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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Second Sunday in Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The Second Sunday in Advent
December 4, 2016
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12

            Isaiah and John the Baptist, two towering Advent figures, meet on this Second Sunday of Advent. Both are important prophets but each has a unique preaching style. Isaiah is the poet with lyrical verses that encourage people to return in confidence to their homeland of Israel from the exile. Many blessings await the ones who remain faithful. The Lord, as promised, will revive their broken spirits. John preaches ascetical repentance. His is the lonely voice that calls people to ask for forgiveness of their sins so that God remembers them.  John also spoke through his action – baptizing people as they acknowledged their lowliness before God.

             Each prophet has a different vision of heaven. Isaiah presents an idyllic world that is to come where there is no hostility or hatred. All the lines of division are gone and no walls exist. Natural enemies become friends and they decide to enjoy one another. The Lord provides everyone anything that is needed and the good will come out as victors. Fear cannot exist in this world where peace reigns. The virtues of wisdom and understanding are upheld are primary ones. Isaiah sees goodness and encourages everyone to work for it.

            John’s image of the world is vastly different. He wants everyone to rightly acknowledge who they are before the Lord. He wants no puffed up illusions of self-grandeur or self-importance. Our moral actions need purification because we stray far from the goal and he wants to help us get back there by the grace of God. In these readings, he goes after the hypocritical Pharisees, who may be having a change of heart. He wants them to prove that their baptism is effective through their actions by producing good works. If they do not, they will have to reckon with Christ, who will judge the people as a reaper clears the wheat from the chaff.
            The major points are clear: We have to trust in God’s promises to us and conform our actions to our beliefs. In Isaiah’s world, our small, unnoticed actions are essential for the larger vision to unfold. Each good action leads to further good actions and when the goodness catches on fire, we see that peace miraculously fits into our world. God’s grace helps it unfold. As God works by gentle, unseen invitations, our actions must replicate God’s. In John’s world, assessing our attitudes and actions are indispensible for keeping us prepared for God’s promises. Gentleness and humility are part of it, and right relations with our neighbors are essential. John recognizes that integrity makes words credible and our actions have to emerge from our humility – our rightful stance before God. Each vision is contained in God’s larger universe.

Pay attention to the particular styles of the prophets in your life. Which voice do you need to hear? What message will stir your heart? Where does the Lord need to touch your Advent life this year? The Lord’s mercy is endless. As Isaiah encourages, take time to daydream, and as John exhorts, take time for honest reflection about the direction of your life. Each of these prophets wants to be heard. You need to be heard. This is the time to ask the Lord to prepare your hearts for what you most need. Healing? Strength or courage? Greater understanding? This is the time to crack open the world that encloses us so that the Lord’s graces can reach into it and bring us the hope we need. Be extra gentle with yourselves this time of year. Slow it down and learn how to balance the work-life demands. Slow it down because no one will do it for you. Stop. Listen. Hear. The Lord will make the glory of his voice heard in the joy of your heart.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Isaiah 35) Here is your God, he comes with vindication. The eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 40) Give comfort to my people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.
Wednesday: (Isaiah 40) Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things. Do you not know? Have you not heard?
Thursday: (Genesis 3) After Adam ate of the tree, God called to him, “Where are you?” I heard you were in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.   
Friday (Isaiah 48) I, the Lord, will teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. Hearken to my commandments.
Saturday (Sirach 48) A prophet named Elijah appeared whose words were as a flaming furnace. By the Lord’s word, he shut up the heavens and brought down fire three times.

Monday: (Luke 5) After Jesus healed the man on a stretcher, he forgave his sins. The scribes and Pharisees protested and asked, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies?”
Tuesday: (Matthew 18) If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them is lost, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?
Wednesday (Matthew 11) Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.
Thursday (Luke 1) The angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin betrothed to Joseph to announce that the Holy Spirit would overpower her and she would conceive a son.  
Friday (Matthew 11) How shall I consider you? I played a dirge for you and you would not mourn; I played a flute for you and you would not dance.
Saturday (Matthew 17) As Jesus came down the mountain, the disciples asked, “Why do they say Elijah must come first?” Elijah has come and will indeed come to restore all things.

Saints of the Week

December 3: Francis Xavier, S.J., priest (1506-1552) was a founding members of the Jesuit Order who was sent to the East Indies and Japan as a missionary. His preaching converted hundreds of thousands of converts to the faith. He died before reaching China. Xavier was a classmate of Peter Faber and Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris.

December 6: Nicholas, bishop (d. 350), lived in southwest Turkey and was imprisoned during the Diocletian persecution. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 324. Since there are many stories of his good deeds, generous charity, and remarkable pastoral care, his character became the foundation for the image of Santa Claus.

December 7: Ambrose, bishop and doctor (339-397) was a Roman governor who fairly mediated an episcopal election in Milan. He was then acclaimed their bishop even though he was not baptized. He baptized Augustine in 386 and is doctor of the church because of his preaching, teaching and influential ways of being a pastor.

December 8: The Immaculate Conception of Mary is celebrated today, which is nine months before her birth in September. The Immaculate Conception prepares her to become the mother of the Lord. Scripture tells of the annunciation to Mary by the angel Gabriel. Mary's assent to be open to God's plan makes our salvation possible.

December 9: Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (1474-1548) was a poor, simple, indigenous man who was visited by Mary in 1531. She instructed him to build a church at Guadalupe near Mexico City. During another visit, she told him to present flowers to the bishop. When he did, the flowers fell from his cape to reveal an image of Mary that is still revered today.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Dec. 4, 1870: The Roman College, appropriated by the Piedmontese government, was reopened as a Lyceum. The monogram of the Society over the main entrance was effaced.
·      Dec. 5, 1584: By his bull Omnipotentis Dei, Pope Gregory XIII gave the title of Primaria to Our Lady's Sodality established in the Roman College in 1564, and empowered it to aggregate other similar sodalities.
·      Dec. 6, 1618: In Naples, the Jesuits were blamed for proposing to the Viceroy that a solemn feast should be held in honor of the Immaculate Conception and that priests should make a public pledge defend the doctrine. This was regarded as a novelty not to be encouraged.
·      Dec. 7, 1649: Charles Garnier was martyred in Etarita, Canada, as a missionary to the Petun Indians, among whom he died during an Iroquois attack.
·      Dec. 8, 1984: Walter Ciszek, prisoner in Russia from 1939 to 1963, died.
·      Dec. 9, 1741: At Paris, Fr. Charles Poree died. He was a famous master of rhetoric. Nineteen of his pupils were admitted into the French Academy, including Voltaire, who, in spite of his impiety, always felt an affectionate regard for his old master.

·      Dec 10, 1548. The general of the Dominicans wrote in defense of the Society of Jesus upon seeing it attacked in Spain by Melchior Cano and others.

Dakota Access Pipeline Resources

Many of you may have heard about the protests about the Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,172 mile-long underground oil pipeline project being built by a Dallas, Texas company called Energy Transfer Partners. The route begins in northwest North Dakota and runs southeast through South Dakota, Iowa, and into southern Illinois. The project was expected to be completed by year end.

The pipeline’s existence is controversial regarding its necessity and the negative effect upon the environment. The Meskwaki Indians in Iowa and the Sioux in the Dakotas have opposed the pipeline.

The Standing Rock Indian Reservation petitioned the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for an injunction and protests have been ongoing. Some confrontations between groups of protestors and law enforcement officials have recently made the national news.

I am enclosing a Google Docs resource sheet that lists several informational and advocacy sources.

Perhaps our biggest step is informing ourselves about this topic and the negative environmental aspects of future pipelines. The president-elect has promised to bring back the Keystone XL pipeline project that was rejected last year after intense activism.

It is also helpful to learn more about the nuances of our U.S. history with native peoples. We have a history of treaties, broken promises, national hurts, but equally important is the power of Native Americans’ souls, with hopes and ideals. As one people, one nation, it behooves us to understand the enormous issues facing one another.

Note: The protestors have placed wish list items on Amazon for anyone interested in contributing to their efforts:  http://a.co/27BRc6P 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Poem: “Advent” By Thomas Merton

Charm with your stainlessness these winter nights,
Skies, and be perfect! Fly vivider in the fiery dark, you quiet meteors, 
And disappear. You moon, be slow to go down, 
This is your full!
The four white roads make off in silence 
Towards the four parts of the starry universe. 
Time falls like manna at the corners of the wintry earth. 
We have become more humble than the rocks, 
More wakeful than the patient hills. 
Charm with your stainlessness these nights in Advent, 
holy spheres, 
While minds, as meek as beasts, 
Stay close to home in the sweet hay; 
And intellects are quieter than the flocks that feed by starlight.
Oh pour your darkness and your brightness 
over all our solemn valleys, 
You skies: and travel like the gentle Virgin, 
Toward the planets’ stately setting, 
Oh white full moon as quiet as Bethlehem!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Spirituality: “Waiting on the Shores of Advent” By Miriam Pollard, OSCO

Fisherman walking the shore of Advent, what are you thinking?

Andrew, are you remembering the lash of the wind, the slap of the waves against your boat, and the voice of a man who has torn apart your sureties and cast your heart into the wounded skies?

Andrew, how many years have come and gone, as he came and went? How many years have changed the sea from home and livelihood into a passageway to somewhere else? Somewhere else of land, somewhere else of mind and soul.

Wanderer, teller of tales, Doorkeeper of Advent, you are not Paul or Luke or John. Who knows the way you preached? Man of the fishing coast, where did you go to fish for men?

Man of the morning fog, man of night’s uncertainties, brother, son, and scraper of nets: how do you preach to us now?

We smell the sea. We hear it cry. WE lick the salt from stinging lips, and squint into the sun. We listen.

We hear about this God you preach, this man of word and sacrament, this man of death and resurrection. This man who walked across the sea as on a highway, who has been and is a sea of his own making: what do you say of him? Of course, “Come and see. Come to the shore of Advent and run the shuddering waves across your hands, and lift the nets, and draw in the boats. And wait.”

Source: Give Us This Day: Daily Prayer for Today’s Catholic, November 2015, page 314.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Prayer: An Advent Prayer

Lord God, we adore you because you have come to us in the past.
You have spoken to us in the Law of Israel.
You have challenged us in the words of the prophets.
You have shown us in Jesus what you are really like.

Lord God, we adore you because you still come to us now.
You come to us through other people and their love and concern for us.
You come to us through men and women who need our help.
You come to us as we worship you with your people.

Lord God, we adore you because you will come to us at the end.
You will be with us at the hour of death.
You will still reign supreme when all human institutions fail.
You will still be God when our history has run its course.

We welcome you, the God who comes.
Come to us now in the power of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Death of a Former Superior General

Death of a Former Superior General

Please pray for the soul of Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., former Superior General of the Society of Jesus who died on November 26, 2016.

Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, SJ, was the 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, serving from 1983 to 2008.

Kolvenbach was born in Druten, Netherlands, in 1928 and died on November 26, 2016. He lived most of his teen years during the German occupation of the Netherlands. In an interview Kolvenbach later noted that experiencing war was not an uncommon experience in the formation of a Superior General. It was the experience of Ignatius at Pamplona, and the experience of his predecessor, Pedro Arrupe, who witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb. Kolvenbach also lived in the midst of war in Beirut as a professor of linguistics and working with refugees in Lebanon.

Kolvenbach noted that while living in the midst of war emphasizes the fragility of human life, the sound of a bird singing after a night of terror announced that “death will never have the last word in the Creator’s will.”

Kolvenbach spent many years in academic life, primarily teaching linguistics in Lebanon. He was named the Vice Provincial of the Near East, made up of the regions of Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. In 1981 he was appointed as Rector at the Oriental Institute in Rome, a position he held until his election as Superior General.

Upon his election, Kolvenbach carried out his responsibilities with energy and compassion. He visited as many Jesuit provinces and individual Jesuits as he could. His was a calming presence in the midst of the many questions the Jesuits faced both within and outside the Church. In 1995 he directed the 34th General Congregation of the Jesuits, which addressed issues including the mission of the Society in the modern world and the impact of the revision of Canon Law.

In February, 2006, Kolvenbach informed the members of the Society of Jesus of his intention, with the consent of Pope Benedict XVI, to step down in 2008. His resignation was accepted at the 35th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus. When asked about his plans for retirement, Kolvenbach stated his hope that he could join the Jesuits in the Near East to be a help in that war-torn region.

(Biographical text taken from IgnatianSpirituality.com)

Prayer: "Sharing the Loaves and Fishes" by Education for Justice

Sharing the loaves and fishes,
You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.
Sharing yourself in the Bread and Wine,
You called all to the table, O Lord.
Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
And the healing of this world.
Nourish me with your Grace,
So I may work with joy to serve your children.
Open my eyes and my heart
To recognize those in poverty
And increase my awareness
Of the structures and systems
That need to be changed
So we may all break bread together.
In your name we pray for the end of hunger.

El primer domingo de Adviento

El primer domingo de Adviento
27 de noviembre de 2016
Isaías 2: 1-5; Salmo 122; 2 Colosenses 1: 12-20; Lucas 23: 35-43

El Adviento comienza con esperanza, pero el Evangelio es horrible. Las lecturas son apócrifas. El mensaje difícil es "ser sobrio y vigilante." Por lo tanto, aumentamos nuestros sentidos para discernir los patrones familiares de Cristo.

Isaías nos da una visión de la esperanza. Dios restaurará a Israel y su casa estará abierta a todas las naciones. Dios nos enseñará los caminos de la paz, y disfrutaremos de su presencia entre nosotros. Mantenga la visión larga en mente para poner nuestros problemas diarios en perspectiva.

Disfrutemos los días ordinarios de Adviento atendiendo a los asuntos más importantes. Tenemos muchas tareas de vacaciones que hacer: fiestas para asistir, los alimentos para hornear, y tarjetas para escribir, pero el gasto de tiempo de calidad con sus seres queridos es lo más importante. Tal vez usted nunca ha visto "el Cascanueces" o "El Mesías." Tal vez este será el año. Ir. Haz que suceda. No sabes si habrá un próximo año. No sabemos si la muerte toma a un ser querido oa nosotros inesperadamente.

Usted puede haber visto un espectáculo de Navidad antes, pero imagínese traer a una persona que nunca lo ha visto por primera vez. O tal vez, usted trae a alguien a un concierto y escuchan "Silent Night" por última vez. ¿Quieres que sea memorable? Usted da un recuerdo duradero cuando lleva a alguien a un espectáculo. Un concierto persiste en los oídos de alguien durante toda la temporada. Podrías dar alguna esperanza a un alma desesperada. Ayúdeles a conseguir lo que necesitan. Podría llenarlos de gratitud y profunda paz.

Aproveche las ofertas de vacaciones y disfrute de la vida. Estos programas son para su disfrute. Compártelas con un amigo o familiar. Haga sus propios recuerdos, que aporten significado a nuestras vidas. De lo contrario, en realidad no vivimos. Pasamos, y eso no es suficiente para nosotros. Exigimos más. Estas experiencias son caminos que Dios nos habla a través de eventos ordinarios.

Ver las luces brillan en el árbol como carolers unirse a la canción festiva. Hornee las galletas de pan de jengibre favoritas de su tía que ya no puede hacer. Siéntese en silencio mientras una llama solitaria parpadea en la oscuridad. Mira "White Christmas" con un ser querido que haces cada año. Asista a ese concierto que quería escuchar hace muchos años. Ahora es el momento. Si lo dejamos pasar, perdemos oportunidades de alegría. Usted da las bendiciones de su alma a otros cuando disfruta de tiempo con ellos. No dejes que sea demasiado tarde. No tenga remordimientos. Elija vivir, amar, hoy. Muévase más allá de sus lugares de la comodidad así que le envuelven por las muchas bendiciones que le esperan. Viviendo plenamente, Cristo entra en nuestros corazones y nos trae gran bondad. Que se quede allí.

Escritura para la misa diaria

Primera lectura:
Lunes: (Isaías 4) En aquel día, el rama del Señor será brillo y gloria, y el fruto de la tierra será honor y esplendor para los sobrevivientes de Israel.
Martes: (Isaías 11) En ese día brotará un brote del tocón de Isaí, y de sus raíces brotará un brote. El Espíritu del Señor descansará sobre él.
Miércoles: (Romanos 9) Si confiesas con tu boca que Jesús es el Señor y crees en tu corazón que Dios lo resucitó de entre los muertos, serás salvo.
Jueves: (Isaías 26) En ese día, cantarán esta canción: Una ciudad fuerte que tenemos que protegernos. Abre las puertas para dejar entrar a una nación que es justa, una que mantiene la fe.
Viernes (Isaías 29) Líbano será transformado en un huerto, y el huerto en un bosque. De la oscuridad y la oscuridad, los ojos de los ciegos verán. Los sordos oirán.
Sábado (Isaías 30) Pueblo de Sión, que habitas en Jerusalén, no llorarás más.

Lunes: (Mateo 8) Cuando Jesús entró en Capernaum, un centurión se le acercó y le dijo: "Mi siervo está en casa, paralizado, sufriendo terriblemente. Ven a curarlo.
Martes: (Lucas 10) Te doy alabanza, Padre, Señor del cielo y de la tierra, porque aunque tú has escondido estas cosas de los sabios y de los sabios, tú las has revelado a los niños.
Miércoles (Mateo 4) Jesús vio a dos hermanos, Pedro y Andrés, echando una red en el mar de Galilea. Él les dijo: "Venid en pos de mí y os haré pescadores de hombres".
Jueves (Mateo 7) Jesús dijo a sus discípulos: No todos los que me dicen: Señor, Señor, entrarán en el reino de los cielos, sino sólo el que hace la voluntad de mi Padre.
Viernes (Lucas 21) Considera la higuera. Cuando sus brotes se abren, ves que el verano está cerca. Aprende a leer los signos de los tiempos. Todas estas cosas pasarán, pero mis palabras permanecen.
Sábado (Mateo 9) Jesús enseñó en todos los pueblos y aldeas proclamando el Evangelio del Reino. La cosecha es abundante, pero los obreros son pocos.

Santos de la Semana

29 de noviembre: Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, S.J., religioso (1711-1735) fue el primer y principal apóstol de la devoción del Sagrado Corazón. Ingresó al noviciado en España a los 14 años y tomó votos a los 17 años. Tenía visiones místicas del Sagrado Corazón. Fue ordenado en enero de 1735 con una dispensa especial porque no tenía edad suficiente. Unas semanas después de celebrar su primera misa, contrajo tifus y murió el 29 de noviembre.

30 de noviembre: Andrés, apóstol (primer siglo) fue discípulo de Juan el Bautista y hermano de Simón Pedro. Ambos eran pescadores de Betsaida. Se convirtió en uno de los primeros discípulos de Jesús. Poco se sabe de la predicación de Andrés después de la resurrección. La tradición lo coloca en Grecia, mientras que Escocia tiene una increíble devoción al apóstol.

1 de diciembre: Edmund Campion, S.J. (1540-1581), Robert Southwell, S.J., (1561-1595) mártires, eran nativos ingleses y sacerdotes jesuitas en un momento en que los católicos eran perseguidos en el país. Ambos hombres reconocen a la reina Isabel como monarca, pero se negaron a renunciar a su fe católica. Están entre los 40 mártires de Inglaterra y Gales. Campion fue asesinado en 1581 y la muerte de Southwell fue 1595.

3 de diciembre: Francis Xavier, S.J., sacerdote (1506-1552) fue uno de los miembros fundadores de la Orden Jesuita que fue enviado a las Indias Orientales y Japón como misionero. Su predicación convirtió a cientos de miles de conversos a la fe. Murió antes de llegar a China. Xavier era compañero de clase de Peter Faber e Ignatius de Loyola en la Universidad de París.

Esta Semana en la Historia de los Jesuitas

• 27 de noviembre de 1680: En Roma, la muerte del P. Athanasius Kircher, considerado un genio universal, pero especialmente bien informado en ciencia y arqueología.
• 28 de noviembre de 1759: Veinte Padres y 192 escolásticos zarpaban del Tajo para el exilio. Dos iban a morir en el viaje a Génova y Civita Vecchia.
• 29 de noviembre de 1773: Los jesuitas de Rusia blanca pidieron a la emperatriz Catalina que permitiera la publicación de la carta de supresión, tal como había ocurrido en toda Europa. "Ella les pidió que dejaran de lado sus escrúpulos, prometiendo obtener la sanción Papal para su permanencia en status quo.
• 30 de noviembre de 1642: El nacimiento de Br Andrea Pozzo en Trento, que fue llamado a Roma en 1681 para pintar el techo plano de la iglesia de San Ignacio para que parezca que había una cúpula por encima. Había un plan para una cúpula, pero no había dinero para construirlo. Su trabajo está todavía a la vista.
• 1 de diciembre de 1581: En Tyburn, en Londres, Edmund Campion y Alexander Briant fueron martirizados.
• 2 de diciembre de 1552: En la isla de Sancián, frente a la costa de China, Francisco Xavier murió.
• 3 de diciembre de 1563: En el Concilio de Trento, el Instituto de la Sociedad fue aprobado.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Prayer: An Autumn Prayer (Author Unknown)

O God of Creation, you have blessed us with the changing of the seasons.
As we embrace these autumn months,
May the earlier setting of the sun
remind us to take time to rest.
May the crunch of the leaves beneath our feet
remind us of the brevity of this earthly life.
May the steam of our breath in the cool air
remind us that it is you who give us your breath of life.
May the scurrying of the squirrels and the migration of the birds
remind us that you call us to follow your will.
We praise you for your goodness forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Spirituality: “Thanksgiving” November 1936 By Dorothy Day

Now there is a warm feeling of contentment about the farm these days – the first summer is over, many people have been cared for here, already. From day to day we did not know where the next money to pay bills was coming from, but trusting to our cooperators, our readers throughout the country, we went on with the work. Now all our bills are paid and there is a renewed feeling of courage on the part of all those who are doing the work, a sense of confidence that the work is progressing.

This month of thanksgiving will indeed be one of gratitude to God. For health, for work to do, for the opportunities He has given us of service; we are deeply grateful, and it is a feeling that makes the heart swell with joy.

During the summer when things were going especially hard in more ways than one, I grimly modified grace before meals: “We give Thee thanks, O Lord, for these Thy gifts, and for all our tribulations, which we have received from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen.” One could know of certain knowledge that tribulations were matters of thanksgiving; that we were indeed privileged to share in the sufferings of Our Lord. So in this month of thanksgiving, we can be thankful for the trials of the past, the blessings of the present, and be heartily ready at the same time to embrace with joy any troubles the future may bring us.

Source: Dorothy Day: Selected Writings, page 76.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The First Sunday in Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze

The First Sunday in Advent
November 27, 2016
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122; 2 Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43

            We expect Advent to begin with a hopeful note, but the Gospel is horrifying and the readings sound more like the apocryphal end of days than the serene, peaceful season that is coming. The stark message of the night watchman is “to be sober and vigilant,” always ready to read the signs of the times and to settle down the drama around us. The key to doing this is to heighten our senses so we can discern the familiar patterns of Christ.

            The first reading from Isaiah gives us a vision of hope. In the days of the restoration, God’s house will be visible, not just to the remnant, but to all peoples and nations. God will enjoy a mentoring relationship with us and we will learn the ways of peace. We will enjoy that the Lord is with us. We are instructed to keep the long view in mind at all times because it puts the daily problems in perspective.

            Therefore, let us enjoy the ordinary days of Advent by keeping an eye on what is important. We have many holiday tasks to do, parties to attend, foods to bake, and cards to write, but we know spending quality time with our loved ones is most important. Perhaps you have never seen a production of “the Nutcracker” or attended a choral performance of “The Messiah” because the shows are produced every year and you can see it anytime you want, but you have not yet been. Maybe this will be the year. Make it happen. You do not know if there will be a next year. We are not invincible as we think because death can take a loved one or us unexpectedly.

            You may have seen a Christmas production a number of times, but imagine bringing a person who has never seen it for the very first time. Or perhaps, you invite someone to a concert and they hear a live production of “Silent Night” for the very last time. Don’t you want it to be memorable? You give a lasting memory when you take someone to a show. A live concert can ring in someone’s ears for the whole season, and some inspiration might give them hope when a deep part of their soul is despairing. Help them get what they need. They might not even know they need it, but when it hits the right spot, they will be filled with gratitude and deep peace.

            We have to take advantage of the holiday offerings if we are going to really enjoy life. These productions are for your enjoyment. Share them with a friend or family member. We have to make our own memories, which bring meaning to our lives. Otherwise, we do not really live. We just get by, and that is not enough for us. We have to demand more. These experiences are the signs of the times that we must read and understand. The more attuned we are to the ways God speaks to us through ordinary events, the better off we will be when we decide larger issues in life. These are the ways we inform our hearts and consciences.

            Watch the lights sparkle on the tree as carolers gather around in festive song. Bake your aunt’s favorite gingerbread cookies that she can no longer make. Sit in silence while a solitary flame flickers in the darkness. Sit with a loved one to watch “White Christmas” as you’ve done for the past 15 years. Go to that concert that you said you would attend so many years ago. Now is the time. If we let it pass, we miss opportunities for joy. You give the blessings of your soul to others when we spend time enjoying life. Don’t let it be too late. Don’t have those regrets. Choose to live, to love, today. Move beyond your places of comfort so you are enveloped by the many blessings waiting for you. By living fully, Christ enters into our hearts and brings us great goodness. Let him reside there.

Scripture for Daily Mass

First Reading: 
Monday: (Isaiah 4) On that day, the branch of the Lord will be luster and glory, and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor for the survivors of Israel.
Tuesday: (Isaiah 11) On that day, a shoot shall sprout from Jesse’s stump, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him.
Wednesday: (Romans 9) If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Thursday: (Isaiah 26) On that day, they will sing this song: A strong city we have to protect us. Open up the gates to let in a nation that is just, one that keeps faith.   
Friday (Isaiah 29) Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard into a forest. Out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The deaf shall hear.    
Saturday (Isaiah 30) O people of Zion, who dwell in Jerusalem, no more will you weep.

Monday: (Matthew 8) When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and said, “My servant is lying at home, paralyzed, suffering dreadfully. Come and cure him.”
Tuesday: (Luke 10) I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you had hidden these things from the learned and the wise, you have revealed them to the childlike.
Wednesday (Matthew 4) Jesus saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the Sea of Galilee. He said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Thursday (Matthew 7) Jesus said to his disciples: Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father.
Friday (Luke 21) Consider the fig tree. When their buds burst open, you see summer is near. Learn to read the signs of the times. All these things will pass away, but my words remain.
Saturday (Matthew 9) Jesus taught in all the towns and villages proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom. The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.

Saints of the Week

November 29: Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, S.J., religious (1711-1735) was the first and main apostle to the devotion of the Sacred Heart. He entered the novitiate in Spain at age 14 and took vows at 17. He had mystical visions of the Sacred Heart. He was ordained in January 1735 with a special dispensation because he was not old enough. A few weeks after celebrating his first mass, he contracted typhus and died on November 29th.

November 30: Andrew, apostle (first century) was a disciple of John the Baptist and the brother of Simon Peter. Both were fishermen from Bethsaida. He became one of the first disciples of Jesus. Little is known of Andrew's preaching after the resurrection. Tradition places him in Greece while Scotland has incredible devotion to the apostle.  

December 1: Edmund Campion, S.J., (1540- 1581), Robert Southwell, S.J., (1561-1595) martyrs, were English natives and Jesuit priests at a time when Catholics were persecuted in the country. Both men acknowledge Queen Elizabeth as monarch, but they refused to renounce their Catholic faith. They are among the 40 martyrs of England and Wales. Campion was killed in 1581 and Southwell’s death was 1595.

December 3: Francis Xavier, S.J., priest (1506-1552) was a founding members of the Jesuit Order who was sent to the East Indies and Japan as a missionary. His preaching converted hundreds of thousands of converts to the faith. He died before reaching China. Xavier was a classmate of Peter Faber and Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris.

This Week in Jesuit History

·      Nov 27, 1680: In Rome the death of Fr. Athanasius Kircher, considered a universal genius, but especially knowledgeable in science and archeology.
·      Nov 28, 1759: Twenty Fathers and 192 Scholastics set sail from the Tagus for exile. Two were to die on the voyage to Genoa and Civita Vecchia.
·      Nov 29, 1773: The Jesuits of White Russia requested the Empress Catherine to allow the Letter of Suppression to be published, as it had been all over Europe. "She bade them lay aside their scruples, promising to obtain the Papal sanction for their remaining in status quo.
·      Nov 30, 1642: The birth of Br Andrea Pozzo at Trent, who was called to Rome in 1681 to paint the flat ceiling of the church of San Ignacio so that it would look as though there were a dome above. There had been a plan for a dome but there was not money to build it. His work is still on view.
·      Dec. 1, 1581: At Tyburn in London, Edmund Campion and Alexander Briant were martyred.
·      Dec. 2, 1552: On the island of Sancian off the coast of China, Francis Xavier died.

·      Dec. 3, 1563: At the Council of Trent, the Institute of the Society was approved.