Saturday, December 31, 2016

In Memoriam

As the end of the year approaches, it is common for people to reflect on those that have passed away or who have died during the year.  No matter if their deaths were due to accident or tragedy, cancer or long illness, or if they simply died of old age or "normal causes", their lives are remembered briefly with the help of a few pictures or video clips and an appropriate soundtrack in the background.  These memorial videos are typically put out by the major news media outlets and are shared by many as we fondly look through the list of well known movie stars, actors, actresses, musicians, athletes, politicians, and other celebrities of note.  Many times, one might be surprised to see a name on the list that they didn't realize has passed away that year, or perhaps had simply forgotten about already.

While it is important to remember the lives of the "important" people, those who changed the world in some way through their artistic, literary, or athletic accomplishments, one must not forget about all the other people that have died in the past year.  The common folk.  Regular people.  Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, husbands and wives of all the rest of us.  Their lives were important too.  Even though they were not well known or a celebrity, they were an important part of the lives of the families they left behind.  The memoriam of these people will not be shown on TV or shared on social media, their memoriam will take place every time a friend or family member gets together for a family gathering or social event during the holidays or at birthday parties or weddings in the future.  Stories will be shared and jokes will be told of the dear loved ones that we remember from the past, however recent or distant in our memories.  People that mattered to us because they shaped our lives in some way and changed us.  We are who we are today, partly because of them.  We still miss them and remember them and thank them for touching our lives.  The world is a better place because of them too!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The meaning of Christmas

St. John's Meaning of Christmas

Alleluia! Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Incarnate son
of God.  We hear at Mass one of the most magnificent passages in the Scriptures, indeed one of the gems of the Western literary tradition: the prologue to the Gospel of John. In many ways, the essential meaning of Christmas is contained in these elegantly crafted lines.

John commences: “In the beginning was the Word…” No first century 
Jew would have missed the significance of that opening phrase, for the first word of the Hebrew Scriptures, bereshit, means precisely “beginning.”  The evangelist is signaling that the story he will unfold is the tale of a new creation, a new beginning. The Word, he tells us, was not only with God from the beginning, but indeed was God.

The entire prologue comes then builds to its climax with the magnificent phrase, “the Word was made flesh and lived among us.” The gnostic temptation has tugged at the Church, on and off, for nearly the past two thousand years. This is the suggestion, common to all forms of puritanism, that the spiritual is attained through a negation of the material. But authentic Christianity, inspired by this stunning claim of St. John, has consistently held off gnosticism, for it knows that the Word of God took to himself a human nature and thereby elevated all of matter and made it a sacrament of the divine presence.

The Greek phrase behind “lived among us” is literally translated as “tabernacled among us” or “pitched his tent among us.” No Jew of John’s time would have missed the wonderful connection implied between Jesus and the temple. According to the book of Exodus, the Ark of the Covenant—the embodiment of Yahweh’s presence—was originally housed in a tent or tabernacle. The evangelist is telling us that now, in the flesh of Jesus, Yahweh has established his definitive tabernacle among us.

All of this sublime theology is John the Evangelist’s great Christmas sermon. I would invite you to return to it often this Christmas season in prayer and meditation.

Bishop Robert Barron

The Light of the World

Thursday, December 22, 2016


By far, the most important Advent figure is Mary of Nazareth, the Mother of God, for Mary sums up in her person the whole of the people Israel, the nation whose whole purpose was to prepare for the coming of the Lord. In the face of the evil, injustice, stupidity, and sin that were marring his beautiful creation, God resolved to choose a people and to form them according to his heart so that they could be the vehicle of his presence to the world. From this people would come, as a sort of flowering, the Messiah.

Thus, Mary recapitulates the story of Israel, the story of redemption. We can, as it were, read the whole Old Testament in her. As the true Israel, she knows what to do and she does it with enthusiasm. No dawdling, back-pedaling, straying or complaining: she moves, she goes. And she goes upon the heights, which is exactly where God had always summoned Israel, so that it could be a light to the nations.

Bishop Robert Barron

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Beauty of Silence

In silence we hear so much that is beautiful. The other day I saw a young mother who said, "The happiest hour of the day is that early morning hour when I lie and listen to the baby practicing sounds and words. She has such a gentle little voice."

St. James says, "If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man." And how much more women need this gift of silence. It is something to be prayed for. Our Lady certainly had it. How little of her there is in the Gospel, and yet all generations have called her blessed.

"Behold, how small a fire, how great a forest it kindles. And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity. The tongue is placed among our members, defiling the whole body, and setting on fire the course of our life, being itself set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird and serpent and the rest is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But the tongue no man can tame--it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With it we bless God the Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the image and likeness of God." (James 3:5-9)

To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is lovable. To think only on these things. To see the best in everyone, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them.

Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage (Eerdman's)

Fourth Week of Advent

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent Reflection

The Bible frequently employs the desert as the setting for the discovery of bold and simple truths. Advent is, for us, a desert time. It brings us back to the basics. Now what does John say in the desert? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That wonderful word, “repent,” implies a change of mind and vision. John is telling his audience (and us) to wake up and be ready to see something. What does he want us to see? The Kingdom, the new order, God’s way of doing things. There is a cleaning and a scouring, a rearranging and a renovation that is going to happen. And we have to be ready for it.
Bishop Robert Barron

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gaudete Sunday

The third Sunday of Advent is referred to as “Gaudete” Sunday. In Latin, Gaudete is a positive command that means, “Rejoice!" We Christians are a joyful people. In fact, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians, “Rejoice always!" 
Bishop Robert Barron

Third Week of Advent

Saturday, December 10, 2016

An Advent Reflection

If there is no cross in the manger,
there is no Christmas.
If the Babe doesn't become an Adult,
there is no Bethlehem star.
If there is no commitment in us,
there are no Wise Men searching.
If we offer no cup of water,
there is no gold, no frankincense, no myrrh.
If there is no praising God's name,
there are no angels singing.
If there is no spirit of alleluia,
there are no shepherds watching.
If there is no standing up, no speaking out, no risk,
there is no Herod, no flight into Egypt.
If there is no room in our inn,
then "Merry Christmas" mocks the Christ Child.
and the Holy Family is just a holiday card,
and God will loathe our feats and festivals.

Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem (Westminster John Knox Press)

Second Week of Advent

Getting caught up on Advent

Like a lot of things, I realized that I was behind on my preparations for Christmas.  For Catholics and many other Christians, this is the season of Advent.  It is the time that we prepare for Christmas. One way is to light Advent candles and reflect on the coming of the Messiah by yourself or with your family.  Here is another way to think about Advent:

Advent is a time to wonder and to anticipate again and to remember the magic that is in Christmas.  Christine Simpson

First Week of Advent