Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Photo: Lighted Trees

Spirituality: "A Season of Waiting" by James Martin, S.J.

Waiting is a lost virtue. And technology has only contributed to this loss. No need to wait in line to buy movie tickets any longer – buy them online. No need to wait to read the latest issue of a magazine – read it online. These days we can grow impatient when our computers take more than a few seconds to load.

That’s why Advent can serve as a reminder of the holiness of waiting. Faithful hope is a virtue, a grace, even a joy. Many expectant mothers have told me that while they eagerly look forward to the birth of their child, the pregnancy itself is filled with joy. “I’ll miss having my baby inside of me,” one mother said to me. Perhaps Mary felt the same way about Jesus.

Paradoxically, Christian waiting also encourages us to find God in our present – not simply in our future. God is not only coming; God is already here. So while we anticipate the future with hope, we know that living mindfully in the present is a key way to encounter God. Remember that God does not say to Moses in Exodus, “I was” or “I will be.” God says, “I am.” Here and now.

One of the great joys of Christianity, however, is that God always has something good prepared for our future. For the people of Israel it was a messiah. For us now it is greater Intimacy with Christ, who is alive in the Spirit. And for us at the end of our earthly lives, it is eternal life.

Find God today – but wait in hope for a beautiful future.

Source: In All Seasons, For All Reasons page 66.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Photo: Christmas trees

Poem: “Advent Peace Psalm” (Unknown)

O Prince of Peace,
whose Advent we seek in our lives,
come this day and show us
how to beat our swords into plowshares,
tools of life instead of instruments of fear.

May your love strip us naked
of all weapons and strategies of conquest,
which are not the tools of lovers,
wise ones and God’s children.

Let us not lust for power
but rather strive for the insight
to be guided on the Way of Peace.

Let us be Advent adventurers and peacemakers,
hammering swords into shovels,
filling holes and leveling peaks.

Let us be disarmed and vulnerable,
for only through such open hands and hearts
can Emmanuel come.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Photo: At Nativity Church

Spirituality: “Advent Credo” by: Daniel Berrigan, S.J.

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss. This is true: For God so loved the world that He sent his only-begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction. This is true: I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word and that war and destruction rule forever. This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful counselor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world. This is true: To me is given all authority in heaven and on earth and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers. This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humankind, of justice, of human dignity, of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history. This is true: The hour comes – and it is now – that the true worshippers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent with hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ is the Life of the World.

Source: Testimony: The Word Made Flesh.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Photo: A Milk Carton Igloo

Prayer: “Our Daily Advent Prayer” by Pope Francis

Let us open our hearts
to receive the grace of this Advent season,
which is Christ himself,
whom God our Father has revealed
to the entire world.

Where God is born, hope is born.
Where God is born, peace is born.
And where peace is born,
there is no longer room for hatred and for war.

God alone can save us and free us
from the many forms of evil
and selfishness in our midst.

Let us welcome into our lives God’s mercy,
which Jesus Christ has bestowed in us,
so that we in turn can show mercy
to our brothers and sisters.

In this way, we will make peace grow! Amen.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Photo: Floral Bouquet

Poem: “Lost and Kept” by Rita A. Simmonds

The angel left
the Mystery swelled and swam and slept.
How blessed is the womb
the Word passes through.
His cells settle in even after burst.
Her heart and blood and brain
permeable terrain to nurse
the cry the sword the slain,
through family flight
and narrow street
to breathless on a tree.
How blessed
how blessed
how blessed is she.
All that’s lost she keeps.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Photo: Northern Lights

Poem: "Leaving the Holy Land," by Mary Lou Ashur

Leaving the Holy Land. 

I am leaving the Holy Land
Leaving behind sneakers dusted with white earth.
And waffled footprints on the hill of Salome's spite.
Whose fiery sunset is framed
In centurion olive trees.

I am leaving the Holy Land
Leaving zaatar’s bite and rose water’s kiss.
And the clamor of Sepulchure's pilgrims
Beneath smoked stained ceilings.
Cacophonous chants in tongues
And ardent cries of hope for children’s children

I am leaving the Holy Land
Leaving time set aside to to know that place of Jesus,
And walk on arid soil made sacred by His footsteps
Confirming life amidst in ruins and walls -
Silent witnesses to revolution.

I am leaving the Holy Land
Leaving the well where a Samaritan drew kind water.
And Lazarus inner tomb - empty and still.
And the Bethlehem’s hill of shepherds' awakening -
Palestine's walled off places - that lack intrinsic peace.

I am leaving holy land
Sunglasses sunk in the Sea of Galilee,
No respect, no mourning follows me
Only my exhale remains, mingled with prayers
And a tear.

I go to holy land,
Expecting the promises made on black rock hills -
Blessings to poor and peacemakers
The place of prayers and ancestors
Still alone, less afraid.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Second Sunday of Advent

The Second Sunday of Advent

December 10, 2017
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3:8-14; Mark 1:1-8

Recently, a number of people have approached me to ask: Will you teach me to pray? They say they cannot hear God or that the types of praying written about in books does not suit them. They still want something more; something personal, and they do not know how to get it.

Silently, I say to myself: I want them to hear this week’s Psalm – Lord, let them see your kindness. I want them to experience God’s mercy. I want them to know God in whom kindness and truth shall meet, justice and peace shall kiss. They search for a kind, personal God, but they do not know how to meet this God of kindness, but we find this loving God in our Scriptures.

The first words of Isaiah speak of God’s kindness. God is telling the prophet to comfort the people and to give relief to their burdens because their suffering and exile are about to end. As a priest, I want to stand on top of Mount Zion like Isaiah to cry out loudly: Every valley shall be filled in; every mountain made low; the path to the Lord is made straight. Come! Listen. The glory of the Lord will be revealed.

I want to stand like John the Baptist, meeting people in the wilderness of their lives, and declare: Prepare the way, your pathway is made straight. Come to the Lord and do not let your sins keep you from meeting God. No sin, no bad feelings or any guilt about our choices, will keep us from the Lord’s kindness and our soul’s salvation.

I want to answer those people whose sins or suffering separates them from God: God keeps the promise of salvation, and the goal is to be united with you. While Isaiah yelled from the tallest mountain, John met the people in the muckiness of their lives. Any way that reaches a person is acceptable. Come, let’s learn how to pray together because God desires this for you.

From a practical standpoint, it is always helpful to begin prayer within the events of your regular world. Do not make prayer something separate from your daily activities or use language that belongs to someone else. Speak what is in your heart to God. Forget about formulas and rituals. Simply share what is happening with your day because God is in those details. Be as specific as possible.

Let God respond to you. Ask God for kindness and mercy specifically for those areas where you need God’s healing touch. Tell God of your feelings that represent the peaks and valleys of your life. Share fully what is going on with you and then sit back and relax. Watch the valleys be filled in and the hills leveled off. Find yourself in that balance where you can see the glory of the Lord all around you. Know that God is near to comfort you and to proclaim your redemption.

God comes to save you. You, singular. Personally. God is doing it all for you. Why? Because God wants to be close to you.

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 12: The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated to remember the four apparitions to Juan Diego in 1531 near Mexico City shortly after the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. Mary appeared as a native Mexican princess and her image is imprinted on a cloak that was presented to the bishop.

December 13: Lucy, martyr (d. 304), was born into a noble Sicilian family and killed during the Diocletian persecution. In the Middle Ages, people with eye trouble invoked her aid because her name means "light." Scandinavia today still honors Lucy in a great festival of light on this day.

December 14: John of the Cross, priest and doctor (1542-1591), was a Carmelite who reformed his order with the help of Teresa of Avila. They created the Discalced (without shoes) Carmelite Order that offered a stricter interpretation of their rules. John was opposed by his community and placed in prison for a year. He wrote the classics, "Ascent of Mount Carmel," "Dark Night of the Soul," and "Living Flame of Love."

This Week in Jesuit History

·      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.
·      Dec 11, 1686. At Rome, Fr. Charles de Noyelle, a Belgian, died as the 12th general of the Society.
·      Dec 12, 1661. In the College of Clermont, Paris, Fr. James Caret publicly defended the doctrine of papal infallibility, causing great excitement among the Gallicans and Jansenists.
·      Dec 13, 1545. The opening of the Council of Trent to which Frs. Laynez and Salmeron were sent as papal theologians and Fr. Claude LeJay as theologian of Cardinal Otho Truchses.
·      Dec 14, 1979. The death of Riccardo Lombardi, founder of the Better World Movement.
·      Dec 15, 1631. At Naples, during an earthquake and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the Jesuits worked to help all classes of people.

·      Dec 16, 1544. Francis Xavier entered Cochin.

El segundo domingo de Adviento

El segundo domingo de Adviento
10 de diciembre de 2017
Isaías 40: 1-5, 9-11; Salmo 85; 2 Pedro 3: 8-14; Marcos 1: 1-8

Recientemente, varias personas se acercaron a mí para preguntarme: ¿me enseñarás a orar? Dicen que no pueden escuchar a Dios o que los tipos de oraciones escritas en los libros no les satisfacen. Ellos todavía quieren algo más; algo personal, y no saben cómo obtenerlo.

Silenciosamente, me digo a mí mismo: Quiero que escuchen el Salmo de esta semana: Señor, hazles ver tu bondad. Quiero que experimenten la misericordia de Dios. Quiero que conozcan a Dios en quien la bondad y la verdad se encontrarán, la justicia y la paz se besarán. Buscan un Dios amable y personal, pero no saben cómo encontrarse con este Dios bondadoso, pero encontramos a este Dios amoroso en nuestras Escrituras.

Las primeras palabras de Isaías hablan de la bondad de Dios. Dios le está diciendo al profeta que consuele a la gente y alivie sus cargas porque su sufrimiento y el exilio están por terminar. Como sacerdote, quiero pararme en la cima del Monte Sión como Isaías para gritar en voz alta: Todo valle será rellenado; cada montaña baja; el camino al Señor se hace recto. ¡Ven! Escucha. La gloria del Señor será revelada.

Quiero ser como Juan el Bautista, conocer personas en el desierto de sus vidas y declarar: Prepara el camino, tu camino se vuelve recto. Ven al Señor y no permitas que tus pecados te impidan conocer a Dios. Ningún pecado, ningún mal sentimiento o ninguna culpa sobre nuestras elecciones nos mantendrán alejados de la bondad del Señor y de la salvación de nuestra alma.

Quiero responder a aquellas personas cuyos pecados o sufrimiento los separan de Dios: Dios cumple la promesa de la salvación, y el objetivo es unirse a usted. Mientras Isaiah gritaba desde la montaña más alta, John se encontró con la gente en la suciedad de sus vidas. Cualquier forma que llegue a una persona es aceptable. Venga, aprendamos a orar juntos porque Dios desea esto para usted.

Desde un punto de vista práctico, siempre es útil comenzar a orar dentro de los eventos de su mundo regular. No hagas de la oración algo separado de tus actividades diarias ni uses un lenguaje que pertenezca a otra persona. Habla lo que está en tu corazón para Dios. Olvídate de fórmulas y rituales. Simplemente comparta lo que está pasando con su día porque Dios está en esos detalles. Sea lo más específico posible.

Deja que Dios te responda. Pídale a Dios bondad y misericordia específicamente para aquellas áreas donde necesita el toque sanador de Dios. Dile a Dios tus sentimientos que representan los picos y valles de tu vida. Comparta completamente lo que está sucediendo con usted y luego siéntese y relájese. Mira cómo se llenan los valles y las colinas se nivelan. Encuéntrese en ese equilibrio donde pueda ver la gloria del Señor a su alrededor. Sepa que Dios está cerca para consolarlo y para proclamar su redención.

Dios viene a salvarte Tú, singular. Personalmente. Dios lo está haciendo todo por ti. ¿Por qué? Porque Dios quiere estar cerca de ti.

Escritura para la misa diaria

Primera lectura:
Lunes: (Isaías 35) Aquí está tu Dios, viene con vindicación. Se abrirán los ojos de los ciegos, se borrarán los oídos de los sordos.
Martes: (Isaías 40) Dale consuelo a mi gente. Habla con ternura a Jerusalén y proclama a ella que su servicio ha llegado a su fin, que su culpa está expiada.
Miércoles: (Isaías 40) Levanta los ojos en alto y mira quién ha creado estas cosas. ¿No sabes? ¿No has oído?
Jueves: (Génesis 3) Después de que Adán comió del árbol, Dios lo llamó, "¿Dónde estás?" Escuché que estabas en el jardín, pero tenía miedo porque estaba desnudo, así que me escondí.
Viernes (Isaías 48) Yo, el Señor, te enseñaré lo que es para tu bien y te guiaré en el camino que debes seguir. Escucha a mis mandamientos.
Sábado (Sirach 48) Un profeta llamado Elijah apareció cuyas palabras eran como un horno de fuego. Por la palabra del Señor, él cerró los cielos y derribó fuego tres veces.

Lunes: (Lucas 5) Después de que Jesús sanó al hombre en una camilla, él perdonó sus pecados. Los escribas y los fariseos protestaron y preguntaron: "¿Quién es este que habla blasfemias?"
Martes: (Mateo 18) Si un hombre tiene cien ovejas y una de ellas se pierde, ¿no dejará las noventa y nueve en las colinas e irá en busca de los extraviados?
Miércoles (Mateo 11) Vengan a mí todos ustedes que trabajan y están agobiados, y les daré descanso. Toma mi yugo sobre ti y aprende de mí, porque soy gentil y humilde de corazón.
Jueves (Lucas 1) El ángel Gabriel fue enviado a una virgen desposada con José para anunciar que el Espíritu Santo la vencería y ella concebiría un hijo.
Viernes (Mateo 11) ¿Cómo te consideraré? Jugué un canto fúnebre para ti y no llorarías; Toqué una flauta para ti y no bailarías.
Sábado (Mateo 17) Al descender Jesús de la montaña, los discípulos preguntaron: "¿Por qué dicen que Elías debe ser el primero?" Elías vino y vendrá para restaurar todo.

Santos de la semana

12 de diciembre: se celebra la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe para recordar las cuatro apariciones de Juan Diego en 1531, cerca de la Ciudad de México, poco después de la conquista española de los aztecas. María apareció como una princesa nativa de México y su imagen está impresa en una capa que se presentó al obispo.

13 de diciembre: Lucy, mártir († 304), nació en una noble familia siciliana y murió durante la persecución de Diocleciano. En la Edad Media, las personas con problemas oculares recurrieron a su ayuda porque su nombre significa "luz". Escandinavia hoy todavía honra a Lucy en un gran festival de luz en este día.

14 de diciembre: Juan de la Cruz, sacerdote y médico (1542-1591), fue un carmelita que reformó su orden con la ayuda de Teresa de Ávila. Crearon la Orden Carmelita Descalzo (sin zapatos) que ofrecía una interpretación más estricta de sus reglas. John se opuso a su comunidad y fue encarcelado por un año. Escribió los clásicos, "Ascenso al Monte Carmelo", "Noche oscura del alma" y "Llama viva del amor".

Esta semana en la historia de los jesuitas

• 10 de diciembre de 1548. El general de los dominicanos escribió en defensa de la Compañía de Jesús al verla atacada en España por Melchior Cano y otros.
• 11 de diciembre de 1686. En Roma, el p. Charles de Noyelle, belga, murió como el duodécimo general de la Sociedad.
• 12 de diciembre de 1661. En el Colegio de Clermont, París, el p. James Caret defendió públicamente la doctrina de la infalibilidad papal, causando gran excitación entre los galicanos y jansenistas.
• 13 de diciembre de 1545. La apertura del Concilio de Trento a la cual los PP. Laynez y Salmeron fueron enviados como teólogos papales y el padre. Claude LeJay como teólogo del Cardenal Otho Truchses.
• 14 de diciembre de 1979. La muerte de Riccardo Lombardi, fundador del Better World Movement.
• 15 de diciembre de 1631. En Nápoles, durante un terremoto y la erupción del Monte Vesubio, los jesuitas trabajaron para ayudar a todas las clases de personas.
• 16 de diciembre de 1544. Francis Xavier entró en Cochin.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Advent Resources

General Advent Website
A wonderful website full of all kinds of Advent materials from Creighton University. It will take some time to look through it to find things you want. 

“Arts & Faith: Advent.” A series of videos linking works of art to the Sunday readings. Scroll down and click on each week of Advent and on Christmas, choosing Cycle B for 2017. Approximately three minutes each. Suitable for adults and teenagers. From Loyola Press.

Advent in Two Minutes. Fast-paced, informative, and entertaining video on Advent from Busted Halo. Older children and young adults might especially appreciate this one. You have to be able to read the words as they fly across the screen, so it's not for children.
Advent: Waiting for Jesus. An Advent music video (slide show to music of Mumford & Sons) from the Dublin Roman Catholic Archdiocese. Again, you need to be able to read.
The Christmas Poem. This video for young children is based on a booklet published by the Bible Society (England and Wales) in 2015. What makes this retelling different is that it starts with creation, shows humankind’s need for a Savior, and ends with references to the adult Jesus, so that the nativity story is told in the context of salvation history.

Advent Calendars
One-page printable Advent calendar with suggestions of things to do and Bible verses to look up. Can be used by families and also by individual adults. Each year this calendar is published it includes a poem; look here for the poems on all the previous calendars https://thomasmousin.wordpress.com/advent-poems-2/.
Several templates for blank Advent calendars so that adults or children can color or doodle thoughts on each day of Advent. From Praying in Color, the website of an author who encourages drawing as prayer.

Jesse Trees

This Jesse tree project includes not just printable Jesse tree ornaments but also printable reflections to go with each day. The reflections and the number of ornaments are specifically for Advent 2017, beginning on 3 December. From the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Erie, Pennsylvania.
You can use this as a sort of “virtual” Jesse tree. For each day of Advent you can look at a picture, read a short reflection, and look up the Bible story or stories listed. The days are given as Monday in the first week of Advent, etc., so it can be used any year. The last week is a full seven days, however, so if you want to finish it on time you will need to double up on the third week. From the Loyola Press website.

Advent Prayers, Advent Wreaths, Advent Devotions
A family Advent prayer, an Advent wreath blessing, and a prayer for each week of Advent, from Loyola Press.  The printer-friendly versions have extremely small print, so printing directly from the website may be better.
One-page printable sheet (pdf) with instructions for making an Advent wreath and prayers to use with the wreath. From the website of a Disciples of Christ pastor.
Celebrating Advent in the Home. From the website of King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland, Georgia: “This 8-page brochureis designed for families to use in celebrating the season of Advent. It may be reproduced free of charge as long as the copyright notice is included. The .PDF file contains four 8.5 x 11 pages to create the 8-page booklet. Pages one and two create a service booklet for use with the Advent wreath. Pages three and four create a booklet with additional Advent information and suggestions. This information is also available in web page form [with colored pictures].” (Best suited for families whose children are above a very young age.)
Make a paper Advent wreath for children. Read the instructions, scrolling down past the photos to find the printable pages. From the website of a Catholic school teacher.
Scroll down to find two thoughtful Advent prayers, printable either as one-page colored posters or as small cards (four to a page). From Jesuitresource.org at Xavier University. Nice for giving away. (You may also like some other prayers available for printing here!)

Four Gifts for You This Advent. Weekly Advent devotional readings from Loyola Press. You can read them online or print them.
Weekly devotions from the American Bible Society, based on the Gospel of Mark. Suggested craft activities are included.

Advent Music
It’s hard to find listening music specifically for Advent, not Christmas. Listen here to 90 minutes of choral music for Advent, much of it based on hymns. Great to play while doing Christmas preparations such as baking, wrapping presents, or decorating. From Concordia Publishing House.
Great O Antiphons
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A video for each one of the Great O Antiphons, made by the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (Episcopal monks) in Cambridge. Each video is about ten minutes, except for the short introduction on Dec. 16. For adults and young people.

Printable Nativity Scenes

Simple line drawings of figures that can be colored, cut out, and glued around toilet-paper rolls (or cut-up paper towel rolls) to stand up. For very young children this is probably the best one I have found. From Catholic Icing, a website maintained by an individual Roman Catholic mother.
Stable and figures to cut out. A bit sturdier if printed on stiff paper but will work fine on regular paper and will look good even without coloring. For all ages. From Made by Joel, a paper craft website maintained by Joel Henriques.