Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The First Sunday in Advent

Ignatian Spirituality: Set the World Ablaze
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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.

Gospel: 
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.

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