Monday, December 28, 2015

The Mystery of Bethlehem

"Bethlehem teaches us that God's ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts never entered into the heart of man to conceive what God had prepared that we might love Him -- a little wailing Child, waiting in His crib for our welcome and our pity, for the shelter of our arms, for the kiss of our lips, for the love of hearts human like His own."  ~Mother Mary Loyola
O come, let us hasten to adore Him!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

After three days they found him in the temple,
sitting in the midst of the teachers, 
listening to them and asking them questions,
and all who heard him were astounded
at his understanding and his answers.
~Luke 2:46-47

When Jesus was twelve years old, he stayed behind in Jerusalem. Not knowing this, his parents sought him anxiously, but did not find him. Though they searched the whole caravan, looking for him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances, he was nowhere to be found.

It was his own parents who were looking for him—the father who had brought him up and cared for him when they fled into Egypt—and even they did not find him at once. This shows that Jesus is not found among relatives and acquaintances, nor among those bound to him by physical ties. We do not find him in a crowd. Let us learn where it was that Joseph and Mary discovered him; then in their company we too shall be able to find him.

They found him, scripture says, in the temple. Not just anywhere, but in the temple; and not just anywhere in the temple, but among the doctors, listening to them and asking them questions.

And so we too must look for Jesus in the temple of God; we must look for him in the Church, among the doctors who belong to the Church and are faithful to its teaching. If we seek him there, we shall find him.

Moreover, anyone who claims to be a doctor without possessing Christ is a doctor in name only; Jesus, the Word and Wisdom of God, will not be found with him.

They found him, then, “sitting among the doctors,” or rather not merely sitting, but learning from them and listening to them. At this very moment Jesus is present among us too, questioning us and listening to us speaking. It is further written, “And they were all amazed.”

What caused their astonishment? Not his questions—though these were certainly extraordinary—but his answers. He questioned the doctors, and since they could not always give an answer, he himself replied to his own questions.

These replies were not mere disputation, but real teaching, exemplified for us in holy scripture where the divine law declares: “Moses spoke, and God answered him.” In this way the Lord instructed Moses about those matters of which he was ignorant.

So it was that sometimes Jesus asked questions, sometimes he answered them; and, as we have already said, wonderful though his questions were, his replies were even more wonderful.

In order, therefore, that we too may be his hearers and that he may put to us questions which he himself will then answer, let us pray to him earnestly, seeking him with great effort and anguish, and then our search will be rewarded.

Not for nothing was it written: “Your father and I have been looking for you anxiously.” The search for Jesus must be neither careless nor indifferent, not must it be only a transitory affair. Those who seek in this manner will never find him.

We must truly be able to say: “We have been looking for you anxiously”; if we can say this then he will reply to our weary and anxious soul in the words: “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”

Origen, 183-253

Dear Lord, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,
may we always search for You where You may be found:
in Word and in Sacrament, in truth and in love.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

"We must set out to see our Saviour lying in a manger."

Today, the Son of God is born, and everything changes. The Saviour of the world comes to partake of our human nature; no longer are we alone and forsaken. The Virgin offers us her Son as the beginning of a new life. The true light has come to illumine our lives so often beset by the darkness of sin. Today we once more discover who we are! Tonight we have been shown the way to reach the journey’s end. Now must we put away all fear and dread, for the light shows us the path to Bethlehem. We must not be laggards; we are not permitted to stand idle. We must set out to see our Saviour lying in a manger. This is the reason for our joy and gladness: this Child has been “born to us”; he was “given to us”, as Isaiah proclaims (cf. 9:5). The people who for two thousand years has traversed all the pathways of the world in order to allow every man and woman to share in this joy is now given the mission of making known “the Prince of peace” and becoming his effective servant in the midst of the nations.  ~Pope Francis, Homily for 2015 Christmas Midnight Mass
O come, let us hasten to adore Him!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Joy, joy, for Christ is born!

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.
~W. Chatterton Dix

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve

For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
thy all-powerful word leaped from heaven,
from the royal throne...
~Wisdom 18:14-15

How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
~Phillip Brooks

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

The King shall come when morning dawns
And light triumphant breaks,
When beauty gilds the eastern hills
And life to joy awakes.
~John Brownlie, 1859-1925

…because of the tender mercy of our God
by which the daybreak from on high will visit us
to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.
~Luke 1:78-79

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

I will seek Him whom my soul loves.
~Song of Songs 3:2

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready!
~Psalm 57:9

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent

The Lord is nigh.  ~Philippians 4:5

I wait for the Lord...
my soul waits for the Lord...
~Psalm 130:5,6

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

"It is no use saying that we are born two thousand years too late to give room to Christ. Nor will those who live at the end of the world have been born too late. Christ is always with us, always asking for room in our hearts. But now it is with the voice of our contemporaries that he speaks; with the eyes of store clerks, factory workers, and children that he gazes; with the hands of office workers, slum dwellers, and suburban housewives that he gives. It is with the feet of soldiers and tramps that he walks, and with the heart of anyone in need that he longs for shelter. And giving shelter or food to anyone who asks for it, or needs it, is giving it to Christ."  ~Dorothy Day

O my Jesus, Word made flesh and splendor of the Father, let us see Your face!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

“If you but knew the gift of God!... There is one created being who knew this gift of God, one who never lost a particle of it…the faithful Virgin, who kept all things in her heart… The Father, inclining toward this creature so beauteous, so unaware of her beauty, decreed that she should be the Mother in time of Him who is His Son in eternity. Then the Spirit of Love, who presides at all the workings of God, came upon this Virgin and she uttered her Fiat! ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done unto me according to Thy word.’ The greatest of mysteries was accomplished, and through the descent of the Word into her, Mary was forever seized upon and held by God."  ~Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

O Mary, 
I love to contemplate you as you adore in profound recollection
the great mystery which is taking place within you.
You are the first temple of the Blessed Trinity,
the first adorer of the Incarnate Word,
the first tabernacle of His sacred humanity.
~Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene, OCD

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

For still the vision awaits its time;
it hastens to the end -- it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will  not delay.
~Habakkuk 2:3

My soul hopes in the Lord
more than watchmen for daybreak.
~Psalm 130:6

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Third Sunday of Advent -- Gaudate Sunday

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:4-5

The liturgy of this Sunday, known as “Gaudete” Sunday, is a special invitation to us to joyfulness, to a vigilance that is not sad but happy.... True joy is not a fruit of “divertirsi” [having a good time] understood in the etymological sense of the word di-vertere (di-version), that is, shirking the commitments of life and one’s responsibilities.  True joy is linked to something our relationship with God. Those who have encountered Christ in their own lives feel a serenity and joy in their hearts that no one and no situation can take from them. St Augustine understood this very well; in his quest for truth, peace and joy, after seeking them in vain in many things he concluded with his famous words: “and our heart is restless until it rests in God” (cf. Confessions, I, 1, 1).  True joy is not merely a passing state of mind or something that can be achieved with the person’s own effort; rather it is a gift, born from the encounter with the living Person of Jesus and, making room within ourselves, from welcoming the Holy Spirit who guides our lives. It is the invitation of the Apostle Paul who says: “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:23).  
~Pope Benedict XVI, 12/11/11 Angelus Message

Shout with exultation, City of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
 ~Isaiah 12:6

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Blessed is the man that hears me,
and that watches daily at my gates,
and waits at the posts of my doors.
He that shall find me, shall find life,
and shall have salvation from the Lord.
~Proverbs 8:34-35

Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: Let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you. Let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also, do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?  ~~Words of Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego, Dec. 12, 1531
I love you, dear Mary, and I thank you for being our Mother Most Wonderful!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Let us celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary;
Let us adore her Son, Christ the Lord.
~Invitatory from the Divine Office for Dec 8 

You are the glory of Jerusalem,
you are the joy of Israel,
you are the honor of our people.
You have been blessed, O Virgin Mary,
by the Lord God on high,
more than all other women on earth.
Draw us, O Virgin immaculate;
we will run after you
to the odor of your ointments.
~from the Divine Office for Dec 8
O my dear Mother Mary -- our life, our sweetness and our hope! -- I will indeed run after you, with great confidence and abounding joy, because I know that you will always lead me to Jesus, your Beloved Son and my Precious Lord and Savior. Ave, ave, ave Maria!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Come, Lord Jesus! Come and lead us home!

“The House of Christmas” by G. K. Chesterton 

There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honor and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.

A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam,
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Silent Virgin

The Evangelist Luke describes [Mary] as the silent Virgin who listens constantly to the eternal Word, who lives in the Word of God. Mary treasures in her heart the words that come from God and, piecing them together as in a mosaic, learns to understand them. Let us too, at her school, learn to become attentive and docile disciples of the Lord.  ~Pope Benedict XVI, 1/1/06 Homily

It is good to wait with silence for the salvation of God.   ~Lamentations 3:26

O Mary, Virgin Mother,
teach me your silence,
teach me your love.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Now that takes the cake!

Ave Maria! Have you seen the above image? If not, you can read about it here. The short version is that a woman named Lisa Aldrich selected a cake at the grocery store for her sister's birthday. Lisa asked "a bakery-looking employee" to write "Happy Birthday Mandy" on the cake. It took the employee "a long time," but eventually she returned the embellished cake to Lisa, who promptly thanked her and headed to check-out. There the cashier and several other employees, including the manager, gave the cake "a serious once-over." They told Lisa that the woman who decorated the cake has autism, which is why it took her so long to accomplish this simple task and why the writing on the cake is so askew.

Hark! I hear St. John the Baptist crying out "And the crooked shall be made straight!" (Luke 3:5) Miss Cake-Decorator did what was asked of her, even though it wasn't her job. Lisa didn't hesitate to purchase a cake, even though it wasn't picture perfect. Love does what is asked and receives what is given. I suspect that's a birthday cake that Lisa, Mandy and everyone else will remember forever. I hope I do, too.  

"Every valley shall be exalted,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough ways plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh together shall see,
that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken."
~Isaiah 40:4-5

Come, dear Jesus!  Come and straighten my crooked heart
that it may reveal Your glory for all to see.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"the Lord always wants to come through us"

Yet there is not only the final coming at the end of time:  in a certain sense the Lord always wants to come through us. And he knocks at the door of our hearts:  are you willing to give me your flesh, your time, your life? 

This is the voice of the Lord who also wants to enter our epoch, he wants to enter human life through us. He also seeks a living dwelling place in our personal lives. This is the coming of the Lord. Let us once again learn this in the season of Advent:  the Lord can also come among us.  

~Pope Benedict XVI, 11/26/05 Homily

Come, dear Lord, come and make Your home in me!