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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year's Eve

It seems to me that people celebrate the eve of New Year's more than the day itself. One New Year's Eve I suggested a three hour prayer to prepare for the New Year. The first hour was with Jesus, who then led us into the second hour spent with the Father, and then we spent the last with the Holy Spirit. The community had me shorten the hours but still we had almost two hours before midnight in prayer for our world. Then we had a little celebration to see the New Year arrive - this year I suspect I will be asleep by midnight because of my cold. I will look forward to celebrating on January 1!

On Christmas Eve at our prayer I drew two quotes from Mother Stuart and will share them here. The first is one I prayed over and the second is one that is a favorite and I love it.

"When one is trying for such high things as we are, the higher we want to fly, the greater the risk, but run with no assurance but our trust in God that seems to me to be the essence of our life and its beauty. This will grow upon you, and you will get your balance in the risks, and get to love them. That is faith and hope."

"To be a joy-bearer and a joy-giver says everything; it means that one is faithfully living for God and that nothing else counts, and if ne give joy to others we are doing God's work. With joy without and within, all is well."

Monday, December 30, 2013

How are you reviewing your year?

It is good to review the year and there are many ways to do it. How are you looking back on these past twelve months? We do this to get a good picture of what our life looks like and, I hope, it is looking at these months with the eyes of Jesus. He will then point out to us the good things we have done and help us to see how to make next year better.
I look back over the monthly reviews that I have made in my Journal and this helps me to remember things of the past year that I might forget. I also take time to think of the people who are important in my life. Well, the truth is that I am battling a serious cold that has me feeling wiped out and so I am just going to take today and do nothing.

Here is something I copied and you may reflect upon:

If our greatest need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our greatest need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our greatest need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our greatest need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
so God sent us a Saviour.
-Roy Lessin
For unto you is born this day... a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

It is the Feast of the Holy Family and Joseph is again a prominent figure who obeys with such trust.

It has been a fun week at home with all my community here. The house is full of good food and I will need to really work out at the gym after all the candy and Christmas cookies. I think we have all just been able to relax and not worry about work or even some of the thank you notes still to be written.
I am getting used to our new computer and think it will be helpful but it is still puzzling in some ways. Sort of fun to figure things out!
I hope everyone else has had a good week and maybe we should begin to think of how to prepare for the New Year. A day of retreat is always good, but maybe it is better to take time over the next three days to review the year and plan for the next.
I am still keeping my gratitude journal and one of the things it sometimes asks me is to not only write about three things that went well during the day but to write why I think they went so well. It is a good way to deepen the gratitude I feel and I am going to keep this journal all of next year as it is a thick one and I just use one page a day.
Another suggestion is to make a list of all those who are still alive and you are thankful for and want to show your gratitude by later writing to them so you make the list and jot down what you are grateful for when you thought of this person in particular. Some people you want to thank for so many things, but others may just be the way they greet you that makes you feel happy. I have a list, but think my memory kept going to the many, many people who have helped me over the years and are now dead. I may have a special prayer celebration with them and name all the things I am grateful for or at least some of the things.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Shepherds were the first to find Jesus

I was reflecting on the life of a shepherd and why the angels were sent to announce the birth of Jesus to them. The Holy Father said something in his homily at the Christmas Mass that I am copying here:

"The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.

3. The shepherds were the first to see this “tent”, to receive the news of Jesus’ birth. They were the first because they were among the last, the outcast. And they were the first because they were awake, keeping watch in the night, guarding their flocks. Together with them, let us pause before the Child, let us pause in silence. Together with them, let us thank the Lord for having given Jesus to us, and with them let us raise from the depths of our hearts the praises of his fidelity: We bless you, Lord God most high, who lowered yourself for our sake. You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable.

On this night let us share the joy of the Gospel: God loves us, he so loves us that he gave us his Son to be our brother, to be light in our darkness. To us the Lord repeats: “Do not be afraid!” (Lk 2:10). And I too repeat: Do not be afraid! Our Father is patient, he loves us, he gives us Jesus to guide us on the way which leads to the promised land. Jesus is the light who brightens the darkness. He is our peace. Amen."

Lord, I want to share the joy of the Gospel! I am also aware that this is the feast of the Holy Innocents; I think of all the homeless children, the abused children, the abandoned children in our world today and ask Jesus to bless each.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Give Glory to God...

We pray before the Infant Jesus who stretches out his arms to embrace us and the entire world. We are loved and cherished and we want to love and cherish this tiny child who has come into our world to save us.
The Holy Father said in his Christmas message: (among other things)
"Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him."

May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.

And peace to mankind

"True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely “fa├žade” which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ."

I am staying with the thought that Christmas bids us to give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. I am called by my vocation to give glory to God, glory to the Heart of Jesus who reveals God's infinite, tender love for each of us. Christmas gives us joy!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day after Christmas

Christmas has a season - I read it lasts now until January 12,  but I have always believed it lasted until February 2 and one year we even kept our Christmas tree until that date. It was a sorry tree for we were living without central air and Miami heat shortens the life of a tree. Now we have an artificial tree but it usually comes down around Epiphany as everyone is back at work and no time to put away Christmas decorations unless done early. However, Christmas is kept as long as we want in our hearts and I think I love just using the nativity scenes as a composition of place for my prayer. Jesus comes so little and helpless and asks only for our love.
What I read of the Pope's homily at Christmas Mass really pleased me. We all need to learn to be humble and Jesus gave us the example all of his life, but the fact that he came so vulnerable and poor is something to reflect on.
I am writing this blog on our new computer but am not sure I can do it again as I had a hard time getting into the page where I could write a new post. I am learning but it is rather hit and miss so we will see what happens this week. I also need to change this font before posting as it is too small! And, I have not yet been able to open my e-mail. If you have a message for me, please use this e-mail:

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve

Jesus came into the world a helpless babe. He could not talk, walk, or make known his needs. He was a real baby who cried and needed to be held and loved and, yes, changed. This infant will grow up to reveal His Father's Love for all - Jesus came to save us, but also He is one with us in our humanity. He has a human heart and spent his life loving, serving, healing, and spreading the Good News of God's immense love for us. May we celebrate His birthday by giving Him our lives and hearts tonight.

Merry Christmas!

Jesus is here with us. Let us rejoice and be glad! I love to think of the angels appearing to the shepherds to announce the birth of Jesus. They went to see the new born babe, full of faith and giving glory to God. Let us welcome Jesus by giving love to all and giving Jesus our whole heart so He can fill it with His Love!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eve of Christmas Eve

I want to wish all a blessed Christmas and I am borrowing from something that Sister Maureen Glavin wrote to the parents this week as she says what I want to say:

"My Christmas prayer is that each of us will experience the depth of the wonder of the mystery of this season: that God is not only ‘out there’ but HERE, among us, between us, within us and part of us, yearning to love us and yearning for our love in return.
All that is required is that we open our hearts, make room for the birth of the Christ within so that we, as the Body of Christ, can continue to be the Face and Arms and Hands and Heart of Christ in our world today."
I am saying all this today in case you do not find me on the computer on Christmas Eve. We are getting a new computer; it is here but not yet installed and so that happens hopefully on the eve of Christmas eve. We are also hosting the area for prayer and dinner that night.
Merry, Blessed, Holy and Happy Christmas, Everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Finally, the last candle in our Advent wreath is lit. The Lord is coming and soon! I want to share an excerpt from a reflection from Macrina  Wiederkehr's "Seasons of Your Heart" - a book I have used often over the years. This is from my files:

Loving you, of course
I am not at all interested in how much money you are spending on Christmas gifts this year
but rather, in how much blood, sweat, and tears
you are shedding
to make Christ a vital part of your life
for you and I will never be able to erase 
the fact that he came:
   to touch lives--to break bread
   to heal hurt--to forgive sins
   to wash feet--to calm seas
   to walk on water--to give us theSpirit
   and to care immensely.

Yes, to care enough
to be born in our Bethlehem
to live in our land, and weep over our cities
and die and rise again.

So now it's Christmas
and I am not sure what part of you is cripples
or where you need to feel God's saving power
but with everything in me
I believe that Christmas is for healing
And he came to heal.

That is enough for today for our reflection.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Carols

I love to listen to Christmas Carols and sometimes to take the words to prayer - some of the carols are ones I know (or at least knew) by heart when I was a child. I was in the parish school choir in seventh and eighth grade and we would go caroling in the neighborhood - at least we made all of our homes and were always given cups of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies before the end of our walk; sometimes it was snowing and we sang with such joy.
Here is one of my favorite carols that may not be among the ones most often sung today at church:

 God rest ye merry gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember Christ our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
O, tidings of comfort and joy.

I guess I love all the Christmas carols and they are "tidings of comfort and joy." We are told to "let nothing you dismay". we are to deck the halls with boughs of holly for "'tis the season to be jolly" and we sing "joy to the world the Lord is come" - so let us rejoice and spread His joy and love to all this week. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Joys

What are your Christmas joys? I am always aware of childhood memories at this time of the year. The way we celebrated Christmas in our families stays with us, but of course we now adapt and share the way others want to celebrate, too. My community hang our lovely, large, red Christmas stockings to please me. We each find some small thing that may be useful to put in each stocking and this year, to please another, we will open them after Mass on Christmas eve. We no longer have Christmas dinner but a brunch around 2:00.
We have moved our Chirstmas Prayer together to December 23 so all the area can be present.
Now, these are little ways we celebrate but what are our real Christmas joys? I think Christmas is so special because we have spent Advent in preparation and desiring the coming of the Lord. Our longing has been real and deep; our joy on welcoming Jesus again is also real and deep. I think there is a river of love flowing through our lives and Christmas brings us into a realization of all the love we are receiving from our friends and relatives. I enjoy the news that comes with the Christmas cards; many of my friends are only good at communicating at Christmas, but the bond is still strong as the cards and letters arrive from other countries and states and we are all rejoicing together.
I do not know why I have written all of this. I think that I was thinking of some of my own Christmas joys when I sat down to write. My never to be forgotten Christmas was way back in 1941 when my mother gave us a baby brother on Christmas morning. We had had the terrible news of Pearl Harbor that same December, but I remember the joy of having a baby brother. He is celebrating his birthday now in Heaven with Jesus.
I think all are so busy with preparations for Christmas that I am not sharing any of the Pope's Apostolic Visitation. I was quite pleased to with a spirituality group that now meets here every month - six wonderful faculty members from our school make the time to come and pray and share; we look at the Gospel for the next Sunday and this led to a discussion about the absolute faith of Joseph. Saint Joseph is a silent saint, but what trust he had before he even knew Jesus. He listened and obeyed and must have been a great father for Jesus.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"In this very room..."

Last Saturday I went to a good friend's Golden Jubilee Celebration as a Franciscan Sister; as I had directed her for several years and we had belonged to the same supervision group, I was thrilled to see how happy she is in her new ministry in the north. Another friend celebrated her twenty-five years - both are very special people and had started "Whatever Groups" here in both English and Spanish and these have resulted in many associates for this Franciscan Order. However, I did not intend to write all this but to share the words of the entrance song which I have kept before me and thought others might like them, too.

In this very room there's quite enough love for the one like me. And in this very room there's quite enough joy for one like me. And there's quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away the gloom. For Jesus, Lord Jesus, is in this very room.

In this very room there's quite enough love for all of us. And in this very room there's quite enough joy for all of us. And there's quite enough hope and power to chase away the gloom. For Jesus, Lord Jesus, is in this very room.

In this very room there's quite enough love for all the world. And in this very room there's quite enough joy for all the world. And there's quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away the gloom. For Jesus, Lord Jesus, is in this very room.

So let us rejoice and thank the Lord for His Presence in every room!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Check the Province website

Since our website now has the O Antiphon meditations each day from Reverend Mother Janet Stuart, I hope you are going there to read my blog and now the O Antiphon meditations. It is easy to find the website: just put and up it comes - I guess the entire link is
Now, we are just one week before Christmas and I find people tired and not always joyful so we all need to make the effort to smile, take time to help, and just try to give Christmas joy. I am finding that prayer is so helpful in restoring my own joy; Jesus cares, Jesus is with us and delights to be with us so let us rejoice and stay calm. People may say things they do not mean when they are stressed so let us just love them anyway!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The O Antiphons begin today!

Now we know that we are getting near to the birth of  Jesus when the Liturgy begins giving us the great and rich "O Antiphons". We begin by asking Wisdom to come from on high...
In some fashion the “O Antiphons” have been part of our liturgical tradition since the very early Church. The importance of “O Antiphons” is twofold: Each one highlights a title for the Messiah: O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse), O Clavis David (O Key of David), O Oriens (O Rising Sun), O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations), and O Emmanuel. Also, each one refers to the prophecy of Isaiah of the coming of the Messiah.

And here is the next bit of the Gospel of Joy for our reflection today:
The Church’s closeness to Jesus is part of a common journey; “communion and mission are profoundly interconnected”.20 In fidelity to the example of the Master, it is vitally important for the Church today to go forth and preach the Gospel to all: to all places, on all occasions, without hesitation, reluctance or fear. The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. That is what the angel proclaimed to the shepherds in Bethlehem: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people (Lk 2:10). The Book of Revelation speaks of “an eternal Gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tongue and tribe and people (Rev 14:6).

The bold print is mine but I just think that our Advent is being enriched by meditating what the Pope is saying to us in this his first Apostolic Exhortation.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Joy in Living the Good News

Have I missionary joy? Do I strive to go out and sow the good seed? Here is what the next little section of the Pope's Gospel of Joy tells us: The bold is mine!
The Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy. The seventy-two disciples felt it as they returned from their mission (cf. Lk 10:17). Jesus felt it when he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and praised the Father for revealing himself to the poor and the little ones (cf. Lk 10:21). It was felt by the first converts who marvelled to hear the apostles preaching “in the native language of each” (Acts 2:6) on the day of Pentecost. This joy is a sign that the Gospel has been proclaimed and is bearing fruit. Yet the drive to go forth and give, to go out from ourselves, to keep pressing forward in our sowing of the good seed, remains ever present. The Lord says: “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mk 1:38). Once the seed has been sown in one place, Jesus does not stay behind to explain things or to perform more signs; the Spirit moves him to go forth to other towns.
God’s word is unpredictable in its power. The Gospel speaks of a seed which, once sown, grows by itself, even as the farmer sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). The Church has to accept this unruly freedom of the word, which accomplishes what it wills in ways that surpass our calculations and ways of thinking.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Third Sunday of Advent

This is the Sunday where we are told to rejoice for the Lord is near. We are also told to be patient by St. James in the second reading. And John the Baptist is praised by Jesus in the Gospel. I have an Advent Poem that I would like to share with you - the author is anonymous.

Hope is watching, waiting, preparing,
Believing that the unknown will come any day,
Knocking down walls and swinging doors open
Sweeping the dust that's piled in corners into the streets
and out of our lives.
It is knowing that anticipating, waiting
Can shape us, shake us, stir us,
Change us and make us more.
It is saying that life is unfinished
and the best yet to be.

Perhaps I will do some more clearing out today as part of my preparation for Christmas.
It is time we return and look at those Advent resolutions - at least I find that this is good for my humility! Today is also the anniversary of my first vows made in 1952 and remembered as if they were yesterday! We are also decorating the tree we put up last Sunday and getting out all of our Christmas decorations today!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Do we preach a Gospel of Joy?

Here we go again to look at some of the Gospel of Joy: (We finally have reached Chapter One!)

19. Evangelization takes place in obedience to
the missionary mandate of Jesus: “Go therefore
and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and
of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all
that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). In
these verses we see how the risen Christ sent his
followers to preach the Gospel in every time and
place, so that faith in him might spread to every
corner of the earth.
I. A church which goes forth
20. The word of God constantly shows us how
God challenges those who believe in him “to go
forth”. Abraham received the call to set out for
a new land (cf. Gen 12:1-3). Moses heard God’s
call: “Go, I send you” (Ex 3:10) and led the people
towards the promised land (cf. Ex 3:17). To
Jeremiah God says: “To all whom I send you, you
shall go” (Jer 1:7). In our day Jesus’ command to
“go and make disciples” echoes in the changing
scenarios and ever new challenges to the Church’s
mission of evangelization, and all of us are called
to take part in this new missionary “going forth”.
Each Christian and every community must discern
the path that the Lord points out, but all
of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.

Tomorrow is the Third Sunday of Advent, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near." That is the opening antiphon and this is really a joyful time so let us go forth and announce the Good News by our love!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rejoice in the Lord always...

The Advent spirit is one of waiting and just being with Mary as she also is waiting and helping us to prepare for this coming of the Lord into our hearts again in a special way this Christmas. Jesus is with us now, but He is also coming to fill our hearts as we make space for Him. I think I am sometimes so preoccupied with the daily tasks that I am not attentive to His presence. Advent calls us to keep alert; be aware of the many ways Jesus speaks to us each day through others, even through e-mails and phone calls and chance encounters...
Let us try to keep our focus on Jesus and Mary as we prepare to live Advent fully.

Here is the next bit of the Gospel of Joy: (You will notice that I have skipped some)

It is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory. In this sense, I am conscious of the need to promote a sound “decentralization”.
Here I have chosen to present some guidelines which can encourage and guide the whole Church in a new phase of evangelization, one marked by enthusiasm and vitality. In this context, and on the basis of the teaching of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, I have decided, among other themes, to discuss at length the following questions:

a) the reform of the Church in her missionary outreach;
b) the temptations faced by pastoral workers;
c) the Church, understood as the entire People of God which evangelizes;
d) the homily and its preparation;
e) the inclusion of the poor in society;
f) peace and dialogue within society;
g) the spiritual motivations for mission.
I have dealt extensively with these topics, with a detail which some may find excessive. But I have done so, not with the intention of providing an exhaustive treatise but simply as a way of showing their important practical implications for the Church’s mission today. All of them help give shape to a definite style of evangelization which I ask you to adopt in every activity which you undertake. In this way, we can take up, amid our daily efforts, the biblical exhortation: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say: Rejoice” (Phil

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Double Feast Day today

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and it is also St. Madeleine Sophie's birthday; I took the habit and became a novice sixty-three years ago today and they have been such happy years. I am going to share today a poem written by William Blake in the 18th Century that seems to me to express something of my own "vocation within a vocation" that I feel is to pipe a song of joy to Jesus. This comes from "Songs of Innocence, 1789 and is the Introduction:

Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me,

"Pipe a song about a Lamb",
So I piped with merry chear;
"Piper pipe that song again"--
So I piped, he wept to hear.

"Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe
Sing thy songs of happy chear;
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear.

"Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read"--
So he vanished from my sight,
And I plucked a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

I hope that I will get to write today! I am asking St. Madeleine Sophie and Our Lady to get me started!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

They shall run and not be weary...

Many people take time to write at Christmas and so we are able to catch up with our friends. I find so many are asking for prayer that it encourages me to take all to prayer. The Church of the Epiphany in Miami just had Forty Hours and I made a point of going over to pray there. It is a huge, new Church and I really like the smaller, older one where I went to Mass during my first two years in Miami when we lived closer. It is still a good place to pray and I always try to go over at Christmas to see their crib and the whole town they construct in the back of the Church.
Well, here we go with another excerpt to pray over from the Gospel of Joy:

Eternal newness
11. A renewal of preaching can offer believers, as well as the lukewarm and the non-practising,
new joy in the faith and fruitfulness in the workof evangelization. The heart of its message will
always be the same: the God who revealed his immense love in the crucified and risen Christ.
God constantly renews his faithful ones, whatever their age: “They shall mount up with wings
like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint” (Is 40:31). Christ is
the “eternal Gospel” (Rev 14:6); he “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8), yet his riches and beauty are inexhaustible. He is for ever young and a constant source of newness. The Church never fails to be amazed at “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom 11:33). Saint John of the Cross says that “the thicket of God’s wisdom and knowledge is so deep and so broad that the soul, however much it has come to know of it, can always penetrate deeper within it”.7 Or as Saint Irenaeus writes: “By his coming, Christ brought with him all newness”.8 With this newness he is always able to renew our lives and our communities, and even if the Christian message has known periods of darkness and ecclesial weakness, it will never grow old. Jesus can also break through the dull categories with which we would enclose him and he constantly amazes us by his divine creativity. Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world. Every form of authentic evangelization is always “new”.

I am holding on to the quote from Isaiah 40, especially the "they shall run and not be weary"...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gospel of Joy

Today I have a full schedule but will rejoice to have a friend for lunch. I think spiritual conversation is very life-giving for me and I look forward to several good conversations this week. Now, let us continue our reflection on the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation, Gospel of Joy:

The Gospel offers us the chance to live life on a higher plane, but with no less intensity: “Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited by the mission of communicating life to others”. When the Church summons Christians to take up the task of evangelization, she is simply pointing to the source of authentic personal fulfillment. For “here we discover a profound law of reality: that life is attained and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. This is certainly what mission means”. Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that “delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow… And may the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the good news not from evangelizers
who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious,but from ministers of the Gospel whose
lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ”.

Does my life glow with fervor???

Monday, December 9, 2013

Feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception

We ask God, in the collect for this feast , through the intercession of Mary, that we, too, "may be cleansed and admitted to your presence." We pray for our country today (Patron Feast) and we also ponder how God has called each of us - we are chosen and destined, as Saint Paul tells us in the second reading from Ephesians, "that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ."

This Feast coming in Advent makes me think of how much I need Mary's help to prepare for the coming of her Son. I love to think of how centered she was on the yet unborn baby she carried; may she help us to be centered on Jesus during this season when so many responsibilities, invitations, extra material preparations so often overwhelm us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Second Sunday of Advent

The Advent Sunday Liturgy is beautiful; the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, because Sunday falls on December 8, is celebrated on Monday. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah tells us "a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom."  There is a poem of Jessica Powers that I love and think worth copying here - it is in The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers:

I am waiting for a green shoot
to come out of my stump some morning
in this unseasonal springtime...
December's leaf and blossom, winter's bird.
Joy waits with me and I can fell its seepage
into my day and night.
My bones sing and I hear an unknown music
from that one place where, by old reverence stirred,
the vowels drain from a word.
I think of the marvelous flower that is to come
and how the light will hover over it.
Now and again though is the message blurred
by brief uncertainties;
I fear that my rude excess of watching
the green may be deterred
or that I have miscalculated seasons
or given far too personal a meaning 
to glorious promises Isaiah heard.

Yet who am I to minimize the worth
of what a stump is likely to bring forth?

Plenty to reflect upon in this Sunday's liturgy and we have John the Baptist in the wilderness crying out "Prepare ye the way of the Lord!"   

Saturday, December 7, 2013

End of the First Week of Advent

Is it my imagination or does time really seem to fly - this was a very short week with many happenings. My determination to get down to writing during Advent seems to have been a weak one but I still have hope. I know that once I get started again on this book, I will be writing all the time. I just seem to resist the starting and find all these things that must be done first. Today we also remember Pearl Harbor and all who have lost their lives in our armed forces. Let us pray for peace!

Here is the next extract from the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation:

Thanks solely to this encounter – or renewed encounter – with God’s love, which blossoms into an enriching friendship, we are liberated from our narrowness and self-absorption. We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being. Here we find the source and inspiration of all our efforts at evangelization. For if we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?

II. The delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing
Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops. If we wish to lead a dignified and fulfilling life, we have to reach out to others and seek their good. In this regard, several sayings of Saint Paul will not surprise us: “The love of Christ urges us on” (2 Cor 5:14); “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).

We have much to reflect on with these thoughts. I ask myself if I am experiencing this liberation?
How am I called today to reach out to others and seek their good? Lord, help me to be concrete about this!
I really love thinking about "goodness always tends to spread." That is a good motivation for practising random act of kindness!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Advent Joy for Students

I am amazed at how fast the week goes; here it is, Friday and the First Friday of December so I know the noon Mass will be packed with people who come on their lunch hour; many of them come every single day, but the parking is difficult on First Fridays even without the University students who, I suspect, are leaving for a good break. At least I know St. Thomas University students are finished with exams and most leave campus immediately. Now they begin to rejoice in Advent as they start vacation!
To continue with the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation:

Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. To some extent this is because our “technological society has succeeded in multiplying occasions of pleasure, yet has found it very difficult to engender joy”. I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ. I never tire of repeating those words of Benedict XVI which take us to the very heart of the Gospel: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”.

How do I encounter Jesus each day?What gives me joy?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

We take so much for granted...

Someone sent me  a video that is short, beautiful, and leads one to gratitude, awareness, and awe. Here is the link:

Now, I hope you are taking time to reflect on what the Pope is really saying to us in his Apostolic Exhortation as his thought is being discussed in the newspapers, on TV and radio shows and some seem not to have grasped what the Pope is really trying to tell us. Here is the next section to reflect on today:

There are Christians whose lives seem like Lent without Easter. I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).

I have always loved the quote from Lamentations 3:17 - and I love the emphasis that the Pope has on joy. A sad saint is a sorry saint! Let us give Jesus joy today!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Advent is a time of waiting

Advent is a time of waiting; we desire to celebrate Christmas and our desire increases with our singing of 
"Slowly rolled the ages..." I guess it is a good time to learn to be patient and wait in silence for the coming of the Lord.
Today I will be waiting with one of my sisters who I will take to the hospital for surgery; she has been waiting for the operation and I will be there to wait with her.
Here is another excerpt from the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation;

The books of the Old Testament predicted that the joy of salvation would abound in messianic times. The prophet Isaiah exultantly salutes the awaited Messiah: “You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy” (9:3). He exhorts those who dwell on Zion to go forth to meet him with song: “Shout aloud and sing for joy!” (12:6). The prophet tells those who have already seen him from afar to bring the message to others: “Get you up to a high mountain, O herald of good tidings to Zion; lift up your voice with strength, O herald of good tidings to Jerusalem” (40:9). All creation shares in the joy of salvation: “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth! Break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones” (49:13).
Zechariah, looking to the day of the Lord, invites the people to acclaim the king who comes “humble and riding on a donkey”: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he” (9:9).
Perhaps the most exciting invitation is that of the prophet Zephaniah, who presents God with his people in the midst of a celebration overflowing with the joy of salvation. I find it thrilling to reread this text: “The Lord, your God is in your midst, a warrior who gives you the victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival” (3:17).
This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: “My child, treat yourself well, according to your means… Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment” (Sir 14:11, 14). What tender paternal love echoes in these words!
The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Our Christian joy drinks of the wellspring of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (Jn 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52). The newly baptized eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39), while Paul’s jailer “and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (16:34). Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?

Advent is a time of joyful waiting! Let us rejoice for the Lord is coming! He is here!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Feast of St. Francis Xavier

We had a beautiful prayer together to open Advent on Sunday and I have been thinking about how Advent is a season of joyful hope. We know Christ has come, is come, and will come again - that gives us joy!
Saint Francis Xavier left all and became a great missionary. Am I able to make room for others or am I caught up in my own concerns?
Here is the next excerpt from Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation:

The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.
I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”.1 The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy. Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:22) has given us his example: he has forgiven us seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Joy with Courage and Constancy

 Do you ever get caught up in your own interests and concerns? Here is the next paragraph from the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation to help us reflect on the way we are living and what we are going to change this Advent with the help of the Holy Spirit who gives us both courage and constancy.
I. A joy ever new, a joy which is shared2.
The great danger in today’s world, pervaded as it is by consumerism, is the desolation and anguish born of a complacent yet covetous heart, the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures, and a blunted conscience. Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. This is a very real danger for believers too. Many fall prey to it, and end up resentful, angry and listless. That is no way to live a dignified and fulfilled life; it is not God’s will for us, nor is it the life in the Spirit which has its source in the heart of the risen Christ.

Let us be grateful as grateful people are joyful people. Let us pray for a prayerful Advent free of the stress and hurry of so many in our consumer society.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday of Advent

Advent is such a joyful season. We begin it by reflecting on what Jesus might want from us as we prepare for His coming into our hearts. Usually, we all find a need to clear out, unclutter our hearts to make a cozy dwelling for the Lord Jesus. It is a season that calls for more prayer and reflection but always with joy. We have the Pope's Apostolic Exhortation to begin pondering. Here is an excerpt:

The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.

As we begin this season full of desire for Jesus, let us reflect on how the joy of the gospel is filling out hearts and how we are spreading this joy?
I am going to an Advent retreat for the Religious of the Archdiocese this afternoon. There is Mass at 3:00 and then a talk by a Jesuit and refreshments. I could not get anyone in my community interested so may need to leave as soon as the talk is over. It is dark by six now and I want to be home for the community prayer at six. Still, it is a good way to begin Advent.