Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"And this will be a sign for you..."

"For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger."  ~Luke 2:11-12

"And now, with what words shall we praise the love of God?  What thanks shall we give?  He so loved us that for our sakes He, through whom time was made, was made in time; and He, older by eternity than the world itself, was younger in age than many of His servants in the world; He, who made man, was made man; He was given existence by a mother whom He brought into existence; He was carried in hands which He formed; He nursed at breasts which He filled; He cried like a babe in the manger in speechless infancy -- this Word without which human eloquence is speechless!"  ~St. Augustine, Sermons for Christmas, #6

O Divine Child of Bethlehem,
only begotten Son of the Father!
We adore You and we praise You
for so loving us that You became flesh
and dwelt among us,
full of grace and truth.
And we rejoice for we have beheld Your glory,
and of Your fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace.
Amen!  Alleluia!
(cf. John 1:14, 16)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Supermoon Alert!

Ave Maria!  Just so you know, the first supermoon of the new year will appear on January 1, 2014.  Yes, I know it's a bit redundant to say the "new year" and then follow with the year itself.  I just need the practice, that's all -- 2014, 2014, 2014!!!  Starting the day after tomorrow, that is...

Interesting to note: 
(1) This first supermoon will be a new moon, not a full moon.
(2) The second supermoon will also be in January, on the 31st, which is unusual.  It too will be a new moon.
(3) There will be a total of five supermoons in 2014.   
Read more here.  I can't wait to see it!  The supermoon, that is, not the article  for which I just provided the link.  I know that my sweet Annie, who's currently being a snowbird with her husband John in Florida, will be watching this moon rise as well as taking pictures as only she can.  I'll post them as soon as I receive them from her.  Tomorrow I will post some gorgeous sunsets that she emailed me from a few evenings ago.  Ah, such glory!

So the day after tomorrow, January 1, 2014, the first supermoon of the new year will rise.  Be there, if you can -- and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How great our joy!

Christ is born to us: Come, let us adore.
 ~Invitatory for Christmas Day Matins from the Divine Office

Sleep, holy Babe! upon Thy mother's breast
Great Lord of earth and sea and sky
How sweet it is to see Thee lie
In such a place of rest,
In such a place of rest!
~Rev. Edward Casswall

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Vigil of Christmas

 Through the tender mercy of our God
the day shall dawn upon us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death
and to guide our feet
into the way of peace.
~Luke 1:78-79
This day you shall know that the Lord is coming,
and tomorrow you shall His glory...
run to meet Him, saying:
It is the great beginning,
and of His reign there shall be no end:
God, the Mighty, the Ruler,
the Prince of Peace, alleluia.
~Divine Office for the Vigil of Christmas
from the Roman Catholic Breviary

Monday, December 23, 2013

"A candle let me be to shine..."

"The Candle"
by Georg Johannes Gick
A candle let me be to shine
before the manger;
Let me stay as a burning sign
to all who pass along this way…
So that some poor wandering stranger
may see my light and come,
leave earth’s streets and find a manger
that is all men’s home.
Then let my wax drip to the floor
with the love I bring;
Only when I am no more
will I be everything!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  ~Matthew 1:18

Matthew the evangelist gives us an account of the way in which the eternal Son of God, begotten before the world began, appeared in time as the Son of Man. His description is brief but absolutely true.

By tracing the ancestry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through the male line he brings it down from Abraham to Joseph, the husband of Mary.

It is indeed fitting in every respect that when God decided to become incarnate for the sake of the whole human race none but a virgin should be his mother, and that, since a virgin was privileged to bring him into the world, she should bear no other son but the son who is God.

Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel, a name which means God-with-us. The name God-with-us, given to our Savior by the prophet, signifies that two natures are united in his one person.

Before time began he was God, born of the Father, but in the fullness of time he became Emmanuel, God-with-us, in the womb of his mother, because when the Word was made flesh and lived among us he deigned to unite our frail human nature to his own person.

Without ceasing to be what he had always been, he began in a wonderful fashion to be what we are, assuming our nature in such a way that he did not lose his own.

And so Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, the child of her own flesh and blood. She brought forth the God who had been born of God before creation began, and who, in his created humanity, rightfully surpassed the whole of creation. And Scripture says she named him Jesus.

Jesus, then, is the name of the Virgin’s son. According to the angel’s explanation, it means one who is to save his people from their sins. In doing so he will also deliver them from any defilement of mind and body they have incurred on account of their sins.

But the title “Christ” implies a priestly or royal dignity.

In the Old Testament it was given to both priests and kings on account of the anointing with chrism or holy oil which they received. They prefigured the true king and high priest who, on coming into this world, was anointed with the oil of gladness above all his peers.

From this anointing or chrismation he received the name of Christ, and those who share in the anointing which he himself bestows, that is the grace of the Spirit, are called Christians.

May Jesus Christ fulfill his saving task by saving us from our sins; may he discharge his priestly office by reconciling us to God the Father, and may he exercise his royal power by admitting us to his Father’s kingdom, for he is our Lord and God, who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen.

~Venerable Bede, c. 673-735

For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him,
the Virgin Mother longed for him
with love beyond all telling,
John the Baptist sang of his coming
and proclaimed his presence when he came.
It is by his gift that already we rejoice
at the mystery of his Nativity,
so that he may find us watchful in prayer
and exultant in his praise.
And so...we sing the hymn of your glory,
as without end we acclaim:
Holy, Holy, Holy...
Preface II of Advent
The Roman Missal

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mary, "woman wrapped in silence"

But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.  ~Luke 2:19

But she, with her silence, hid the mystery that she did not understand and with this silence allowed for this mystery to grow and blossom in hope...  May the Lord give all of us the grace to love the silence, to seek him and to have a heart that is guarded by the cloud of silence.  ~Pope Francis, 12/20/13 Homily

Dear Mary, woman wrapped in silence,
teach us to love the mystery,
to listen to the silence,
to blossom in hope,
to give birth in love.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Angelic Salutation

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.  ~Luke 1:26-27

"It is neither to Jerusalem, the royal city, nor within the Temple that makes it great, nor in the sanctuary, which is the holiest part of the Temple, nor among the most holy exercises of a wholly divine function, nor to a man as famous for his virtue as for the dignity of his office that the holy angel is sent this time.  No, this time God sent Gabriel to a small village in Galilee, one of the least esteemed of the provinces, to the wife of a man who, as she did, truly belonged to the royal household but had been reduced to a humble trade.  This was no Elizabeth, whose virtue shone forth due to her husband's rank.  It was not thus with the wife of Joseph, who was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus: the wife of an unknown artisan, of a poor carpenter.  Ancient tradition teaches us that Mary too earned a living by her work, which is why the most ancient of the Fathers call Jesus Christ the son of a builder and a wage-earner. 

"This is not the wife of a famous man, whose name was well-known: 'she had been betrothed to a man named Joseph, and her name was Mary.'  Concerning externals, then, this second embassy of the angel is much illustrious than the other.  But if we look more deeply, we will discover something much more elevated.

"The angel begins with these words of humble greeting:  'Hail, Mary, full of grace.'  Hail, that is, most agreeable to God and full of his gifts, 'the Lord is within you, and you are blessed above all women' (cf. Luke 1:28).  This discourse is in a much loftier tone than the one that was addressed to Zechariah.  To him the angel said, 'Do not be afraid,' as to a man who has something to fear; and 'your prayers have been heard.'  Yet what is announced to Mary is something so sublime and excellent that she could not have asked for it in her prayers.  Mary, humble, hidden, small in her eyes, could not have begun to think that an angel would greet her, especially not with such noble words.  It is humility that made her heart troubled.   But the angel immediately said, 'Do not be afraid, Mary.'  He did not begin with these words, as we have seen him do with Zechariah, but her humility called forth his reply: 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God; you will conceive in your womb and bear a son' (Luke 1:30-31).  This marvelous conception will be followed by no less marvelous a birth.  There are those who conceive but never give birth, who have only barren, fruitless thoughts.  O my God!  Grant, O Lord, that following the example of Mary, I too should conceive and give birth.  And to whom should I give birth, if not to Jesus Christ?  'My little children,' said Saint Paul, 'I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you!' (Galatians 4:19)  As long as Jesus Christ, this is to say, consummate virtue, be not in us, it is only a weak and imperfect conception:  Jesus Christ must be born in our souls by true virtue and raised to maturity according to the new law of the gospel.

"O Jesus, your reign is eternal: will I ever see it come to an end in my own heart?  Will I ever cease to obey you?  After having begun according to the spirit, will I finish according to the flesh?  Will I repent of having done well?  Will I hand myself over anew to the tempter, after so many holy efforts to escape from his clutches?  Will pride ravage the harvest that is so ready to be gathered in?  No, we must be one of those of whom it is written: 'Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season, we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.'" (Galatians 6:9)

~Jacques-BĂ©nigne Bossuet, French bishop, theologian, and court preacher (1627-1704)

"Grant, O Lord,
that following the example of Mary,
I too should conceive and give birth."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"And the reason for our hope is this..."

Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.  ~Isaiah 7:14

...today I would like to reflect with you on the Birth of Jesus, the feast of trust and of hope, which overcomes uncertainty and pessimism. And the reason for our hope is this: God is with us and God still trusts us! Think well on this: God is with us and God still trusts us. God the Father is generous. He comes to abide with mankind, he chooses earth as his dwelling place to remain with people and to be found where man passes his days in joy or in sorrow.

Therefore, earth is no longer only “a valley of tears”, rather it is the place where God himself has pitched his tent, it is the meeting place of God with man, of God's solidarity with men.

God willed to share in our human condition to the point of becoming one with us in the Person of Jesus, who is true Man and true God. However, there is something even more surprising. The presence of God among men did not take place in a perfect, idyllic world but rather in this real world, which is marked by so many things both good and bad, by division, wickedness, poverty, arrogance and war. He chose to live in our history as it is, with all the weight of its limitations and of its tragedies. In doing so, he has demonstrated in an unequalled manner his merciful and truly loving disposition toward the human creature. He is God-with-us. Jesus is God-with-us. Do you believe this? Together let us profess: Jesus is God with us! Jesus is God with us always and for ever with us in history's suffering and sorrow. The Birth of Jesus reveals that God “sided” with man once and for all, to save us, to raise us from the dust of our misery, from our difficulty, from our sins.

Thank You, Father,
for giving us Jesus,
Your Beloved Son,
to be our Emmanuel,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Errata Alert!

Ave Maria!  Please note that there were several mistakes in the prayer/poem "Just Give Me Jesus" by Anne Graham Lotz that I posted to my blog early today  I obviously wasn't completely awake at that time, but now I think that I've caught them all so that what you see below is the correct version. 
Thank you, dear Jesus, for being all we could ever want,
yesterday, today and forever!

"All I want for Christmas is..."

He is enduringly strong,
He is entirely sincere,
He is eternally steadfast,
He is immortally gracious,
He is imperially powerful,
He is impartially merciful,
He is the greatest phenomena that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe,
He is God’s son,
He is the sinners’ savior,
He is the captive’s ransom,
He is the breathe of life,
He is the centerpiece of civilization,
He stands in the solitude of Himself,
He is august and He is unique,
He is unparallel and He is unprecedented,
He is undisputed and He is undefined,
He is unsurpassed and He is unshakable,
He is the lofty idea in philosophy,
He is the highest personality in psychology,
He is the supreme subject in literature,
He is the unavoidable problem in higher criticism,
He is the fundamental doctrine of theology,
He is the cornerstone,
the capstone,
and the stumbling stone of all religion,
He is the miracle of the ages.
Just give me Jesus.
No means of measure can define His limitless love,
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shoreless supply,
No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessings,
He forgives and He forgets,
He creates and He cleanses,
He restores and He rebuilds,
He heals and helps,
He reconciles and He redeems,
He comforts and He carries,
He lifts and He loves,
He is the God of the second chance,
the fat chance,
the slim chance,

the no chance.
Just give me Jesus.
He discharges debtors,
He delivers the captives,
He defends the feeble,
He blesses the young,
He serves the unfortunate,
He regards the aged,
He rewards the diligent,
He beautifies the meek,
He is the key to knowledge,
He is the fountain of life,
He is the wellspring of joy,
He is the storehouse of wisdom,
He is the foundation of faith,
He is the doorway of deliverance,
He is the pathway to peace,
He is the roadway of righteousness,
He is the gateway to glory,
He is the highway to happiness.
Just give me Jesus.
He supplies strength to the weary,
He increases power to the faint,
He offers escape to the tempted,
He sympathizes with the hurting,
He saves the hopeless,
He shields the helpless,
He sustains the homeless,
He gives purpose to the aimless,
He gives reason to our meaninglessness,
He gives fulfillment to our emptiness,
He gives light in the darkness,
comfort in the loneliness,
fruit in the bareness,
future to the hopeless,
fife to the lifeless.
Just give me Jesus.
He guards the young,
He seeks the stray,
He finds the lost,
He guides the faithful,
He rights the wrong,
He avenges the abused,
He defends the weak,
He comforts the oppressed,
He welcomes the prodigal,
He heals the sick,
He cleanses the dirty,
He beautifies the meek,
He restores the failure,
He mends the broken,
He blesses the poor,
He fills the empty,
He clothes the naked,
He satisfies the hungry,
He elevates the humble,
He forgives the sinner,
and He raises the dead.
Just give me Jesus.
His office is manifold and His promise is assured.
His life is matchless and His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is enough and His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous,
His yolk is easy and His burden is light,
He is indestructible,
He is indescribable,
He is incomprehensible,
He is inescapable,
He is invincible,
He is irresistible,
He is irrefutable,
I can’t get him out of my mind and I can’t get him out of my heart,
I can’t outlive him and I can’t live without him.
The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him but found they couldn’t stop Him,
Satan tried to tempt Him but found he couldn’t trip Him
Pilot examined Him on trial but found no fault in Him,
The Romans crucified Him but couldn’t take His life,
Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him.
Just give me Jesus.
He had no predecessor and He would have no successor,
He is the lion and He is the lamb,
He is man and He is God,
He is the seven way king.
He is the King of the Jews -- that’s a racial king.
He is the King of Israel -- that’s a national king.
He is the King of Righteousness -- that’s a moral king.
He is the King of Ages -- that’s an eternal king.
He is the King of Heaven -- that’s a universal king.
He is the King of Glory -- that’s a celestial king.
He is the Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Just give me Jesus!

"It is you, Lord, you are the only one."  ~Nehemiah 9:6
You and You alone,
my Lord and my All,
my King and my God!
You are all I want
for Christmas
for life

Monday, December 16, 2013

"A tree hath hope." ~Job 14:7

There will come forth a bud out of the root of Jesse,
and the whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord;
all flesh will see the salvation of God. 

~The Roman Breviary, Antiphon for the Benedictus at Lauds, Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Third Sunday of Advent

Are you the one who is to come, or are we to look for someone else?  ~Matthew 11:3

The Gospel narrative tells of a question which John the Baptist, who was in prison, put to the Lord through his disciples. “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to look for someone else?”

John himself was in no doubt about the matter. Even from his mother’s womb he had recognized Jesus, and at the Jordan he had borne his testimony; but he sent this embassy for two reasons.

In the first place, John wished to instruct his disciples. He knew that his own death was imminent and, like the good leader and teacher he was, he made provision for his disciples, to ensure that they would have a teacher and protector. He wanted to see them safe under Christ’s wing and in his care.

John’s second and paramount motive, however, was to draw attention to Christ. He knew that he had been sent to bear witness to Christ, and although he had given his testimony at the Jordan, few had accepted it.

Knowing now that his death was near he devised a profitable and very prudent plan: he would put this question to Jesus publicly and thus bring him into the limelight, so that in replying to the question Jesus would at the same time bear witness about himself, and thereby reveal himself to the people.

John knew that the Lord’s reply was bound to be very fruitful, and events proved him right.

The disciples approached Jesus, and in front of the crowd put to him the same question which the Jews had put to John. Everyone eagerly awaited his reply, for there had already been a rumor among the people that he might indeed be the Messiah.

The Lord gave no immediate answer, but delayed a little, and in their presence worked wonderful, mighty miracles.

Then he invited them, “Go and report to John what you have heard The blind are receiving their sight, the lame are walking, lepers are cleansed the deaf hear, the dead rise again, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”

He did not give an answer to them in so many words, but pointed to his deeds, as much as to say, “The works that I am doing are my witness. These are the works I am performing; judge for yourself whether I am the Messiah.”

This was an admirable reply, for he not only claimed by means of his works that he was the Messiah; he also proved it.

Isaiah had uttered three prophecies about Christ.

The first was this: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unsealed and the lame man will leap like a stag. ” (Is 35:5-6A)

The second was: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . he has sent me to announce good tidings to the poor.” (Is 61:1)

The third declared: “He will be a stone for stumbling over, and a rock of scandal as well, for both houses of Israel.” (Is 8:14)

The Lord fulfilled these prophecies before their eyes, and implicitly quoted them in his reply: the first, by saying, “The blind are receiving their sight, the lame are walking ... the deaf hear;” (Mt 11:5) the second in his claim that the good news is proclaimed to the poor; and the third by saying, “Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me (Mt 11:6). ”

~St. Thomas of Villanova , 1486-1555
Dear Lord, grant me the Advent grace to be like St. John the Baptist, Your cousin and forerunner, always drawing attention to You rather than to myself.  "More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!"  Amen.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"the quiet haven of communion with God"

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.  ~Matthew 11:28

"The great agitation in the world of today makes it more and more urgent to gain inner strength in those quiet encounters with Christ that make it possible for us to remain under his rule and authority. Situated as we are in the midst of a world that is so terribly unpeaceful, we need constant nourishment for our inner life. In short, if we want to avoid suffering inward shipwreck in the storm of public opinion and chaos, then our hidden inner being needs daily the quiet haven of communion with God."

Eberhard Arnold, Innerland: A Guide into the Heart of the Gospel

In God alone be at rest, my soul,
for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock, my salvation,
my fortress; never shall I falter.
Psalm 62(61):6-7

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Second Sunday of Advent

Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.  ~Matthew 3:2

The Gospel tells us that some people were rebuked by the Lord because, clever as they were at reading the face of the sky, they could not recognize the time for faith when the kingdom of heaven was at hand.

It was the Jews who received this reprimand, but it has also come down to us.

The Lord Jesus began his preaching of the Gospel with the admonition: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt 4:17).” His forerunner, John the Baptist, began his in the same way: “Repent, ” he said, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Mt 3:2).”

Today, for those who will not repent at the approach of the kingdom of heaven, the reproof of the Lord Jesus is the same. As he points out himself, “You cannot expect to see the kingdom of heaven coming. The kingdom of heaven,” he says elsewhere, “is within you (Lk 17:21).”

Each of us would be wise therefore to take to heart the advice of his teacher, and not waste this present time.

It is now that our Savior offers us his mercy; now, while he still spares the human race. Understand that it is in hope of our conversion that he spares us, for he desires no one’s damnation.

As for when the end of the world will be, that is God’s concern. Now is the time for faith.

Whether any of us here present will see the end of the world I know not; very likely none of us will. Even so, the time is very near for each of us, for we are mortal. There are hazards all around us.

We should be in less danger from them were we made of glass. What is more fragile than a vessel of glass? And yet it can be kept safe and last indefinitely.

Of course it is exposed to accidents, but it is not liable to old age and the suffering it brings.

We therefore are the more frail and infirm. In our weakness we are haunted by fears of all the calamities that regularly befall the human race, and if no such calamity overtakes us, still, time marches on.

We may evade the blows of fortune, but shall we evade death? We may escape perils from without but shall we escape what comes from within us? Now, suddenly, we may be attacked by any malady.

And if we are spared? Even so, old age comes at last, and nothing will delay it.

~St. Augustine, 354-430

...give me grace to be
now and always
a true penitent,
through Jesus Christ
Thy Son.
The Roman Catholic Daily Missal, 1962

Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Free Man

Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
Nelson Mandela, visiting his old prison cell

Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities which are within easy reach of every soul – are the foundations of one’s spiritual life.  ~Nelson Mandela, written in 1975 while imprisoned

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.  Amen.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Jesus is joyful"

Ave Maria!  Yesterday in his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the Lord's joy.
"Jesus was full of joy...  His inner joy comes precisely from this relationship with the Father in the Holy Spirit. And this is the joy he gives to us, and this joy is true peace. It is not a static, quiet, tranquil peace: Christian peace is a joyful peace for Jesus is joyful, God is joyful."
Christ shares His joy with us.  In John's Gospel, our Lord tells us "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).  Every word God speaks to us is a harbinger of joy.  In His presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 15:11).  Jesus Himself is our joy, and we have His promise that no one will take our joy away from us (John 16:22). 

As the Holy Father concluded:
“A Church without joy is unthinkable... Jesus has desired that his bride, the Church, be joyful...  The joy of the Church is to announce the name of Jesus, and to proclaim: My spouse is the Lord, he is God who saves us and accompanies us." 
Today and always, may the joy of the Lord be our strength (Nehemiah 8:10)!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

No Sourpusses!!!

Who is Pope Francis talking about?
‘Obsessed’, ‘self-absorbed’, ‘sourpusses’

Ave Maria!  The above headline at lifesitenews.com just caught my eye and made me chuckle.  You see, I was wondering the same thing when the news came out about the Holy Father's apostolic exhortation, "Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel)" In fact, I didn't believe it at all when I read in an article published by a major news media that Pope Francis used the word "sourpusses" in his first papal document.  I burst out laughing (OK, "snorted derisively" would be a more accurate way to put it except that snorting is so uncouth, especially for a lady, which I always strive to be, even when I'm home alone) and then screeched (also uncouth and unladylike, but it so goes with snorting derisively, which, just so you know, is a rather redundant phrase) "Oh, puleeze!  Here we go again!  The media takes everything out of context and exaggerates grossly!" 

And then, to prove this to myself as well as to allow for the possibility that Pope Francis may have said precisely that, I hastened to the Vatican website for a look-see of "Evangelii Gaudium" as published here.  I copied it onto my hard drive so that I can begin reading it now as a Word document rather than wait until it's published in printed form next month.  Given that it runs 102 pages in a Word document -- which equals 51,680 words -- I enlisted the help of "Find and Replace" as the surest and fastest way of ferreting out those sourpusses.

Guess what I found?  Not only "sourpusses" but also "querulous and disillusioned pessimists"!!!!  Ah, such unsavory characters!!!  (Surely it is not I, Lord?!)

HOWEVER, if we read the Holy Father's words carefully, we see that he did not refer to any particular sourpusses.  In fact, he did not even say that there are sourpusses in the Church and world that we need to get rid of. 

Here's what Pope Francis said:
One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, "sourpusses". #85
OK, so the Holy Father did use the word "sourpusses" -- and yes, the media somewhat took it out of context.

If Pope Francis had any particular people in mind when he spoke of those sourpusses, I don't know who they are.  Nor do I need to know.  What matters to me is that I do my utmost not to be either a sourpuss or one of those "querulous and disillusioned pessimists".

And the way to do this, I believe, is to take to heart the Holy Father's message of "The Joy of the Gospel". 
The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice. #5
Pope Francis explains that such joy is God's gift to us: 
With a tenderness which never disappoints, but [God] always capable of restoring our joy, he makes it possible for us to lift up our heads and to start anew.  #3

“Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (Jn 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lk 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Our Christian joy drinks of his brimming heart. He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (Jn 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (Jn 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the first Christians “ate their food with glad and generous hearts” (2:46). Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (13:52). The newly baptized eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (8:39), while Paul’s jailer “and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God” (16:34). Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy?  #5
Indeed!  The prophet Isaiah promises us that "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Is 12:3).  May our Advent response be to "shout, and sing for joy...for great in [our] midst is the Holy One of Israel" (Is 12:6).
"I will rejoice in you and be glad."
~Psalm 9:3
P.S.  By the way, the Holy Father also used the words "obsessed" and "self-absorbed" in "Evangelii Gaudium" -- another blog post for another day!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"Do not be afraid, Mary" (Luke 1:30)

"Do not fear, Mary," [the Angel] says (Luke 1:30).  In fact, there was reason for her to fear, for it was a great burden to bear the weight of the world upon herself, to be the Mother of the universal King, to be the Mother of the Son of God:  what a burden that was!  It was too heavy a burden for human strength to bear!  But the Angel said:  "Do not fear!  Yes, you are carrying God, but God is carrying you.  Do not fear! 
~Pope Benedict XVI, 12/18/05 Homily

Dear Lord, when I am afraid, I will trust in you.  Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2013

"earth's most amazing knowledge"

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary.
And on one night when a great star swings
free from its high mooring and walks down the sky
to be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
with hope’s expectance of nativity.
I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
guarded and loved me, though I could not see.
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
someone is hidden in this dark with me.
by Jessica Powers

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday of Advent

Stay awake, you must be ready.  ~Matthew 24:42

“Watch, for you do not know the day or the hour.” Like many other scriptural texts, this admonition is addressed to all of us, though it is formulated in such a way that it would seem to concern only Christ’s immediate audience.

We can all apply it to ourselves because the Last Day and the end of the world will come for each of us on the day we depart this present life. This means we must make sure we die in the state in which we wish to appear on the Day of Judgment.

Bearing this in mind each of us should guard against being led astray and failing to keep watch, otherwise the day of the Lord’s return may take us unawares. If the last day of our life finds us unprepared, then we shall be unprepared on that day also.

I do not for a moment believe the apostles expected the Lord to return in judgment during their own lifetime. All the same there can be no doubt that they took every care not to be drawn from the right path. They kept watch, observing the universal precepts their master had given to his disciples so as to be ready when he came again.

Consequently we must always be on the lookout for Christ’s twofold coming, the one when we shall have to give an account of everything we have done, and the other when he comes day after day to stir our consciences. He comes to us now in order that his future coming may find us prepared.

If my conscience is burdened with sin what good will it do me to know when the Day of Judgment will be? Unless the Lord comes to my soul beforehand and makes his home with me, unless Christ lives in me and speaks his word in my heart, it is useless for me to know if and when his coming will take place.

Only if Christ is already living in me and I in him will it go well with me when he comes in judgment. If I have already died to the world and am able to say, “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world,” then, in a sense, his final coming is already present to me.

Consider also our Lord’s warning: “Many will come in my name.” It is only the Antichrist and his members who, albeit falsely, claim the name of Christ, though they lack his works and his true doctrine and wisdom.

You will never find the Lord in Scripture actually declaring, “I am the Christ.” His teaching and miracles revealed it clearly enough, for the Father was at work in him. Louder than a thousand acclamations his teaching and mighty works proclaimed: “I am the Christ.”

And so whether or not you find him describing himself in so many words, the works of the Father and his own message of love declared what he was, whereas the false christs who possessed neither godly deeds not holy doctrine loudly claimed to be what they were not.

Paschasius Radbertus, c.785-860

Dear Lord,
who will come at an hour we do not expect,
I beg of You the Advent spirit of readiness and resolve,
for You will surely come and not delay.