Monday, December 30, 2013

All Sweetness

All sweetness, all human goodness, is a pure gift of God, comes from Him, is a reflection of Him.  It is He who is good in the souls of men, who smiles to us from their lips, looks at us gently through their eyes, consoles us through their mouths, does us good by their hands:  it is God who does all the good that is in men, it is He who does us all good that we receive through them.
--Charles de Foucauld

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sunday Gospel Reflection, December 29, 2013: Put on love...

What does it mean to be family?  Our readings this Holy Family Sunday focus on the relationships that define our connectedness, a connectedness that goes beyond simple blood ties and is defined first and foremost by love in all of its myriad manifestations.

It may be hard to imagine that the author of Sirach, a sage who lived in Jerusalem in the second century B.C., could have advice that holds for our very different, and very modern, families today.  Yet Sirach’s teaching is simple:  if you live family, if you pay attention to that relationship, acting responsibly toward one another, all will be well.  Each generation is responsible for being a model of behavior for the generation that follows, and each member of a family has the obligation to maintain the relationship at all costs, even when things change or evolve.  Children have responsibilities to their parents – to honor and revere their father; to respect a mother’s authority. In this way, the integrity of the notion of family remains intact.  And love remains possible.

Psalm 128 similarly suggests that our familial relationship is key to living out relationship as God wishes it:  we are to walk in God’s ways, so that we bear the fruits of our activity, the epitome of which is suggested in the image of your children like olive plants gathered around the familial table.  In this scene, there is no barrier to relationship, only blessings from the Lord, an abundance of love.  In his own way, Joseph is portrayed in Matthew’s Gospel is clearly walking in God’s ways, quite literally:  when the angel of God appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him to flee to Egypt with his new family, Joseph doesn’t hesitate.  Off they go in the night, returning only when the angel returns with new instructions.  Listening to God the Father, Joseph discerns the way and is a model parent, acting out of love in every moment.

Paul’s letter to the Colossians describes our call to relationship – with God as well as with one another – as one modeled in the death and rising of Jesus, a relationship grounded in love as expressed through heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  This is the life that we, as Christians, are called to, a transformed life, particularly as it is manifested in our life in community, all bound by the same responsibility:  to love, for it is love before all else that solidifies our connectedness as family, enabling us to feel true peace in our hearts.

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

Ye who now shall bless the poor...

Today is the Feast of Stephen!  Remember that wonderful Christmas hymn, "Good King Wenceslas looked out / on the feast of Stephen..."?  Fr. Jim Martin reflects on the deep meaning of that song, which was opened to him by the Roches' rendition of hymn on their Christmas album.  To read Fr. Jim's reflection and hear a bit of the Roches' singing, click on the video below:

Video source

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Joy to the World!

Christmas is about arriving.  We are all arriving somewhere: at the homes of family and friends to celebrate, at the church, to worship our newly born Savior.  Jesus has arrived:  let us be joyful as we embrace his arrival with every fiber of our being!

Blessings at Christmas from Our Lady of Mount Carmel!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Breath of Heaven (Amy Grant)

Amy Grant

I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy Father you have come
And chosen me now
To carry your son

I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone
Be with me now
Be with me now

Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven

Do  you wonder as you watch my face
If a wiser one should  have had my place
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan
Help me be strong
Help me be
Help me

Video source
Lyrics source

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sunday Gospel Reflection, December 22, 2013: Let the Lord enter...

This week, we are called to trust and be faithful.  Waiting, waiting, patiently waiting for the coming of Jesus, we are reminded in Sunday’s readings that our patience will pay off with the birth of a Savior, God-with-us, Emmanuel.

First, there’s Ahaz, who is caught between his own royal prophets and the (very different) message God’s prophet Isaiah brings him.  You would think that Ahaz would like Isaiah’s message:  Ahaz’s dynasty will continue when the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son.  Ahaz simply has to trust… but he has a very hard time doing so.

Then, there’s Joseph, Matthew's Gospel.  Can you imagine being Joseph, betrothed to Mary, and learning that she is – no thanks to you – pregnant?  Just think of the consternation such a revelation would have caused:  Joseph has every right to end the relationship then and there.  Instead, approached by an angel, Joseph decides to trust, to bring Mary into his home, and to raise this child as his own.  Thanks to Joseph, Jesus fulfills the prophecy; he is in the line of David, fully human, yet enters the world also as the king of glory (Psalm 24), fully divine, thanks to the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

As Paul tells the Romans, we are called to proclaim this very thing:  we are set apart for the gospel of God.  But in order to know what this means, we have to know him, Jesus, human and divine, humble and anointed, descended from David, Son of God in power.  And we have to trust – to be faithful, open to the Spirit and its fire, the burning love of God.  That love is about to burst into our lives:  will we Let the Lord enter?  He is King of Glory!

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Photo source

Monday, December 16, 2013

What do swollen feet have to do with Advent?

Busted Halo’s pregnant mom, Kaitlin Kennell Kim, muses on the baby growing within her – already present and not yet – as a metaphor for God, always present with us, yet not quite entirely, a metaphor fitting both for Advent and for the parousia or end times, which we await with hope and wonderful anticipation, and, above all, patience...

To read Kaitlin Kennell Kim’s reflection on God’s presence (and our yearning for it!), click here.