Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mysticism

If ever there was a time for mysticism, Advent is it. This is a time of waiting for something that many people believe to be nonsense. A time of waiting for ancient prophecies to be fulfilled and for humanity to be saved.

Frederick Buechner has written in numerous works about mysticism within Christianity, affirming that “we are all more mystics than we think.” He writes,

In the silence of a midwinter dusk, there is a sound so faint that for all you can tell it may be only the sound of the silence itself. You hold your breath to listen. You are aware of the beating of your heart. The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment
(Buechner, Frederick, Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith. Harper Collins, 2004).

That moment, that breathless, heart-stopping moment, is the world of the mystics. While some mystics claim they never again felt distant from God after realizing mystical union, others acknowledge that they have found themselves passing through periods of greater or lesser awareness of that union, and sometimes painfully so. One of the most frustrating things about this pattern is that there is nothing that can be done about it. No amount of prayer or other spiritual disciplines provides a magical formula that restores the greatest awareness of God’s presence.

So how can we be mindful in the midst of Advent’s many activities? How can we practice a daily awareness of God’s presence and love in our lives?

Advent gives us the answer. Advent holds the key. We do it by waiting. We do it by simply keeping watch. We make ourselves ready with the prayer of stillness and silence. We tend our house by loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves, remembering that God is love. We try not to deny our feelings when God seems distant, and we avoid masking them with the vanity and arrogance of false spiritual powers. We may suffer, but we do so with faith, hope, and generosity of spirit.

And those are the lessons, and the gifts, of Advent.


Jeannette de Beauvoir

2nd week of Advent - Love


Sunday, December 3, 2017

1st Sunday of Advent

Mark 13:33-37

Friends, today’s Gospel urges us to stay alert as we await the coming of the Lord. Advent is the season of waiting. We place ourselves in the position of those who, over the centuries, waited for the coming of the Messiah. With them, we cry out, "How long, O Lord?"

Though Jesus fulfilled the expectations of his people, nevertheless we still wait. The liturgy states it very clearly: "as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ." In one of the Eucharistic prayers, we find, "as we await his coming in glory…" The Creed says, "He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead." And the very last words of the New Testament are "Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus."

What do we make of all of this? Do we really think that he is going to come again and walk on the earth? We stay awake in our waiting if we pray on a regular basis; if we educate ourselves in the faith; if we participate in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist; if we perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; if we become people of love.
 
Bishop Robert Barron

1st week of Advent - Hope


Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving history

In 1789, George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving to acknowledge “the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” Washington set the day aside for Americans to give thanks for their newly established government, but most of all, to render unto God “sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection.” In his thanksgiving declaration, Washington rightfully acknowledged God as “the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th president, said similar things in proclaiming Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. It came at a time when brother fought brother in the Civil War. In many ways, Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation reads like a prayer.  Recounting the benefits of a major victory the Union received, Lincoln recognized God alone as the object of a nation’s gratitude. He wrote the victories “were the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” And so Lincoln decided to invite all Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of each November — a day set aside to offer “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

It is popular opinion to regard the celebration of Thanksgiving as tracing its roots back to the pioneering Puritan pilgrims of Plymouth Rock who gathered to give thanks for a good harvest in their new North American home. The celebration has religious connotations because these pilgrims sought political asylum to practice their freedom of religion. This “first” Thanksgiving floats about in the minds of many Americans each year as they gather around the table for their turkey.

But that was 1621. Since history is told by the winners, the English myth prevailed despite a detailed account of a thanksgiving feast celebrated over half a century earlier. The Thanksgiving of 1565 was celebrated in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. Of course, the Spanish colonizers who hosted it were Catholic, and they gave thanks to God, as Catholics do, for their safe passage and arrival in the New World. Not only did they celebrate with a meal of gratitude that day, but they also celebrated what is regarded as the first Mass in America.

Michael R. Heinlein

Friday, November 17, 2017

What is humility?

True humility consists not in wallowing in unworthiness, but in recognizing our gifts and talents, whatever they are, and trying to use them to the best of our abilities. St. Ignatius Loyola reminds us that everything - all of life - is gift. God made us exactly as we are, and "God don't make no junk!" as my high school youth minister liked to joke. God created each of us in his "image and likeness," and that means each of us possesses infinite worth. It also means we each have been endowed with unique, God-given gifts to share with the world - gifts that God really NEEDS us to share with the world. In other words, our talents aren't ours. We didn't create them so we can't cling on to them as if they're our possession.
 
True humility, then, means "shooting for the moon," using the gifts we've been given as best we can, remembering that they come God and are meant to be given back to him in loving service.
 
-Fr. Jeremy Zipple, S.J.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

Honoring Our Bravest

On this Veterans Day, we remember those who serve and have served faithfully in all branches of the service. May God bless them all, all year long.

A Prayer for Deployed Soldiers

Heavenly Father,
inspire those who are overseas for the cause of peace.Send your Son, Jesus Christ, as the Prince of Peace.
Bless the men and women of our military
who respond to the needs of peacekeeping.
Keep them safe from harm.
Let them be models of discipline and courage,
and bring them home safely to their loved ones.
We ask this in your name.
Amen.