Monday, December 31, 2012

Dedicated to the Lord

The ordination of a priest is his consecration – the formal dedication of his being – to the Church.  Many of us have never attended an ordination, but the liturgy is a beautiful one, filled with many prayers that might inspire any of us with a desire to dedicate ourselves, however humbly given our own personal circumstances, to God’s service as well.  The following is taken from the Rite for Ordination of Priests; it is only a small part of the service, but a most beautiful set of prayers of dedication:

Almighty Father, we pray that you bestow on these servants of yours the dignity of the priesthood. Renew in their hearts the spirit of holiness, so that they may be steadfast in this second degree of the priestly office received from you, O God, and by their own lives suggest a rule of life to others.  May they be prudent fellow-workers in our ministry. May they shine in all the virtues, so that they will be able to give a good account of the stewardship entrusted to them, and finally attain the reward of everlasting blessedness.
O God, the source of all holiness, whose consecration is ever effective, whose blessing is ever fulfilled, pour out on these servants of yours, whom we now raise to the dignity of the priesthood, the gift of your blessing. By their noble and exemplary lives let them prove that they are really elders of the people, and true to the norms laid down by Paul to Timothy and Titus. Let them meditate on your law day and night, so that they may believe what they have read, and teach what they have believed, and practice what they have taught. May justice, constancy, mercy, courage, and all the other virtues be reflected in their every way of acting. May they inspire others by their example, and hearten them by their admonitions. May they keep pure and spotless the gift of their high calling. For the worship of your people may they change bread and wine into the body and blood of your Son by a holy consecration. May they through persevering charity mature "unto the perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ," and rise on the day of the just and eternal judgment of God with a good conscience, true faith, and the full gifts of the Holy Spirit. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

In my Father's House

Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?

Imagine the anxiety of Jesus' parents as they search for him!  Remarkably, “During those three dramatic days when the Son withdraws from them to stay in the temple, Mary and Joseph experience an anticipation of the triduum of his Passion, Death and Resurrection…”  (Pope John Paul II)  Thus is Mary put at the service of her Son's mission, an acceptance that will enable her to cooperate in salvation:  she kept all these things in her heart.  It is an introduction to the suffering that will lead to joy.

Image source:  Jan Steen, Jesus in the Temple (17th c.)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sunday Gospel Reflection: December 30th, 2012

Luke 2:41-52

Happy Feast of the Holy Family! It is fitting that in the days after all the festivities of Christmas that we are reminded of the necessity and value of our relationships by remembering the Holy Family. We are born into relationships whether we like it or not and in the midst of our family we grow—sometimes straight, sometimes crooked. Yet God, in His wisdom and love, has given us family to be for us a reminder of God’s fatherly, motherly, and brotherly love. Family life isn’t always neat and pretty, but we are called to love those whom God has placed in our lives. Pope John Paul II called the family the home-church, for the family is where we first learn that we are loved, are invited to love in return, and are first taught about Jesus through word and action. May the love, sacrifice and holiness of the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, be an inspiration and intercession for us. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph-Pray for us.

Discussion Starters
-Share: What is your favorite thing to do together as a family?
-One way we can grow closer as family is by…
-God spoke to Joseph in his dreams, how do I hear God speaking to me?
-Would I be willing to move my family or to make a meaningful change in my life if I thought God wanted me to?

Family Activity
-Write a family creed of what you believe and value
-Have everyone say or write a note about something they love about each other

Bulletin 2.0
-Google ‘Holy Family’ | click on ‘Images’ | talk about which image you like the best and what the image is supposed to make you think/feel about the Holy Family

Christmas Season and New Year Prayer
Dear Jesus, you were born into our world 2,000 years ago in the simple and quiet manger in Bethlehem, the City of Bread. We pray that during this Christmas season that we may celebrate your quiet presence born in our hearts and in our faith community gathered to receive you in simple bread and wine. May the celebration of your birth inspire us as we enter into a new year to make goals and set aside time to grow closer to you and for you to be born into our lives and shared with others this year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

He shall be dedicated to the Lord...

This Sunday’s celebration of the Feast of the Holy Family begins with a reading from the First Book of Samuel, in which Hannah, who prayed for a son and was blessed with Samuel, prefigures the maternal figure of Mary.  Samuel’s is a kind of “miraculous birth” because he is born to a woman who has been deemed to be sterile.  Hannah’s hymn glorifying God begins, My heart exults in the Lord, and it is possible that Mary knew this prayer (or was inspired by the Holy Spirit to recall it) when she prayed the Magnificat, My soul magnifies the Lord.  In Sunday’s reading, Hannah dedicates her son to the Lord’s service, and Samuel subsequently will grow in the presence of the Lord.

Likewise, Jesus, in this week’s Gospel reading from Luke, finds his place in the temple of the Lord, so much so that he stays behind after his parents have completed their celebration of Passover, causing Mary and Joseph great anguish by his disappearance.  Yet Jesus knows his place is with his Father, dedicated to the service of the Lord.  And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man. 

We, too, are called to dedicate ourselves to God, to recognize God as Father, to recognize ourselves as children of God (1 John).  Faithful to that dedication – be it Samuel’s, or Jesus’, or our own – we know that we remain in Him, and He in us:  Jesus, Emmanuel, God incarnate, present to us, present in us.  Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!  (Psalm 128)

Photo source

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Mount Carmel!

Merry Christmas from Our Lady of Mount Carmel!
Jesus was born in history and is re-born in our hearts this day.
May the celebration of the newborn Jesus make us more aware that he is alive in our hearts,
and in all those we encounter today, most especially those in need.
I pray that your family may be filled with peace and joy this Christmas season!
Thank you for celebrating this Love throughout the year with our Mount Carmel community!

The Genealogy of Jesus Christ

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; 
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown.  
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing...

At the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve, we hear the long version of the genealogy of Jesus (Fr. Pat always reads the long versions, have you noticed?).  According to the New American Bible, this genealogy "presents the coming of Jesus as the climax of Israel's history, and the events of his conception, birth, and early childhood as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy."  The text does have its discontinuities and irregularities, the NAB tells us, perhaps none so shocking as the birth of the Messiah from a virgin mother.  "The infancy narrative proclaims who Jesus is, the savior of his people from their sins, Emmanuel, in whom God is with us."  (NAB)

This text has been illustrated throughout the centuries; one beautiful representation is the 14th-century fresco located on the wall of the Eglise Notre-Dame du Taur in Toulouse, France.  Thirty-eight figures remain, men and women both, each holding what appears to be a continuous scroll noting their precise relation to the child in Latin. You can see a clearer version of the fresco by clicking on the image above.  Here are two details taken from the same image:

Don't they look like they're rejoicing?
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

Photo source:  Eglise Notre-Dame du Taur, Toulouse, France (personal photos)
Quotation source

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sunday Gospel Reflection: December 23rd 2012

(Luke 1:39-45)

In today’s Gospel we hear the story of The Visitation of Mary to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth’s pregnancy (with her son John the Baptist) was seen as miraculous since she was advanced in years, and Mary went to assist her with her pregnancy. This scene in the Gospel account takes place immediately after The Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the Mother of Jesus. I’m sure that Mary looked forward to some quiet travel time to think and pray through what had just taken place!
 When Mary arrived she is greeted by Elizabeth who says: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. This phrase makes up part of the Hail Mary prayer as those words of blessing Mary’s ‘yes’ to God echo through history. Elizabeth goes onto say: Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. Elizabeth is celebrating Mary’s great faith and trust in God.

In these final days of Advent as we prepare for Jesus to be born in our lives we are invited to reflect on our own faith and trust in God. Do I listen to the voice of God in my life? Do I trust in God’s promise that I am the beloved daughter/son of God and that God has a royal plan for me? Am I willing to trust in God even if it means not being sure or in control of what will happen in my life both in small and significant decisions? What does saying yes to God mean letting go of?

When we open our hearts to God we become sensitive and vulnerable to God and allow God to heal us, bless us and to be born in our lives today.

Fourth Sunday of Advent Prayer
Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory, and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. (Loyola Press)

Image credits: 1, 2

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mill Valley Person of the Year Nomination!

Jonathan nominated for Mill Valley Person of the Year!

Our Lady of Mount Carmel's awesome Director of Religious Education, Jonathan Lewis, is one of three finalists in the Mill Valley Patch 2012 Person or Organization of the Year!  How wonderful is that!  You can check out the ballot (and vote for your favorite candidate) by clicking here.  Way to go, Jonathan!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

He shall be peace...

Luke’s Gospel this Sunday tells us that, when Mary sets out in haste to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, she does so out of love, out of concern for a close friend.  She is, perhaps, moved by the experience of the child within her, Jesus, moved by that perfect love that brings her to her relative in her time of need.  And Elizabeth’s reaction to Mary’s presence is no less stunning:  upon seeing her cousin, the infant in [Elizabeth’s] womb leaped for joy.  Mark it well:  filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth recognizes the presence of God in her midst, and that experience causes a spontaneous reaction of joy.  She is aware of God at work in Mary, and even at God at work in herself, as God makes his presence felt – a very real presence, not abstract, not a notion, or a word, but a reality incarnate in her midst.  It is the reality of grace, God-with-us, a grace that brings peace.

As this Sunday’s first reading, from the Book of Micah, suggests, God’s concern is for all of creation, and when God sends a Savior, his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth.  It is up to us to open ourselves to the peace that is Jesus, so that, when God makes his presence felt in our midst, we, too, might leap for joy, ready to do God’s will (Hebrews).

This reflection is based on notes from Fr. Pat's Scripture class.