Saturday, January 30, 2016

When the heart opens (Roger Housden)


   When the heart opens, we forget ourselves and the world pours in:  this world, and also the invisible world of meaning that sustains everything that was and ever shall be.

                                   --Roger Housden
Quote source

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, January 31, 2016: At present we see indistinctly...

Are we open to the power of God's love in our life?

   People can be so stubborn.  When the prophet Jeremiah tries to tell the people that good will come out of exile, they refuse to believe him, and God knows his struggle is great:  They will fight against you, God says, but not prevail over you, for I am with you.  God is there, present, in their midst, but God is only available to those whose hearts are open to God's work in their lives, as Jeremiah is.  

   Likewise, in Luke's Gospel, when Jesus, in Nazareth, suggests to the crowds gathered in the synagogue that the Messiah is in their midst, their doubts soon begin to grow.  After all, they know this son of the carpenter Joseph -- and their hearts are thus closed to the presence of God before them.  No prophet is accepted in his own native place:  Jesus knows that he will work no miracles in their midst, for when hearts are closed, no healing is possible.  Like the Corinthians, who see indistinctly, as in a mirror, looking only at themselves, refusing to recognize God's love incarnate in their presence, the people of Nazareth are unaware of the potential God has placed before them; they reject Jesus and he walks out of their lives, passing through the midst of them and going away.

   Psalm 71 offers an antidote to such self-centeredness:  you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth.  Although he has faced difficulties, the psalmist has not turned away from the Lord, has not closed his heart to God, for the Lord sustains him through his greatest challenges.  We know that love never fails, after all.  But we have to recognize that love -- the very power of God -- in our lives, love made manifest in our relationships with God and with other.  We reach our fullest potential in Christ when we allow love to be our vision, when we are open to the opportunity truly to love one another, and to love God.  It is that transforming love that we are called to; it is our openness to and sharing of that love that can bring salvation to all.

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thy Word (Amy Grant)

   Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet  
 And a light unto my path 
   When I feel afraid, think I've lost my way 
Still You're there right beside me 
Nothing will I fear as long as You are near 
Please me near me to the end 
I will not forget  
Your love for me and yet  
My heart forever is wandering 
Jesus, be my guide, hold me to Your side, 
And I will love You to the end 
Nothing will I fear as long   
As You are near 
Please be near me to the end 

And a light unto my path 
You're the light unto my path 

To hear this song performed by artist Amy Grant, click on the video below:
You can purchase this song by clicking here!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Journey through Lent with St. Francis de Sales...

   To celebrate the 50th anniversary of DeSales University, the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture offers this gift to the world:  the first ever Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Everyday Spirituality of St. Francis de Sales.

   St. Francis de Sales' spirituality is one of a gentle, humble reliance on the presence of God in our lives, and a constant attention to the will of God as a sign of our love for God.  St. Francis himself is Doctor caritatis, or the Doctor of Charity of the Church, where Charity is defined as the love of God.  Though he wrote his major works in the early 17th-century, St. Francis's ideas are accessible and transformative. 

   All are invited to learn about Salesian spirituality at their own pace, with the ease of online learning.  All materials for this enriching experience will be provided to all participants for free.  Do consider making this MOOC a part of your Lenten journey!

For more information, visit the DeSales University website, 
Questions?  Contact Lore McFadden 

Today, January 24th, is the Feast of St. Francis de Sales!

P.S. If the term "Salesian" sounds familiar to you, it may be because Fr. Biju Michael, who has spent a good part of the last few summers at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, is a member of the Order of the Salesians of Don Bosco.  Participants in the MOOC will most likely come to understand Fr. Biju's own gentle spirituality better as a result of their engagement with the teachings of St. Francis de Sales.

Image source

Saturday, January 23, 2016

We must allow the Word of God... (John R. W. Stott)

 We must allow the Word of God to confront us, 
 to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency, 
  and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.  

--John R. W. Stott

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, January 24, 2016: And all the people listened attentively...

How are we formed by the Word of God?  

   In Nehemiah's time, Ezra the priest has the people stop what they are doing to listen to him read plainly from the book of the law of God.  It is the first time the Torah is heard in its entirety, and all the people are weeping to hear their identity described to them in such detail, for before the restoration, during a period of exile and enslavement, it was easy to lose any sense of one's identity in God.  Ezra's reading of the Torah helps the people to see how their ancestors have failed by being unfaithful to covenant, but it also demonstrates the grace of God's mercy, for God repeatedly reached out to them, calling them back to relationship.  And so they also perhaps weep for joy at knowing once again what it means to be a people of Israel, defined by a new law, identifying with a community of believers, experiencing a connection with one another they have not known previously.  Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life, Psalm 19 reminds us:  God's law reminds us that our relationship with God is an opportunity to access all that is necessary; it offers insight into our lives and world that is profound and complete.

   In Luke's Gospel, Jesus also shares the Word of God with the people when he stands up in the synagogue to read from the Book of Isaiah.  The Spirit of the Lord is upon Jesus and the passage he chooses to read is fulfilled in their midst:  the blind are getting to see, and the poor are being lifted up.  Because of Jesus' coming, it is a jubilee year, a year of favor from our Lord.  Through his proclamation of the Word, as lector, Jesus is offering the people a new identity and a new unity.  As Paul reminds the Corinthians, we were all baptized into one Body, in union in Christ; we come to Eucharist as part of that Body, as part of a whole, sharing in one common identity at our core. 

   Our readings this Sunday thus prompt us to ask:  Do we feel connection with one another when we hear the proclamation of the Word at Mass?  Does that Word form and inform our identity?  And do we indeed believe we are Christ's body, so constructed by God to be necessary to the salvation of all?

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

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cana (Richard Beck)

  It was getting late 
with the warm fuzz 
of the wine 
well worked into our minds 
when the first sign 
of the Kingdom of Heaven 
in a back room 
with only the paid help 
as witnesses 
and the quality 
of the gift 
passing unnoticed 
because of our

--Richard Beck

Poem source
Image source

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Delight in the display of divine glory (Kelly Monroe Kullbert)

   Everything from quarks to quasars, butterflies to brain cells, was created so that you and I might delight in the display of divine glory.  We alone can glorify God by rejoicing in the beauty of His creative handiwork and relishing the splendor of His revelation in the Person and redemptive work of Christ.
--Kelly Monroe Kullbert,
A Faith and Culture Devotional:  
Daily Readings on Art, Science, and Life

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Sunday Gospel Reflection, January 17, 2016: Jesus so revealed his glory...

  How is God revealed to us?  
  And how do we reveal God to one another?  

   In the Old Testament, Israel's relationship with God was often depicted in marital terms:  Israel was the spouse of God, often unfaithful, always forgiven.  The prophet Isaiah speaks of the transformation of the nation at the end of exile:  Israel shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the Lord.  God thus reveals himself in his renewal of union with the people; Israel's role as the Bride of God is in itself a revelation of God's glory, and Israel herself manifests that glory to all the earth:  Nations shall behold your vindication, Isaiah says.  For it is in praise, as Psalm 96 states, that God's glory is made manifest, and all participate in the revelation of God at work in the world, recognizing that God is their source, and our source, at work in us as well.  Tell his glory among the nations; among the peoples his wondrous deeds, the psalmist sings.  We are thus called to make God's work explicit, called to participate in the revelation of God.

   The miracle at Cana is considered a moment of revelation as well, a revelation of God's presence in person of Jesus, of God walking among us and what his presence means for us.  It is the moment, according to John, when Jesus' disciples began to believe in him, though his mother already trusts in God's plan, and lets her faith move her forward as she tells the servers, Do whatever he tells you.  She knows that God's plan is at work, and that Jesus is at the center of it.  The miracle at Cana is the first sign that Jesus is the Messiah:  it speaks to the overabundance of heaven, the infinite love of God, the superabundance of God's love being revealed in Jesus.

   As Paul tells the Corinthians, our gifts are given to each of us for some benefit.  Our capacity to reach out to one another, to open hearts, to meet the needs of those around us is a proclamation of the glory of God.  We begin to let the glory of God be revealed in us whenever we allow God's love to dominate our lives, and thus become bearers of that life-giving love to others.  It is this revelation that we strive for, this revelation that allows our relationship with God to be re-created, ever anew.

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