Friday, December 31, 2010

Last day of 2010

The first reading begins in a most fitting way as we close the old year and begin a new year, "Children it is the last hour." (1 john2:18-21)

The last hours of 2010 are upon us. Preparations are being made to welcome the new year and in our own hearts and minds we have already moved on.

We are people who love to look ahead. Seldom do we stop and look behind.

Perhaps we should do that today. Take a few moments from these last hours and look back over the hours spent this past year. Go back to the beginning.

What resolutions did you make? How did you carry them forth? Which ones did you succeed at and which ones were failures?

What kind of shape did your life take over the past 351 days? Have your relationship skills improved? Or are you still fighting the same fight with the same tools with the same result?

Where have you been surrised by the developments of your life and lives of those around you? Where have you been shocked? Where have you been challenged to grow and beocme the man or woman God created you to be?

When did you give love a fighting chance? When did you fight for love? When did you build up and when did you tear down?

How has your faith journey been affected by the journey of these past 351 days and nights?

Are you closer to God? Are you closer to surrender? Are you more willing to trust and let Him guide you?

How have you become a more impactful memeber of your faith community? Your comunity at large? Your family?

Where did you encounter a glimpse of the power of God?

When were you brought to your knees? When did you lift you hands in praise? When did you pray and truly talked with your God and listen to Him as well?

When did You laugh? When did you cry? When did you mourn? When did you Hope?

These are just a few questions to guide you in these last hours of this year as you prepare to welcome the hours to come in the new.

And remember, every hour counts for every hour may be the last hour and thus we are always moving toward the first hour of the rest of our lives.

Stop! Pause! Think! Reflect! Recieve! Open your heart and mind to the living God. As we learn from the Magi this Sunday, be not afraid to be led another way!

Don't drop the ball before the Ball drops.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

6th day of christmas: surround sound

We all are familiar with the song, "twelve days of Christmas."
The twelve days mark the 8 days of the Christmas octave plus the four days that led up to the Epiphany, usually celebrated january 6th, though now we celebrate it the SUnday following New Years.

the song was written as a tool to teach the faith at a time when catholics were being persecuted in England. That is right, Catholics were persecuted in England, just in case people have forgotten.

so here is the teaching as it was taught then:
Partridge in a pear tree Jesus Christ, symbolized as a mother partridge that feigns injury to decoy predators from helpless nestlings.

Two turtle doves Old & New Testaments

Three French Hens Faith, hope, charity

Four Calling birds The Four Gospels

Five Golden Rings The Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy)

Six geese a laying Six days of creation

Seven Swans a swimming 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Eight maids a-milking 8 Beatitudes

Nine Ladies Dancing Nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit

Ten Lords a-leaping 10 Commandments

Eleven pipers piping The 11 faithful disciples

12 drummers drumming 12 articles of the Apostles Creed

Today is the 6th day of Christmas so we ponder the six days of creation; we ponder the work of God's hand.

In the words of St. Bernard, "in the work of creation God gave us ourselves. In the work of redemption God gave us himself. We love God for the gift of ourselves, but how much more love should we owe for the gift of himself."

Today set aside a few moments to take in the beauty of creation. Peer into the created beauty and catch a glimpse of God.

Today might be a good time to turn off the TV, the radio, the noise makers and sit in silent awe of the beauty that surrounds. Creation is the original surround sound, echoing forth God's deliberate and willful love for us all.

As you ponder creation imagine God saying, "Can you hear me now." Get out and get some fresh air for a change. Let the freshness of creation fill your heart and mind.

If you still don't get it, then look to the child in the manger. The Creator becomes the creature so that the message might be turned up a notch and heard more clearly.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

a sword shall pierce your heart

Simeon the prophet, as he holds baby JEsus in his hands, he stares into the face of this child who bears the marks of eternity and then his gazes meets that of his mother's, speaks these words that have echoed forth from the temple threshold through the ages,

"behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that thoughts of many shall be revealed."

"A sword shall pierce..."

These words remind us that when it comes to love, we can never play it safe. We cannot keep a distance. When it comes ot love we must be willing to be wounded.

christmas reminds us that God does not play it safe; he does not keep a safe distance. Rather he journeys from heaven to earth, he ocmes down to be not just with us, but one of us.

He allows himself to be wounded by love for all.

Mary's yes to god also opens wide the door to love. She alos bears the mark, bears the wound. Her heart is pierced by love itself.

She does not play it safe; she does not keep her distance. She opens wide to love.

We too must follow her lead.

If love is goign to be a force that changes the world then we can no longer play it safe, guard our distance, go forth cautiously.

We must be willing to let the sword of love pierce our heart; we must be wounded.

"Crucify my heart, crucify my thoughts, crucify my words, crucify my love that I may be wounded for you O Lord, Sweet Jesus, that my life may radiate your love, your goodness, your grace, your gentleness, your obedience, your devotion to the Father, your devotion to all of humanity."

Pope on christmas Day

An excerpt from today's first reading from 1 John
"Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall..."

Christmas is about true fellowship...

These are a few of the words the Pope expressed as he gathered in Rome at a lunch given to th epoor and needy of the city.

"The Baby that we see in the manger is God himself who made himself man, to show us how much he desires our good, how much he loves us: God has become one of us, that he might make himself close to each of us, that he might conquer evil, liberate us from sin, give us hope, that he might tell us that we are never alone. We can always look to Him without fear, calling Him Father, sure that in every moment, in every situation of life, even the most difficult ones, He never forgets us. May we say ever more often: Yes, God himself takes care of me, he loves me, Jesus was born for me, too; I must trust in him always."

Here are a few words spoken at the midnight Mass the Pope celebrated (excerpts)

"This new family of God begins at the moment when Mary wraps her first-born in swaddling clothes and lays him in a manger. Let us pray to him: Lord Jesus, who wanted to be born as the first of many brothers and sisters, grant us the grace of true brotherhood. Help us to become like you. Help us to recognize your face in others who need our assistance, in those who are suffering or forsaken, in all people, and help us to live together with you as brothers and sisters, so as to become one family, your family....

Saint Luke does not say that the angels sang. He states quite soberly: the heavenly host praised God and said: “Glory to God in the highest” (Lk 2:13f.). But men have always known that the speech of angels is different from human speech, and that above all on this night of joyful proclamation it was in song that they extolled God’s heavenly glory. So this angelic song has been recognized from the earliest days as music proceeding from God, indeed, as an invitation to join in the singing with hearts filled with joy at the fact that we are loved by God. Cantare amantis est, says Saint Augustine: singing belongs to one who loves. Thus, down the centuries, the angels’ song has again and again become a song of love and joy, a song of those who love. At this hour, full of thankfulness, we join in the singing of all the centuries, singing that unites heaven and earth, angels and men. Yes, indeed, we praise you for your glory. We praise you for your love. Grant that we may join with you in love more and more and thus become people of peace. Amen."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holy Innocents and Herod the Grinch

Readings for today

It is strange that in the middle of this joyous season when the angels burst forth into song, "glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth," when the shepherds scrabble to the manger to behold the sign, "a child wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger," and the magi come from afar bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that we would turn our gaze from the scene in Bethlehem and the star shining bright and the child playing and giggling on the hay to the slaughter, innocent blood shed upon the soil.

In the middle of this feast of feast we remember that Heaven isn't always welcomed, goodness isn't always embraced, and light is often shunned for darkness.

Herod, to save his own skin, his own reputation, to guard his greed for power, picks a fight with heaven and slaughters anyone in his path.

Wherever goodness is evil lingers in the shadows trying to disavow that goodness, the good news, the joyous tidings. Evil always seeks to bring bitterness, weeping, distraught.

These children are killed because of their similiarity with the Christ child. It was a case of mistaken identity or rather Herod wanted to make no mistake in eliminating this child who was coming to usurp is power.

Herod is the ultimate Grinch who sought to steal the spotlight, who sought to steal christmas.

Herod takes life while Christ comes to bring life.

What a contrast and what a proven lithmus test for truth and goodness. Herod takes life and destroys it, christ gives life and saves it.

Herod seeks to destroy the children while Jesus says let the little children come to me and unless you become like a child you shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

When we look into the world today we also face a slaughter of innocents. Millions of children are being taken and destroyed. Blood is being spilled daily, hour by hour.

The new Herod in our society are those who push for abortion, the destruction of innocent lives. Those who lead mothers and fathers astray masquerading this evil as free choice and women's choice. These are the ones who steal christmas daily. These are the new grinches in our society.

They do the same thing that Herod does but on a larger scale.

The Herod in our society are all those who allow famine, and disease and malnutrition to take the lives of so many children. They allow greed and selfish gain to blind them to the reality of life and its fragile nature.

Our Chidlren are even today in danger. What will we do to curb the tide of this holocaust, this slaughter.

As St. John tells us in the first reading, "we must walk in the light." In God there is no darkness at all.

We pray, "Lord, Jesus Christ your light shine within us, let not our odubts and our darkness speak to us; Lord, Jesus Christ, your light hsines within us let my heart always welcome your love."

Once we pray then we must act. Do not delay.

On January 24, there will be a march for life in Washington DC. Perhaps we can go and march for life. Or we can offer a rosary for an end to abortion and the slaughter of so many chidlren. We can pray for the conversion of doctors and nurses who particpate.

Visit a abortion mill, a place where babies are destroyed and pray. Our witness is needed now more than ever.

It is time to make some noise. We must be the voice for the voiceless. We remember the Holy Innocents so that their silence can be heard and our fight might be invigorated and history does not repeat itself.

We must not let them steal christmasfrom so many.

A few words from St. Quodvultdeus
"Herod you are not restrained by the love of weeping mothers or fathers mourning the deaths of their sons, nor by the cries and sobs of the chidlren. You destroy those who are tiny in body because fear is destroying your heart. Yu imagine that if you accompolish your desire you can prolong your own life, though you are seeking to kill Life Himself..."

Monday, December 27, 2010

death of an aunt during Christmas

Today I will celebrate the memorial mass of my aunt. My mother's sister who died after a long struggle with cancer. She was 56 years young.

she leaves behind a husband of 34 years, a son who is 32 and a daughter in law along with two step grandchildren and one grandchild, 20 months old, a mother, and 8 siblings and countless nephews and nieces.

we will gather in the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Halletsville, Texas today at 11 am.

The family will gather, the friends will come, the coworkers shall arrive. In that little space for this brief moment of time we will seek to say goodbye to a person that truly loved to laugh.

On Dec 21 she breathed her last. In the words of the gospel, JEsus says "I will come back again and take you to myself so that where I am you also may be." Dec 21, 2010 Jesus came back.

Dec. 21 as you know is the winter solstice. It is the shortest day and the longest night on the calendar. It marks a turning point, in which the days will grow longer and nights will grow shorter. Light will increase and darkness will decrease.

In some sense, death is also a turning point. It is a reversal. One who dies in faith will encounter an increase in light and a decrease in darkness.

as St. Paul says in the second reading Rom 6:3-9, "Are you not aware that we who are baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life."

My aunt because of her illness knew her time was limited. She knew her earthly life was drawing to a close. She took it as opportunity to get ready.

She went to confession after being away after some time. She began to order everything accordingly, making arrangements physically and spiritually. Getting ready to welcome the arrival of Christ.

When I visited her a week before she died, I asked her what she wanted me to tell everyone at her funeral.

She paused for a moment, she looked at me, and she said these words, "Tell them thank you and that I love them."

She ended her life with a heart full of gratitude and love.

What a beautiful way to welcome Christ when he comes: Gratitude and love.

Unlike my aunt, we may not be given the opportunity to prepare with notice. So we must take every moment and make it an opportunity.

Should we not allow our hearts to be filled with gratitude and love on a daily basis for the people around us for the God who walks with us.

To many things are taken for granted. Too little time is spent giving love.
We must return to the basics of gratitude and love.

It is a beautiful way to die but also a beautiful way to live.

This way we may live out the psalm we read today , "The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing i shall want...only goodness and kindness shall follow me, all the days of my life an dI shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come ."

Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her. Receive her soul and present her to God the most high.

We love you Aunt Doris and we will miss you. But mostly we thank you for showing us how to prepare for the coming of Christ who comes to bring us home.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

No i am not Aethist. But I thought i might explore the billboard that the aethist put up outside of New Jersey as they continue their so called "war" against Christmas.

But first things first.

Today is Christmas Eve. Christmas eve is a fascinating time. It has inspired poems and novels alike.

We are all familiar with the following:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.'

The famous novel by Charles Dickens, 'A Christmas Carol' better known as 'Scrooge' begins on Christmas Eve with the following lines to captivate and intrigue,

"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail."

Christmas eve is often the setting for many beginnings and such is the case for us.

Christmas is where it all begins, so to speak. The anticipation of the child culminates in a child in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The angels burst in song as they bring good news and glad tidings to the shepherds in the field, singing "glory to God in the highest and peace to his people on earth."

When you look at the christmas reality, it goes without saying, that no one could have ever imagined such a reality. No one could have ever imagined the sign the angels give, "a child is born and wrapped in swaddlign clothes and lying in a manger."

Aethist are right to suggest that this isn't reasonable. That is what the billboard suggest, 'tis the season for reason.' They are correct; the child in a manger born to a virgin, a birth announced by angels to shepherds in a field, and a bright star to lead to way far exceeds our reason; it is more than we can imagine.

This makes no sense at all. But this is the beauty of Christmas. God comes in ways that we could never have imagined, never have dreamed, but we certainly have hoped for.

God acts in ways beyond our imagination. This is what the good news is all about. God is not limited by our reasonableness, by our imagination. Reality is not what we can concieve it to be, it just is. Our job is to let reality inform our mind and not try to coerce reality with mind games.

This is where aethesit go awry. They what everything to fit their limited way of thinking. What kind of God is that. The God of the aetheist is their reduced to their ability to think. They make their thinking their God. In this case they are right not to believe. I don't have faith in their thinking skills, why should they have faith in it.

One thing i know about our thinking as far as humanity is concerned is that it is often flawed in many ways.

Tis the season to move beyond our reason. Tis the season to be captivated by our God who comes to stretch our imagination, stretch out thinking, inviting us to allow reality once again to be the center of our life, not as we would have it or conceive it but as it is, "wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger."

whene ever we say merry Christmas we acknowledge that God comes in ways that is beyond our wildest imagination and this is why it is faith and hope. Our Reason is purified by our faith otherwise it just remains our own jumbled mess and who could ever have faith in that.

God is more than and this is the good news of glad tidings that causes the angels to burst forth in song sining "glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will on earth."

Thursday, December 23, 2010

pope benedict on christmas

"while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed" (wisdom 18:14-15)

"Christmas invites us into the silence of God, and his mystery remains hidden to so many people because they can not find the silence in which God acts. How do we find it?

Mere silence on its own does not suffice to create it, for a man may be silent externally while in himself he is torn this way and that by all the confusion of the world. It is possible to keep silent yet experience a terrible din within oneself.

Becoming silent means discovering a new order of things. It means i do not limit my attention to those things I myself can produce and display to others. It means I do not limit my interest to those things men consider important and valuable.

Silence means developing the inner senses, the sense of the conscience, the sensitivity to the eternal in us, the ability to listen to God.

Scientist tell us that the dinosaur died out because they developed in the wrong direction: a lot of armor plating but not much brain, a lot of muscles and not much understanding.

Are not we, too, developing in the wrong direction: a lot of technology, but not much soul?

A thick armor plating of material know-how, but a heart that has become empty?

Have we not lost the ability to perceive the voice of God in us and recognize and acknowledge the good, the beautiful, and the true?

Let us be silent, let us speak about the savior for midnight is close at hand. Is it not high time to correct the course that our "evolution" is taking?

Christmas is met to help us achieve the correction of our course. "

Why? Because as the book of wisdom remind us "while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed."

The incarnation happens in silence, and in the silence the incarnation of God comes to speak to us.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Song of songs 2:18-14; Psalm 33 Exult, you just, in the Lord! SIg to him a new song; Luke 1:39-45

St. Veronica Giuliani, a mystic of the church, one who bore the stigmata, internally and spiritually, one who sought to unite herself to the passion of Jesus, spoke these words about her encounter with God, "I have found love; Love has let him self be seen!"

I have found love; Love has let himself be seen!

The opening words of the the first reading for today speaks of the same sentiment, "Hark! My Lover-here he comes, springing across the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. Here he stands behind our wall, gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices. My lover speaks; he says to me, "Arise, my beloved, me beautiful one, and come!..."

Hark! My lover-here he comes....

What beautiful words given to us from the church in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

The reading of above is often used during weddings, nuptial celebrations. We celebrate the union of two becoming one.

Christmas is also a wedding. The union of two becoming one, God becoming man and man united to God in the person of Jesus Christ. This incarnation is the prefiguring of the wedding of the Lamb. The Bridegroom is coming...we must go out to meet him, with hearts and arms wide open, ready for the sweet embrace of eternity filling our time and space.

Hark! pay close attention. Stop what you are doing. Cease your busy work. Avoid the distractions that have hounded you all year. Hit the pause button on your life. Stop and listen. Open your eyes and see. Hark in deed. Do not let this season pass you bye with out noticing the love that comes.

Hark! Spend a few extra moments before the nativity scene, before the manger. Don't get so caught up in shopping and wrapping and lose sight of why we do what we do in the first place.

Hark! What a beautiful word to describe what we should be doing this advent season. What Christmas is all about.

It isn't about rushing. It is about Harking. A word that describes prayer, meditation, silence, attentive watching and listening, eager preparation, making ready for the visit and arrival of Love that has let himself be seen.

Hark! My lover-here he comes!

Today is Dec 21: the winter solstice, in which it is the shortest day and the longest night in the northern hemisphere. This simply means though the sun is seen less the stars shine longer. Remember light shines brightest when it is darkest. This is why we celebrate Christmas in the winter season: the light comes and in the dark it is easier to see. Love has let himself be seen.

Monday, December 20, 2010

every Christmas is the same

Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 24 Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory; Romans 1:1-7; Matt 1:18-24

Tis past week, we had midterms at the school. Most of the time was spent taking test, cramming for test, cleaning out lockers, trying to locate lost assignments, and mostly chaos.

When the tests were finished, the dust had cleared, and the crying had ended, some of the teachers allowed their classes to watch Christmas movies. The teachers pulled out the old classics like Rudolph, Frosty, A christmas Story, Its a Wonderful Life and the like.

I happened to be in the fifth grade class when they were watching Rudoplh, the red nose reindeer. The graphics were awful and the animation was terrible but the kids were riveted, on the edge of their seats curious about what was going to happen next with the rednose reindeer and the elf that wanted to be a dentist.

I couldn't help but think of my own childhood. About this time of year, when we were chidlren, after all the chores were done, we would gather in the living room around the woodstove. We didn't have central air and heat. We had a woodstove and windows.

We would all be in the living room, all ten of us and then mom and Dad and sometimes grandma, lying on the floor, sititng on the couch, stuck behind the stove watching the christmas classics when they aired.

I always got a big kick out of Rudolph and the misfit toys, Frosty and his magical hat, A christmas story and the air rifle, or its a wonderful Life and James Stewart trying to rope the moon.

But the one that stands out most is, "Charlie Brown's Christmas."
Chalrie Brown goes to buy a tree and all that remains is the ugliest and most pathetic tree in the shop. He takes it home puts an ornament on it and it crashes to the ground. As the show progresses, the characters wanted to have a christmas play. Sudeenly Linus appears, the character with the security blanket, and he has these words to share, "Every Christmas is the Same. I always play the shepherd."

"Every Christmas is the Same."

It is true. Every christmas is the same. It is the same story told year after year. We all know what is coming next, the child in the manger, the magi, the shepherds. There is no big surprise. We know it all by heart and we know the main characters.

JEsus is the star of the story of salvation. He gets center stage and the spot light, literally the star that shines bright. He is the reason the crowds gather, the magi travel, the shepherds shake in the fields, and the angels sing "Glory to God in the highest."

Then there are the co-stars, like Mary. Mary is pretty important. She follows Jesus from the cradle to the cross, to the burial and resurrection and even Pentecost. She walks with him every step of the way. Mary gets a lot of attention. Besides she even has lines, speaking parts. And when she speaks, we listen. Her "yes" to God is pretty important..."be it doen to me according to thy word." We often look to Mary for guidance and direction to shine a little light to help us live our faith to say our "yes."

Then there is the other co-star, John the Baptist. He also gets a lot of attention. Everyone notices John the Baptist. The mysterious figure that appears in the desert crying, "repent." He stands on the banks of the Jordan with those cool clothes, Camel Hair shirt, and a awesome diet of wild honey and locust. Here is a man with a plan who is single minded in getting the job done and preparing the way for the lord. He wants to set the world on fire and at the same time strike the axe to the root of the tree that bears bad fruit. He doesn't mince his words. He has one gear,and its full throttle for truth and justice.

John is the one that points to JEsus and says, "Behold the lamb of God." In the same breath he is arrested and thrown in jail and eventually loses his head because he isn't afraid to stand firm in truth.

We all know these players in salvation history and they get a lot of attention. But in today's gospel we catch a glimpse of another minor character, Jospeh. Joseph is an unassuming player. He is often lost in the back ground, almost like a movie extra. He makes a cameo appearance and then vanishes. He arrives on the scene in the beginning; he gets Mary and Jesus to Bethlehm and then to Egypt and then to Nazareth and he disappears, out of sight and out of mind.

He doesn't even have lines or speaking parts. He arrives on the scene, plays his part, and then vanishes without ever saying one single word. His role is silent and unassuming.

But His role is essential. It is through Jospeh, as the foster Father of Jesus, that Jesus is able to fulfill the prophecy. Joseph is a desecendant of David, which makes Jesus a descendant of David. It is through Joseph, the throne of David becomes the throne of God and the kingdom divided is now united in christ. (See 2 Samuel chapter 7) The kingdom of David now is a kingdom that knows no end because of Joseph's silent unassuming role.

Jospeh in his silent and unassuming way paves the path for salvation history to unfold.

Even the smallest role is essential in God's plan.

But let us take a closer look at Joseph for a moment.
In the gospel we have the gut check of Jospeh. He discovers his bride to be is pregnant and it isn't his child. Jospeh was obviously distraught and probably an emotional wreck. Think of the betrayal and hurt he must have gone through.

He knows what the precepts of the law adulterous woman should be stoned to death. He also knows the precepts and demands of love...unwilling to shame her he decides to divorce her quietly.

Joseph must have loved Mary deeply. True love never wants to shame the one it loves no matter the circumstances. Joseph is willingly to risk his own reputation by seeking to save the reputation and honor of the woman he loves regardless of the situation.

What a beautiful man! How many of us would do that today? He shows himself to be selfless and willing to never betary love regardless of the circumstances or even his own hurt. He takes the moral high road.

So he is torn by love.

Then he has this dream. The angel tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife becasue she is concieved by the Holy Spirit.

Now pause for a moment.
When we speak of Mary's 'yes' to the angel we must also note that her 'yes' was probably a little easier than Joseph's. Mary had first hand experience of the angel and even of her virginity. She knew she was still a virgin after the angel departed. Besides she was without sin and full of grace. This certainly empowers her to respond more readily to the invitation of God.

Now look at Joseph. Joseph is not concieved without sin. He is like the rest of us. Also, he did not have first hand experience of the angel and Mary. He had to not only take Mary's word for it and but also the angel's word. Joseph was on the outside looking in. His "yes" required a little more trust because it was spoken with a little more darkness surrounding.

Like a poker player, he was all in waiting for the river to come forth.

Joseph is a perfect model for us. Like Joseph we are always on the outside looking in. We are always walking a little in the darkness waiting for the mystery of tomorrow to unfold. We are silent and unassuming.

Our role isn't the one with the spotlight. People won't write books about us. We will arrive on the scene, stay awhile and then vanish out of sight and out of mind.

Yet, Joseph teaches us that our role, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, can be very very essential.

Though we do not have the spotlight, we must always seek to walk in the light of faith. The mystery of tomorrow will unfold, uncertainty and darkness will be present. It won't always make sense, but that is why it is called walking in faith.

To Joseph his life didn't make a whole of sense. His marriage was quickly becoming something he didn't expect or bargain for. He didn't plan on having a wife who was expecting a child of the Holy Spirit. He wasn't sure what that might entail. The mystery of tomorrow was beyond his grasp. All he had was today.

In didn't make a sense. But never once does God ask him to make sense out of it. God simply asked him to let it make faith for him.

God doesn't ask us to understand life fully but he does ask us to allow life to teach us about how to have faith.

If everything went according to our plan and our expectation, would we really need faith???

Joseph suspended his expectation, trusted in God plan not his own, walked forth in the darkness as it gave way to the light of faith and when he awoke, "he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded."

Most of us spend our days and nights and years still dreaming. We keep trying to make life fit our expectations, our plans, and God all the while is trying to get us to wake up, the dream must end and reality must take over.

It doesn't make sense but it will make faith.

Every Christmas is the same. Joseph wakes from his dream, sets aside his expectations and plans, and enters fully into the great adventure of salvation history.

Perhaps we too should wake up...

Isaiah 42
"I wil lead the blind on their journey; by paths unknown I will guide them;
I will turn darkness into light before them, and make crooked ways straight."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Why Isaiah during the Advent and Christmas season

I came across this article explaining why we read Isaiah so much during the season of Advent in preparation for Christmas. I would love to take credit for the article but I did not write it, I only came across it...

Most of my life as priest is simply passing on wisdona nd knowlegde from others. The beauty of being a priest is I am not alone in seeking to discover truth, that is , I do not have to be original to be truthful...

"The Catholic theologian Gerald O’Collins, S.J., has called the writings of the prophet Isaiah “the fifth gospel.” By this he means that so many of the themes of the gospels, enfleshed in their portrayal of Jesus, have their scriptural beginnings in Isaiah. Isaiah’s connection to the story of Jesus seems particularly strong in the Advent and Christmas seasons. Even the prophet’s name — Isaiah means “Yahweh saves” — foretells the Christmas story.

The book of Isaiah is one of the longest books in the Old Testament and the writings within it were composed over a period of so many years that most scholars believe there were at least three “prophet Isaiahs.” That is, prophets who lived long after the original Isaiah attached themselves to his name and style because of his importance and effectiveness as a conveyer of God’s message. For that reason the portions of the book of Isaiah between chapters 40 and 55 are often called “Deutero” or second Isaiah, and the chapters from 56 to 66 are called “Trito” or third Isaiah.

During the time of Jesus, nearly 800 years after the prophet’s own life and death, the words of Isaiah continued to be read prominently in the synagogue. Jesus probably heard more about what Isaiah had to say than about any other prophet. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus begins his ministry by reading a passage from the prophet Isaiah and applying the message to his own ministry (Luke 4:16-21).

In the earlier chapters of Isaiah, the prophet gives us quite a bit of information about himself. His father’s name was Amos and he was a lifelong resident of the city of Jerusalem. His concerns are those of the city, the king, and the Temple. Isaiah was called to prophetic service in the year King Uzziah of Judah died, which would have been around 742 B.C. He appears to have been around 18 years old at the time. He was married to a woman who was herself a prophetess (there were many more men and women prophets in those times than those whose writings have survived in Scripture). He had two sons. Isaiah preached at a critical time in the history of the Jewish people. The original nation of Israel had divided into two, Israel to the North and Judah to the South. Each had its own king, and they were constantly in conflict with each other and with larger, more powerful nations. Isaiah tried to advise three successive kings of Judah (Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah) who sometimes accepted his counsel but more often ignored him to follow their own priorities. Isaiah disappeared from the scene sometime around 701 B.C.

The writings of Isaiah are distinguished among the Old Testament writings for their extraordinary literary quality. Isaiah was a poet who used vivid and powerful images and symbols to convey his message. He manages to preach even uncomfortable messages in a style that makes them possible to digest.

Isaiah’s writings are prominent in the liturgies of Christmas for these reasons:

1. He is a prophet of hope and new beginnings. In particular, he speaks of the birth of a new king who will be a “Wonderful Counselor” and “Prince of Peace.” Isaiah’s own prophetic eye may have looked no further than the birth of Ahaz’s son Hezekiah, who did turn out to be one of the better (though by no means perfect) kings of Judah. But Christians have seen in his words a foretelling of the birth of Jesus.

2. He is a prophet of the compassion of God. Isaiah’s God is a God of mercy, comfort and consolation, much like the Father of whom Jesus spoke.

3. Isaiah was the first to articulate that the God of the Jews is also the God of all people. God’s mercy was to reach beyond the boundaries of Jerusalem and Judah to extend to all peoples in every corner of the earth. Jesus, who brought the gospel to Jew and Gentile alike, very consciously exercised his ministry in the spirit of Isaiah.

4. Isaiah is a prophet of peace and justice. Harmony among all peoples and compassion for the poor are the hallmarks of God’s presence. In these matters Jesus spoke out of a prophetic tradition that truly began with Isaiah. "

And there you have it...And now you know the rest of the story...


Psalm 107 states "consider the love of the Lord."

Here is a reflection from a saint who considers the Lord's love.

"When we had been shown to be undeserving of life, his goodness was to make us worthy of it. When we had made it clear that we could not enter God’s kingdom by our own power, we were to be enabled to do so by the power of God.

When our wickedness had reached its culmination, it became clear that retribution was at hand in the shape of suffering and death. The time came then for God to make known his kindness and power (how immeasurable is God’s generosity and love!). He did not show hatred for us or reject us or take vengeance; instead, he was patient with us, bore with us, and in compassion took our sins upon himself; he gave his own Son as the price of our redemption, the holy one to redeem the wicked, the sinless one to redeem sinners, the just one to redeem the unjust, the incorruptible one to redeem the corruptible, the immortal one to redeem mortals. For what else could have covered our sins but his sinlessness? Where else could we—wicked and sinful as we were—have found the means of holiness except in the Son of God alone?

How wonderful a transformation, how mysterious a design, how inconceivable a blessing! The wickedness of the many is covered up in the holy One, and the holiness of One sanctifies many sinners."

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Isaiah once again knows the words to speak to instill hope and confidence as forward we seek to embrace the one whose embrace will never cease...

"This is for me like the days of noah, when i swore that the waters of Noah should never again deluge the earth; So I have sworn not to be angry with you, or to rebuke you. Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, My Love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you."

Wow. Say what you will about the prophets. Often times they strike fear to the heart, and bring bad news of destruction and woe, but they do so in order to create a little space for the good news. Only when our hearts have been pierced and struck to the quick can we be able to recieve the heart of the message, "my love shall never leave you."

This is the Christmas message; this is why the babe comes to lay in the manger. The promise of God comes in the flesh.

The words covenant means to "come together." God comes to meet us in the flesh to make sure we understand just how far he'll go to make sure his love is known.

our only response is Hallelujah...Amen..

to top off this reflection here is Leonard Cohen doing what he does best click Here

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

going green in advent while wearing purple

Isaiah 45:6=8,18,21-25; Psalm 85 Let the clouds rain down the just one, and the Earth bring forth a savior; Luke 7:18-23,
Reflection from G. K. Chesterton

"I don't drink or smoke, you know...because I think they are drugs. And yet I fancy all hobbies, like my camera and bicycles, are drugs tooo...drugging myself with speed, sunshine, fatigue, and fresh air. That is the matter with all of us. We're too busy to wake up."

Words from the first reading of Isaiah

"For thus says the Lord, The creator of the heavens, who is God, The designer and maker of the earth who established it, Not creating it to be a waste but designing it to be lived in..."

Isaiah in the first reading answers the question, "why did create?" The answer...God created the earth for life, for us...designed it not to be a waste but to be lived in...

Most scientist agree, to a large extent that the specifics of the earth, if they were alterted just slightly there would be no life...

Yet there is life...God Designed it that way...Our Task it make sure the earth continues to support life...

In this season Advent perhaps we could look around and see where we had to the waste and take away life and adjust...

Going Green isn't a matter of liberal agenda it is a matter of life...The best way to show love for God is to enrich and sustain the gift he has given...

Words from Pope Benedict

" Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a “human” ecology, which in turn demands a “social” ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology. Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God. "

Monday, December 13, 2010

Beautiful words of ambrose

From the book On Virginity by Saint Ambrose, bishop
You light up your grace of body with your splendor of soul

You are one of God’s people, of God’s family, a virgin among virgins; you light up your grace of body with your splendor of soul. More than others you can be compared to the Church. When you are in your room, then, at night, think always on Christ, and wait for his coming at every moment.

This is the person Christ has loved in loving you, the person he has chosen in choosing you. He enters by the open door; he has promised to come in, and he cannot deceive. Embrace him, the one you have sought; turn to him, and be enlightened; hold him fast, ask him not to go in haste, beg him not to leave you. The Word of God moves swiftly; he is not won by the lukewarm, nor held fast by the negligent. Let your soul be attentive to his word; follow carefully the path God tells you to take, for he is swift in his passing.

What does his bride say? I sought him, and did not find him; I called him, and he did not hear me. Do not imagine that you are displeasing to him although you have called him, asked him, opened the door to him, and that this is the reason why he has gone so quickly; no, for he allows us to be constantly tested. When the crowds pressed him to stay, what does he say in the Gospel? I must preach the word of God to other cities, because for that I have been sent. But even if it seems to you that he has left you, go out and seek him once more.

Who but holy Church is to teach you how to hold Christ fast? Indeed, she has already taught you, if you only understood her words in Scripture: How short a time it was when I left them before I found him whom my soul has loved. I held him fast, and I will not let him go. How do we hold him fast? Not by restraining chains or knotted ropes but by bonds of love, by spiritual reins, by the longing of the soul.

If you also, like the bride, wish to hold him fast, seek him and be fearless of suffering. It is often easier to find him in the midst of bodily torments, in the very hands of persecutors.

His bride says: How short a time it was after I left them. In a little space, after a brief moment, when you have escaped from the hands of your persecutors without yielding to the powers of this world, Christ will come to you, and he will not allow you to be tested for long.

Whoever seeks Christ in this way, and finds him, can say: I held him fast, and I will not let him go before I bring him into my mother’s house, into the room of her who conceived me. What is this “house,” this “room,” but the deep and secret places of your heart?

Maintain this house, sweep out its secret recesses until it becomes immaculate and rises as a spiritual temple for a holy priesthood, firmly secured by Christ, the cornerstone, so that the Holy Spirit may dwell in it.

Whoever seeks Christ in this way, whoever prays to Christ in this way, is not abandoned by him; on the contrary, Christ comes again and again to visit such a person, for he is with us until the end of the world.


Numbers 24:2-7,15-17; Psalm 25 Teach me your ways, O Lord; Matthew 21:23-27
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy, Lucia. She was a young noble lady who being raised in the Christian by her mother, decided to vow herself to Christ.

she was refusedly betrothed to a young man who did not take her consecrated virginity to well. He sought to take it from her. She refused to give in. Miraculously she was guarded by the Holy Spirit and kept undefiled.

The youth in his fervor took her life when he could not have her virtue.

Lucy should be a patroness for our current age. So few women guard their virtue and so few men seek to respect it. In this age of casual sex and recreational "hooking-up" Lucy reminds us that virginity is a mark of faith.

One who guards her virginity is one who truly loves. This is the rebelliousness we are lacking in our current society.

In the Words of the Poet Kenneth Patchen, "It's always because we love that we are rebellious; it takes a great deal of love to give a damn one way or another what happens from now on: I still do"

Lucy cared. this is why she rebelled against the onslaught. The Youth of today seem to care not and thus they have lost their way. Through the intercession of St. Lucy may the youth once again learn love and guard their virtue for the sake of love himself.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

marriage advise: fall asleep in friendship

today as we get ready to celebrate the 3rd sunday of advent, this Day where the rose colored vestments, not the rose colored glasses, are worn and we are invited to rejoice, I came across some marriage advise.

this advise comes from a poet and novelist who has been married to the same woman for 50 years. He has this to say about marriage:

"Marriage is survived just on the basis of ordinary etiquette, day in and day out. Also cooking together helps a lot. I've seen all these marriages that failed. Those people are always hollering at each other. That doesn't work. Do you remember the '70s, they had all these 'empowering' groups where you tell everybody everything? That doesn't work in a marriage either. That's stupid."

Just thought i might share. I try to get couples to understand this in marriage prep but most of them insist that their way is best, so they keep hollering and nagging and then boom it all falls apart and they wonder why.

Ordinary etiquette shows that no body likes nagging and no body likes yelling. Perhaps it is time to try something new, i suggest listening and talking, in that order. Isn't that what makes friendship happen.

In the words of the Sirach in today's first reading, "Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship." Fall asleep in friendship. A nice picture of marriage.

Perhaps Jim Harrisson has found something, besides, 50 years is tried and true.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Juan Diego: readiness of faith

today we celebrate the feast of Blessed Juan Diego. The 57 year old Native Mexican to whom the Blessed virgin Mary appeared in 1531.

It was on the tilma od Juan Diegoe that the image of our Lady of Guadalupe was imprinted and thus remains today as an object of devotion in the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico city.

In order to understand Juan diego I thought we might go back to yesterday and revisit the openign prayer for the Mass:

"Mary had a faith that your spirit prepared and a love that never knew sin, for you kept her sinless from the first moment of her conception. Trace in our actions the lines of her love and in our hearts her readiness of faith. Prepare once again the world for your Son..."

Trace in our actions the lines of her love and in our hearts her readiness of faith."

Readiness of faith ...This is what Juan diego possessed. This is what we need as we journey forth...

Readiness of faith to respond to life rather than react to it.

To respond in faith simply means to recognize that we are always beneath the watchful gaze of GOd whose love moves the sun and the other stars as Dante put it in the close of his poem, Divine comedy, "l' amor che moveil sole e l' altre stelle."

When we respond to life rather than react we enter into this love and we allow it to move us regardless of the situation, circumstance that surrounds us.

when we react we try to take matters inot our own hands but when we respond we allow ourselves to be led.

These are the exact sentiments of Pope Benedict when asked about being elected Pope: "during my priestly ordination I placed myself into the hands of the bishop and ultimately of th eLord. I cannot pick and choose what I want. In the end, I must allow myself to be led...I am always in the Lord's hands, and I must be prepared for things that I do not want."

Again th eprayer for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception comes to us: trace in our actions the lines of her love and in our hearts her readiness of faith...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Genesis 3:9-15,20; Psalm 98 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds; Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12; Luke 1:26-38

"I am the immaculate conception." Words of the Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858.

The celebration of the "Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary" was made a feast of the church by Pope sixtus IV in 1476, a holy day of obligation by Pope Clement XI in 1708, and defined a dogma of the church by Pope Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus in 1854.

Its scriptural foundation can be found in the words of the angel to Mary in today's gospel, "Hail, full of Grace the lord is with you."

The question to ask is "what does it mean to be full of grace?"
The answer according to the church is to be without sin, without stain, without spot or blemmish hence the "Immaculate" title given to this woman of women who has been given the dignity and honor of becoming the mother of God.

In the words of St. Anselm, "without God's son, nothing could exist; without Mary's son, nothing could be redeemed."

How does this grace work. The grace Mary recieves is a grace that comes through Christ and his redeeming work. IT is prevenient grace or grace that prevents sin from occurring in advance.

For instance, one can be saved from falling into hole in two ways. The first way and the normal ways is by being rescued from the hole once we have fallen into it or secondly being prevented from falling into the hole in the first place altogether. In both cases we are saved, in the first case we have to deal with the effects of the fall, bruised and battered, in the second we are saved from those effects completely.

Mary's immaculate conception is the result of the latter; the rest of us fall into the hole and thus suffer the effects of the fall, the effects of original sin, whereas Mary, does not.

So she is perfectly free and full of grace which makes her "yes" so much more beautiful and meaningful.

The second scritpural reference for this feast is found in the first reading of today, Genesis 3:15. We find ourselves right smack in the middle of the fall. Adam and Eve have already eaten from the forbidden fruit and they are hiding and covering themselves up and God is interrogating them as to what happen and what ensues is the blame game: the man blames the woman, the woman blames the snake and so on and so forth.

Right in the middle of this darkness, this disobedience, this fall of man their is a glimmer of hope in the words God speaks to the serpent 3:15, "I will put enimity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."

This passage is considered the protoevangelion, the first gospel or foreshadowing of the gospel of Christ in the bibilical record.

The woman and her seed, her offspring shall fight against the serpent. The woman is Mary and her offspring is Christ.

Even in the middle of this fall from grace, God is not concerned with blaming but rather with correcting. Already God has a plan to pull man from the pit of his self destructive ways; God already has an answer to Man's "no" that has echoed through the ages and the answer is found on the lips of the one who is immaculately conceived, "Behold, may it be done to me according to thy word."

Mary's yes to God undos all the nos throughout history. Thus we disocver grace far surppasses sin, as St. Paul tell us in the letter of Romans, "but despite the increase of sin, grace has surpassed it, so that, as sin reigned through death, grace may reign by way of justice leading to eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord," Son of God and Son of Mary.

A few words from the Pope
""On the path of advent shines the star of Mary Immaculate, "A sign of certain hope and comfort. To reach Jesus, the true light, the sun that dispels all darkness of history, we need light near us, human people who reflect christ's light and thus illuminate the path to take. And what person is more luminous than Mary? Who can be a better star of hope for us than she, the dawn that announced the day of salvation. For this reason, the liturgy has us celebrate today, as Christmas approaches, the Solemn Feast of the Immaculte Conception of Mary: the mystery of God's grace that enfolded her from the first instant of her existence as the creature destined to be Mother of the Redeemer, preserving her from the stain of original sin. Looking at her we recognize the loftiness and beauty of God's plan for everyone: to become holy and immaculate in love, in the image of our creator."

As eve was the mother of all living, Mary,the New Eve, becomes the mother of everlasting life in Christ her Son.

Here is a bit from honoring the Blessed mother, with song, images and quotes from the saints: ave Maris Stella

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

everyone counts

Isaiah 40:1-11; Psalm 96 The Lord Our GOd comes with Power; Matthew 18:12-14

Today in the church we celebrate the memorial of the Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose of the 4th century, bishop of Milan.

He was elected Bishop by popular demand even before he was ordained and is known for his eloquence in speech and holiness in deeds.

A few words from the Good Doctor on receiving the Eucharist

"If it is "daily bread," why do you take it once a year? . . . Take daily what is to profit you daily. Live in such a way that you may deserve to receive it daily. He who does not deserve to receive it daily, does not deserve to receive it once a year.

This is the Bread of everlasting life which supports the substance of our soul."
On gentleness:

"If the highest end of virtue is that which aims at the advancement of most, gentleness is the most lovely of all, which does not hurt even those whom it condemns, and usually renders those whom it condemns worthy of absolution."And one more just for Good Measure:

"No one heals himself by wounding another."

Now for Advent...

In the words of Jesus in today's gospel

"What is your opinion?" Jesus said to his disciples, "What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in th ehills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you he rejoices more over it than the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."

Everyone counts. This is the meaning of the scripture of above. We are not the ones to determine who is unworthy. Everyone counts.

How easy is it for us to discount others. How easy is it to refuse to recognize others as part of the fold. How easy it would it be to stay witht he ninety nine on the hills where it is safe and sound and secure. Yet, we must go forth into the dark places, where the wolves are, in search of the lost and forsaken.

Everyone counts.

In some way, we are all lost. Especially if we think we are found. We are always in need of Him who was sent for us all.

Advent is about preparing for the one who is sent for the lost. The one who leaves the heights of heaven and comes to the valley of sin and death in search for the lost, you and I.

We count. This is the message of the incarnation. We count, all count, everyone counts.

Monday, December 6, 2010

st nick

Today is the feast of St. Nick.

St. Nick was a bishop who was known for his generosity especially in providing for the dowry of young ladies so that they could get married. He paid the dowry of many so that they could enjoy the gift of married love. You could say his generosity kept love alive.
Something we use to do as a family growing up still sticks in my head.

Each night before the feats of st nick, we would put out bowls on the table. Through the night, some how mysteriously so, the bowls would be filled with candy of different sorts and chocolates.

Each of us upon waking the morning of the 6th of December would find a bowl just for us filled with sweetness. It was our way of celebrating St.Nick who is known for his generosity.

Generosity, giving to others was represented by the sweetness in the bowls.

This morning i woke and there were no bowls, no candy, but sweet memories that linger that remind me the importance of being generous and how generosity whether understood or not, asked for or not, is always met to make life a little sweeter.

St. Nick continues to teach us the importance of the words of Jesus, "It is better to give than to receive."

Blessed St. Nick to all and to all a Good night.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; Matthew 9:27-31

Isaiah speaks these words:
"The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, the poor rejoice in the Holy one of Israel..."

Perhaps the reason so many of us are still without joy, are still without rejoicing is becasue we aren't lowly enough. Perhaps we still hold our selves in high estimation.

The lowly person is the one who knows he is need and wants only what he needs, nothing else will do. We are needed but are we lowly? We want many things, but do we truly want what we need?

Advent is the time to rediscover our lowliness in the proper sense of the word; advent is the time to stop holding ourselves in high esteem and start living in the esteem of God. Even the estimation of ourselves fails to truly capture our own worth and thus fail to reveal our true need.

Today ponder the words of Jesus in the gospel, the question he poses:
"Do you believe I can do this?...Let it be done for you according to your faith...And their eyes were opened."

A wonderful Advent meditation in deed.

Words from St. Anselm
"Insignificant man, escape from your everyday business for a short while, hide for a moment from your restless thoughts. Break off from your cares and troubles and be less concerned about your tasks and labors. Make a little time for God and rest a while in him. Speak now to God and say with your whole heart: I seek your face; your face, Lord, I desire."

Also, Hanukah started Dec 1 and last until dec 9; A Jewish feast that really is for all who desire religious liberty. The feast is really about the light that refused to burn out. The story can be found in the Book of Maccabees. It really is about courageously standing up for one's belief. Don't we all need to have little extra does of courage these days when it comes to our beliefs. Hanukah for all of us, may th elight of our faith also refuse to burn out.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

three little pigs

Isaiah 26:1-6; Psalm 118 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; Matthew 7:21,24-27

Nursery rhymes and nursery tales these are things of child hood that never leave but cling to our subconscious and wait for the moment to burst forth from our cerebral folds, no longer dormant, no longer hidded and buried beneath our old age and grown upness but once again alive and full of song.

Nursery Rhymes mean so much more to me, now that I am old and able to appreciate the rhyme and meter and story told.

Like Baa Baa black sheep, have you any wool, yes sir yes sir three bags full, one for the master, one for the dame, one for the little boy who lives down the lane...The generous sheep who keeps giving, who sheds it precious wool for the sake of others. The precious lamb that never ceases in its generosity year after year growing the wool, in order to give it away.

Or All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel, the monkey thought it was fun until Pop! goes the weasel...Another lesson with gravity and seriousness, it ain't all fun and games, sometimes what we think is fun can truly hurt...

Then of course there is the Farmer and the dell, high ho derry o the farmer and the dell...I am not sure what this one is about but I know the farmer takes a wife, the wife takes a child, the child takes a nurse, the nurse takes a cow, the cow takes a dog, the dog takes a cat, the cat takes a rat, the rat takes the cheese and some how in the end the cheese is all alone... maybe this is a reality check for life...There is always soemone in need of something or someone else and that we are all in it togther..It could be the social teachings of the church.

But the gospel of today reminds me of the Three little pigs...They each built their home, one out of straw, one out of sticks, and one out of bricks then along comes the big bad wolf, who wants some bacon for breakfast and a pork tenderloin for supper.

"Little pig, little pig, let me in
Not on the hair of my chinny-chin-chin
I'll huff and I'll puff and blow your house in.'

Then of course we know how it turns out, the hot air consumes the straw house and the stick house but the brick house is too great, to fortified for the hot air from the outside to affect it and it remains standing and the pigs are safe and the wolf gets it in the end.

Jesus in the gospel invokes the image of the brick house, "Everyone who listens to the words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock."

Okay...Advent is the time to check the foundation. Is our life founded on the rock? Is it firm or have we swayed, are there cracks. Now is the time to remove the straw and sticks and fortify with bricks, the words and life of Christ will do.

What say you?

Because the rain will fall, the flood will rise, the wind will blow regardless, the wolf with its hot air will fight against any house, this we should come to expect.

But if we stand firm, this too shall pass.

Advent and nursery rhymes and tales, perhaps now we are old enough to finally understand.

You decide what will it be, sticks, straw, or bricks?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

advent is waiting

Words from Pope Benedict

"Our whole personal, familial and social existence passes through this dimension of waiting. Waiting is something that is present in a 1,000 situations, from the smallest and most banal to the most important, which draw us in completely and in the deepest way. Among these, we think of a husband and wife waiting for a child; of waiting for a relative or friend who is coming from far away to visit us; we think of a young person waiting to know his grade on a major exam or the outcome of a job interview; in romantic relationships, of waiting to meet the beloved person, of waiting for a letter, or of receiving forgiveness... One could say that man is alive so long as he waits, so long as hope is alive in his heart. And man is able to recognize that what he waits for and what he hopes for discloses something about his moral and spiritual "stature."

Everyone of us, therefore, especially in this season in which we prepare for Christmas, can ask himself: What am I waiting for? For what, in this moment of my life, does my heart long? And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, of the community, of the nation. What are we waiting for, together?..."

Then Pope Benedict goes on to suggest that we look to Mary, for it is in her that we discover how to wait and how to live...especially as we anticipate the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

"There is a mysterious correspondence between the waiting for God and the waiting for Mary, the creature "full of grace," totally transparent to the plan of love of the Most High. Let us learn from her, the woman of Advent, to live with a new spirit in our daily gestures, with the sentiment of a profound expectation that only the coming of God can fulfill.

st andrew

Today is the feast of the apostle St. Andrew, brother of Peter, and the first apostle to follow after Jesus according to the gospel of john.

It is believed that Andrew died crucified on an x shaped cross on the gulf of Patras.

Ancient tradition tells the following about St. Andrew's proclamation before the cross which was to take his earthly life:

"Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.

Believers know of the great joy you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may recieve me exultant as a disciple of the One who wa shung upon you...

O blessed cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord's limbs! Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may recieve me. Hail! O Cross; yes, hail, indeed!"

In the words of Pope Benedict, here we encounter true Christian spirituality that does not view the Cross as an instrument of torture but rather as the incomparable means for perfect configuration to the Redeemer, to the grain of wheat that fell to the earth. thus we learn our own crosses acquire value if we consider them and accept them as a part of the Cross of Christ, if a reflection of his light illuminates them. It is by the cross our sufferings are enobled and acquire their true meaning.

In deed we all must learn to walk where the apsotles walked, filling up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, as St. Paul relates in the epistles.

Monday, November 29, 2010

C.S. Lewis

todayis the birthday of C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia and many other books on Christianity, such as MereChristinaity, The Great Divorce, Miracles, The Screwtape Letters and the list goes on.

Any of these would be great reads for Advent.

I certainly recommend The Screwtape Letters or The Great Divorce.

Here is a quote from C. S Lewis I find appropriate for Advent: "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."

Someday we will be old enough to read fairy tales again. Someday we will have the wisdom to recognize the truth that is right before us.

Advent is time for us to become like children, to recapture the wonder of it all, the beauty the majesty the simplicity of Christmas, the beauty, the majesty, the simplicity of life.

We have become too grown up. It is time to shake free from our grown upness and become little children once again, redisocvering the twinkle in our eye for life.

Perhaps this is the cure Jesus comes to bring. He tells the centurion in today;s gospel, "I will come to cure him," in response to a request to heal his servant who is paralyzed.

Are we all not a little paralyzed, a little stiff, unable to move freely in life. Have we not bound our selves up by being all grown up and lost sight of the adventure of love.

YEs JEsus please, come and cure us all and reawaken in us the wonder of it all. Help us to be surprised by the little things that are often over looked.

Advent is a time to get nimble and limber learning to bend low and stretch forth.

A few words from G.K. Chesterton

"The power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the souls survives its adventures, tht great inspiration comes to the middle-aged; God has kept that good wine until now. It is from the backs of the elderly gentlemen and women that the wings of the butterfly should burst."

Fairy tales are about hope. Fairy tales are a place where the word never is replaced by forever after. Fairy tales help us believe that indeed there is someone out there who comes for us.

Jesus will come as we read yesterday. This is no fairy tale but a promise that moves us forth into life.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day after the day of thanks

How quickly Thanksgiving had passed. In a blink of an eye all that remains is leftovers. We watched football, ate turkey and ham, we demolished the dressing, and were stuffed with pie.

And here we are, and here we remain.

Are we changed? Are we different? Did this day of thanks and praise fill us with renewed strength, a renewed sense of direction, a deeper sense of purpose ?

Did we really give thanks?

What now!

Well, for starters it is time to give thanks again. Thanksgiving isn't for a day, rather it must be a life long action in our life. This is how we change.

This is how we, as St Cyprian tells us, we turn "our earthly patrimony into heavenly treasure."

Thanksgiving is meant to lead us to obedience otherwise who are we really thanking.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

thanks, praise, penitence

Today around the US families gather together as they wish and as they can to share a meal, to share some time, to just be with one another. The business of life gives way to a softer, slower pace of relaxation of just being with one another.

This is the true gift of thanksgivng, we learn once again to be with and be for one another rather than constantly doing this or doing that.

The art of just being has slipped through our calloused hands and scarred hearts and worped minds.

Today we rediscovery what makes life so grand, learning again to say "thank you" but not just with words but with our very presence, with our very life. For isn't the attempt to gather togther an action of thanksgiving!

As we enter into this moment on this time space continuum we call life, another look at the proclamation from President Abraham Lincoln is in order:

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they (blessings bestowed) should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledge as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and those who are in foreing lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens..."

but He continues and this is also an important part

"And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings thay do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the imposition of the ALmighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."

Today we offer thanksgiving and praise while offering humble pentinece for our perverseness...Quite a mixture this day makes...Thanks and praise and penitence...

Such is life, such is necessary in this fallen world where sin and grace vie for our human heart: grace demands thanks and praise and sinfulness beckons for penitence and only togther do we move forward and seek to make changes in our life so that God may truly be all in all.

One eye on grace and the other on our sinfilness and thus we shall truly behold the Hand of God that holds us firm and give us reason to "stand erect and rais eour heads, for our redemption is at hand."

If we lose sight of grace then we despair for our sins; if we lose sight of our sins than we live a life no longer in need of God's healing touch, only with both can we truly make progress on the journey of life: thanks, praise, and penitence.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

getting ready to give thanks

In order to get ready for tomorrow, I have today just a few quotes I have found beneficial in penetrating the depth of thanksgiving day....

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow."

"Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude."

"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel."

"To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven." 

Here is a quote from St. Paul to round it off
"Rejoice always, never cease praying, in all circumstances give thanks, such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 thess 5:16-18

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Viva Cristo Rey

Rev 14:14-19; Psalm 96 The Lord comes to judge the earth; Luke 21:5-11

Today in the Church we celebrate several feast.

Today is the feast of Pope Clement 1, the 3rd successor of Peter and also the feast of Blessed Miguel Pro, a priest during time of persecution in Mexico in the 1920's and the years that follow, as well as, the feast of St. Columban, abbot during the 6th and 7th century.

So here are few words from each of these beloved men of the church.

Pope Clement I

"What then brothers ought we do? Should we grow slack in doing good and give up love? May the Lord never permit this to happen at any rate! rather should we be energetic in doing "every good deed" with earnestness and eagerness."

St. Columban

"Loving God renews his image in us...So we must turn back our image undefiled and holy to our God and Father, for he is holy; in the words of scripture:be holy, for I am holy. We must restore his image with love, for he is love...We must restore it with loyalty and truth, for he is loyal and truthful. The image we depict must not be that of one who is unlike God; for one who is harsh and irascible and proud would display the image of a despot."

What image do we display?

Blessed Miguel Pro

"Viva Cristo Rey!" these are the last words spoken by Fr. Miguel Pro as he stared down the firing squad. He was arrested for being a catholic priest. What a way to die, totally self-possessed and faithful until the end. What beautifully fitting last words pressed upon his lips that have never ceased to give glory to God, "Viva Cristo Rey...long live Christ the King." "Viva Cristo Rey...enough said!

What a more beautiful way to live!

the above pictures are the last taken of Blessed Miguel Pro's execution. One while he kneels and prays, his final request before the firing squad, one while with outstretched arms, as he awaits the bullets, the last is the final shot that took his earthly life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

trim your wick

Hosea 2:16-22; Ps 45 Listen to me daughter, see and bend your ear; Mt 25:1-13

Quote from a graphic novelist Satrapi, "Image is an international language. The first writing of the human being was drawing, not writing. That appeared much before the alphabet. And when you draw a situation — someone is scared or angry or happy — it means the same thing in all cultures. You cannot draw someone crying, and in one culture they think that he is happy. He would have the same expression. There's something direct about the image. Also, it is more accessible. People don't take it so seriously. And when you want to use a little bit of humor, it's much easier to use pictures."

Writing in pictures is an amazing way to grab the attention of the reader and also get the message across...

As it is often remarked pictures tell a thousand words, and pictures do not lie.

Perhaps this is why Jesus uses so many parables, stories that involve images.

They grab our attention and while holding us close the message comes through loud and clear.

so goes the gospel for the feast of st. cecilia

"The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, taking their lamps brought no extra oil, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps..."

Picture the scene. Ten virgins all in a row with their lamps full aglow. They all seem ahppy and cheerful except five of them seem to be looking at the other five's flask with a bit of a "I new I forgot something" expression on their face.

What good is a lamp without oil, a flashlight without batteries?

Then the cry came out, "Behold the Bridegroom! come out to meet him!"

Then chaos ensues as the foolish discover their error.

"The ten virgins got up and trimmed their wick and the foolish said, "give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out."

Frantic and bewilldered the foolish five beg and plead, down on their knees.

Don't you just hate when that happens. When you come unprepared and find yourself left out in the dark.

"The bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked."

Picture it in your mind. The wise vrigins, with their wicks all trimmed and the lamps full ablaze with big smiles on their faces prancing into the dining all, this chamber filled with musical notes floating in the air and a sense of cheerfulness that emanates from their faces. Even their gowns are full of color and sprite.

Then the door is locked, with a huge pad lock barring any ill prepared visitors or guest from passage.

The five foolish are frantically running trying to find some oil before it is too late. They trip and fall over each other; They are trying to outdo each other in getting to the first salesman available. They are bargaining and haggling all the while the clock is ticking and time is running out.

Then they arrive only a second too late and on the outside looking in, those foolish virgins are weeping with big crocodile tears falling to the ground extinguishing their lamps one by one that lie at their feet. the big pad lock bars their entrance and finalizes their fate. They missed it; they were too late.

Then the last strip of the graphic scene comes to a close with the pronouncement, "Stay Awake, for you know niether the hour nor the day."

Now don't you wish you had those extra batteries. Don't you want to go out be ready and alert.

Isn't that the point of it all!

trim your wick and fill your flask and let charity be the task at hand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

christ the King

Here are bits and pieces of the encyclical letter by Pope Pius XI instituting the feast of Christ the King in 1925 as an anual celebratio for all the faithful...for those who are interested in reading the why behind the feast.

also here is a link for rededicating one's life ot the Sacred Heart which is norm for the feast of Christ the King: oath of fealty

Begin the encyclical:
Moreover, since this jubilee Year marks the sixteenth centenary of the Council of Nicaea, We commanded that event to be celebrated, and We have done so in the Vatican basilica. There is a special reason for this in that the Nicene Synod defined and proposed for Catholic belief the dogma of the Consubstantiality of the Onlybegotten with the Father, and added to the Creed the words "of whose kingdom there shall be no end," thereby affirming the kingly dignity of Christ.

If the kingdom of Christ, then, receives, as it should, all nations under its way, there seems no reason why we should despair of seeing that peace which the King of Peace came to bring on earth - he who came to reconcile all things, who came not to be ministered unto but to minister, who, though Lord of all, gave himself to us as a model of humility, and with his principal law united the precept of charity; who said also: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." Oh, what happiness would be Ours if all men, individuals, families, and nations, would but let themselves be governed by Christ! "Then at length," to use the words addressed by our predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, twenty-five years ago to the bishops of the Universal Church, "then at length will many evils be cured; then will the law regain its former authority; peace with all its blessings be restored. Men will sheathe their swords and lay down their arms when all freely acknowledge and obey the authority of Christ, and every tongue confesses that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father."[33]

That these blessings may be abundant and lasting in Christian society, it is necessary that the kingship of our Savior should be as widely as possible recognized and understood, and to the end nothing would serve better than the institution of a special feast in honor of the Kingship of Christ. For people are instructed in the truths of faith, and brought to appreciate the inner joys of religion far more effectually by the annual celebration of our sacred mysteries than by any official pronouncement of the teaching of the Church. Such pronouncements usually reach only a few and the more learned among the faithful; feasts reach them all; the former speak but once, the latter speak every year - in fact, forever. The church's teaching affects the mind primarily; her feasts affect both mind and heart, and have a salutary effect upon the whole of man's nature. Man is composed of body and soul, and he needs these external festivities so that the sacred rites, in all their beauty and variety, may stimulate him to drink more deeply of the fountain of God's teaching, that he may make it a part of himself, and use it with profit for his spiritual life

We firmly hope, however, that the feast of the Kingship of Christ, which in future will be yearly observed, may hasten the return of society to our loving Savior. It would be the duty of Catholics to do all they can to bring about this happy result. Many of these, however, have neither the station in society nor the authority which should belong to those who bear the torch of truth. This state of things may perhaps be attributed to a certain slowness and timidity in good people, who are reluctant to engage in conflict or oppose but a weak resistance; thus the enemies of the Church become bolder in their attacks. But if the faithful were generally to understand that it behooves them ever to fight courageously under the banner of Christ their King, then, fired with apostolic zeal, they would strive to win over to their Lord those hearts that are bitter and estranged from him, and would valiantly defend his rights.

The faithful, moreover, by meditating upon these truths, will gain much strength and courage, enabling them to form their lives after the true Christian ideal. If to Christ our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to his dominion; if this power embraces all men, it must be clear that not one of our faculties is exempt from his empire. 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.[35] If all these truths are presented to the faithful for their consideration, they will prove a powerful incentive to perfection. It is Our fervent desire, Venerable Brethren, that those who are without the fold may seek after and accept the sweet yoke of Christ, and that we, who by the mercy of God are of the household of the faith, may bear that yoke, not as a burden but with joy, with love, with devotion; that having lived our lives in accordance with the laws of God's kingdom, we may receive full measure of good fruit, and counted by Christ good and faithful servants, we may be rendered partakers of eternal bliss and glory with him in his heavenly kingdom.