Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, December 21, 2014: The promises of the Lord I will sing forever...

Do you keep all your promises?

As we fly toward Christmas later this week, we pause this Sunday to remember the reason for the season:  that Jesus Christ was sent by God to fulfill once and for all God’s promise, the covenant established with David – work that is not over yet, because it continues to take place in us!

Sunday’s reading from the Second Book of Samuel reminds us that God told David explicitly:  I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins… David is thus part of salvation history unfolding, the salvation history we have been tracing all through Advent on our Jesse tree.  Although David didn’t quite grasp God’s message, we do:  Jesus is the ultimate heir to the throne, Son of the Most High, the angel Gabriel tells Mary in Luke's Gospel, the Messiah who will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.  His very name, Jesus, Yeshua, means Savior:  Jesus is the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages, as Paul tells the Romans, planned by God from the beginning of time to bring salvation to humankind.

Hence, in Jesus, God kept his most monumental promise, confirming his faithfulness (Psalm 89).  Thanks to the Incarnation of Jesus, our bond with God is an eternal and open connection that nothing, nothing on earth can change.  Salvation, we know, is still evolving; we are still trying to take it in.  Our life still has somewhere to go – and God still has something to accomplish in us, God’s work in us is still not finished, and we are all a part of that ongoing and endless kingdom. As we continue to participate in salvation history, may we forever sing the goodness of the Lord, remembering his promise and greeting its fulfillment in the very holy days to come, celebrating that promise in the very person of Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God's Love for all.

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Robert Lax: Poet - Mystic - Sage

Robert Lax:  Poet - Mystic - Sage

OLMC parishioners might be interested in taking advantage of this opportunity for study and reflection evenings at Santa Sabina, on the campus of Dominican University in San Rafael.  Steve T. Georgiou, whose publications focus on the work of Robert Lax, will offer evenings of reading, reflection, and conversation to enable others to come to know and appreciate this Christian mystic and minimalist poet’s work.  Lax was described by Thomas Merton, his closest friend, as having an inborn direction to the living God.  In 1964, Lax left his native New York for Greece, and eventually became a hermit on Patmos, Isle of the Revelation.  There, he perfected his ascetic, mantra-like style of verse and lived an intensely love-centered life. 

All are invited to come and explore the art and spirituality of Robert Lax!

Five Wednesdays:  January 21, February 11, March 11, April 15, & May 13, 2015, from 7pm to 8:30pm.  Suggested donation:  $20.  For more details, visit or call 415.457.7727.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Living Flame of Love (St. John of the Cross)

The Living Flame of Love

Songs of the soul in the intimate communication of loving union with God.

            O living flame of love
            that tenderly wounds my soul
            in its deepest center!  Since
            now you are not oppressive,
            now consummate!  if it be your will:
            tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

            O sweet cautery,
            O delightful wound!
            O gentle hand!  O delicate touch
            that tastes of eternal life
            and pays every debt!
            In killing you changed death to life.

            O lamps of fire!
            in whose splendors
            the deep caverns of feeling,
            once obscure and blind,
            now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
            both warmth and light to their Beloved.

            How gently and lovingly
            you wake in my heart,
            where in secret you dwell alone;
            and in your sweet breathing,
            filled with good and glory,
            how tenderly you swell my heart with love.
-- St. John of the Cross
Poem source
Poem in Spanish
Image source

Sunday, December 14, 2014

St. John of the Cross at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Mill Valley

Did you know that Catholic altar stones generally contain the relic of a saint?  Long ago, during the time of the persecutions, it was a crime punishable by death to participate in the celebration of the Mass, so Christians took to celebrating Mass in the catacombs on the tombs of the martyrs.  Once churches started to be built aboveground, a saint’s relic was regularly placed within the altar stone.  In addition to underscoring our belief in everlasting life for those who have been faithful to the Gospel, including a relic in the altar itself reminds us of the intercessory power that the saint enjoys in heaven, and helps us to feel close to the saint because we all are connected to the communion of saints as members of the Body of Christ.

The relic contained in Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s altar comes from St. John of the Cross, a Carmelite priest whose feast we celebrate on December 14th.  A close friend of Teresa of Jesus, John is most famous for his reflections on the Dark Night of the Soul, and for having written remarkably beautiful mystical love poetry while he himself was imprisoned by his fellow Carmelites for his desire to reform the order.
In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone.
--St. John of the Cross
To read more about St. John of the Cross as well as some of his poems, click here.

Photo credit:  M. Morison

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, December 14, 2014: My soul rejoices...

What brings you joy?
Ultimately, if you think about it, the answer is always God. 

Our readings for this Gaudete Sunday all focus on joy, developing the Mass’s opening call to Rejoice! because God is working in us to bring good news to all.  The prophet Isaiah, for example, rejoices because God has wrapped him in a mantle of justice, allowing him to bring glad tidings to the poor and to announce a year of favor from our God.  In place of a psalm, we hear a canticle from Luke, Mary’s Magnificat.  My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, she proclaims: during her visit with Elizabeth, Mary shares the marvelous news of what God is doing in her at that very moment, as she opens her heart to allow God’s work to take place.  The mother of Jesus gives voice to her own glad tidings, and Elizabeth participates in her joy.

The ultimate joy, of course, is Jesus, the light to which John the Baptist came to testify in John's Gospel, a light that will show the way to salvation, revealing all things, but most importantly, revealing God’s love and loving action in our lives.  And so Paul can tell the Thessalonians, Rejoice always! – by means of prayer and praise, opening themselves to the work of God that will fill them with holiness and peace. May we, too, rejoice, rejoice always, for God is about to be revealed – born – in each and every one of us again quite soon, so that we can continue to share his love, and his light, with the world.  What better reason could there possibly be to be filled with joy?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source:  Wordle

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wachet, Betet (J. S. Bach)

Watch, Pray...
Three centuries ago Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a cantata for the Second Sunday of Advent entitled, Wachet, Betet, Betet, Wachet, for which Salomon Franck wrote the text to accompany the music.  If you look carefully at the church clock tower above (which is on the Petri-kirche in Kulmbach, Germany), you will see that, starting at the 7 position, the dial reads Wachet (the C and the H have been combined into one letter).  There is a cross for the 12, and then the letters Betet, followed by a chalice at the 6 position.  In English, the words translate to Awake (or keep watch) and Pray… fitting advice throughout this Advent season.  To hear Bach’s cantata, click on the play button below, or click here.

Video source for Bach's cantata

Monday, December 8, 2014

Mary, Immaculate (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

In this beautiful poem, a short excerpt of which you will find below, 19th-century Jesuit priest and poet Gerard Manley Hopkins explores Mary's role in the Incarnation, and her own Immaculate nature.  To read the entire poem, click here. It is a lovely meditation for today's Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

This air, which, by life’s law, 

My lung must draw and draw 

Now but to breathe its praise,

Minds me in many ways 

Of her who not only

Gave God’s infinity 

Dwindled to infancy

Welcome in womb and breast,

Birth, milk, and all the rest

But mothers each new grace 

That does now reach our race—
Mary Immaculate,
Merely a woman, yet 

Whose presence, power is 

Great as no goddess’s 

Was deemèd, dreamèd; who

This one work has to do—

Let all God’s glory through,

God’s glory which would go

Through her and from her flow

Off, and no way but so. 

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

To read Gerard Manley Hopkins' complete poem, click here.