Saturday, December 31, 2011


We begin this new Year by celebrating the Feast of Mary the Mother of God.

The entire life of Jesus is surrounded in deep significance of having his mother close by. She was there, everywhere:

Born in a manger, she was there; Shepherds and magi sneaking a peak, she was there; flight into Egypt, she was there;

lost in the temple, she was there; wedding of Cana and water into wine, she was there; working of miracles, she was there; teaching of the crowds, she was there;

choosing of the apostles, she was there; crowd seeking to kill him, she was there; agony in the garden, she was there; arrested and condemned, she was there; scourged and crowned, she was there;

the way of the cross, falling and tripping, she was there; stationed at the foot of the cross, she was there; piercing of his side, she was there; burial in the tomb, she was there;

resurrection, she was there; ascension into heaven, she was there; out pouring of the Holy Spirit, she was there; beginning of the Church, she was there.

Mary, the mother of God, gives Jesus his humanity so that in the flesh He could make the Father known, "he who sees me sees the Father." In his flesh, we are caught in love of the God made visible. Mary's yes, her role as mother, makes God visible. Because she was willing to be there, Jesus is here.

If we eliminate Mary, we eliminate the humanity of Jesus, his very ability to relate to us, for he is like us in every way but sin.

We pause this day, as we start the new year, to allow this reality of God's revelation to break through into our lives.

We take Mary with us into our homes as Jesus invited the beloved disciple to do from the cross, "Then he said to his disciple, 'Behold, your mother.' And from this hour the disciple took her into his home." John 19:27

May she lead us in the footsteps of Jesus, for every where that Jesus was, she was there.

Poem for a mother

"She always leaned to watch,
anxious if we were late;

In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.

And though we mocked her tenderly, who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe
because she waited there."

Mary, Mother of God, our mother, pray for us!

New Year Poem

God Knows
by Minnie Louise Haskins

"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

So heart bestill:
What need our little life
Our human life to know,
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife
Of things both high and low,
God hideth His intention.
God knows.

His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God.

Our fears
Are premature; In Him,
All time hath full provision.
Then rest: until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of Life’s stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise
God’s thought around His creatures
Our mind shall fill."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holy family pray for us

Second reading
From an address by Pope Paul VI
Nazareth, a model

Nazareth is a kind of school where we may begin to discover what Christ’s life was like and even to understand his Gospel. Here we can observe and ponder the simple appeal of the way God’s Son came to be known, profound yet full of hidden meaning. And gradually we may even learn to imitate him.

Here we can learn to realize who Christ really is. And here we can sense and take account of the conditions and circumstances that surrounded and affected his life on earth: the places, the tenor of the times, the culture, the language, religious customs, in brief everything which Jesus used to make himself known to the world. Here everything speaks to us, everything has meaning. Here we can learn the importance of spiritual discipline for all who wish to follow Christ and to live by the teachings of his Gospel.

How I would like to return to my childhood and attend the simple yet profound school that is Nazareth! How wonderful to be close to Mary, learning again the lesson of the true meaning of life, learning again God’s truths. But here we are only on pilgrimage. Time presses and I must set aside my desire to stay and carry on my education in the Gospel, for that education is never finished. But I cannot leave without recalling, briefly and in passing, some thoughts I take with me from Nazareth.

First, we learn from its silence. If only we could once again appreciate its great value. We need this wonderful state of mind, beset as we are by the cacophony of strident protests and conflicting claims so characteristic of these turbulent times. The silence of Nazareth should teach us how to meditate in peace and quiet, to reflect on the deeply spiritual, and to be open to the voice of God’s inner wisdom and the counsel of his true teachers. Nazareth can teach us the value of study and preparation, of meditation, of a well-ordered personal spiritual life, and of silent prayer that is known only to God.

Second, we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family’s holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society: a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings; in sum, the perfect setting for rearing children—and for this there is no substitute.

Finally, in Nazareth, the home of a craftsman’s son, we learn about work and the discipline it entails. I would especially like to recognize its value—demanding yet redeeming—and to give it proper respect. I would remind everyone that work has its own dignity. On the other hand, it is not an end in itself. Its value and free character, however, derive not only from its place in the economic system, as they say, but rather from the purpose it serves.

In closing, may I express my deep regard for people everywhere who work for a living. To them I would point out their great model, Christ their brother, our Lord and God, who is their prophet in every cause that promotes their well being.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. Here is a greeting spoken often and to many through out these days. We say it in passing, we say it to loved ones, we say it to strangers we meet on the street. We even sing about wishing people a "merry christmas."

Have you ever stopped and wondered what exactly does it mean to wish others a "merry Christmas."

There is so much caught up in that little phrase, that simple greeting, that catchy little phrase that sets the heart a blaze and fills the lives of many with joy and peace and brings forth rejoicing.

There is for lack of better words a bit of magic in that little phrase, two little words combined that bring a smile to those too numerous to count.

Merry Christmas!

And what are we saying...

We are saying that God makes himself small. God comes to reign in simplicity. God embraces poverty. God comes in way that is utterly dependent and truly defenseless.

God does not want to overwhelm us with his majesty, with his strength, so he comes to win us with sheer simplicity of innocence that can only belong to a child born and wrapped in swaddling clothes.

God make himself small so that we can receive him, welcome him, understand him, and ultimately love him.

Christmas is a feast of gifts because God gives himself to us, he puts himself completely at our disposal.

This is truly beyond anything we could have imagined.

Easter we understand. We understand the power and force that stands triumphant over the seemingly impassible jaws of death. This is what we have always longed for and have always wanted.

Easter makes sense. It is what we imagined God to be able to do as the empty tomb reveals the power and glory of God in the face of our ultimate nemesis, death.

Christmas is different. The once empty manger now is filled with the grandeur of God in this vulnerable, innocent, defenseless, dependent form wrapped in swaddling clothes.

We see God in this shadow of weakness and humility. This makes no sense. IT is here that the true meaning of "Merry Christmas" rise to the front.

God acts in a way that is beyond our imagination. God is not limited by our reason, by what and how we imagine him to act. Rather he comes to stretch our imagination. God is always more than.

A new way of living and a new way of loving has entered into the world:defenseless love comes to meet us and tear down our defenses and makes our life and love possible.

Who could have ever imagine this?
Yet it remains captivating, it s drawing power is overwhelming as friends, family, strangers all gather together, stand together, kneel together, sing together.

Ingenious really.

This is what it means to say "Merry CHristmas."

So much caught up in such a little phrase. So much to offer, but perhaps the size of the phrase is meant to mimic the reality of Christmas where GOd becomes small so that we may welcome him and never be the same.

Friday, December 23, 2011

questions

Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24; Psalm 25 Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand; Luke 1:57-66

Today's reading give us the picture of the birth of John the Baptist. There was much mystery over this birth. Zechariah, his father, was speechless, stricken mute, throughout the pregnancy. Elizabeth, his mother, chose the name John, which befuddled everyone since there was no previous John in the family. Zechariah finally speaks as he blesses God.

All of this leaves the neighborhood filled with fear, "Then fear came upon all their neighbors."

Here we have an interesting situation.

Elizabeth and Zechariah who were both elderly and barren finally have a child, that which they longed for throughout their marriage. They finally experience the blessing of God.

This is suppose to be good news worth celebrating. Yet, it is fear not joy that falls upon the neighborhood.

What are they afraid of, what and why do they fear?

I believe the question they ask points to the ground of their fear, "What, then, will this child be?"

This is a great question. This is the question of advent and Christmas.

Yet, this is not the question we ask today. Today,w e ask"what do you want for Christmas?" or "have you finished your christmas shopping?"

How often in life we find ourselves asking the wrong question. The people of Zechariah's neighborhood, asked the perfect question, "What, then, will this child be?"

The question isn't so much about John as it is about the people. They want to know how this child is going to impact their lives. They want to know what changes will they have to endure.

The birth of John the Baptist and the circumstances and mystery all point toward the reality that GOd has a plan; it all points to the fact that God is alive and near and is part of the their lives.

This is the realization that gives the people a cause to be afraid.

As st. PAul says, "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God.

This is what John the baptist's birth signifies. God is alive' GOd has a planned.The people are now aware that God is not longer distant but he is near to them and he is int heir midst; God cares.

If the birth of John the Baptist awakens people to this reality, how much more the birth of Jesus, the Son of God.

The question we should ask as we peer into the manger, "What, then, will this child be?" or as the Carol goes, "What child is this?"

Should not the birth of Jesus shake things up. Should not we be awaken to the reality that God has a planned, that he is near to us.

This is the beauty of Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

He remembered his promise

1 Samuel 1:24-28; PS my heart exults in the Lord, my savior; Luke 1:46-56



Here are the words of the Blessed Mother after the greeting with Elizabeth:

"He has come to the whelp of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to ABraham and his Children forever."


What promise?

We have to go to Genesis 12 to begin to understand this "promise" that Blessed MAry Speaks of in this hymn of rejoicing.

In a nutshell, God promises three things to Abraham: 1)land 2)dynasty or kingdom 3)world wide blessing

The blessed Mother's reason for rejoicing is the reality that the promise spoken has now become enfleshed in the child she carries in her womb.

Our Father keeps his promises. When he delivers, wow!

Here are a few words from the Pope yesterday in his Wednesday Audience:

"There is a second aspect that I would like to touch upon briefly. The event of Bethlehem should be considered in the light of the Paschal Mystery: The one and the other are part of the one redemptive work of Christ. Jesus' incarnation and birth invite us to direct our gaze to His death and resurrection: Christmas and Easter are both feasts of the Redemption. Easter celebrates it as the victory over sin and death: It signals the final moment, when the glory of the Man-God shines forth as the light of day; Christmas celebrates it as God's entrance into history, His becoming man in order to restore man to God: It marks, so to speak, the initial moment when we begin to see the first light of dawn."

The first light of Dawn broke forth in the darkness of the womb. Even in Mary's womb there is light, her womb knows no darkness for she bears the promise, the light of the world.

The spanish terminology for giving birth is "dar la luz. "
A woman give light when she delivers her child. This is true is a unique way at Christmas when Mary give birth to the light of the world. The promise of God is made manifest for all to see.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hark

Song of Songs 2:8-14; Ps 33 Exult, you just in the Lord; SIng to him a new song; Luke 1:39-45

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!

We look to the gospel: Mary set out for the hill coutnry in haste. Should we all not set our sight on the heights and make haste.

But, at Christmas we remember that the heights has come to us and made himself low. The hills have been made into valleys and God himself has come down to us.

This is why John the Baptist leapt for Joy. Shuld we not leap as well.

Harking and leaping is the sign of the times; sounds like a Christmas Carol.

Harkig and Leaping: give it a whirl.



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

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

How can this be

Isaiah 7:10-14; Ps 24 Let the Lord enter; he is the king of Glory; Luke 1:26-38

We have been hearing and encountering the annunciation when Gabriel comes to Mary in the gospel of Luke over the past three weeks quite a bit. It is a common passage during the latter part of advent.

The pope on Sunday took up a little sermon on the a particular part of the annunciation; he focused on the question of MAry to the angel, "How can this be..."

Below is a little of his insight.

"This is why the one question that Mary, "greatly disturbed," asks the angel is so important: "How can this be since I do not know man?" (Luke 1:34). In her simplicity Mary is very wise: She does not doubt God's power, but wants to understand his will better so that she can completely conform to this will. Mary is infinitely surpassed by the mystery and yet, she perfectly occupies the post that she is assigned at its center. Her heart and her mind are completely humble, and, precisely because of her singular humility, God awaits this young woman's "yes" to realize his design. He respects her freedom. Mary's "yes" implies both maternity and virginity, and it desires that everything in her is for God's glory, and that the Son whom she will bear will be wholly the gift of grace.
Dear friends, Mary's virginity is unique and unrepeatable, but its spiritual significance regards every Christian. It, in substance, is linked to faith: In fact, those who deeply trust in the love of God welcome Jesus within themselves, his divine life, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of Christmas! I hope that you will all live it with profound joy."

She does not doubtGod's power but she wants to understand his will better so that she can completely conform to this will.

What a beautiful insight.
What a beautiful example.

We too like Mary are often left with questions as the mystery of life unfolds before us, often in ways we did not anticipate nor expect. Yet, like MAry, we can bring our questions to God in humility and faith and not be afraid to seek understanding.

Our seeking to understand must always be trumped by our willingness to surrender. We seek to understand not just to know but to let go.

God invites our questions, he does not condemn them. Mary's faith and humility is exactly what allows her to pose the question that brings about a glimpse into the mystery of God's will. It is her faith that brings forth the question that penetrates the darkness of the mystery and reveals light and allows illumination.

Our questions are important. We too must present them in faith and wait for the God to open the mystery of life and leads us through. Then we too shall be better able to conform, to surrender, to speak those words, "let it be done to me according to thy word."

Monday, December 19, 2011

home stretch


Judges 13:2-7,24-25; Ps 71 My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory; Luke 1:5-25


Here we are, our waiting is almost over. We find ourselves on the Home stretch.

The finish line looms on the horizon and the horizon is just few days away, where we shall gather with family, friends, strangers, and all of us shall have our gaze fixed upon the manger and once again we shall know, even for just brief and fleeting moment, what it is like to be child again, caught up in the wonder of it all.

For a brief moment, there amongst the crowd, we shall come in contact with the beauty awakened by faith.

And, we shall realize that perhaps the crowd isn't a crowd but rather perhaps as our gaze meet the gaze of the child, we realize that we are the same, we are all family, we belong together.

We shall sing together, we shall stand together, we shall kneel together, we shall prayer together all because of something so small and so precious and so humble lying in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes.

What an ingenious way of penetrating the human heart and tearing down our defenses.

We shall stand together, defenseless at the God who becomes defenseless love for us.

We are on the Home stretch. As we move forward this week, may we move slowly; may our steps be deliberate and may our minds ponder deeply that which is waiting for our arrival.


In today's gospel, we encounter the conception of John the Baptist to a Elizabeth, who was righteous in the eyes of God, obedient and blameless and barren and advanced in years.

The angel comes and informs Zechariah that to them a child shall come, who will be great in the sight of the Lord, be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb, and he shall turn the children of Israel to the Lord to "prepare a people fit for the Lord."


Are we "fit" for the Lord.

Here are a few words from St. Padre Pio: "You ought to ask our Lord for just one thing: to love him. All the rest should be thanksgiving."

HEre is the attitude that will truly help us see the gift of defenseless love that is waiting in the manger for all to see.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Presentation

2 Samuel 7:1-16; Ps 89 Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; Romans 16:25-27


I want to continue our walk through the mass with the changes that have been implemented since Advent started.
Last week I preached on that which didn’t change: the postures and gestures that invites us to immerse ourselves fully into the worship reality: body and soul

Today we look at the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

But first, I want to draw your attention to the offertory; the presentation of the gifts.

This is one of the most neglected parts of our worship; the homily is finished, the creed is professed, the petitions are made, and we sit back as the ushers come through for the collection.

Perhaps we have tendency to treat this time as an intermission of sorts.

But there is so much more going on.

The offertory, the name itself, suggest what is happening. This is what we offer, what we present, what we bring to the table. It represents our gift to God…

The bread and the wine, the monetary gift all represent our life, our thanks to God, our yearning, our dreams, our prayers, our sacrifices. what we think of God.

St. Augustine stated that we should look closely at the bread and the wine, for joined to them are the sacrifices of the people of God:

think bout the sacrifices:

-single mother who drags her children to mass every Sunday: works three jobs just to make ends meet
-parents whose child just got diagnosed with a serious illness and they have more questions than answers
-alcoholic who has been somber for 17 years and just made through another 7 days of one day at a time
-father who just got laid off and wondering where to go next
-spouse who just said farwell to her mate after 35 years of marriage

you ever wonder what you look like when you come to mass: most of the time we look pretty normal but there isn’t a moment where each of us don't bleed from the eyes with broken hearts and sacrifices to offer.

This is all represented by the bread, the wine where the priest acting in the person of Christ, accepts this offering, and places it all on the altar as Christ placed his body on the altar of the cross, and joins it to His perfect perfect sacrifice.

IT is all raised to the father, and the Holy Spirit is invoked to transform them by filling them with God's very presence, and then it is returned to the people of God, to you and I, that we may have the grace to offer sacrifice & praise for one more week.

Think about the Bread and the wine as a symbol of our sacrifice but it also reminds us of what and how we are too live a life of faith.

What does it involve to get bread and wine?

In order of reread to be bread the wheat has to die, then ground and smashed, then baked only then can it become food that nourishes.

In order for wine to be a reality the grapes are picked, then stomped and smahed, fermented, only then with time does it become the drink that brings gladness to the human heart.

Bread and the wine are the perfect symbol of the life of faith: Jesus says: unless a grain of wheat dies it does not bear fruit; unless you take up your cross an follow after me you can't be my disciple; you must lose self, in order to find yourself.

We don’t just offer our sacrifices, we present what we are called to be:
It is our very lives we place on the altar and they are united to the sacrifice of Christ and become transformed by the Holy spirit.

In the Liturgy now, the priest ask the people the pray "that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to almighty God" and we pray together, "May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of his holy church."

The prayer itself speaks to the longing of our hearts. Do we not want our sacrifice to be meaningful, do we not want it to be for our good and good of all. when we unite our sacrifice to the perfect sacrifice of Christ it is enlivened with the purpose of Christ and meaning is ushered in. IT is here at the altar that all the sacrifices in the world, those of you and I, are raised and thus become life giving for they meet with that one sacrifice that brings life to the world.

It is more than an intermission; it is an invitation to let God take us as we are and to make us who we need to be for his glory and praise as we are united to that perfect sacrifice of Christ and thus are filled with his life giving spirit.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas list



Isaiah 56:1-8; Ps 67 God, let all the nations praise you; John 5:33-36

Christmas list abound this time of year. Children write letters to Santa all over the world making their request, hoping and waiting as their hungry little eyes peer beneath the Christmas tree all arrayed in lights.


Everyone has a list, a Christmas Wish list! It isn't just for children. I know plenty of adults, grown ups, who have made their list and checked it twice who drop little hints to their unsuspecting spouse, just in case they weren't attentive enough to get it the first time.

As the credit card commercial for capitol one states, "what's in your wallet?" What is in your list?

Isaiah reveals to us this morning what is on God's list.

1) observe what is right, do what is just
2)keep the sabbath free from profanation
3)keeps his hand from evil doing
4)Loving the name of the Lord, becoming his servants

These I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.

What a gift. God, our father, had revealed to us his "Christmas" list not just for the season but for a life.

Imagine what would the world would look like awaken by the beauty of faith in action.

God has a list for us so that CHristmas can truly be received and celebrated. It is the Christ child who shows us how to love his name and become his servant on bended knee does he wash the feet.

Yesterday ,here at St. Michael's, we had our Christmas Pageant. All of the students came together and brought Bethlehem to Cuero, Texas. Mary, Joseph, the child, the shepherds, the wise men, the animals (sheep, donkeys, cows, camels), the angels singing glory to God in the highest, St, Nick and even Martin Luther made a showing.

What a sight to behold.

For a brief moment, all were fixed on the manger. For a brief moment, worries were forgotten, fears relived, hope enliven, joy restored to world that is often to busy to stop long enough for God's embrace.

What beauty awaken by faith that transcends all. Yesterday in the hall, our children did what St, John the Baptist did, illuminated the path and became a light shining on Christ.

As Jesus points out in the gospel: "John was a burning and shining lamp, for a while you were content to rejoice in his light."

We too like John must bring warmth and light. This is what the children did, though it took work and dedication. Such it is with light; what gives light must endure burning.

Go forth.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

hiddenness


Isaiah 54:1-10; PS 30 I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me; Luke 7:24-30

The words of Isaiah

"For moment I hid my face from you;But with enduring love I take pity on you."

How often in our life do we experience the silence of God? How often in our life do we experience the darkness that is God? How often in our life do we wonder why God is hiding his face from us?

As Psalm 88 exclaims, "my one companion is darkness."

God will at times hide his face from us. There will be moments of darkness, trials, tribulations. But, as ISaiah reminds us, times of darkness, this hiddenness of God, is a means to an end, an end by which we are awaken to the enduring love of God.

It is the hiddenness of God that prepares us for the promise we hear on the lips of Isaiah, "Though the mountains leave their places 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."


Darkness gives way to light. Silence gives way to great rejoicing. Hiddenness find itself enveloped in the sweet embrace of mercy.

**********
We look to the gospel this morning.

The gospel writers ends the particular passage of the gospel with these few lines, "but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves."


They rejected the plan of God for themselves.

Think about that for a moment. How often do we reject the plan of God for us, for our community, for our families, etc!

How often does the plan of God rub us raw and irritate us? Think about your life for a moment; when have you rejected the plan of God? When have you cried out to God in refusing to move forward? When have any of us thrown a tantrum of faith, refusing to bend to the call of God as the mystery of tomorrow unfolds?

When God acts in a way we do not anticipate; when God acts in a way we do not appreciate; when God acts in a way we do not like or are not ready for, these are the moments we put our shields us and get in defensive mode.

But these are the exact moments we have been waiting for.

We, like the Pharisees and the scholars, we think we know exactly how God is suppose to reveal himself? We think we have it mapped out how God is suppose to reveal his plan in our life and when it doesn't fit the mold we have formed or the image we have in mind then we too reject.

Learn from the Pharisees and the scholars. Instead of trying to manipulate God and anticipate God, why not just simply surrender to Him.


Advent is a time of waiting; but we wait so that we might surrender and receive the gift God offers. The only thing we have control over and that which we choose to surrender.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

life in glory


Isaiah 45:6-25; Ps Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior; Luke 7:18-23

Today in the life of the Church, we honor the memory of St. John of the Cross, a spanish priest and mystic.

He took it upon himself to draw a map of the journey to the mount of perfection. At the summit of the journey he wrote these words, "Here on this mount, dwell only the honor and glory of God."

Glory of God. Something to think about as we live and breathe.

There is attributed to God by the theologians a twofold glory: intrinsic glory of the inner life of the Trinity and the extrinsic glory that redounds to God through his external works.

The knowledge and love God has for himself in the mystery of his infinite beauty constitutes his intrinsic glory: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, this communion of perfect love, perfect giving one to the other.


God is infinitely perfect and has no need of anything outside of himself. Thus, the reason for creation must somehow be found in God's goodness and love. God created all things for himself; all things exist in and for God. God, out of love for the infinite goodness that he is, wills to communicate the good that he already possesses.

In case of creatures endowed with intellect and will, they are called to share in the glory of the inner life of the Trinity. By a process the Fathers of the Church did not hesitate to describe as "deification" and "divination". God's own glory shines forth resplendently in the souls of the Just.


The entire created universe exists in order to manifest the goodness, truth, and beauty of God; that is the extrinsic glory seen from the view point of the Creator. From the creature's side, the glory of God is seen in striving for greater perfection whereby God is praised and glorified.

The rational creature manifest the capacity to share in the very nature and life of God himself and the ability to give back to God, through praise and loving service, all that has been received. Thus, all is ordained to the same ultimate end, the glory of God.

As St. PAul reminds us, "whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God" that is reflect his beauty, his goodness, his truth, his love in the life you live.

Thus, sanctification and salvation are not an end in themselves but rather the most excellent and efficacious means of giving glory to the Most Holy Trinity. Total abandonment to God's will, which comes at the profound and painful purgation of self-love becomes the process by which glory is given.


Thus, "but trailing clouds of glory do we come from God, who is our home." Wordsworth

For further reading: Spiritual Theology by Fr Jordan Auman, free ebook online or at kindle.
St. John pray for us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guadalupe

video

Above is a presentation on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe now hanging in the Basilica in MExico city for the past 450 years since the apparition to St. Juan Diego in 1531

Saturday, December 10, 2011

body language

This past weekend I was invited to a Houston Texan football game. I went along with a priest friend of mine, who will remain nameless and two other dear dear friends.

We headed out Sunday morning to join 90,000 other so called football fans to Reliant Arena for some football. Now this friend, the priest, isn't known for his football Savy. He is not a student of the game. But he informed me that he was going to study up so that he would be ready for some football.

So ont he way up to Houston, I decided to quiz him, just to see what he learned. I asked questions that any fareweather fan would know.

For instance, who was Andre Johnsaon or Arian Foster. And he did not know either of them. In fact, I am certain he didn't know the difference between a safety and a tide end. I questioned his ability to tell the difference between the offense and defense.

He did know, however, the back up quarterback's name, TJ Yates. He knew htis becasue he read it in the paper that morning.

Needless to say, I was a bit suspicious as to whether or not he would actually enjoy the game.

But to my surprise, He seemed to really get in to the game. He was standing when he needed to stand; he was cheering when he needed to cheer; he was yelling when he needed to yell; he was even hihgh fiving peopel around him when the TExans did well.

I was amazed. At point, I even caught him doing the First DOwn Gesture with his hands.

He really immersed himself in the Ritual of the Arena asI call it. He let himself get carried away.

The more we immerse ourself in something, the more we get out of it. We have give in order to get. I was proud of him. If he would have just sat there like a stump on a log, he would have been bored out of his mind.

As it is with football, so it remains with worship. the more w eput ourselves into the worship experience the more we experience from it. This is what the Church ask when it tells us to be full, active and conscious in our particpation during the liturgy.

The Church offers aids for on how to involve ourselves. The church offers instructions on posture and gestures to enable worship to become a full body experience, a truly integrated experience where we worship with our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Thus we live out what St. Paul speaks of when he invites us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.

The postures and gestures are just as important as the words we speak.

Every part of our body is an expressive instrument of our soul. Our soul expresses itself in prayer through our body. Our body communicates what we believe.

Let us go back to the game for a moment. When we were headed toward our seats, the star spangled Banner staretd to eb sung. Instantly, everyone stopped in their tracks; whether they had a hot odog one hand and popcorn in the other, they stopped.

Hats were remobed and hands went to cover the chest as the hymn was sung.

Our bodies express a deeper meaning. Think about when we fold our hands or bow our head or bend a knee, instantly we are at prayer with our bodies long bore any words are ever used.

Go back to the liturgy. Think about the gestures and postures at Mass.

We have the catholic calesthetics: kneeling, sitting, standing.
Kneeling is a sign of humility; we make ourselves small before God.
Sitting is a posture of being receptive, we are open to God's word.
Standing is a posture of liberty, vigilance, and action. We are ready to respond and to live the invitation of Christ.

We fold our hands in prayer. Folding our hands in prayer is a sign of vulnerabilty. We are not defensive toward God, but vulnerable and willing to trust and entrust our life to him.

We genuflect when come into the church. Genflection is borrowed from the roman SOldiers who would genuflect to a superior as a sign of respect and honor. For us it is a profession of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as we geneuflect to our superior. We genuflect to our superior officer. the king of kings, the Lord of Lords.

We strike our breast at the confiteor. Notice, I said strike and not brush or flick. We are not dusting off dandruff but striking ourselves. We strike ourselevs to hold ourselves accoutnable and to wake us up, to jar us awake and get us ready for the celebration of mercy that comes to us in the Eucharist.

We are instructed to Bow our Head at the names of Jesus, Mary and the Saint of the day. Here bowing our head is a way of acknowledging the holiness of them who have responed to Gods grace. We see Jesus and Mary and the Saints and recognize that grace as triumphant in the human heart and in history. How often in our life do we hear people misuse the name of JEsus. This is the name of above all names at which St. PAul says every head shall bow and every knee shall bend.

We Bow at the Creed at the "by the Holy Spirit incarnate of the virgin Mary" again to imitate with our bodies the movement of God who comes from heaven to earth. Our God is humble and we humbleourselves before him.

THe triple cross at the gospel where we mark our foreheads, lips, and heart with the cross as we say "GLory to You O Lord." We pray that the word of Christ will penetrate our minds and hearts so as to transform and purify our thoughts, words, and desires and actions. Don't we need the word of GOd to purify our thoughts, to infiltrate our words so that the goodness of God flows through what we speak, or enter into our hearts so as to purify our desires and thus direct our actions.

Then we come up for communion. We are instruct to make a throne out of our hands so as to receieve the gift of the Eucharist, or we receive in our mouth by opening wide and extending our tongue. Both cases, we come to receive the gift not take the gift. W emus extend to receive the gift that is offered by God. How often we are not attentive to the what we are doing.

ALl of this is meant to get us to immerse ourselves in the liturgy. We come to give ourselves whole and entire, body, heart, mind, soul. It is an integrated experience. Thus we can truly offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. What we do with th ebody in worship is meant to affect what we do with our bodies outside of worship.

Every part of the body is an expressive instrument of the osul. THe soul prays by expressing itself through the body. Our body communicates what we believe.

Thus our bodies are offered as a living sacrifice.

Our body language at worship is just as important as the words we speak.

Only then do we truly love the Lord with all of our hearts, minds, soul, strength.

How do I listen???

Isaiah 61:1-2,10-11; My soul rejoices in my God; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8,19-28

A poem:
How
DO I
Listen to others?
As if everyone were my Master
Speaking to me
His
Cherished
Last
Words.

Look at the gospel today, this 3rd Sunday of advent.

listen the words of the John the Baptist as he responds to the Pharisee's question: "But there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me..."

Think about that cryptic statement: the one you do not recognize, the one who is among you.

Imagine, knowing that the Messiah was in your midst, hiding in plain sight. He could be anyone, he could be everyone, he could be one of us and all of us.

Would that change how we listened? Would that change how we respond? Would we be more attentive and on edge and on the look out? Would that be enough to truly get us rejoicing?

THe verse in the bible that follows today's gospel where it left off is John 1:29, "The next day he saw JEsus coming toward him and said, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

The next day he saw Jesus coming. The next day is always right around the corner.
BE attentive, be ready, be alert!

How
Do I
Listen to others?
As if everyone were my Master
Speaking to me
His
Cherished
Last
Words.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pope's christmas wish



This past thursday Pope Benedict lit the largest Christmas Tree in the world on the mountain side of Gubbio in Italy. On this occasion he gave his three wishes for Christmas. Take a fe moments to ask God to give you strength to live the wishes of the Pope this Christmas Season.

1)"My first wish, therefore, is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, not rest only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that it in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be directed toward God.

2)My second wish is that we recall that we also need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness.

3)My final wish is that each of us contribute something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods, towns, and cities.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Patroness of the United States

We take this occasion, brethren, to communicate to you the determination, unanimously adopted by us, to place ourselves and all entrusted to our charge throughout the United States, under the special patronage of the holy Mother of God, whose Immaculate Conception is venerated by the piety of the faithful throughout the Catholic Church.

By the aid of her prayers, we entertain the confident hope that we will be strengthened to perform the arduous duties of our ministry, and that you will be enabled to practice the sublime virtues, of which her life presents the most perfect example.”
--Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of the United States
Sixth Provincial Council
Baltimore
5 May 1846

Question and answers about Mary




ZENIT asked these and other questions to Father Stefano Cecchin, of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, secretary of the Pontifical International Marian Academy.

ZENIT: Why is Mary's virginity so important?

Father Cecchin: Mary's virginity is an essential part of Christian faith in as much as it is the guarantee that Jesus is the "Son of God" who became man in the womb of a woman. Joseph, "Mary's husband" (Matthew 1:20) is not Jesus' real father. Because Mary, Matthew's Gospel continues, conceived Jesus without having any relations with her husband (Matthew 1:25). What was generated in her is the "work of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:20), for this reason Christ is man, in as much as he was born of a woman in regard to his humanity, but at the same time he is God in as much as this procreation came about by the action of the Trinity in Mary. Mary is a real mother, hence Jesus is a real man; Mary is a virgin, hence Jesus is the Son of God: this is a synthesis of the Christian faith.

ZENIT: Who was Mary?

Father Cecchin: Mary was a virgin, "promised bride" of a man of the house of David called Joseph (Luke 1:26). The Gospels don't give us too many other details. We know only that she was a relative of Elizabeth, believed to be a descendant of Aaron and hence of a priestly family (Luke 1:5). We see her to be an intelligent woman, who before giving her assent to the Angel wished to understand what God was asking of her. Always attentive to the Word, she kept it and reflected on it in her heart. A solicitous mother, she ensured that the child be wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger. Anguished, she searched for him for three days until she arrived at the Temple where she found him among the doctors: we hear the last words of Mary and the first of Jesus in Luke's Gospel. At Cana, she is concerned that the spouses had no wine and fearless she turned to Jesus convinced that he could resolve the problem. So she invited the servants to do "whatever he tells you." We find her beside the Crucified who entrusted the Church to her, in which we find her, after the Lord's Ascension, together with his disciples. This is the Mary we know from the Gospels: the woman always ready to hear the Word and to put it into practice -- the most beautiful example of a true follower of Jesus.



ZENIT: Why was she called Mary?

Father Cecchin: Mary is a very ancient name that is found in the different languages of the Middle East. It seems to derive from the Egyptian Myrhiam which means "princess." Other interpretations translate it as "Highness" (we have been visited by a sun that arises from on high, that is, from Mary), or "Mare amamor" or to be bitter, because of the sufferings she would endure with the Passion of her Son. Some Fathers of the Church interpret her as "Star of the sea." The Bible mentions Myriam, Moses' sister. In any case, the Gospels do not give us any explanation of the reason behind her name.

ZENIT: Why was she chosen by God to bring Jesus into the world?

Father Cecchin: The Virgin herself answered this question: "Because He has looked upon the humility of his handmaid" (Luke1:48).




ZENIT: What are her virtues?

Father Cecchin: Blessed Pope John Paul II reminded us that: Mary "shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues" (Redemptoris Mater, 6). This is so because the Church looks to her as the perfectly fulfilled creature, in as much as "no one has responded with a love greater than hers to the immense love of God" (Pastores dabo vobis, 36). Her virtues are in consonance with her conception of Jesus, to her task to make that child grow in "holiness and grace," to her journey of faith that developed in following Christ, up to the moment of the cross and the joy of the Resurrection. Mary is a woman rich in virtues because she is fully "woman," that is, she is the one who has fully lived a human life.

ZENIT: Why do Catholics pray so much to Mary?

Father Cecchin: Because they are the disciples of Jesus who from the cross indicated that they should have Mary as "Mother."

ZENIT: How can we explain the feast of the Immaculate Conception to today's world?

Father Cecchin: Certainly, this truth of faith is not easy to understand! It is, however, the symbol of the exceeding love of God who desires "friendship" with man. After sin, in fact, God promised to put enmity between the woman and evil [represented by the serpent], between their descendants. With the coming of Christ, this promise was realized. The Mother of the Messiah could never have been a friend of the serpent. And it is precisely because of her mission as Mother of the Savior, that God granted her an anticipated grace in view of the whole work of Christ the Savior and Redeemer which, thanks to Mary's yes, was about to be realized.

Hence, Mary enjoyed our same redemption but for her it happened in a different way to show how Christ is truly the most perfect Redeemer, whose redemption operates before and after the event itself of the cross.
Today there is talk of the prevention of illnesses. Look, Jesus is the most perfect doctor who not only can heal the sins of the world but also prevent them: and He does this with his Mother -- hence the celebration of this dogma, which, as all Marian dogmas, exalts Christ primarily. It is useful to be able to understand better the real character of the work of our redemption: the universality and power of Christ's mediation.

St. Augustine on the why of Christ

"God established a time for his promise and a time for their fulfillment. The time for promise was in the time of the prophets, until John the Baptist; from John until the end is the time of fulfillment.

God, who is faithful, put himself in our debt, not by receiving anything but by promising so much. A promise was not sufficient for him; he chose to commit himself fin writing as well, as it were making a contract of hi promises. He wanted us to see the way in which his promises were redeemed when he began to discharge them. And so the time of the prophets was, as we have often said, the foretelling of the promises.

He promised eternal salvation, everlasting happiness with the angels, an immortal inheritance, endless glory, the joyful vision of his face, his holy dwelling in heaven, after his resurrection from the dead no further fear of dying. This is as it were, his final promise, the goal of all our striving.. When we reach it we shall ask for nothing more.

But as for the way in which we are to arrive at our final goal, he has revealed this also, by promise and prophecy.

He has promised men divinity, mortals immortality, sinners justification, the poor rising to glory.

But because God's promises seemed impossible to men, God not only made a written contract with men to win their belief but also established a mediator of his good faith, not a prince or angel or archangel, but his only Son. He wanted through his Son, to show us and give us the way he would lead us to the goal he has promised.

It was not enough to make his Son our guide to the way; he made him the way itself, that you might travel with him as leader, and by him as the way." St. Augustine


Here are a few words from Pope BEnedict on this Wednesday


""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."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

St Nick


Isaiah 40:1-11; Ps 96 Th Lord our God comes with Power; Mt 18:12-14

Click here for the origin of santa claus
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Nick, the bishop of the 4th century that was known for his charity. It was on this day growing up that we children in the Berger home would rise real early for we knew there would be a special treat for us on the table.

When we entered the kitchen, there would be 12 bowls laid out overflowing with candy, chocolate and otherwise. We would quickly select the bowl we thought held the most candy in it and then go hide it so the our siblings wouldn't get their fingers on it.

Funny thing about this reality. We were supposed to have learned about charity and giving and yet we all were a little bit selfish in receiving, wanting ours and not wanting others to take from us what we received.

I guess we are all that way at moments. We can all be a bit greedy with the gifts we receive never realizing or realizing only later that it is a gift undeserved and how foolish it is to claim it as our own when we all know gifts are meant to be given not hoarded.

Our PArents tried to teach us that charity is sweet. Good ole St. Nick, may he continue to intercede for us that we may learn how to generously receive and thus generously give in return.

Here are a few words from Pope BEnedict concerning John the Baptist

"Therefore, John’s appeal goes far beyond and deeper than a call to a sober lifestyle: it is a call for inner change, starting with the recognition and confession of our sins. As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives. May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of He who is "the Greatest" and made himself small, he who is "the Strongest" but became weak."


We look to the gospel today and Jesus asks for the "opinion" of his disciples. We are his disciples so perhaps he is asking us what is our opinion.

What do you think about this shepherd who leaves the 99 to search for the one who strays? Before you think about that notice that the JEsus tells us that the shepherd leaves the 99 in the hills, that is on the heights.

The shepherd doesn't abandon the 99 recklessly but rather he makes sure they are safe and sound; they are away from the wolves in the valley. In the hills, on the heights close to the heavens.

Only then does he search diligently so that he might bring the stray upward as well. In deed the one who strays is the one who goes down but in Christ we are all raised to new heights and thus given a cause to rejoice.

JEsus always brings us up, lifts us high, raises us to the Father.

The one who is from on high comes low to us so that w eight be raised, elevated to new kind of living and loving.

This beautiful story truly encapsulates the incarnation, the one on high comes low so that we who are lowly can be raised and in being raised the heavens rejoice.

As Isaiah proclaims, "in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care."


Have you been raised lately? Have you been carried in his arms? If so then rejoice and remember do not entertain false joys always keep your joy real.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fool proof

Isaiah 35:1-10; ps 85 our God will come to save us; Luke 5:17-26

Advent offers some of the most profoundly hopeful and beautiful readings. As we read from Isaiah the entire landscape of our lives is turned upside down and beauty and life rise to meet us.

Isaiah invites us in for a stroll to see what life can be: "the desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will bloom; abundant flowers and rejoicing with joyful songs..."eyes will be opened, ears will hear, lame will leap, the mute shall sing; streams will burst forth. A highway will be there called the holy wAy, and no one unclean shall pass nor fools go astray. It is for those who have a journey to make and on it the redeemed will walk. Those ransomed shall be crowned with everlasting joy"


Wow! It seems like a Disney special. The best part is that it is "fool proof" for even fools can't go astray.

Amazing.
We just have to acknowledge our own need and be willing to make the journey with one step at a time.
It is a journey of a thousand steps but each one is made in the mercy we seek.

Walk in mercy today both seeking and giving: it us fool proof!

Besides. Look at the gospel. We read these words, "Jesus knew their thoughts."

Who do we think we are kidding? There is no need for pretending, no need for pretense, no need for hiding, no need for putting on air, there is no need for any of that stuff! There is only need for mercy: seeking it and giving it.

We are not as strong as we think we are and thAt is why we lay ourselves before the feet of Jesus.

Only then cAn we hear "rise and walk" only then can we begin the journey home.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wilderness

The gospel of this 2nd Sudnay of Advent puts us right smack in the middle of the desert, the wilderness, face to faace with John the Baptist, one of the stars of Advent, the one who comes to announce the arrival of the Messiah, "One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the things of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy SPirit."

Wow!

Let us look at the word and place of the wilderness, the desert.

The term “wilderness” has two different but related meanings, referring to something judged to be wild and bewildering. It is probably the unknown (bewildering) and uncontrolled (wild) character of the place that earned it the name “wilderness.”

There is also another way of understanding the meaning of desert or wilderness.
A careful look at the root of the word midvar (hebrew) reveals the word "davar" (hebrew) meaning “word” or “message.” The Hebraic notion of “desert” or “wilderness” is that holy place where God’s word is unbound and completely free to be heard, experienced and lived. We go to the desert to hear God’s Word, unbound and completely free.

Think about this for a moment. In order to hear the Word of God, we must be willing to enter that place that leaves us bewildered that place of chaos that plAce where we have no control. It is there God invites us to come and listen.

We all have places like thT in our life. We have to fight the urge to get rid of them but rather enter and listen a new. This is what advent invites us to do!


John the Baptist is the Advent prophet. His image is often portrayed in the finger pointing to the one who was coming: Jesus Christ. If we are to take on John’s role of preparing the way in today’s world, our lives also will become the pointing fingers of living witnesses who demonstrate that Jesus can be found and that he is near.

We must find that place within us, that desert, so that we can hear the WOrd unbound and free and let it move us. Thus we become like John the Baptist.

John gave the people of his time an experience of forgiveness and salvation, knowing full well that he himself was not the Messiah, the one who could save. Do we allow others to have experiences of God, of forgiveness and of salvation?

John the Baptist came to teach us that there is a way out of the darkness and sadness of the world and of the human condition, and that way is Jesus himself. The Messiah comes to save us from the powers of darkness and death, and to put us back on the path of peace and reconciliation so that we might find our way back to God.


The way out of the wilderness of our lives is to first enter the wilderness where the word of GOd can truly be heard. Thus, we let the word, take root and begin to grow and direct our lives into meaning and purpose.

The creed

since the beginning of the Advent season, we have introduced and have been using the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal.

By now, I am surethere are plenty who have grumbled in its use. Many of the "old Timers" probably whine and wonder why the changes, why not just keep it as it was.

Change is often like an avalanche upon the head.

We do not deal well with it.

The translations are a improvement to our previous attempt at understanding the Latin Text. The new changes are a more precise rendition of what the Church has been praying in Latin for centuries.

We should all want to Give God our best attempt.


Let us look at the creed for instance. There are some changes in our profession of faith that I think are instrumental in our faith life.

We believe/I believe


The first noticable change is we now start the creed with "I believe" as suppose to "we believe."

The Latin was always Credo in unum Deum. The first person singular. This is an important translation correction.

We must rememeber tha faith must truly become our own before we can ever share it is a community. We cannot give what we do not possess. What makes us a community of believers is the fact that each of us profess the same faith, "I" believe. It is the the "I" of the profession that makes way for the "we" of the community.

We have a responsibilty to make sure we understand what we each individually profess.

For too long we have just gone about business as usual without really thinking our faith profession through. Now is the time.

Seen and unseen/ visible and invisible
The second noticable change is tha we now profess God is maker of all things "visible and invisible" where as before is was seen and unseen.

Just a quick glance and we discover that to say something is invisible is not the same as being unseen.

There are many things that remain unseen to the naked eye yet are a very visible part of reality.

Think about bacteria for an instant. Think about pollen and mold. These things are very visble and cause a great deal of havoc in our life yet they are also unseen.

My truck, the white toyata that I drive around, is unseen to all of you reading this, but remains very visible.

The church wants make sure we are precise in our language of faith. Our Faith isin a God who creates all that is visible and invisible. There are many things that are invisible yet very real: angels for one, but God himself is invisible for he is immaterial. Think about the wind, it is invisible yet we know it by its effects.

This is humbling for us. Reality does not depend on what we can see or not see. In fact, reality is greater than what meets the eye.

This is what we stand on, this is what we build our foundation of faith on. We do not see everything,a nd what a relief for us.

consubstantial/one in being

When we profess our faith in Jesus Christ, we use to say, "God from God, light form light, True God from ture God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father" but now we say "consubstantial with the Father."

The word consubstantial replaces "one in being." One in being is a good phrase but it is not precise enough. We talk abot people being one in being with other all the time. Often times we use this to describe couples who are married, we say they are "one in being with each other." Let's face couples who have been together for soem time, think the same, liek the same things, the even begin to look the same.

They truly are one in being with each other. This is a great phrase for husbands and wives but not clear enough to understand the relationship between Jesus and God the Father.

Consubstantial is the word used by the council of Nicea 325 to try to penetrate the great mystery and reality that JEsus is true God, that he is the same stuff as the Father. IT is a difficult word becasue it is a difficult reality.

IT should be jarring every time we profess it, again so that we really think about what we are saying and praying. The fact that Jesus is God is the source of our Hope.

We can not fully comprehend this revelation but we can pray it and profess it.

Incarnate/ born

Prior to this year Advent Season, when we got to the part of the Creed "by the Holy SPirit he was, we would profess, "born" of the virgin MAry. But since Advent we now pray, "incarnate" of the Virgin MAry.

The word "incarnate" is not the same as "born". This is really important. When we profess that JEsus is incarnate of the virgin Mary, we are professing the reality that God becomes flesh at the moment of conception, not just at birth. This is a pro-life profession of faith. Life begins the moment the cells begin to multiply and the baby begins to be formed in the womn of his mother.

When does God enter our time and place in history, the moment he is conceived in his mother's womb.

This is instrumental for us.

How often we expect God to do amazing thngs to make himseld known. How oftenw e demand God to act in concrete and powerful ways so that we can believe in him. How often have we asked him heal this person or that, to change this relaity or that in order for us to truly believe. Yet the "incarnation" at conception points to a very important part of life.

God will come suddenly but often times he comes quietly and hidden.

God was enetering our history and time when JEsus was conceived in his mother's womb but yet no one was the wiser. Quietly and hidden God intervened. IT took 9 months for us to really get a handle of just how God acts, it took 9 months befoe the angels proclaimed to the shepherds, "this child is Emmanuel, God with us."

Just becasue we don't see God acting doesn't mean it isn't acting, behind the seens, in clear sight for all.

I look for/I look forward

the very last line of the creed has also undergone some change. We now profess, "I look forward to the resurrection of the dead" whereas before we professed "I look for the resurrection of the dead."

These are not the same. To look forward to something is slightly different than looking for something. We look for things all the time with a little certainty that we might find it. We look for our keys when they are lost, we look for our car when it is misplaced in a parking lot. But to look forward to something adds a little certainty to out step.

We don't just look for the ressurection of the dead but we look forward to this reality, which indicates a new level of awarenss that is fixed on certainty, one like us ahd already risen from the dead.

This is our hope, this is our expectation.

What we expect begins to be a motivation for our action. It should move us to live differently; it should shape our behavior and how we relate.

Poep Benedict tells us the one who expects nothing, can no longer live. We expect everything.

This is a fundamental reality and a ground of hope and thus a source of motivation for us as believers. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, thus, we live with great expectations filled with certainty in Christ.

again these are justa few of the chnages we have introduced in to our liturgy. Be thankful, for they are a gift of the Holy SPirit tot eh Church at this time and thus remain a gift for all of us who gather to pray.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vocabulary list for Advent

Isaiah 29:17-24; Ps 27 Th eLord is my light and my salvation; Mt 9:27-31

THe readings today offer us many vocabulary words for the Advent season as we prepare for the celebration of Christ entering our lives.

Just take a look at the words chosen by the prophet Isaiah and the psalmist in todays readings.

"Out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see"

"The lowly will find joy in the Lord"

"THe poor will rejoice"

"For the Tyrant will be no more, the arrogant will have gone"

"THey shall reverence the holy one of Jacob"

"be in awe of the GOd of ISrael"

My personal favorite ccomes from the psalm
"be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord"

Stouthearted means to be bold, brave, and firm. Is this not what true waiting for the Lord entails, for us to be bold, brave, and steadfast as we anticipate is arrival. We cannot quit too soon.

We must be stouthearted in our faith.

This is the theme of Advent: stoutheartedness.

Try it for size.




Try these words on for size.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

these words

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

"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."

What are "these words" that we are to listen to and act on?
Jesus says a lot of things in the gospels, so I thought I might just pull out those things he speaks in chapter 7 of the gospel of Matthew. What does JEsus say right before these lines quoted above. I figured this is a good a place as any to start.

Matthew 7:1 "Stop judging that you may not be judged. For as you judge so you will be judged and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you."

Matthew 7:6 "Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample then underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces."

Matthew 7:7 "ask and it will be given to you,seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open."

Matthew 7:12 "Do to others whatever you would have them do to you."

Matthew 7:13 "Enter through the narrow gate."

Matthew 7:15 :Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves."

Matthew 7:16 "By their fruits you will know them, Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Every good tree bears good fruit."

SO above are just a few of the things JEsus says right before we here the words above, "Everyone who listens to these words and acts on them is a man who built on rock."

Now here are some "words" to stir us during the Advent season so that we might truly be prepared for the celebration of the Coming of Christ.

For when we stand before Christ, he will look into our hearts, and he will check to see if his words have taken hold. WIll his words be seen by the life we live?

Take one of the above statements of Christ and work on it all day. Let it be your advent duty and your heart's content.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

come after me

Romans 10:9-18; Ps 10 Your words, Lord, are SPirit and Life; Mt 4:18-22

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, the second in the list of the twelve to be called, according to Matthew and Luke, and the brother of Peter.


According to Matthew's gospel, Jesus calls Peter and Andrew simultaneously, while they were casting the net into the sea.

I would like to direct your attention to the fact that Jesus calls these future apostles while they were working, earning their bread by the sweat of their brow.

This is so very important for us. The encounter with God we often hope for and look for in our life will often comes in the midst of the daily grind, while at work.

God comes to us where we spend most of our lives, at work. It was at work that Andrew heard from the lips of JEsus, "Come after me." Listen carefully, for it is there we too shall hear the invitation to transform our world from making a living to making a life.

What do we know about this apostle, Andrew.

We believe that he was crucified ona cross the shape of an X in Patras, Greece.
According to the gospel of John, he was a disicple of John the Baptist and it is through the John the Baptist that he was stirred to be and stay with Jesus.

During the multiplication of the loaves for the 5000, it was ANdrew who pointed out the boy with five loaves and two fish. Andrew recognized that the small amount the boy had was insufficient for such alarge crowd but noentheless he brought to Jesus to see what He could do with it.

Jesus of course utilized this minimal resource to bring about an extravagant transformation. Andrew was unfraid to take what little was available and bring it to Jesus so that he may do what he desired with it.

It was Andrew and Philip who brought some greek speakers to Jesus for a chance at a conversation and it was in this conversation that Jesus gives one of the most quoted passages from scripture, "unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."

Perhaps it was this conversation that gave Andrew the strength to follw Christ in giving his life for the sake of the gospel and thus being crucified on the cross the shape of the X.

Our own crosses in life acquire value if we consider them and accept them as part of the Cross of Christ, if a reflection of his light illuminates them. It is by the cross of Christ alone that our sufferings too are enobled and acquire true meaning. It is when we become like the One who is the wheat that falls to the gound then fruit shall be produced by the life we live.

We read from the letter to the Romans "Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. But I ask, did they not hear? Certainly they did; for their vocie has gone forth to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

The life of the Saints continue to spread the message and thus faith is born by the word that comes form the faith they lived.

May it be so with us.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

stumps, buds, and petting zoos


Isaiah 11:1-10' Ps 72 Justice shall flourish in his time, fullness of peace forever; Luke 10:21-24

"On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of JEsse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom..."

Again we turn our hear to the Prophet Isaiah as he prepares us for the messianic coming, as he gives us picture of what it will look like and what we shall hope in. Notice that the sprout comes from a stump, that which has fallen or that which has been felled. A stump is the remains of a once healthy tree that has succumbed to the elements either by nature or by force and is now only a shadow of what it used to be.

God begins to build this messianic promise in the unlikeliest places. From that place that looks dead and barren, from that place that appears done and over, from that place where life seems fade and hopeless, from that place new life shall begin, hope shall arise.

Look around in your life and see if you can identify that place or those places. Maybe there is where God is waiting for you.

The bud shall blossom, Isaiah tells us. A bud is underdeveloped, the first stages of hope there is still more to come. Patience is necessary to see the finished product. We have to wait for it. We have to nurture it and guard it. We have to be willing to see it through, see it to the end.

Advent is a time of new beginning. From the unlikeliest places new life shall push forward and begin to unfold.



Then Isaiah tells us that the Messianic Petting Zoo shall unfold, "the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the young lion, with a child to guide them, the cow and the bear, the lion and the ox, the baby and the cobra."

What a beautiful picture and image what can be when we all are penetrated with knowledge of the Lord.

WHo are the bears and lions and cobras and leopards in your life? How can this Advent bring you to that point of allowing the knowledge of the Lord to lead you to a new place of forgiveness, a new place of loving, a new place of relating?

How can the child, lying in the manger, the humble gift of God, enter your heart and prepare the way for new life to bud forth?


JEsus tells us in the gospel, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for though you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and you have revealed them to the childlike."

MEssianic Petting Zoo is open but only the childlike can experience its fullness. We must learn to become small and only then can the largeness of the kingdom begin to impress itself upon us from the inside out.


Here is a link to a previous post on advent

Monday, November 28, 2011

too good to be true

Isaiah 2:1-5; Ps 122 Let us go rejoicing to the house of the lord; Mt 8:5-11

BEfore you read check out this link

"Come let us climb the mountain of the Lord, tot he house of the God of JAcob, that he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths...They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the word against another, nor shall they train for war again, O house of Jacob, come, Let us walk in the light of the Lord."

The words of the prophet Isaiah seem too good to be true.

Think about it: "Swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks and never training for war again."

This seems like a pipe dream. Look around the world. Look at all the conflict building. The tensions rises between nations who are neighbors:Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, the countries in Africa.

There is so much violence and sickness, and starvation, and malnutrition.

IT seems impossible to think about peace reigning, and swords and spears becoming plowshares and pruning hooks. Especially when we look in the world and see explosives, nuclear warheads, and germ warfare, and biological weapons.

Frankly, No one is concerned with swords and spears anymore.

So what do we do with this bit of hope that seems false from the lips of the prophet Isaiah.

We make it a reality in our daily lives. We begin to climb the mountain of the Lord. We stop violence and sickness and hatred and all the rest by the choices we make and the good we fight for.

IT starts with one heart at a time. Victory comes in small amounts in a small scale primarily before it ever becomes large scale.

As the Psalmist tells us, "may peace be within your walls and your buildings."

Secondly we do what the last line of the psalm invites us to do, "Because of the house of the Lord, I will pray for your good."

Prayer prepares the heart for action. Inventory what and how you pray.

Slowly this pipe dream will become a reality, one heart at a time.

Then perhaps we too like the centurion in the gospel can amaze Jesus with our faith put in action.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Advent in two minutes

Click here for a quick tour of Advent in just Two Minutes


Advent: waiting for the one who is coming, waiting so that we might recognize the one who is already here, waiting so that we might prepare ourselves for what will be.

The opening prayer for Advent this SUnday from the New Translation of the Roman Missal 3rd edition

"Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to posses the heavenly kingdom.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy SPirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen
."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Litany for Thanksgiving

Please Respond: We thank you, O Lord.
 
This is a day to thank God for all his many blessings in our lives. With gratitude we now say:
 
For the love of God, for faith, family, and friends: R/
 
For joys, successes, achievements, and accomplishments: R/
 
For health, safety, work, and rest: R/
 
For struggles, sorrows, trials, and sufferings: R/
 
For our jobs, for those who support us, for our education, and for the chance to serve: R/
 
For our gifts, talents, and abilities, for honors, for strength and energy: R/
 
For our homes, for food, warmth, and shelter, for all the things that have made us happy: R/
 
For our hobbies and pets, for happy memories, for our favorite things, for leisure and relaxation: R/
 
For our nation, for freedom and peace, for teachers, leaders, and those who give us good example: R/
 
For the ability to say "I'm sorry," for the grace of repentance, for the forgiveness of others, for the generosity of others: R/
 
For good advice, for financial security, for the trust others put in us, for tenderness, understanding, and compassion: R/
 
For kindness, goodness, joy, and laughter, for the times we have helped others or made them happy: R/
 
For all the wonders of creation, for beauty, music, sports, and art, for new opportunities and second chances: R/
 
For failures and rejection, for all the ways we have grown up and become better people: R/
 
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be for ever.
Amen

A few sparks of thanks

A bit of THanksgiving Poem by Linda McCarriston

"Any deliberate leap into chaos, small or large,
with an intent to make order, matters. That's what.
A whole day has passed between the first apple
cored for pie, and the last glass polished
and set down. This is a feast we know how to make,
a Day of Feast, a day of thanksgiving
for all we have and all we are and whatever
we've learned to do with it: Dear God, we thank you
for your gifts in this kitchen, the fire,
the food, the wine. That we are together here.
Bless the world that swirls outside these windows—
a room full of gifts seeming raw and disordered,
a great room in which the stoves are cold,
the food scattered, the children locked forever
outside dark windows. Dear God, grant
to the makers and keepers power to save it all."


"Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude." Ralph Emmerson


"I'm grateful for anything that reminds me of what's possible in this life. Books can do that. Films can do that. Music can do that. School can do that. It's so easy to allow one day to simply follow into the next, but every once in a while we encounter something that shows us that anything is possible, that dramatic change is possible, that something new can be made, that laughter can be shared." By Jonathan Foer

Thanksgiving Proclamation by Lincoln in three parts

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God..."


"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged 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 also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign 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. ..."



"And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they 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 the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."

Words of Jesus from the gospel for thanksgiving: "has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks, did I not heal them all, where are the other nine."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pre-thanksgiving

Tomorrow the gathering shall occur. People will get together with family and friends and share time, share a meal, share their lives.

For a brief moment, we will all stop doing and just be with and be for one another. What a novel approach to life.

This is part of the beauty of Thanksgiving. We can just stop for a moment and breathe in life and take in all the personalities that surround us.

So, rather than just dive right in, why not prepare!

Take a few moments today and actually think about what you are grateful for. Make a list and give it time to really soak in, perhaps before you go to sleep tonight let the list of gratitude soak in and marinate as you sleep.


Then perhaps when you wake on Thursday you might be ready and able to receive fully the gift of thanksgiving as it was meant to be received. Maybe when you wake up you will be a little more tender, a little more softer, a little more alive.

Ultimately, the more I live the more I realize we don't give thanks, we actually receive it.

Just something to think about as yo get ready for the day of thanksgiving.

If you are thankful and yo know it, clap you hands.
If you are thankful and you know it clap you hands.
If you are thankful and you know it
then you face will really show it
If you are thankful and you know it clap you hands.

If you are thankful and yo know it stomp your feet
If you are thankful and you know it stomp your feet
If yo are thankful and yo know it
then your face will really show it
If you are thankful and yo know it stomp your feet

If you are thankful and you know it shout AMen
If you are thankful and yo know it shout AMen
If you are thankful and you know it
THen your face will really show it
If yo are thankful and you know it shout AMen

If you are thankful and yo know it do all three
If you are thankful and yo know it do all three
If you are thankful and you know it
then your face will really show it
If yo are thankful and you know it do all three.

Doesn't make you feel better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cecilia, martyr


Hosea 2:16-17,21-22; Ps 45 Listen to me daughter, see and bend you ear; Mt 25:1-13


Victor Frankl, a psychologist and a Holocaust survivor, in his book as he reflects on life in the prison camps during World War II, A man's Search for Meaning, speaks about the will to live. He noticed that when the men that were with him had no reason to live and nothing to hope in they quickly gave up and died, even committing suicide. But those who had hope, those who clung to the hope of being reunited with their families or being rescued, these were the ones who fought to survive.

He sums his experience up with one little line, "when we have a why to live, we can find a how to love."


Listen to the words of the prophet Hosea in today's reading as we celebrate the memorial of the life of St. Cecilia, "Thus says the Lord: I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart. She shall respond as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt. I will espouse you to me forever. I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord."

When we have a why to live, we can find a how to love!

As Jesus tell us in the gospel, "those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him."

When we have a why to live, we can find a how to love!

What is our purpose, what is our meaning. We have all been created and placed on a track to be espoused to God. Union awaits us. Why did God makes us? To love him, to serve in this life and to be with him in the life to come.

When we have a why to live, we can find a how to love!

Is this not what the saints teach us. They choose death because they have a reason to live. The martyr isn't one who dies but rather primarily a martyr is on who finds a "how" to love, who has a deep reason to live. A martyr is always the one who is alive.

St. Cecilia found a way to love. Perhaps this is why God allowed her body to be incorrupt. She was martyred in 230 and her coffin opened in the 16th century and her body was then as it was when she was laid in the cypress box upon her burial.

The incorrupt body of a saint points toward the reality of life and love.

Here is an excerpt written on the life of virtue:

"young parents need to be taught that love -- any love -- means more than sweet sentiments. Real love means the willingness and the ability to endure hardship, difficulty, sacrificial struggle for the sake of someone else's welfare and happiness. Love is sacrifice. A life lived in this way, giving one's whole self to others, is mankind's most noble achievement, and a sure road to real happiness".

St. Cecilia pray for us