Saturday, March 31, 2018

Thoughts on Holy Saturday

The following is an ancient homily written by an anonymous source, but one which sums up what today means for Christians around the world as we approach Easter:

What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out our first parent like a lost sheep; he wishes to visit those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. He goes to free the prisoner Adam and his fellow-prisoner Eve from their pains, he who is God, and Adam's son.

The Lord goes into them holding his victorious weapon, his cross. When Adam, the first created man, sees him, he strikes his breast in terror and calls out to all: "My Lord be with you all." And Christ in reply says to Adam: "And with your spirit." And grasping his hand he raises him up, saying:

"Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

I am your God, who for your sake became your son, who for you and your descendants now speak and command with authority those in prison: Come forth, and those in darkness: Have light, and those who sleep: Rise.

I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

For you, I your God became your son; for you, I the Master took on your form; that of slave; for you, I who am above the heavens came on earth and under the earth; for you, man, I became as a man without help, free among the dead; for you, who left a garden, I was handed over to Jews from a garden and crucified in a garden.

Look at the spittle on my face, which I received because of you, in order to restore you to that first divine inbreathing at creation. See the blows on my cheeks, which I accepted in order to refashion your distorted form to my own image.

See the scourging of my back, which I accepted in order to disperse the load of your sins which was laid upon your back. See my hands nailed to the tree for a good purpose, for you, who stretched out your hand to the tree for an evil one.

I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side, for you, who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side healed the pain of your side; my sleep will release you from your sleep in Hades; my sword has checked the sword which was turned against you.

But arise, let us go hence. The enemy brought you out of the land of paradise; I will reinstate you, no longer in paradise, but on the throne of heaven. I denied you the tree of life, which was a figure, but now I myself am united to you, I who am life. I posted the cherubim to guard you as they would slaves; now I make the cherubim worship you as they would God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness; the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages."


Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday Prayer

O Jesus, Who by reason of Thy burning love for us hast willed to be crucified and to shed Thy Most Precious Blood for the redemption and salvation of our souls,
look down upon us here gathered together in remembrance of Thy most sorrowful Passion and Death, fully trusting in Thy mercy; cleanse us from sin by Thy grace, sanctify our toil, give unto us and unto all those who are dear to us our daily bread, sweeten our sufferings, bless our families, and to the nations so sorely afflicted, grant Thy peace, which is the only true peace, so that by obeying Thy commandments we may come at last to the glory of heaven. Amen

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Thoughts on opportunity

There were a lot of banned words in the Kelly house growing up in Sydney, Australia, with my seven brothers. Hate was one of them. It was a word that just was not acceptable to be used. My mother and my father just did not tolerate the use of the word hate. There were a few of them—maybe half a dozen of them.
And so hate hasn't played a role really in my life, or in my vocabulary. But there is one thing I hate. And that is waking up to an alarm clock. It's disturbing. It’s alarming. I mean, who even came up with the idea, not to mention the name?
You know, in the book, I talk about, “Alarm suggests fright, fear, chaos, confusion, and looming catastrophe.” Well that's a great way to start the day, isn't it?
I hate waking up to an alarm clock. So I renamed it. It's an opportunity clock. The alarm clock goes off every day; it's an opportunity clock. And in many ways, that's our first moment of victory or failure in the day. It's the first moment of freedom or slavery, you know? Because how often do we just slap the snooze button? We just had our first failure of the day.
But every morning that opportunity clock goes off, you've got another day. You've got another day—and there's a lot of people who don't. So when that opportunity clock goes off each morning, we should be bounding out of bed, ready to go out into the world to love, to give, to serve, and to spread the contagious joy that God is constantly trying to fill our hearts with through every aspect of our spirituality.
I hope you never, ever, wake up to an alarm clock ever again.

Matthew Kelly

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Thoughts on the future

People often ask me, “If I want to have a great future at this, or a great future at that, what's the secret to that?”
We've been talking about it throughout the whole journey: the best way to prepare for the future is to completely embrace the present. We haven't spoken specifically about this in our journey, but in many ways we've been doing this together.
We do need a time every day, set aside, to reflect upon life, who we are, what we're here for, what God is inviting us to at this time in our lives—or expecting of us. And it's that time in the classroom of silence.
We talk about silence and solitude and stillness, and our culture is allergic to all three of these. We live at such a noisy time in history. There's just so much noise. And yet, silence is so powerful, it's so beautiful, it's so transformative, it's so necessary.
Think about great music. Great music is made up of notes and rests, and the rests are silence. I think great lives are the same. They're made up of notes—action. Purposeful, intentional, focused action. But also, they're made up of rests. And those rests are silence, solitude, stillness. We need those. And there's something very, very powerful about all three of them.
Silence. Solitude. Stillness. Make some time for each of these in your life, and what will happen is the action of your life will become more beautiful.

Matthew Kelly

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Thoughts on Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion
Mark 14:1-15:47
Friends, on this Palm Sunday we are privileged to become immersed in Mark’s great Passion narrative, where the kingship of Jesus emerges with great clarity—and also with great irony.

We read that upon being brought before the Sanhedrin, Jesus is asked whether he is the "Messiah," an implicit reference to David. When Jesus calmly responds, "I am," the high priest tears his robes, for how could a shackled criminal possibly be the kingly descendant of David? Upon being presented to Pilate, Jesus is asked the functionally equivalent question: "Are you the King of the Jews?" Again a blandly affirmative answer comes: "You say so." This leads the soldiers to mock him, placing a purple cloak on his shoulders and a crown of thorns on his head.

Mark does not want us to miss the irony that, precisely as the King of the Jews and the Son of David, Jesus is implicitly king to those soldiers. For the mission of the Davidic king is the unification not only of the tribes of Israel but also of the tribes of the world. What commenced with David’s gathering of the tribes of Israel would soon reach completion in the criminal raised high on the cross, thereby drawing all people to himself.
Bishop Robert Barron

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Thoughts on spring

Nothing is so beautiful as spring -
When weeds in wheels shoot long and lovely lush;
Thrushs' eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightning to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden? Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,                                                       
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.    

 Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Thoughts on the future of transportation

When you head to work, the ballgame, or to a Caribbean island for vacation your method of transport is something you might not really think about. Such daily commutes might even seem boring and mundane. For most of us, we have a routine that consists of taking a car or train from point A to point B and then moving back to point A. We focus on the destination, not the trip. In the coming decade it will be time for an adjustment, because major changes are coming.  
The technology surrounding transportation and logistics is advancing rapidly. In the next five years to ten years, the way you go to work, go on vacation or even get a package delivered will change significantly. The main driver behind this technology is automation and artificial intelligence or AI. Yes, I’m talking about robots and computers.
As people start to accept and implement automation, transportation will become more efficient and sustainable. This will make for a smarter and more productive global economy. Considering 20% more people are expected to be living in cities by 2030, new technology on how we get around and move goods is coming just in time.
Logistics and supply chain management systems are also evolving. AI and big data are helping business become more efficient to track and deliver products to your home.
As a result, we are about to experience a transportation revolution not seen since the early combustion engine was put in a car. The future in transportation is coming fast. Whether it’s Uber, Tesla, NVIDIA or Google, the way we use the road will be forever changed.

Jeremy Mullin

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Thoughts on Saint Patrick

Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God’s instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.
Details of his life are uncertain. Current research places his dates of birth and death a little later than earlier accounts. Patrick may have been born in Dunbarton, Scotland, Cumberland, England, or in northern Wales. He called himself both a Roman and a Briton. At 16, he and a large number of his father’s slaves and vassals were captured by Irish raiders and sold as slaves in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold.
After six years Patrick escaped, probably to France, and later returned to Britain at the age of 22. His captivity had meant spiritual conversion. He may have studied at Lerins, off the French coast; he spent years at Auxerre, France, and was consecrated bishop at the age of 43. His great desire was to proclaim the good news to the Irish.
In a dream vision it seemed “all the children of Ireland from their mothers’ wombs were stretching out their hands” to him. He understood the vision to be a call to do mission work in pagan Ireland. Despite opposition from those who felt his education had been defective, he was sent to carry out the task. He went to the west and north–where the faith had never been preached–obtained the protection of local kings, and made numerous converts.
Because of the island’s pagan background, Patrick was emphatic in encouraging widows to remain chaste and young women to consecrate their virginity to Christ. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils, founded several monasteries and continually urged his people to greater holiness in Christ.
He suffered much opposition from pagan druids and was criticized in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission. In a relatively short time, the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe.
Patrick was a man of action, with little inclination toward learning. He had a rock-like belief in his vocation, in the cause he had espoused. One of the few certainly authentic writings is his Confessio, above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.
There is hope rather than irony in the fact that his burial place is said to be in County Down in Northern Ireland, long the scene of strife and violence.
From Saint of the Day - Franciscan Media

Friday, March 16, 2018

Thoughts on flexibility

Trees look strong compared with the wild reeds in the field. But when the storm comes the trees are uprooted, whereas the wild reeds, while moved back and forth by the wind, remain rooted and are standing up again when the storm has calmed down.

Flexibility is a great virtue. When we cling to our own positions and are not willing to let our hearts be moved back and forth a little by the ideas or actions of others, we may easily be broken. Being like wild reeds does not mean being wishy-washy. It means moving a little with the winds of the time while remaining solidly anchored in the ground. A humorless, intense, opinionated rigidity about current issues might cause these issues to break our spirits and make us bitter people. Let's be flexible while being deeply rooted.
Henri Nouwen

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Steven Hawking quote

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." 
― Steven Hawking

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Thoughts on listening

To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept.

Listening is much more than allowing another to talk while waiting for a chance to respond. Listening is paying full attention to others and welcoming them into our very beings. The beauty of listening is that, those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.
Henri Nouwen

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thoughts on prejudice

One of the hardest spiritual tasks is to live without prejudices. Sometimes we aren't even aware how deeply rooted our prejudices are. We may think that we relate to people who are different from us in colour, religion, sexual orientation, or lifestyle as equals, but in concrete circumstances our spontaneous thoughts, uncensored words, and knee-jerk reactions often reveal that our prejudices are still there.

Strangers, people different than we are, stir up fear, discomfort, suspicion, and hostility. They make us lose our sense of security just by being "other." Only when we fully claim that God loves us in an unconditional way and look at "those other persons" as equally loved can we begin to discover that the great variety in being human is an expression of the immense richness of God's heart. Then the need to prejudge people can gradually disappear.
Henri Nouwen

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Thoughts on cultural fashion

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.(Romans 12:2)

By Jeannette de Beauvoir

There’s fashion in thought as well as in clothing, and the current fashion is for individualism: take care of yourself, acquire as much wealth as you can, buy the latest smartphone or gadget or car. Any other way of looking at life is naïve at best and foolish at worst.

The cultural fashion in St. Paul’s day wasn’t significantly different from ours. The early Church found itself in an unequal society in which wealthy people owned slaves and poor people died of hunger and exposure. St. Paul looked at the greed and self-absorption of his time and in letter after letter urged Christians to do better, to be better, to be different. Why? Because they have had their minds renewed in, and by, Christ.

Not conforming to the culture around you is difficult. It means doing what’s unexpected. It means modeling yourself, not on Hollywood or Wall Street, but on Jesus, and St. Paul, and the saints. It means foolishly rejecting everything society tells you is good, and embracing something else: generosity, love, forgiveness, and kindness.

St. Paul may be on to something here. How can you be a fool for Christ today?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Thoughts on hope

A person with hope does not get tangled up with concerns for how his wishes will be fulfilled. So, too, his prayer is not directed toward the gift, but toward the one who gives it. His prayer might still contain just as many desires, but ultimately it is not a question of having a wish come true but of expressing an unlimited faith is the giver of all good things....For the prayer of hope it is essential that there are no guarantees asked, no conditions posed, and no proofs demanded, only that you expect everything from the other without binding him. Hope is based on the premise that the other gives only what is good. Hope includes an openness by which you wait for the other to make his loving promise come true, even though you never know when, where or how this might happen.

Henri Nouwen

Friday, March 2, 2018

Thoughts on work

Our God is a God of purpose. He's a God of purpose. He does things on purpose, with purpose, for purpose. And there are a lot of people who think that, “Oh, we have to work, you know, because Adam and Eve messed things up in the garden.” Not so.
If you pick up your Bible, and you open up Genesis, what you'll read is that, long before the fall, God put Adam in the garden. And what did he put him in the garden to do? He put him in the garden to turn and till the soil. He put him in the garden to work.
We need work. Work is important to us. We need something to do. And the reason is because work is part of God's original design for humanity, not a result of the fall—not a result of Adam and Eve messing up in the garden so we've all got to go to work every day. No. It's part of God's original, purposeful, intentional design for the human experience.
So what's the purpose of work? What's the meaning of work? The purpose of work is that when we work well, when we work hard, when we pay attention to the details of our work, we become a-better-version-of-ourselves. And it's like you can almost feel it happening.
We live in a culture that says the meaning of work is to make money. Absolutely wrong. Do we need money? Yes. Do we need to pay our bills? Absolutely. Does that need to be part of the consideration when we take a job? No question. But it is not the primary purpose of work. It's a secondary outcome of work. The primary purpose of work is that when we work hard, when we apply ourselves to our work, when we pay attention to the details of our work, we actually become better human beings. We become more perfectly ourselves. We become a-better-version-of-ourselves. We take a step closer to the-best-version-of-ourselves. We grow in virtue, we grow in character.
We live in a culture where work's got a bad reputation: “Oh, I've gotta go to work.” No. We get to go to work. We get to go to work. And work plays a very important role in the development of the human being.

Matthew Kelly