Lord . . .
Nights and days, bless the Lord . . .
Light and darkness, bless the Lord . . .
lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord . . .
Let the earth bless the Lord, praise and exalt him above all forever. Give glory and eternal praise to Him!"

Psalm 145:10 echoes that sentiment: "Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord, and let your faithful ones bless you." 

No matter where you are today, give thanks and praise to God, our almighty Father, and His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the glory of the Holy Spirit, both now and forever! Amen.

I Am

I was regretting the past and fearing the future

Suddenly, God was speaking,

“My Name is I Am”

He paused. I waited. He Continued.

“When you live in the past, with all its mistakes and regrets
It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not
I was

“When you live in the future with all its problems and fears,
It is hard. I am not there.
My name is not
I will be

“When you live in this moment
It is not hard. I am here.

My Name is
I Am.”

Solemnity of Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.  When Pope Pius XI instituted this feast in his encyclical, Quas Primas on December 11, 1925 he said, "This kingdom is spiritual and is concerned with spiritual things.  It demands of its subjects a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly things, and a spirit of gentleness.  They must hunger and thirst after justice, and more than this, they must deny themselves and carry the cross" (Quas Primas, 15).  In today's gospel, John 18:33b-73, Jesus himself tells us that his "kingdom does not belong to this world" (vs. 36).

The spiritual kingdom over which Christ has "dominion, glory, and kingship" is enduring, as we heard in the prophetic first reading from Daniel 7:13-14, "His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away; his kingship shall not be destroyed."  It is enduring because it is built on truth.  In John 14:6 Jesus tells the disciples and us "I am the way and the truth and the life."  He also tells us that the truth he gives us will "set us free"(John 8:32).  So it is not surprising that in his confrontation with Pilate, Jesus says, "For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice" (John 18:37).

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are people of the truth.  And each of us is called as Jesus Christ himself was called to be a "faithful witness" to that truth.  This is our challenge.  If we are faithful witnesses "to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, who has made us into a kingdom, priests for his God and Father" (Rev. 1:5-6) then we must reflect the truth established by Christ our King to the whole world.  Pope Pius XI gave us some good guiding principles for doing so.  "He must reign in our minds, which should assent with perfect submission and firm belief to revealed truths and to the doctrines of Christ.  He must reign in our wills, which should obey the laws and precepts of God.  He must reign in our hearts, which should spurn natural desires and love God above all things, and cleave to him alone.  He must reign in our bodies and in our members, which should serve as instruments for the interior sanctification of our souls, or to use the words of the Apostle Paul, as instruments of justice unto God."  (Quas Primas, 33).

Lord God,
you have anointed Jesus as the Christ -
not to rule a kingdom won by violence
but to bear witness to the truth,
not to reign in arrogance
but to serve in humility,
not to mirror this world's powers
but to inherit a dominion that will not pass away.
Remove from us every desire for privilege and power,
that we may imitate the sacrificial love of Christ our King
and, as a royal and priestly people,
serve you humbly in our brothers and sisters.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Hidden by the Leaves

As I look out the window I see the trees.  Their trunks, limbs, and branches are bare.  They look really beautiful against the clear sky, so different from when they are hidden by all the leaves.

At the end of November, we remember our dead, particularly those who died in the past year.  And I think that one day I will appear before the Lord with all my leaves gone, all those things that hide me from myself and from others.  Just the bare me.  I hope the Lord will see some beauty in me also.

This thought reminds me to repent and prepare for that meeting.

That's one of the things Advent is for.  The Holy Season of Advent is very near and Advent ends with our commemoration of the birth of our beloved Savior.  That's where my hope is, in His coming.  I trust that's where your hope is also.

Father, We Thank Thee

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,

Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God ..."
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

May God Bless You on This Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Saying Thank You to the Communion of Saints

Remembering to say thank you to our guides and helpers is important for the completion of the assistance they have given.

We may have become accustomed to asking for help from the unseen world - whether from saints, angels, soul friends, guides, or ancestral spirits - but sometimes we may forget to close our connection afterwards with a thank you. When we connect to these energies for assistance, it is much like a phone connection. Forgetting to close the conversation with a proper “goodbye” is like not hanging up. While that line is still connected, others can have trouble getting through, while in the meantime, batteries are being drained. Saying “thank you” is a way of releasing our concerns into trusted hands and getting out of the way so that the universe‚s divine order can work on our behalf.

As spiritual beings, we may talk about “staying connected,” but our connection needs to be with our source. We can plug in and recharge, but we run on batteries in between, and every connection we make utilizes some of our personal power. Even being surrounded by people that energize us has its limits, and at some point we will feel ready to go off on our own to do what is ours to do. Instead of trying to be constantly connected, we can turn to these beings for help in a way that is more like placing an order. We contact them, ask for what we need, and then say thank you and goodbye.

Beings of the light (Jesus) don’t require our gratitude; it is an energetic acknowledgement of trust and release that benefits us. When we bring ourselves to a sense of being grateful, we affirm that what we have asked is already done. Then we can move forward with confidence to do the things we are meant to do, while knowing that all will be well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

God's Holding Patterns

Many times God will allow a painful situation or a painful circumstance in our life to "swallow us up." This season in our spiritual growth is a holding pattern. We can't move to the left or the right. All we can do is sit, like Jonah sat in the belly of that great fish, so God can have our undivided attention and speak to us.

God put Jonah in a holding pattern because He needed to speak to his heart. Jonah was all alone. There were no friends to call, no colleagues to drop by, no books to read, no food to eat, no interference's, and no interruptions. He had plenty of time to sit, think, meditate, and pray. When we're deep down in the midst of a difficult situation, God can talk to us. When He has our undivided attention, He can show us things about ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen.

Few Of God's Holding Patterns:
1. When you are sick in your physical body and you have prayed, but God has not healed you yet, you are in a holding pattern.
2. When you are having problems with your children and you have put them on the altar, but God has not delivered them yet, you are in a holding pattern.
3. When you have been praying for a loved one and they have not responded yet, you are in a holding pattern.
4. When you are in a broken relationship and you have given it over to God, but it has not been restored yet, you are in a holding pattern.
5. When the doors slam shut before you can knock on them, you are in a holding pattern.
6. When the stack of bills are higher than the dollars to pay them and you don’t know where it’s coming from, you are in a holding pattern.
7. When you are praying for an answer and it’s just not coming as quickly as you like it to, you are in a holding pattern.

When we are deep in the belly of a difficult situation, there are no interruptions. God has our undivided attention. All we can do is sit, think, meditate, and pray. We cannot run from God because there are no mountains that are high enough, valleys that are low enough, rivers that are wide enough, rooms that are dark enough, or places that are hidden enough from Him.

We must remember to praise Him while we're waiting and remember three things:
1. The pattern has a purpose.
2. The pattern has a plan.
3. The pattern has a process.

So stop struggling and start listening, praying and trusting. He'll keep you right where you are until you can clearly hear Him say, "I love you." The shortest distance between a problem and a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor. The one who kneels to the Lord can stand up to anything. Be Blessed!

Prayer:
"Father, forgive my unbelief. I know you love me and will turn anything around to benefit me. You have planned nothing for me but victories and I am ready to receive them regardless of how difficult the path. Amen."

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Where Change Begins

An old mystic said this about himself: "I was a revolutionary when I was young, and my prayer to God was, 'Lord, give me the strength to change the world.' As I approached middle age and realized that my life was halfway gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to, 'Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me, especially my family and friends, and I shall be satisfied.' Now that I am an old man, and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how  foolish I have been. Now my one prayer is this, 'Lord, give me the grace to change myself.' If I had prayed that right from the start, I would not have wasted my life."

We can waste years trying to change other people. But we can only really change one person -- ourselves. In the end, that is  probably enough.


Change

An old mystic said this about himself: "I was a revolutionary when I was young, and my prayer to God was, 'Lord, give me the strength to change the world.' As I approached middle age and realized that my life was halfway gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to, 'Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me, especially my family and friends, and I shall be satisfied.' Now that I am an old man, and my days are numbered, I have begun to see how  foolish I have been. Now my one prayer is this, 'Lord, give me the grace to change myself.' If I had prayed that right from the start, I would not have wasted my life."

We can waste years trying to change other people. But we can only really change one person -- ourselves. In the end, that is  probably enough.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Oneing

One of my favorite mystics is called Julian of Norwich. We don’t know her real name. She is simply named after the church in Norwich, England—St. Julian’s—where she had her little anchor-hold. One window of her small room looked into the sanctuary for mass and another opened to the street where the people would come by for her counsel and prayer. Julian experienced her “showings,” as she called them, on the night of May 8, 1373. Then she lived in the anchor-hold for twenty years, trying to process and communicate what she had experienced on that one night. Julian wrote about these showings in her book Revelations of Divine Love, the first book published in English by a woman.

Julian experienced and wrote of a compassionate, relational, and joyful God. She writes: “For before he made us, he loved us; and when we were made, we loved him. And this is our substantial goodness, the substantial goodness in us of the Holy Spirit. It is nothing we create; it is our substance. God revealed to me that there may and there will be nothing at all between God and the soul. And in this endless love, the human soul is kept whole as all the matter of creation is kept whole.”

Julian uses the Middle English word “oneing” to describe this whole-making work of God. God is always oneing everything: making twos and threes and fours and divisions and dichotomies and dualisms into one. As she explains, “God wants us to know that this beloved soul that we are is preciously knitted to him in its making by a knot so subtle and so mighty that it is oned with God. In this oneing it is made endlessly holy. Furthermore, he wants us to know that all the souls which are one day to be saved in heaven without end are knit in this same knot and united in this same union, and made holy in this one identical holiness.”

Richard Rohr, OFM Adapted from Intimacy: The Divine Ambush

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tools


“If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” - Abraham Maslow

When we can take a long view of our problems, we can sometimes see that we're using inappropriate tools to try to solve them. What's necessary for us to do is to move away, to detach. That may show us a whole new context into which our problem fits, and in which it may not even be a problem.

Detachment is hard to achieve when we're deeply hooked into a situation. When we send ourselves drastic messages like "now or never!" we're pressing our noses right up against the problem - a position in which it's difficult to maintain a balanced view. To stop and say, "If not now, then perhaps some other time," unhooks us and lets us remember that life is richer and more varied than we thought when we were hooked.

Crisis thinking can be like a hammer - it flattens everything. This can be our way of trying to control the outcome of our individual struggle. But when we remember that we make up only small parts of one grand and beautiful design. We can surrender our problems to it.

To be a competent worker, we need to seek out the tools that are best suited to the task.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Ask and you shall receive" John 16:24

Somewhere in our past life, we may have picked up the idea that it's not all right to ask for help, that asking for help would be a sign of weakness. Spirituality calls for some basic changes in our thinking, when we feel vulnerable that is the best time to reach out and ask for help from the God of Love, from our Church community, and from our friends. It may be hard for us, at first. We may be afraid of rejection, or of being laughed at for not knowing all the answers. But once we've taken the risk and openly asked for help, we realize our fears are a part of the past, and we can leave them behind us.

In asking for help, we acknowledge that we can't do it all by ourselves. We surrender once again to powerlessness. And we give others the joy and satisfaction of helping us. Today if we feel we are on a solo-fight, let us ask God to help us to reach out and find support. “God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go.” Psalm 91:11

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Sometimes we just need to be reminded!

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by: holding up a $20 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, "Who would like this $20 bill?" Hands started going up. He said, "I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. He then asked, "Who still wants it?" Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, "What if I do this?" And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. "Now, who still wants it?" Still the hands went into the air. My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make or the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who love you.

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE and WHOSE WE ARE. As Isaiah 43:1; tells us: “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.”

How much do we notice as we go through a day?

Lisa Beamer on Good Morning America - If you remember, she's the wife of Todd Beamer who said 'Let's Roll!' and helped take down the plane over Pennsylvania that was heading for Washington, DC back on 9/11. She said it's the little things that she misses most about Todd, such as hearing the garage door open as he came home, and her children running to meet him.

Lisa recalled this story: "I had a very special teacher in high school many years ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death, she shared some of her insight with a classroom of students. As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, 'Class is over, I would like to share with all of you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important. Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is God's way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.

Her eyes, beginning to water, she went on, 'So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent, perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the "stuff" of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted.

The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook.

Take notice of something special you see today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. For as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things we didn't do. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away."

HAVE A GREAT DAY! GOD Bless you every day of your life. The nicest place to be is in someone's thoughts. The safest place to be is in someone's prayers, And the very best place to be is....In the hands of God.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Since about 66AD there have been almost two hundred predictions about the end of the world.  Some very notable people have bought into historical apocalypse theories including:  St Martin of Tours, Pope Sylvester II, Pope Innocent III, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Nostradamus, John Wesley, Cotton Mather and recently Pat Robertson and Harold Camping.  And let us not forget the great Millennium scare of January 1, 2000 or the end of the Mayan Calendar in 2012.

People have been obsessed with the end of the world since the time of Noah and the Great Flood.  The Old Testament is full of references to “the day of the Lord” when God will directly intervene in human history.  Today’s first reading from Daniel 12:1-3, is one such reference.  Before the day of the Lord comes there will “be a time unsurpassed in distress.”  The world will be shaken to its core and judgment will come.  But the children of Israel believed that because they were the chosen people they would survive the horror and experience a splendid new world.  They believed that God is in charge and that God will win. 

In today’s Gospel from Mark 13:24-32, Jesus gives us another glimpse of the end of the world accompanied with the second coming.  Jesus is not trying to scare the disciples or us.  He is pragmatic.  The world will end.  Each one of us will die.  However, it is a waste of time for us to speculate about when we will die or when the world as we know it will end.  Jesus clearly says “"But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  What we do know is that “Heaven and earth will pass away,” but Jesus’ “words will not pass away.”

We know it is going to happen; the problem is we don't know when.  And it is foolish for us to speculate because Jesus tells us clearly, "But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32).  Our job is to be prepared.  At the close of this chapter, Jesus says "What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!’”  We will hear a similar reading from Luke's gospel on the 1st Sunday of Advent in just two weeks.  Get ready, Jesus is coming!

God our Father,
through your Son you told us
not to worry about the day or the hour
when the old world will be gone,
for you alone know when it will happen.
Open our eyes to the sign of Jesus’ coming
and make us see him
already walking by our side.
Keep us faithful in hope
and vigilant in our love for you
and our concern for one another.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
Amen.

Lord, make me an instrument of your Serenity

Lord, make me an instrument of your Serenity
Where there is addiction, let me bring Recovery
Where there is shame, let me bring Healing
Where there is hatred, let me bring Love 
Where there is hurt, let me bring Forgiveness 
Where there is prejudice, let me bring acceptance
Where there is denial, let me bring Honesty 
Where there is fear, let me bring Courage
Where there is doubt, let me bring Faith 
Where there is despair, let me bring Hope 
Where there is darkness, let me bring Light 
Where there is sadness, let me bring Joy

Lord, grant that I may seek
Not so much to be comforted, but to Comfort others
Not so much to be understood, as to Understand others
Not so much to be loved, as to Love others
For it is in Giving that we receive
For it is by Forgiving, that we are Released from resentments
For it is by Living in God’s love, that we are granted a Daily Reprieve
And it is by Dying to our old life, that we Awaken to a New Life of Spirituality. Amen

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Military Heart

A military heart is unique, it must be true,
The blood that pulses deep within is red, white, and blue
Its love is like a fire that grows when it is shared,
For complete and total strangers, they have truly cared.
All heroes past and present, at war and at peace,
My admiration for you all will never ever cease.
Veterans who went by choice or those who had been drafted,
I feel that God took extra care with certain hearts He crafted.
He had to make them strong and brave, but tender all the same,
He knit them in their mother’s womb and knew them each by name.
It would take a special heart to leave loved ones behind,
To kiss and hug good-bye with Old Glory on their mind.
The countless sacrifice they made for freedoms we enjoy,
For every man, every woman, every girl, and every boy.
For those who have such passion for our great U.S. of A,
Who’ll stand for life and liberty, so we can speak and pray.
If you see a warrior, please give them all our love,
For the heart that beats within them is a gift from God above.
We’re thankful, oh so thankful, for that heart we have admired,
For giving so unselfishly, although it may be tired.
We’d never know of its fatigue - it’s hidden way inside,
For that heart is full of love, as deep as it is wide.
On Veterans Day and all the days that come before and after,
We thank you for allowing us a life of hope and laughter.
To wake each day knowing what you must have seen and heard,
It’s hard to find the thoughts to share - there isn’t just one word.
What can we say? What should we say?
A debt we just cannot repay.
I think I’ll just say thank you from the bottom of my heart,
I’ll pray for you - thank God for you. That’s certainly a start.
I’ll do my best to wake each day full of gratitude,
I’ll make a daily effort with a thankful attitude.
I’ll live to nurture peace – I’ll try to do my part,
And I’ll thank the Lord everyday…for your military heart.

Heather Spears Kallus

God Speaks

There are two ways, and both are hard to travel.
There is the way of the river, but there is also the way of the bridge that I have built to cross that river.

How strange it is that so many still prefer to walk through the water,
even though I have built a bridge for them, a bridge that offers delight,
where all that is bitter becomes sweet, and every burden light.

Those who cross the waters of life by taking the way of the bridge
see light even though they are still in the darkness of their body.
Though mortal, they taste immortality,
Though weary, they receive the refreshment they need
when they need it, in my name.

There are no words adequate to describe
the delight experienced by those who choose the way of the bridge.
While still in this life they taste and participate
in that good which has been prepared for them in the next.

You would be a fool, indeed, to reject such a great good
and choose instead to walk by the lower road
with its great toil, and without refreshment or advantage.

From: Set Aside Every Fear – love and trust in the
Spirituality of Catherine of Siena.
By John Kirvan

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Feast Day of St. Leo the Great

With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as "Peter’s successor," guiding his fellow bishops as "equals in the episcopacy and infirmities."

Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism, Manichaeism and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs. A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.

It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and St. Peter, in whose place Leo acted.

At a time when there is widespread criticism of Church structures, we also hear criticism that bishops and priests—indeed, all of us—are too preoccupied with administration of temporal matters. Pope Leo is an example of a great administrator who used his talents in areas where spirit and structure are inseparably combined: doctrine, peace and pastoral care. He avoided an "angelism" that tries to live without the body, as well as the "practicality" that deals only in externals.