Saturday, December 29, 2018

Thoughts on reconciliation

Reconciliation is much more than a one-time event by which a conflict is resolved and peace established. A ministry of reconciliation goes far beyond problem solving, mediation, and peace agreements. There is not a moment in our lives without the need for reconciliation. When we dare to look at the myriad hostile feelings and thoughts in our hearts and minds, we will immediately recognize the many little and big wars in which we take part. Our enemy can be a parent, a child, a "friendly" neighbor, people with different lifestyles, people who do not think as we think, speak as we speak, or act as we act. They all can become "them." Right there is where reconciliation is needed.

Reconciliation touches the most hidden parts of our souls. God gave reconciliation to us as a ministry that never ends.
 
Henri Nouwen
 
 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thoughts on Boxing Day

This is an edited blog post that was originally written in 2008:


Today is the day after Christmas. It is a day when kids play with their Christmas presents and parents sleep in and relax, if they are lucky enough to not have to go to work. It's also a day when lots of people return Christmas presents to the stores and exchange them for something else. For still others it has become a day to shop for super discounted items as stores continue to make deals to get rid of their Christmas supplies and overstocked items. For this reason, it is now being called Black Friday #2. But on my calendar it says Boxing Day (Canada). Boxing Day? What is Boxing Day and why is it on my calendar? It also says Kwanzaa on my calendar today, but that is a topic for another day. I did a little research and found out that Boxing Day is celebrated in Great Britain (England), Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It has it's roots going back to the Middle Ages in England and spread to the previously named countries over time. The name derives from the fact that in the early days, servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but were given the next day off. Their employers would give them gift "boxes" on that day (hence, Boxing Day), to thank them for their services. As time went on, people expanded the tradition to include other service people, like doormen, porters, mail carriers, and the like. I think this is possibly where the tradition of giving someone a tip comes from. Tipping is a good idea for a future blog also. Anyway, for whatever reason Boxing Day has continued on as a holiday in these other Anglo-Saxon countries besides ours. I'm not sure why this tradition did not make it to America (although tipping sure did). So that begs the question. Why is it on my calendar? Is it because all calendars sold in America are also sold in Canada where they celebrate Boxing Day? Or is it because there are plenty of Canadians who now reside in the United States? I'm not sure. Hey wait a minute...some calendars also say St. Stephen. What's that? Now this is really getting confusing. St. Stephen's Day is also an English holiday, and a Catholic Feast Day, marking the day that Saint Stephen was martyred by being stoned to death in Jerusalem in 34 or 35 A.D. This is where we get the line "on the feast of Stephen" from the Christmas carol, Good King Wenceslas. If fact, many websites on this topic suggest that St. Stephen's Day was the name of the holiday before it became known as Boxing Day. So there you have it. A history lesson and my thoughts on Boxing Day.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Thoughts on life

ife is unpredictable. We can be happy one day and sad the next, healthy one day and sick the next, rich one day and poor the next, alive one day and dead the next. So who is there to hold on to? Who is there to feel secure with? Who is there to trust at all times?
Only Jesus, the Christ. He is our Lord, our shepherd, our rock, our stronghold, our refuge, our brother, our guide, and our friend. He came from God to be with us. He died for us, he was raised from the dead to open for us the way to God, and he is seated at God's right hand to welcome us home. With Paul, we must be certain that "neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever, will be able to come between us and the love of God, known to us in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
 
Henri Nouwen
 
 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

4th Sunday of Advent



















The Christ Child is Within Us
I think that we have hardly thought through the immense implications of the mystery of the incarnation. Where is God? God is where we are weak, vulnerable, small and dependent. God is where the poor are, the hungry, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the powerless. How can we come to know God when our focus is elsewhere, on success, influence, and power? I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need.
If the church has a future it is a future with the poor in whatever form. Each one of us is seriously searching to live and grow in this belief, and by friendship we can support each other. I realize that the only way for us to stay well in the midst of the many "worlds" is to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. When we discover him we can truly rejoice.
 
Henri Nouwen
 
 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Thoughts on the fullness of time

Some people say: "I never had an experience of the fullness of time. ... I am just an ordinary person, not a mystic." Although some people have unique experiences of God's presence and, therefore have unique missions to announce God's presence to the world, all of us - whether learned or uneducated, rich or poor, visible or hidden - can receive the grace of seeing God in the fullness of time. This mystical experience, is not reserved for a few exceptional people. God wants to offer that gift in one way or another to all God's children.

But we must desire it. We must be attentive and interiorly alert. For some people the experience of the fullness of time comes in a spectacular way, as it did to St. Paul when he fell to the ground on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:3-4). But for some of us it comes like a murmuring sound or a gentle breeze touching our backs (1 Kings 19:13). God loves us all and wants us all to know this in a most personal way.
 
Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Thoughts on "Looking Up"


“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? . . . O LORD, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-4, 9 NLT). 

We’ve all heard the phrase “Things are looking up!”
But what does it mean?
It means the situation is improving. Your problems are decreasing, and your opportunities are increasing.
This Christmas I want you to remember an important truth: Things will start to look up for you when you start looking up.
In other words, your circumstances will improve when you stop looking at them and start looking at God.
Over and over in the Bible, we see this phrase: “Lift up your eyes.” It’s another way to say, “Look up. Get your eyes off yourself and onto God.”
God said it to Moses. He said it Abraham. Jesus said it to his followers.
There’s an old rhyme that says, “Two men looked out from prison bars. One saw mud, the other saw stars.” In other words, one inmate looked down in despair, but the other one looked up in hope.
You have that same choice, and I hope that you choose to see the stars. God created every one of them. And those stars are the exact same ones that were shining on the night of Jesus’ birth 2,000 years ago—and King David saw the same stars 1,000 years before that, when he wrote these words:

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? . . . O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!” (Psalm 8:3-4, 9 NLT).

Rick Warren


Monday, December 17, 2018

Thoughts on patience


Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. —James 5:7–8 

Patience can be in short supply at this time of year, when everyone is too busy. Technology has speeded up our lives to the point that we notice when our internet connection is sluggish or the person in front of us in the grocery checkout has too many coupons. We don’t even know why we’re in such a hurry. We’ve begun to value speed for its own sake. And yet the things that really matter in life still take time and patience.
We can’t speed up the growth of plants or animals or babies. We can’t speed up the time time it takes for healing, whether it’s our bodies or our spirits. And all of these things are well worth the wait. Instead of hurrying, we need to find ways to nurture ourselves and one another during the waiting time. The refrain of Advent is “The Lord is near.” Sometimes it’s hard to believe this. We don’t get the answers we want when we pray, or at least we don’t get them immediately. This season can help us wrestle with the waiting time. While we wait for the perfection of the world in the second coming of Christ, we have the mystery of the Incarnation to guide us in making our world a little more ready. We can appreciate the small signs along the way to that perfect time and place.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH
People of earlier generations were far more aware of the slow growth of nature. We can learn a valuable lesson in patience from observing the small signs of growth. Take a walk today and notice not the bare branches of the trees but the terminal buds that signal next spring’s leaves. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. (Isaiah 61:11)

A SIMPLE GIFT
Take time to notice. A friend mentioned a species of lily that has no leaves. I mentioned that it was unfamiliar to me. Until I was pulling into my driveway later that day and saw a bed of the very same lilies in my neighbor’s garden. A couple days later, I saw the same flowers in two other yards on my street. All it takes is a little attention.

Diane Houdek

Sunday, December 16, 2018

3rd Sunday of Advent



















The Peace That is Not of This World
Keep your eyes on the prince of peace, the one who doesn't cling to his divine power; the one who refuses to turn stones into bread, jump from great heights and rule with great power; the one who says, "Blessed are the poor, the gentle, those who mourn, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; blessed are the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted in the cause of uprightness" (see Matt. 5:3-11); the one who touches the lame, the crippled, and the blind; the one who speaks words of forgiveness and encouragement; the one who dies alone, rejected and despised. Keep your eyes on him who becomes poor with the poor, weak with the weak, and who is rejected with the rejected. He is the source of all peace.
 
Where is this peace to be found? The answer is clear. In weakness. First of all, in our own weakness, in those places of our hearts where we feel most broken, most insecure, most in agony, most afraid. Why there? Because there, our familiar ways of controlling our world are being stripped away; there we are called to let go from doing much, thinking much, and relying on our self-sufficiency. Right there where we are weakest the peace which is not of this world is hidden.
 
In Adam's name I say to you, "Claim that peace that remains unknown to so many and make it your own. Because with that peace in your heart you will have new eyes to see and new ears to hear and gradually recognize that same peace in places you would have least expected."

Henri Nouwen
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Thoughts on treasure

As we begin to look toward Christmas, it’s easy to think of treasure in terms of things: presents we can give and unwrap, shopping deals we can get, stuff to send somewhere. It’s easy to forget the treasures we already have. Here are three ways to keep them in mind:
  1. If you’re spending Christmas with your family—or with close friends—then that’s your greatest treasure. The one thing most studies on happiness agree on is that relationships are the surest way to happiness. Is there anyone you need to reach out to, someone you’ve lost touch with? Make this the season you do it!
  2. If you have work that you love—whether it’s a career, parenting, caring for others, etc.—that’s treasure, too. We are happiest when engaged in activities that make us forget ourselves and lose track of time. If you don’t love what you do, this is a good time to step back and think about changes.
  3. Those who cannot forgive become angry and depressed over time, and suffer poorer health due to the physical reactions to these negative emotions. Forgiveness is a tremendous treasure! This season, let go of these toxic feelings, and increase your happiness.
As Catholics, it’s important we keep Jesus’ birth at the center of our Advent and Christmas pilgrimage. These are three ways to recognize what God is doing in your life today.

 
It takes just a moment to rekindle the joy of the Advent season.
You are in our prayers, Daughters of St Paul
 
 
© Daughters of St. Paul. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Thoughts on Advent

Advent is a great liturgical season of waiting—but not a passive waiting. We yearn, we search, and we reach out for the God who will come to us in human flesh. In short, we prepare the way of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This preparation has a penitential dimension, because it is the season in which we prepare for the coming of a savior, and we don’t need a savior unless we’re deeply convinced there is something to be saved from. When we have become deeply aware of our sin, we know that we can cling to nothing in ourselves, that everything we offer is, to some degree, tainted and impure. We can’t show our cultural, professional, and personal accomplishments to God as though they are enough to save us. But the moment we realize that fact, we move into the Advent spirit, desperately craving a savior.

In the book of Isaiah, we read: "Yet, O Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you are the potter: we are all the work of your hands." Today, let us prepare ourselves for the potter to come. 


Bishop Robert Barron
 

2nd Sunday of Advent



















As we begin the second week of Advent this year, we hear the call of John the Baptist to turn our lives around, to let go of those things that keep us too far away from God’s presence. He preached a fierce and compelling message to people who had lost their way. But he also brought the message home to them in ways that spoke to the uniqueness of their way of life.
And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax-collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”
We have a tendency to live “all-or-nothing” lives, especially when we’re trying to make changes and become better people. We swing from one extreme to the other and forget that temperance, too, is a virtue.

Diane Houdek

Friday, December 7, 2018

Thoughts on faith

To have faith is—to use the current jargon—to live outside the box, risking, venturing, believing the impossible. When we remain in the narrow confines of our perceptions, our thoughts, or our hopes, we live in a very cramped way. We become closed off to the possibility that sometimes, the power of faith is manifested in spectacular and immediately obvious ways. When someone consciously and confidently opens himself to God, acting as a kind of conduit, the divine energy can flow.

Faith allows someone to live in detachment from all of the ups and downs of life. In the language of St. Ignatius of Loyola: "Lord, I don’t care whether I have a long life or a short life, whether I am rich or poor, whether I am healthy or sick." Someone that lives in that kind of detachment is free, and because they are free, they are powerful. They are beyond the threats that arise in the context of this world. This is the source of dynamis, of real power.


Bishop Robert Barron

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Thoughts on death

There is no “after” after death. Words like after and before belong to our mortal life, our life in time and space. Death frees us from the boundaries of chronology and brings us into God’s “time,” which is timeless. Speculations about the afterlife, therefore, are little more than just that: speculations. Beyond death there is no “first” and “later,” no “here” and “there,” no “past,” “present,” or “future.” God is all in all. The end of time, the resurrection of the body, and the glorious coming again of Jesus are no longer separated by time for those who are no longer in time.
For us who still live in time, it is important not to act as if the new life in Christ is something we can comprehend or explain. God’s heart and mind are greater than ours. All that is asked of us is trust.

Henri Nouwen

Sunday, December 2, 2018

1st Sunday of Advent



















Today marks the beginning of Advent, the great liturgical season of vigilance, of waiting and watching.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thoughts on security and peace

We should not trust in any of the powers of the world to give us security and peace. Such peace will come only with the arrival of God’s kingdom.

One of the most enduring convictions of human beings—you can see it up and down the centuries and across the cultures—is that we can make things right if only we find the correct political, economic, or cultural configuration. But you should never put your ultimate faith in any of the kingdoms, social arrangements, or political programs of the world. They are all, in one way or another, attractive, and they are all destined to fall. They all lead to tribulations.

What you should look to is the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. Now, is this meant in an ultimate sense? Yes, the second coming signals the end of the world as we know it. But the Son of Man is coming on the clouds of heaven even now in the life of the Church. Think of the clouds of incense that accompany the manifestations of Christ in the high liturgy. Even now the true king, the successor of David, is in our midst. 


Bishop Robert Barron

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Thursday, November 22, 2018

More thoughts on Thanksgiving

Gratitude is a choice we make. It’s a command to obey, for the Bible tells us: “Be thankful.” Remembering and reflecting on God’s goodness is one of the blessings of thanksgiving. Take a moment and think about a situation that’s causing you distress. Somewhere among the feelings of hurt, fear, anger, or anxiety—somewhere—there are some things for which to be thankful. What are they? List them, thank God for them, and let the peace of God rule in your heart.

David Jeremiah

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Spirit of the Harvest
By Gary Kowalski

Each of us will be grateful this Thanksgiving in differing ways,
Gathered in our separate families,
Each with our own distinct recipes, customs and traditions;
For some will have pies of mince,
And others of pumpkin or apple;
And some will dine early
And some sit down late to the meal,
Passing on the wisdom of the elders.
As to the question of whether the stuffing
Should have raisins or currants,
And whether to add sage to the gravy.

For such differences of opinion,
Make us truly appreciative,
Realizing that as there is no one right way
To celebrate the gifts of life,
So there is no wrong way
To share in love or friendship.

But amid our diversity,
Let us also be united
In our gratitude
For a world in which there are many faiths,
A nation in which there is freedom of worship,
A community in which people of many backgrounds
Can gather in mutual care and respect.

Amen.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thoughts on saints

Belonging to the communion of saints means being connected with all people transformed by the Spirit of Jesus. This connection is deep and intimate. Those who have lived as brothers and sisters of Jesus continue to live within us, even though they have died, just as Jesus continues to live within us, even though he has died.

We live our lives in memory of Jesus and the saints, and this memory is a real presence. Jesus and his saints are part of our most intimate and spiritual knowledge of God. They inspire us, guide us, encourage us, and give us hope. They are the source of our constant transformation. Yes, we carry them in our bodies and thus keep them alive for all with whom we live and work.
 
Henri Nouwen

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Thoughts on Veteran's Day

This is an edited rerun of a blog post first written in 2008:

Today is Veteran's Day, a national holiday that has been observed since 1954 (before that it was called Armistice Day). It is a day set aside to honor the country's living veterans who served in wartime or peacetime. Some people confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, which also honors veterans, but is actually to honor those that have died serving our country. Still others confuse both holidays as a day to have a sale! Usually it's the furniture stores, car dealerships, and most any other retail store that chooses to do so. Why? What does honoring a veteran of war have to do with getting 50% off a new couch or end table? If they really wanted to honor veterans, they would close their store like most banks do, and go to a parade or museum with their family. Better yet, call a veteran or go by a local VFW hall, and thank him (or her) in person! I have uncles and cousins who served our country in the military. My nephew is a paralegal in the Army and is also serving with the Army Rangers. The closest I got to serving was when I was in the Air Force ROTC while in college. I had a pilot slot but dropped out after I failed my vision exam before my junior year. Nevertheless, I honor the many living veterans today who served our country with honor, to give us the freedom that we enjoy today! Thank you for your service to our Nation. May God bless you all the rest of your days!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Thoughts on prudence

In the Middle Ages, prudence was called "the queen of the virtues" because it was the virtue that enabled one to do the right thing in a particular situation. Prudence is a feel for the moral situation, something like the feel a quarterback has for the playing field, or a politician for the voters in his district.

Courage, justice, and temperance are wonderful virtues, but without prudence they are blind and, finally, useless. For a person can be as courageous as possible, but if he doesn’t know when, where, and how to play out his courage, that virtue is useless.

Bishop Robert Barron

Friday, November 9, 2018

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Thoughts on the Good News

The Church is called to announce the Good News of Jesus to all people and all nations. Besides the many works of mercy by which the Church must make Jesus' love visible, it must also joyfully announce the great mystery of God's salvation through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The story of Jesus is to be proclaimed and celebrated. Some will hear and rejoice, some will remain indifferent, some will become hostile. The story of Jesus will not always be accepted, but it must be told.

We who know the story and try to live it out, have the joyful task of telling it to others. When our words rise from hearts full of love and gratitude, they will bear fruit, whether we can see this or not.
 
Henri Nouwen
 
 

Monday, November 5, 2018

Even more thoughts on the poor

Luke 14:12-14

Jesus gives us this extraordinary command to consider the weakest and most vulnerable in our society: "When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind." This is one of his central concerns throughout the Gospels. Aliens, strangers, foreigners, widows, orphans, the poor—if these weak people are ignored, God will become angry.

God’s passion not only runs right through the biblical tradition, but it comes roaring up into the social teaching of the Catholic Church: "If you have two coats in your closet, one belongs to you; the other belongs to the man who has no coat."

Let us not forget the poor and marginalized today.


Bishop Robert Barron

 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Friday, November 2, 2018

More thoughts on the poor

The poor are the center of the Church. But who are the poor? At first we might think of people who are not like us: people who live in slums, people who go to soup kitchens, people who sleep on the streets, people in prisons, mental hospitals, and nursing homes. But the poor can be very close. They can be in our own families, churches or workplaces. Even closer, the poor can be ourselves, who feel unloved, rejected, ignored, or abused.

It is precisely when we see and experience poverty - whether far away, close by, or in our own hearts - that we need to become the Church; that is, hold hands as brothers and sisters, confess our own brokenness and need, forgive one another, heal one another's wounds, and gather around the table of Jesus for the breaking of the bread. Thus, as the poor we recognise Jesus, who became poor for us.
 
Henri Nouwen 


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Thoughts on the poor

Like every human organization the Church is constantly in danger of corruption. As soon as power and wealth come to the Church, manipulation, exploitation, misuse of influence, and outright corruption are not far away.

How do we prevent corruption in the Church? The answer is clear: by focusing on the poor. The poor make the Church faithful to its vocation. When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness. Paul says, "God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it, and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25). This is the true vision. The poor are given to the Church so that the Church as the body of Christ can be and remain a place of mutual concern, love, and peace.
 
Henri Nouwen 


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Thoughts on wisdom

In the Middle Ages, prudence was called “the queen of the virtues,” because it was the virtue that enabled one to do the right thing in a particular situation.

Prudence is a feel for the moral situation, something like the feel that a quarterback has for the playing field. Justice is a wonderful virtue, but without prudence, it is blind and finally useless. One can be as just as possible, but without a feel for the present situation, his justice will do him no good.

Wisdom, unlike prudence, is a sense of the big picture. It is the view from the hilltop. Most of us look at our lives from the standpoint of our own self-interest. But wisdom is the capacity to survey reality from the vantage point of God. Without wisdom, even the most prudent judgment will be erroneous, short-sighted, inadequate.

The combination, therefore, of prudence and wisdom is especially powerful. Someone who is both wise and prudent will have both a sense of the bigger picture and a feel for the particular situation. 


Bishop Robert Barron
 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Even more thoughts on the Church

Often we hear the remark that we have to live in the world without being of the world. But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church. Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical "ins and outs" that we are no longer focused on Jesus. The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to what we came to hear. Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love.

Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.
 
Henri Nouwen
 
 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Even more thoughts on the Eucharist


 Watch this video from The Word on Fire Institute:

Grounded on the Eucharist 




 
https://wordonfire.institute/principles#section--11467-189-153-145Th
The Word on Fire Movement is centered upon one pivot point: the eternal person of Jesus Christ.

But how can we ensure we stay faithful to this first principle in our daily lives?
e Word on Fire Movement is centered upon one pivot point: the eternal person of Jesus Christ.

But how can we ensure we stay faithful to this first principle in our daily lives?

Thursday, October 18, 2018

More thoughts on the Church

The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles' Creed we pray: "I believe in God, the Father ... in Jesus Christ, his only Son - in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." We must believe in the Church! The Apostles' Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.
 
Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.
 
Henri Nouwen
 
 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Thoughts on the Church

The Church is holy and sinful, spotless and tainted. The Church is the bride of Christ, who washed her in cleansing water and took her to himself "with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless" (Ephesians 5:26-27). The Church too is a group of sinful, confused, anguished people constantly tempted by the powers of lust and greed and always entangled in rivalry and competition.
 
When we say that the Church is a body, we refer not only to the holy and faultless body made Christ-like through baptism and Eucharist but also to the broken bodies of all the people who are its members. Only when we keep both these ways of thinking and speaking together can we live in the Church as true followers of Jesus.
 
Henri Nouwen 


Friday, October 12, 2018

Thoughts on Spritual Exercises

Jesuit Poet Gerard Manley Hopkins summed up the Spiritual Exercises in one of his simplest verses: "Thee, God, I come from, to thee go." 

Like that man asking Jesus in Sunday's gospel, "What must we do to inherit eternal life?" this simple verse from Hopkins resonates with our own experiences of the Spiritual Exercises from the First Principle and Foundation to the Contemplation on the Love of God. To inherit eternal life we are called to acknowledge our roots and destiny in God, relativizing everything else. Will we too go away sad, like that man burdened by possessions, possessions we can't take with us? Or will we get our priorities straight?This takes exercise, spiritual exercises such as what we experience at White House, exercises in preferring Wisdom, choosing Wisdom and letting all good things come together in her company, finding God in all things. In the Spiritual Exercises we encounter the living word of God, providing the basis for discerning our own answer to the gospel's opening question. Through the Exercises, preferring Wisdom, choosing Wisdom, all good things can come together in our company, leading us not to go away sad like that rich young man, but entering the mission field to do the works of consolation, finding God in all things. 

Thee, God, we come from, to thee Go. Give us the wisdom to choose wisely however you call us to inherit eternal life. 
Fr. Ted Arroyo,S.J.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Thoughts on a sanctuary

On sanctuary
By Terry Hershey

Everyone has a sanctuary, if only in the mind. Even if we can't say what it is, we know of its power. It is a place where we feel grounded, unhurried, and renewed. We go there whenever we can, which never seems often enough. Or that's what we tell ourselves.

A sanctuary is a place that restores us, replenishes us, nourishes us. In this renewal, we are reminded, once again, of what really is important.

From Terry Hershey, Sanctuary: Creating a Space for Grace in Your Life (Loyola Press, 2015)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

More thoughts on the Rosary

The development of the rosary has a long history. First a practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Marys. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary. Though Mary’s giving of the rosary to Saint Dominic is recognized as a legend, the development of this prayer form owes much to the followers of Saint Dominic. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as “the apostle of the rosary.” He founded the first Confraternity of the Rosary in the 15th century. In the 16th century, the rosary was developed to its present form—with the 15 mysteries: joyful, sorrowful and glorious. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added five Mysteries of Light to this devotion.

The purpose of the rosary is to help us meditate on the great mysteries of our salvation. Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus—his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The Our Fathers remind us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Marys remind us to join with Mary in contemplating these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly and heavenly existence. The Glory Bes remind us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Trinity.
The rosary appeals to many. It is simple. The constant repetition of words helps create an atmosphere in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life. We grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary forever.

Franciscan Media

 Who We Are

Thursday, October 4, 2018

More thoughts on the Eucharist

Jesus is the Word of God, who came down from heaven, was born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, and became a human person. This happened in a specific place at a specific time. But each day when we celebrate the Eucharist, Jesus comes down from heaven, takes bread and wine, and by the power of the Holy Spirit becomes our food and drink. Indeed, through the Eucharist, God's incarnation continues to happen at any time and at any place.
 
Sometimes we might think: "I wish I had been there with Jesus and his apostles long ago!" But Jesus is closer to us now than he was to his own friends. Today he is our daily bread!
 
Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Thoughts on detachment

Luke 9:57-62

Friends, our Gospel for today is an especially good exemplification of the principle of detachment. When Jesus is the unambiguous center of your life, then everything else finds its place around him, in relation to him. And anything that would assert itself and take his position must be resisted wholeheartedly as an idol and a temptation.

We watch as Jesus clarifies for his disciples how a number of worldly goods fall away, once he is recognized as Lord. I want to look closely at one of these. As Jesus makes his way to Jerusalem, a man approaches him and says, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus makes the laconic remark, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." One of the things, quite naturally, that we savor is home, a place to stay, a nest, a man cave. There is just something uniquely awful about being displaced, about starting all over. We all want a place to lay our heads.

But if Jesus is first in our lives, then we cannot absolutize this good thing. We have to be willing to follow him wherever he wants us to go. 


Bishop Robert Barron

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Thoughts on guardian angels

The Story of the Feast of the Guardian Angels

Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not only for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer, and to present their souls to God at death.
The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”
Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. Saint Benedict gave it impetus and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th-century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day.
A feast in honor of the guardian angels was first observed in the 16th century. In 1615, Pope Paul V added it to the Roman calendar.

Franciscan Media


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Sunday, September 30, 2018

Thoughts on the Eucharist

Baptism opens the door to the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the sacrament through which Jesus enters into an intimate, permanent communion with us. It is the sacrament of the table. It is the sacrament of food and drink. It is the sacrament of daily nurture. While baptism is a once-in-a-lifetime event, the Eucharist can be a monthly, weekly, or even daily occurrence. Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a constant memory of his life and death. Not a memory that simply makes us think of him but a memory that makes us members of his body. That is why Jesus on the evening before he died took bread saying, "This is my Body," and took the cup saying, "This is my Blood." By eating the Body and drinking the Blood of Christ, we become one with him.

Henri Nouwen
 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Thoughts on baptism

Baptism is more than a way to spiritual freedom. It also is the way to community. Baptising a person, whether child or adult, is receiving that person into the community of faith. Those who are reborn from above through baptism, and are called to live the life of sons and daughters of God, belong together as members of one spiritual family, the living body of Christ. When we baptise people, we welcome them into this family of God and offer them guidance, support, and formation, as they grow to the full maturity of the Christ-like life. 

Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

Thoughts on meditation

When Jesus says: "Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away" (Luke 21:33), he shows us a direct way to eternal life. The words of Jesus have the power to transform our hearts and minds and lead us into the Kingdom of God. "The words I have spoken to you," Jesus says, "are spirit and they are life" (John 6:63).
 
Through meditation we can let the words of Jesus descend from our minds into our hearts and create there a dwelling place for the Spirit. Whatever we do and wherever we go, let us stay close to the words of Jesus. They are words of eternal life.
 
Henry Nouwen

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Thoughts on preparedness

Everything that comes from God asks for an open and faithful heart. We cannot live with hope and joy in the end-time unless we are living in a state of preparedness. We have to be careful because, as the Apostle Peter says: "Your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5.8). Therefore Jesus says: "Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened by debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life. ... Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to hold your ground before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34-36). That's what living in the Spirit of Jesus calls us to. 

Henri Nouwen

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thoughts on listening

Listening is unselfish. That’s why there always seem to be more people waiting to talk than those who are waiting to listen. We are all more selfish than not; we want people to care about what we have to say. But if we learn to think about listening as something sacred, we might be able to change that.
It starts with putting a significant value on what people have to say. Their words eventually provide a pathway to the soul, so we want to know about that path and be careful on it.
It is also true that listening is not passive. Listening involves being engaged, locked-in, locked-on, alert and awake to what is being said, and able to rephrase it to be sure you heard it right. Believe me, I’m speaking of what I know, but don’t do most of the time. If I ask someone to rephrase something, it’s not to clarify; it’s because I didn’t listen the first time. It takes a good deal of effort to do this right, but it will make a world of difference if you do. Listening is not easy.
John Fischer

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A prayer for peace

A Cry for Peace
By Henri Nouwen

Out of the depths;
Not from the top of our lungs;
Not out of the need just to do something;
Not out of pure frustration, anger, desire for revenge;
Not out of the superficiality of our restlessness.
Out of the very depths of our being we cry to God for peace.
Out of that fearful place where we have to confess that we too are part of the destruction against which we are protesting.
Out of that center where we discover that we too are so high up in the air that we have become numb and no longer see, feel and hear the agony of thousands who are struck by the seeds of destruction…
Out of that empty spot of silence,where we feel helpless, embarrassed, and powerless, where we suffer from our own impotence to stop the reign of death in our world.
Out of those depths we cry to the Lord and say:
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.