Monday, December 30, 2019

January 5, 2020 The Feast of the Epiphany

January 5, 2020 - The Feast of the Epiphany - A

Reading I: Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72
Reading II: Ephesians 3: 2-3a, 5-6
Gospel: Matthew 2:1-12

The word 'Epiphany' means a manifestation, showing, or revelation. This feast celebrates God revealing himself through his Son, the God-man, Jesus, in the form of a human Infant. He shows himself to the simple and the poor in the shepherds and to the learned and the rich in the Magi. He manifests Himself to the Jews and the gentiles (non-Jews). We learn that God wishes to reveal himself to all peoples. All are his beloved children.

Through the years, we see God revealed in his people who have been created in his image and likeness. At Christmas time, ideally, we see the love of God manifested in the kindness of people to their families and those in need. Christmas lights dispel darkness and remind us that like the Child Jesus, we are to bring light to our world.

Henry Van Dyke wrote a beautiful Christmas Story which illustrates this truth. It is one of my favorites: The Other Wise Man. Artaban had hoped to join the three Magi in their search for the new-born King, but he misses the caravan. Therefore, he sets out on his own, but it is too late to see the Infant Jesus. Joseph and Mary had to leave Bethlehem to escape with Jesus because Herod, wanted to destroy him.  

Nonetheless, while Artaban is in Bethlehem, he bribes a soldier who is about to kill a male baby on Herod's behalf. Herod fears that a young king of the Jews might replace him. Can you imagine the relief of the mother that her child is spared as a result of the kindness of Artaban who brings light into a very dark situation?

For thirty-three years, Artaban continues his search but thinks that he has not found him. Nevertheless,  on the journey, he helps many poor and troubled people. Finally, in Jerusalem, he finds the adult Jesus, the King of the Jews, being crucified. He is about to give his treasured pearl as a ransom for Jesus, but he witnesses a young girl being sold into slavery to pay debts of her family.  His heart is touched and he gives the pearl he had intended to give the Infant Jesus to buy her freedom.

Suddenly, the earth quakes as Jesus dies on the cross. Artaban is hit by a large rock. As he lays dying, he hears a voice saying, "When you helped the least of my children, you helped me." During all those years of searching for Jesus, Artaban has been making God present to those in need.  

This story brings to life the lesson Jesus taught about the Last Judgement, as recorded in Matthew's Gospel Chapter 25: 1-46. I am sure that the Lord Jesus must appreciate Henry Van Dyke's deep understanding of and powerful illustration of his important lesson.

Reflection Question: How can I be a light in the darkness for some child of God in need?

Spanish Translation
Lectura I: Isaiah 60:1-6
Salmo 72
Lectura II: Efesios 3: 2-3a, 5-6
Evangelio: Mateo 2:1-12

La palabra 'Epifanía' significa una manifestación, demostración o revelación. Esta fiesta celebra a Dios revelándose a través de su Hijo, el Dios-hombre, Jesús, en la forma de un Niño humano. Se muestra a los simples y pobres en los pastores y a los eruditos y ricos en los Magos. Se manifiesta a los judíos y a los gentiles (no judíos). Aprendemos que Dios desea revelarse a todos los pueblos. Todos son sus amados hijos.

A través de los años, vemos a Dios revelado en su pueblo que ha sido creado a su imagen y semejanza. En Navidad, idealmente, vemos el amor de Dios manifestado en la amabilidad de las personas con sus familias y con los necesitados. Las luces navideñas disipan la oscuridad y nos recuerdan que, como el Niño Jesús, debemos traer luz a nuestro mundo.

Henry Van Dyke escribió una hermosa historia de Navidad que ilustra esta verdad. Es uno de mis favoritos: The Other Wise Man. Artaban esperaba unirse a los tres Reyes Magos en su búsqueda del Rey recién nacido, pero echa de menos la caravana. Por lo tanto, se va solo, pero es demasiado tarde para ver al Niño Jesús. José y María tuvieron que abandonar Belén para escapar con Jesús porque Herodes quería destruirlo.

No obstante, mientras Artaban está en Belén, soborna a un soldado que está a punto de matar a un bebé varón en nombre de Herodes. Herodes teme que un joven rey de los judíos pueda reemplazarlo. ¿Te imaginas el alivio de la madre de que su hijo se haya salvado como resultado de la amabilidad de Artaban que trae luz a una situación muy oscura?

Durante treinta y tres años, Artaban continúa su búsqueda, pero cree que no lo ha encontrado. Sin embargo, en el viaje, ayuda a muchas personas pobres y con problemas. Finalmente, en Jerusalén, encuentra al Jesús adulto, el Rey de los judíos, siendo crucificado. Está a punto de dar su preciada perla como rescate por Jesús, pero es testigo de cómo se vende a una joven como esclava para pagar las deudas de su familia. Su corazón está conmovido y le da la perla que tenía la intención de darle al Niño Jesús para comprar su libertad.

De repente, la tierra tiembla cuando Jesús muere en la cruz. Artaban es golpeado por una gran roca. Mientras se muere, oye una voz que dice: "Cuando ayudaste al menor de mis hijos, me ayudaste a mí". Durante todos esos años de búsqueda de Jesús, Artaban ha estado haciendo que Dios esté presente para los necesitados.

Esta historia da vida a la lección que Jesús enseñó sobre el Juicio Final, como se registra en el capítulo 25: 1-46 del Evangelio de Mateo. Estoy seguro de que el Señor Jesús debe apreciar la profunda comprensión y la poderosa ilustración de Henry Van Dyke de su importante lección.

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿Cómo puedo ser una luz en la oscuridad para algún hijo de Dios necesitado?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our personal “light” is the love God has for us that we return to Him in acts of kindness. Mother Katharine urged the Sisters to be so animated by love of God that their students sensed this love. Being so energized by this love, the Sisters’ examples would encourage the students to pass this energy unto others. The Christophers said, “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” One little bit of light can be reflected in the mirrors of others’ eyes. Being a beacon of light can start a 
positive chain reaction.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I received a Christmas card from a friend that included the following written reflection.”

“Thinking about you this Christmas with best wishes and blessings especially for the New Year. I’m trying to center on Christ, thinking about what is more important. Then I found it in one of the sayings of St. Teresa of Calcutta: ‘It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you…yes, it is Christmas every time you smile at your brother and offer him your hand.'"

I think I’ll smile a lot in 2020. Maybe with consistency, I can make it Christmas every day for someone needing to be reminded that they are valued and loved by God.

Monday, December 23, 2019

December 29, 2019  - Feast of the Holy Family - A

Reading I: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Psalm 128
Reading II: Colossians 3:12-21
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

When I asked the Lord what I should focus on regarding the Holy Family, I was struck by the fact that the Holy Family was a refugee family. With so many refugees in our world today, let us look at some of what that involves.

First, not everyone is welcoming to the foreigner. Years ago, a small house on the campus of Aquinas College was empty, so an interfaith group in Newton, Massachusetts, decided to adopt a refugee family. The maintenance man who had lived there had recently passed away, so the College offered the house as a Welcome Home for the refugee family. I was the liaison between the Convent and the family, so I knew the family well. As time went on,  some neighbors were looking to find fault with the newcomers. Someone observed the father spanking one of the little girls. The neighbor reported the refugee family and the issue was brought to my attention. I was able to defend the father who was simply disciplining the child. Many people could not relate to the refugee family since they came from a different culture and held different beliefs. Some did not like having refugees living there.

Secondly, there are many challenges for the refugee when settling in a foreign country, especially when one does not know the language or customs. Joseph and Mary did not speak the language of the Egyptians. How challenging it must have been to have their basic needs met, like finding shelter. Joseph would have difficulty finding work to support the family. He may have begun by using his skills in carpentry, but communicating with his customers would probably have been challenging.

Finally, fear is involved. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and says, "Arise and take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy him." Joseph, to protect his family, awakens them, and they travel by night to Egypt. Once in Egypt, they settle there. However, being human parents, Mary and Joseph probably worry that Herod will find them and destroy Jesus.

The refugee families throughout the world today also have to leave behind their homelands, possessions and sometimes family members to arrive in a community of people who may not accept them. In my work with some refugee families from China in the late '70s, I discovered that one family had to leave their two oldest sons and the grandmother behind. The sons were of the age for military service and would not be allowed to leave. Also, travel would have been too difficult for the elderly, fragile grandmother.

Another family had a business in China. Fleeing the Communist government, they traveled by foot through Vietnam heading for Cambodia. At times, they had to resort to eating the bark off of trees.  When they did not have enough food, what little they had was given to the children. Both parents and the youngest child starved to death before reaching Cambodia. Then the two surviving children became separated during the explosion of a mine.

As a campus minister at Aquinas, I observed the fear of being separated from one another. I had young college women work with the children helping them to learn English. When the children went into the restrooms at the College, they gathered together in the cubicles out of fear that they might be separated from one another.

During the Christmas Season,  we rejoice in the wonder of God sending his Son to earth to reveal himself more clearly to us and to redeem us. However, when we look more closely to see the reality of all the sacrifice and suffering this involved for the Holy Family, our hearts must be filled with deep gratitude for their willingness to say "Yes" to God's call.

Reflection Question: How can I imitate Mary and Joseph in response to God's plan in my life?

Spanish Translation

Lectura I: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14
Salmo 128
Lectura II: Colosenses 3:12-21
Evangelio: Mateo 2:13-15, 19-23

Cuando le pregunté al Señor en qué debería centrarme con respecto a la Sagrada Familia, me sorprendió el hecho de que la Sagrada Familia era una familia de refugiados. Con tantos refugiados en nuestro mundo hoy, veamos algo de lo que eso implica.

Primero, no todos son bienvenidos al extranjero. Hace años, una pequeña casa en el campus de Aquinas College estaba vacía, por lo que un grupo interreligioso en Newton, Massachusetts, decidió adoptar una familia de refugiados. El hombre de mantenimiento que había vivido allí había fallecido recientemente, por lo que el Colegio ofreció la casa como un hogar de bienvenida para la familia de refugiados. Yo era el enlace entre el convento y la familia, así que conocía bien a la familia. Con el paso del tiempo, algunos vecinos buscaban encontrar fallas en los recién llegados. Alguien observó al padre azotar a una de las niñas. El vecino denunció a la familia de refugiados y el tema me llamó la atención. Pude defender al padre que simplemente estaba disciplinando al niño. Muchas personas no podían relacionarse con la familia de refugiados ya que provenían de una cultura diferente y tenían creencias diferentes. A algunos no les gustaba tener refugiados viviendo allí.

En segundo lugar, existen muchos desafíos para el refugiado cuando se instala en un país extranjero, especialmente cuando uno no conoce el idioma o las costumbres. José y María no hablaban el idioma de los egipcios. Cuán desafiante debe haber sido satisfacer sus necesidades básicas, como encontrar refugio. Joseph tendría dificultades para encontrar trabajo para mantener a la familia. Puede haber comenzado usando sus habilidades en carpintería, pero comunicarse con sus clientes probablemente hubiera sido un desafío.

Finalmente, el miedo está involucrado. Un ángel se le aparece a José en un sueño y le dice: "Levántate y llévate al niño y a su madre, huye a Egipto y quédate allí hasta que yo te lo diga. Herodes buscará al Niño para destruirlo". Joseph, para proteger a su familia, los despierta y viajan de noche a Egipto. Una vez en Egipto, se instalan allí. Sin embargo, siendo padres humanos, María y José probablemente se preocupan de que Herodes los encuentre y destruya a Jesús.

Las familias de refugiados en todo el mundo de hoy también tienen que dejar atrás sus tierras, posesiones y, a veces, miembros de la familia para llegar a una comunidad de personas que tal vez no las acepten. En mi trabajo con algunas familias de refugiados de China a finales de los años 70, descubrí que una familia tenía que dejar atrás a sus dos hijos mayores y a la abuela. Los hijos eran mayores de edad para el servicio militar y no se les permitiría irse. Además, viajar habría sido demasiado difícil para la anciana y frágil abuela.

Otra familia tenía un negocio en China. Huyendo del gobierno comunista, viajaron a pie por Vietnam en dirección a Camboya. A veces, tenían que recurrir a comer la corteza de los árboles. Cuando no tenían suficiente comida, lo poco que tenían se les daba a los niños. Ambos padres y el hijo más joven murieron de hambre antes de llegar a Camboya. Luego, los dos niños sobrevivientes se separaron durante la explosión de una mina.

Como ministro del campus en Aquinas, observé el temor de estar separados el uno del otro. Hice que jóvenes universitarias trabajaran con los niños ayudándoles a aprender inglés. Cuando los niños entraron a los baños del Colegio, se reunieron en los cubículos por temor a que pudieran separarse unos de otros.

Durante la temporada navideña, nos regocijamos en la maravilla de Dios enviando a su Hijo a la tierra para revelarse más claramente a nosotros y redimirnos. Sin embargo, cuando miramos más de cerca para ver la realidad de todos los sacrificios y sufrimientos que esto implica para la Sagrada Familia, nuestros corazones deben estar llenos de profunda gratitud por su disposición a decir "Sí" al llamado de Dios.

Pregunta de reflexión: ¿Cómo puedo imitar a María y a José en respuesta al plan de Dios en mi vida?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
At times each of us has experienced a little of what Mary and Joseph did. Were we ever the “other”? Not part of the majority or the “core group”? Were we ever anxious about a new challenge, a new job, a new home? Did we rely on God for strength, for words? Mary and Joseph trusted the Word of God to see them the new challenges. Mother Katharine suggested that we “throw the whole burden” on God. For our part, we should “Do each thing as well as you can, leave the rest to God.” We can imitate Mary and Joseph by doing what we are called to do and trusting God to do His part.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
For me, the short answer to your reflection question is to have faith that God has a plan for my life, and trust that God will provide the direction and support I need to accomplish His plan. The Bible tells us, “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope” ( Jeremiah 29;11). While this sacred promise should fortify me with courage and the desire to move forward with whatever God wants of me, my “yes,” unlike Mary and Joseph’s affirmation, is murky. I’ll agree to give it a try if it doesn’t require too much time, effort, and discomfort. Obviously, I have a lot of spiritual work to do.

Today’s global refugee crisis is so difficult to hear about and see pictures of the sparse conditions and harsh treatment experienced by people forced to flee their homes. The awareness that Joseph and Mary were forced to make such a long, dangerous journey before Mary’s giving birth to Jesus, and then forced to flee again as a family, draws me to the crib with deeper humility, respect, awe, and wonder. The journey makes the difference. I would venture to say that Mary and Joseph grew closer to one another and to God as they traveled over the rough, unfamiliar terrain. A great deal of personal and spiritual growth results from cooperating with God. He uses the dark and lonely paths to mold us into the person He created us to be. Spiritual writers let us know that following God’s lead in never easy; the journey will be challenging and require self-sacrifice. But the “yes,” is always worth it because it bears fruit for His kingdom.

The plight of Joseph and Mary led to Bethlehem where Mary gave birth to Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Let us pray for the grace to humbly come before the newborn child this Christmas day to offer praise, thanksgiving, and appreciation of the journey. The Christmas season is a good time to reflect on our own life journey, to look back and see how far we have come, evaluate where we are today, and to look ahead and say yes to the path God has planned for us – knowing, trusting that He walks with us.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Dec. 22, 2019 The Fourth Sunday of Advent

December 22, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Advent/Christmas

Reading I: Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24
Reading II: Romans 1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

We usually celebrate Christmas around the time of the Winter Solstice, which marks the shortest day of the year. Following the solstice, the days begin to get longer. Even before the time of Jesus, the ancient peoples celebrated the longer light with Winter Solstice Festivals. Now, Jesus is referred to as the Light of the World and thus lights are important symbols of Christmas. 

Light reveals things to us. The ancient peoples recognized that there is a Creator of our world by studying Nature. They understood that God is powerful and intelligent. They experienced Him as their Provider as they harvested food from the earth.

However, when Jesus came as one of us, he revealed other qualities of God. Since he often referred to his Father, his disciples were anxious to see him and even asked Jesus to show them the Father.  The response of Jesus was that when they looked at Jesus, they saw the Father, since the Father and Jesus were one.  

If Jesus had not come to us in human form, we would not have understood that God is compassionate, yet just. For example, in a world where women were considered less than men, Jesus related to them in a respectful and loving manner. We have a deeper understanding of God because of how Jesus lived. Jesus entered this world of darkness to bring us the light of life.

We also learn a lot about the light of faith from Mary and Joseph. As a very young woman, Mary trusted God enough to say "Yes" to the virginal conception of  Jesus and all the suffering that would entail. How could she explain to Joseph that she had been faithful to him when she was already pregnant without their having consummated their marriage? 

What confusion and hurt Joseph must have felt when he realized Mary's pregnancy? His love was so strong that he chose to treat her with kindness, even before an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said to him, 

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife into your home, for it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins." (Matt 1:20)

Both Mary and Joseph showed deep faith and obedience to the will of God, in spite of all the suffering they had to endure.  One of my favorite memories is the witnessing of a posada when I was teaching at St. Catherine Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The word posada means "inn" or "shelter." Our community always included people of other cultures. One year, a Spanish brother and sister were chosen from our school to represent Mary and Joseph in a posada. I had never even heard of a posada before that time.  

A posada is an important Mexican Christmas tradition that is practiced in some parts of the United States now. The posada reenacts the story of Mary and Joseph's attempt to find shelter in Bethlehem after their long trip to comply with Caesar Augustus' order to return to the town of their family origin for a census. Since Joseph was of the house and family David, that meant difficult to travel by donkey and on foot at a time when Mary was near the time to give birth.

Because of the census, Bethlehem was crowded with people returning to the place of their family origin. The posada recalls the difficulties of Mary and Joseph experienced finding shelter as Mary is about to give birth. In the posada, either people or images representing Mary and Joseph traveling from place to place are followed by a candlelight procession of people singing Christmas Carols. Joseph dramatizes the requesting of a place to stay and another person, representing an innkeeper, responds that there is no room for them.

Finally, one person takes pity on them and offers them a place in a cave used for an animal shelter. It is there that the King of the Universe and Light of the World is to be born. The people in the procession are invited into a home or building and there is much celebration. It is a beautiful reminder of the importance of opening our hearts for Jesus to be born again in us so that his light can shine in our world today.

Reflection Question: How can I make room in my heart so that Jesus can be born again in me and bring light and love into our world today?

Spanish Translation
Cuarto domingo de Adviento/Navidad

Lectura I:  Isaías 7:10-14
Salmo 24
Lectura II:  Romanos 1:1-7
Evangelio: Matthew 1:18-24

Por lo general, celebramos la Navidad en la época del solsticio de invierno, que marca el día más corto del año. Después del solsicio, los días comienzan a alargarse. Incluso antes de la época de Jesús, los pueblos antiguos celebraban la luz más larfa con los festivales de solsticio de invierno. Ahora, a Jesús se le conoce como la Luz del Mundo y, por lo tanto, las luces son símbolos importantes de la Navidad. 

La luz nos revela cosas. Los pueblos antiguos reconocieron que existe un Creador de nuestro mundo al estudiar le Naturaleza. Ellos entendieron que Dios es ponderoso e inteligente. Lo experimentaron como su Proveedor mientras cosenchaban alimentos de la tierra.

Sin embargo, cuando Jesús vino como uno de nosotros, reveló otras cualidades de Dios. Como a menudo se refería a su Padre, sus discípulos estaban ansiosos por verlo e incluso le pidieron a Jesús que les mostrara al Padre. La respuesta de Jesús fue que cuando miraban a Jesús, veían al Padre, ya que el Padre y Jesús eran uno.

Si Jesús no hubiera venido a nosotros en forma humana, no habríamos entendido que Dios es compasivo, pero justo. Por ejemplo, en un mundo donde las mujeres eran consideradas menos que los hombres, Jesús se relacionó con ellas de manera respuruosa y amorosa. Tenemos una comprensión más profunda de Dios debido a cómo vivió Jesús. Jesús entró en este mundo de oscuridad para traernos la luz de la vida.

También aprendemos mucho sobre la luz de la fe de María y José. Como una mujer muy joven, María confiaba en Dios lo suficiente como para decir "Sí" a la concepción virginal de Jesús y todo el sufrimiento que conllevaría. ¿Cómo podía explicarle a José que había sido fiel a él cuando ya estaba embarazada sin que hubieran consumado su matrimonio?

¿Qué confusión y dolor debió haber sentido José cuando de dio cuenta del embaraza de María? Su amor era tan fuerte que decidió tratarla con amabilidad, incluso antes de que un ángel del Señor se le apareciera en un sueño y le dijera:
"José, hijo de David, no tendas miendo de llevar a María como tu esposa a tu casa, porque es por medio del Espíritu Santo que este niño fue condebido en ella. Ella dará a luz un hijo y debes llarmarlo Jesús porque él salvará a su pueblo de sus pecados". (Mateo 1:20)

Tanto María como José mostraton una profunda fe y obediencia a la coluntad de Dioa, a pesar de todo el sufrimiento que tuvieron que soportar. Uno de mis recuerdos faoritos es ser testigo de una posada cuando estaba enseñando en la Escuela de Indígenas St. Catherine en Santa Fe, Nuevo México. La palabra posada significa "posada" o "refugio". Nuestra comunidad siempre incluía personas de ostras culturas. Un año, un hermano y una hermana españoles fueron elegidos de nuestra escuela para representar a María y José en una posada. Nunca antes había oído hablar de una posada

Una posada es una importante tradición navideña mexicana que ahora se practica en algunas partes de los Estados Unidos. La posada recrea la historia del intento de María y José de encontrar refugio en Belén después de su largo viaje para cumplir con la orden de César Augusto de regresar a la ciudad de origen familiar para un censo. Como José era de la casa y la familia de David, eso significaba que era difícil viajar en momento en que María estaba cerca del momento de dar a luz.

Debido al censo, Belén estaba abarrotada de personas que regresaban al lugar de origen de su familia. La posada recuerda las dificultades de María y José para encontrar refugio cuando María está a punto de dar a luz. En la posada, las personas o las imágenes que representan a María y José que viajan de un lugar a otro son suguidas por una procesión de velas cantando villancicos navideños. José dramatiza la solicitud de un lugar para quedarse y otra persona, que representa a un posadero, responde que no hay espacio para ellos. 

Finalmente, una persona se compadece de ellos y les ofrece un lugar en una cueva utilizada como refugio para animales. Es allí donde nacerá el Rey del Universo y la Luz de Mundo. Las personas en la procesión son invitadas a una casa o edificio y hay mucha celebración. Es un ermoso recordatorio de la importancia de abrir nuestros corazones para que Jesús nazca de nuevo en nosotros para que su luz pueda brillar en nuestro mundo de hoy.

Pregunta de Reflexión: ¿Cómo puedo hacer espacio en mi corazón para que Jesús pueda nacer de nuevo en mí y traer luz y amor a nuestro mundo hoy?

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Is my heart a rough-hewn manger or a soft crib, waiting for the Infant Savior? Angry or hurtful memories are harsh and rough; prayers and kind acts can soften these. Praying for those with whom we are angry or doing quiet acts of kindness can line the crib of our heart with soft pieces of straw. We don’t have to do great deeds; any ordinary action “extraordinarily well done” for the love of God will cushion our hearts to provide a welcoming crib for the Infant Jesus.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Monday evening, December 9 th, was my company “Holiday” party. The event was held at a beautifully decorated country club. The food and drinks were delectable and plentiful. It was nice having the opportunity to chat leisurely with co-workers and each of us received a bottle of wine to take home. I drove home feeling grateful for the generosity of my employer. But, I wasn’t feeling “holiday-ish.” It was straight to bed for me because tomorrow was a workday.

It snowed overnight and the next morning as I drove to the office I was in awe of the beauty of the freshly fallen snow covering the trees and vast grassy areas. There was a sense of stillness and peace on the Interstate Highway. As I was taking in this incredible scenery, the song “Christmas Shoes” started playing on the radio. It’s about the love of an impoverished young boy for his terminally ill mother and a man who was very much trapped in the chains of success and attainment. Through this young boy’s desire to make his dying mother look beautiful to meet Jesus on that Christmas Eve, by wearing the red shoes he wanted to buy for her, this distracted man awakened to the Presence of God in Christmas. Tears poured from my eyes. In the sacred space of my car during the “holy hour” of my commute, I encountered the true Spirit of Christmas in the message of that song. At the same time, I felt deeply saddened at how the focus on the birth of Christ has become, in general, such a minor part of Christmas.

Prior to reading your blog, I was not familiar with a Posada. I really like the practice because it draws our attention to the difficulties that Joseph and Mary encountered on their “census pilgrimage” to Bethlehem. Exhausted after their forced journey of over 100 miles, there was no room at the inn for them to rest. Joseph’s heart must have been wrenched with disappointment at not being able to provide comfort and warmth for Mary. Yet, we celebrate their journey with illumined festivity. In reality, it was a very dark and dangerous walk. The fear resulting from the political unrest that gripped Bethlehem, and the smell of the manger have been obscured by sentimentality and commercialism.

This time of the year is very painful for many people. Strained finances, fragile relationships, unrealized hopes and expectations are acutely felt even though the “air” is filled with bright lights, shiny tinsel and Holiday music. We will never find the enduring happiness for which we yearn in the world no matter how festively it is packaged and how elegantly it is served up.

The wholeness, the oneness, the peace, the connection to the Christ child that many of us seek will be found in simplification and quiet reflection on the mystery of the incarnation. For some individuals, finding the way to the Christ child might include the willingness to accompany Joseph and Mary on the road to Bethlehem by examining the rough terrain that remains in one’s heart –remnants of resentment, anger, selfishness - and doing the work to release them so there will be room in our heart to receive Jesus. He came to heal and comfort the weak and the vulnerable – where else need we look but to the Baby in the manger to restore us to grace, peace and the reclaiming of our identity as the child of God that we are.

With an uncluttered, open heart, we can invite the Christ Child to be born anew within us, to illuminate His light in us and fill us with His Love. This renewal is the true miracle of Christmas. Having received these divine gifts, not only can we rejoice; we will radiate His light and love in the world.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Dec. 15 Third Sunday of Advent A

December 15, 2019   Third Sunday of Advent  A

Reading I:  Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146 
Reading II:  James 5:7-10
Gospel:  Matthew 11:2-11

This Sunday is often referred to as "Gaudete Sunday."  This is due to the fact that the Entrance Antiphon for the Mass begins with the word 'Gaudete,' which means 'Rejoice.' We begin with the beautiful prayer: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near" (Philippians 4:4-5). We are halfway through the Advent Season.

In the first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we are given hope about the coming of our Savior.  Isaiah even says that the desert and the dry land will rejoice. Psalm 146 continues the theme of God's faithfulness securing justice for the oppressed and food for the hungry.

James, in the second reading, calls us to be patient as we await the Redeemer's coming. He reminds us how the farmer practices patience waiting for the precious fruit of the earth. He also gives examples of the patience and hardships of prophets who spoke on behalf of  God, reminding the people of  the Lord's commands.

In Matthew's Gospel, we find John the Baptist in prison. John, who had dedicated his life to preaching repentance for sin and pointing to Jesus as the Lamb of God, was confused. He had been preaching about a God of retribution, echoing the prophet Amos. Now he is hearing that Jesus is preaching a God of love and mercy and healing people.

John sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus directly:"Are you the one to come or should we look for another?" John replies:

           Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their 
           sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead 
           are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And  
           blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."  (Matt. 11:4-6)

This response was even more confusing to John. Jesus was speaking out of the tradition of the prophet Isaiah and almost quotes him verbatim. He is stressing that the Lord is a God of love and mercy.

Although God is loving, merciful and just, it is difficult for us humans to wrap our finite minds around our infinite God. We have some who emphasize the justice of God and others his love and mercy. When God calls us home, we will have a better understanding. 

In the meantime, when we are way off track, God sends us messages through his Saints. For example, he appeared to St. Margaret Mary and showed her his Sacred Heart, a heart of love and mercy. That brought about the devotion to the Sacred Heart. Also, more recently we have the visions of St. Faustina with the Divine Mercy Image and devotion.

John the baptist,who was highly praised by Jesus, did the correct thing in sharing his confusion with Jesus and listening for his response. He gives us an example of how to deal with our own questions and confusion.

Reflection Question:  When you are confused or having doubts, do you go

to Jesus with them?  He understands. As a human he even said during his
Passion: "My God, my God, why did you abandon me?"

Spanish Translation
Tercer domingo de adviento

Lectura I: Isaías 35: 1-6a, 10
Salmo 146
Lectura II: Santiago 5: 7-10
Evangelio: Mateo 11: 2-11

Este domingo a menudo se conoce como "Domingo Gaudete". Esto se debe al hecho de que la Antífona de entrada para la Misa comienza con la palabra 'Gaudete', que significa 'Alégrate'. Comenzamos con la hermosa oración: "Regocíjate siempre en el Señor; nuevamente digo regocíjate. De hecho, el Señor está cerca" (Filipenses 4: 4-5). Estamos a mitad de la temporada de Adviento.

En la primera lectura del profeta Isaías, se nos da esperanza acerca de la venida de nuestro Salvador. Isaías incluso dice que el desierto y la tierra seca se alegrarán. El Salmo 146 continúa con el tema de la fidelidad de Dios asegurando justicia para los oprimidos y comida para los hambrientos.

James, en la segunda lectura, nos llama a ser pacientes mientras esperamos la venida del Redentor. Nos recuerda cómo el granjero practica la paciencia esperando el precioso fruto de la tierra. También da ejemplos de la paciencia y las dificultades de los profetas que hablaron en nombre de Dios, recordando al pueblo los mandamientos del Señor.

En el Evangelio de Mateo, encontramos a Juan el Bautista en prisión. John, que había dedicado su vida a predicar el arrepentimiento por el pecado y señalar a Jesús como el Cordero de Dios, estaba confundido. Había estado predicando sobre un Dios de retribución, haciéndose eco del profeta Amós. Ahora está escuchando que Jesús está predicando a un Dios de amor, misericordia y sanando a las personas.

Juan envía a algunos de sus discípulos a preguntarle directamente a Jesús: "¿Eres tú el que viene o deberíamos buscar a otro?" John responde:

Ve y dile a John lo que oyes y ves: los ciegos recuperan su la vista, 
el caminar cojo, los leprosos se limpian, los sordos oyen, 
los muertos son criados, los pobres tienen la buena noticia 
proclamada a ellos. 
Y bienaventurado el que no se ofende de mí "(Mateo 11: 4-6)

Esta respuesta fue aún más confusa para John. Jesús estaba hablando de la tradición del profeta Isaías y casi lo cita textualmente. Él está enfatizando que el Señor es un Dios de amor y misericordia.

Aunque Dios es amoroso, misericordioso y justo, es difícil para nosotros los humanos envolver nuestras mentes finitas alrededor de nuestro Dios infinito. Tenemos algunos que enfatizan la justicia de Dios y otros su amor y misericordia. Cuando Dios nos llame a casa, tendremos una mejor comprensión.

Mientras tanto, cuando estamos fuera de camino, Dios nos envía mensajes a través de sus santos. Por ejemplo, se le apareció a Santa Margarita María y le mostró su Sagrado Corazón, un corazón de amor y misericordia. Eso provocó la devoción al Sagrado Corazón. Además, más recientemente tenemos las visiones de Santa Faustina con la Imagen y la devoción de la Divina Misericordia.

Juan el bautista, que fue muy alabado por Jesús, hizo lo correcto al compartir su confusión con Jesús y escuchar su respuesta. Nos da un ejemplo de cómo lidiar con nuestras propias preguntas y confusión.

Pregunta de reflexión: cuando estás confundido o tienes dudas, vas a Jesús con ellos? Él entiende. Como humano, incluso dijo durante su Pasión: "Dios mío, Dios mío, ¿por qué me abandonaste?"

Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
Our Lord often told his disciples “Do not fear.”  Mother Katharine often encouraged her Sisters not to fear in beginning a new mission or traveling far from home. If we have the Lord with us, as after Holy Communion, how can we fear? Ask the Lord to direct us, to show us the path He wishes us to take. Still confused? Go to Mary, the Blessed Mother. As Mother Katharine said, “In your doubts …. go to Mary as to your Mother. Speak to her familiarly as a Mother.” As a child, did you ever go to your father or mother when you were afraid, as during a severe storm or before an exam? The Blessed Mother has CENTURIES more experience and wisdom than our earthly mothers had! Go to Mary; ask her to spread her mantle of blue around you to shield you from your fears. Then, with the strength and grace received from Our Lord and the Holy Spirit, go forward.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Today’s readings are sprinkled with hope and anticipation rooted in patient waiting. Henri Nouwen, in a reflection entitled, “Radical Waiting” writes, “Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction. This, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.”
In my younger years, I’d play this game with God, “Lord, if this is really your will, or if it is the right thing to do, give me a sign. Oh, and please do so by 2PM, before I have to pick up the kids from school.” Sometimes, I’d even be so bold as to suggest the sign!  Such bargaining, of course, was self-serving – feeding my controlling ego. I was so busy talking and moving on to the next order that I probably missed many revelations. Patient, expectant waiting was not part of my agenda. Thankfully, my relationship with God has deepened and moved in the direction of “Thy Will be done”, in Your Divine timing. Today’s questions come from a revering, sincere heart desirous of doing God’s will.
The insight given in the Gospel of St. John the Baptist makes John approachable. In his vulnerability, I recognize my own doubts and questions.  John dedicated himself 100% - a total giving of himself to Jesus and his mission – so it makes sense that John would want Blessed Assurance that Jesus is “The One.” Jesus and John shared a reciprocal love so much so that I believe Jesus felt John’s confusion.
I faced the challenge of seeing God in a different perspective when my youngest son came home from first grade (22 years ago) with his religion book. It was a story like book that spoke of kindness, forgiveness, love…what! I was shaking. How will my child learn about right from wrong, purgatory and hell? What on earth happened to the Baltimore Catechism where sin is clearly shown as black marks on a white milk bottle?  What seemed like sacrilege in that moment was my invitation to see the judgmental God that I learned about in the light of tenderness and compassion. As that year progressed, I came to realize that my life decisions had been based on fear of God rather than on love of God. A loving God is much more accessible. A loving God is open to my questions and concerns because we both desire the closeness for which I yearn.
So on this Gaudete Sunday, I pray and await the peace and joy of Christmas Day and anticipate the new ways that God will work in and through me as I continue along my spiritual journey in the year ahead.  As I receive the Eucharist today, my soul rejoices that my Savior loves me so much that he makes His home in the crib of my heart.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dec. 8, 2019 The 2nd Sun. of Advent/ Immaculate Conception

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception 

Reading I: 
Isaiah 11:1-10

Psalm:  72

Reading II:  Romans 15:4-9

Matthew 3: 1-12

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is celebrated each year on December 8. It commemorates the special privilege of being conceived without original sin. It was fitting that the future Mother of Jesus would be sinless from conception. William Wordsworth in his poem: “The Virgin,” hails her as “Our tainted nature’s solitary boast.”

Last week, we focused on the Father’s love shown by his sending his only begotten son to redeem us. Then we focused on the love and sacrifices made by Jesus, Mary and Joseph during the birth, life and death of our Savior.

This week we are looking to the Second Coming of Jesus as Judge. It is often referred to as the Parousia, a Greek word meaning an arrival or coming. It was usually used in reference to a King or Emperor. Since Jesus Christ is our King we use it to describe his coming as our Judge at the end of time.

The Second Coming will be a public judgment. We do not know exactly how this will all happen since our minds are limited. However, if we trust in Jesus, we will not be fearful. We know that he is just, but he is also merciful, as seen in his interaction with people in his human lifetime.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has an excellent explanation of the Last Judgment
# 678-9
                  Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus
                  announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching. Then will
                  the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to                         
                  light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s
                  grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude about our neighbor
                  will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love.  On the
                  last day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the
                  least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”

                 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment
                 on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the
                 world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given 
                 “all judgement to the Son. Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to
                  save and to give the life that he has in himself.  By rejecting grace                     in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s
and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting
                 the Spirit of love.”

It is important to ask daily for perseverance in God's grace. By saying the “Hail Mary,” we ask our heavenly mother’s help:
                         Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.
                         Blessed are you among women, and blessed is
                         the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
                         Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners
                         now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

  Reflection Question:   In the midst of the busyness and demands our daily lives, how can we remember to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción

La fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción se celebra cada año el 8 de diciembre.  Conmemora el privilegio especial de ser concebida sin pecado original. Era apropiado que la futura Madre de Jesús no tuviera pecado desde la concepción. William Wordsworth en su poema: “La Virgen,” la aclama como “El alarde solitario de nuestra naturaleza contaminada”.

La semana pasada, nos enfocamos en el amor del Padre demostrado al enviar a su hijo unigénito para redimirnos. Luego nos enfocamos en el amor y los sacrificios hechos por Jesús, María y José durante el nacimiento, la vida y la muerte de nuestro Salvador.

Esta semana estamos viendo la Segunda Venida de Jesús como Juez. A menudo se le conoce como la parusía, una palabra griega que significa llegada o venida. Por lo general, se usaba en referencia a un Rey o Emperador. Como Jesucristo es nuestro Rey, lo usamos para describir su venida como nuestro Juez al final de los tiempos.

La segunda venida será un juicio público. No sabemos exactamente cómo sucederá todo esto ya que nuestras mentes son limitadas. Sin embargo, si confiamos en Jesús, no tendremos miedo. Sabemos que es justo, pero también es misericordioso, como se ve en su interacción con las personas en su vida humana.

El Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica tiene una excelente explicación del Juicio Final. # 678-9
                  Siguiendo los pasos de los profetas y Juan el Bautista, Jesús
                  anunció el juicio del último día en su predicación. Luego será
                  la conducta de cada uno y los secretos de los corazones serán llevados
                  a ligero. Entonces será la incredulidad culpable que contó la oferta de
                  Dios gracia como nada sea condenado. Nuestra actitud hacia nuestro
                  prójimo revelará la aceptación o rechazo de la gracia y el amor divino.
                  Sobre el último día Jesús dirá: “De cierto te digo, como lo hiciste a
                  uno de los 
menos de estos mis hermanos, me lo hiciste a mí”.

                  Cristo es el Señor de la vida eterna. Derecho completo a emitir un
                  juicio definitivo en las obras y los corazones de los hombres le
                  pertenece como redentor de la mundo. Él "adquirió" este derecho
                  por su cruz. El padre ha dado “Todo juicio al Hijo. Sin embargo,
                  el Hijo no vino a juzgar, sino a 
salvar y dar la vida que tiene en sí
                  mismo. Al rechazar la gracia 
en esta vida, uno ya se juzga a sí
                  mismo, recibe de acuerdo con 
funciona, e incluso puede
                  condenarse por toda la eternidad al 
rechazar el espíritu de amor ”.

Es importante pedir diariamente perseverancia en la gracia de Dios. Al decir “Ave María,” le pedimos ayuda a nuestra madre celestial:
                          Dios te salve María, llena eres de gracia, el Señor está contigo.
                         Bendita eres entre las mujeres, y bendita es
                         El fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
                         Santa María, madre de Dios, ruega por nosotros pecadores.
                         ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte. Amén.

  Pregunta de Reflexíon:   En medio del ajetreo y las demandas de nuestra vida cotidiana, ¿cómo podemos recordar prepararnos para la segunda venida de Jesús?


Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita

We can prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus by preparing for Jesus’ Coming to us every time we received Communion. By being mindful of the present moment, and by being the best Christian we can be every day, we are preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus. St. Katharine often advised the Sisters to live in the present moment and not to dwell on past missteps. We can do this by living in the present moment with its opportunities to hear the call of Jesus.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

What comes to mind in answer to your question is to develop the habit of praying the Morning Offering daily upon rising. This beautiful prayer is offered through Mary Immaculate who will clear it of any weakness or messiness and deliver it to Jesus. Our entire day – prayers, works, joys and sorrows – is offered as a prayer. Whatever our schedule, this is one way to always be connected to Jesus. We are always in a state of preparedness. 
Author Gary Zimak reminds readers that when we take this offering (of our daily thoughts, words and actions) to Jesus and ask Him to use it for His intentions (think Salvation of all mankind), our offering “will bear great fruit not only in our own lives, but in the lives of countless others. By making this presentation to Christ, we are essentially joining our lives to His mission. When the sacrifice of Jesus to His Father is made present in each of the Holy Masses around the world, we are now hanging on the cross with Him. Everything that we do and experience becomes part of the offering of Christ. There can be no more powerful sacrifice and, by virtue of this simple prayer, we are a part of it.” 
Soon, without even thinking about it, our actions will mirror those of Jesus. We will become keenly aware of when we step outside of His loving boundaries and quickly return to living His precepts and experiencing His grace. Our priorities become clearer and there is a “knowing” of what things really need to be done. We grow more compassionate and tolerant toward others. We go about our busy days aware that the Presence of God is within us and around us. When we are in such communion with God, His Presence also expresses through us to others. Life acquires a rhythm that is more balanced and peaceful.
When the chaos and frenzy feels unrelenting, pause, take a single intentional breath, and remember that God is with you because you dedicated your all to Him this day.
I am including a version of the Morning Offering shared by Gary Zimak:
O Jesus,
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in thanksgiving for your favors,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Dec. 1, 2019 First Sunday of Advent

December 1, 2019   First Sunday of Advent   Year A

Reading I: 
Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalm:   122

Reading II: 
Romans 13:11-14

Matthew 24:37-44

Here we are at the beginning of a new liturgical year: the first week of Advent.

Advent means “coming” and we are about to focus on the many ways God comes to us. We will begin by looking back at the coming of Jesus to be with
us and to share our human experiences of joy, sorrow, and pain.

The “comings” are expressions of God’s love for us. In John’s Gospel, he reminds us “...God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16)

The comings into the hearts of Christians inspire Christ-like love and concern for others, especially during the Advent and Christmas Seasons. There are gifts and visits to loved ones. There are meals for the homeless. Toys are collected for less fortunate children. There is Christmas entertainment for senior citizens. Visits to the home-bound help to dispel loneliness. All these expressions of love create the Christmas Spirit, bringing happiness to many.

On the other hand, there are those who suffer greatly during this time, while grieving over the loss of loved ones through death or broken relationships. It is a time when thoughtful family members and friends can help by giving some extra attention to those in need of comfort.

The Advent and Christmas Seasons also provide opportunities to begin to mend strained relationships within families and with others. Sending a Christmas card or gift might break the ice which has kept individuals apart.

Finally, Advent is a time to remember that Jesus said that “Whatever you did to the least of your brethren you did it to Me!” (Matthew 20:40). Be prepared for the coming of Christ in a needy person whether emotionally, physically, or financially. Let us also invite him to come and be born in our hearts. 
Come, Lord Jesus!

 Reflection Question:  How can I keep myself alert to the coming of Christ to me today?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Primer Domingo de Adviento 

Aquí estamos al comienzo de un nuevo año litúrgico: la primera semana de Adviento. Adviento significa “venir” y estamos a punto de enfocarnos en las muchas formas en que Dios viene a nosotros. Comenzaremos recordando la venida de Jesús para estar con nosotros y compartir nuestras experiencias humanas de alegría, tristeza y dolor.

The viene son expresiones del amor de Dios por nosotros. En el Evangelio de Juan, nos recuerda “...Dios amó tanto al mundo que dio a su único Hijo, para que todos los que creen en él no mueran, sino que tengan vida eterna”. (Juan 3:16)

Las venidas a los corazones de los cristianos inspiran amor y preocupación por los demás como Cristo, especialmente durante las temporadas de Adviento y Navidad. Hay regalos y visitas a seres queridos. Hay comidas para personas sin hogar. Se recogen juguetes para niños menos afortunados. Hay entretenimiento navideño para personas mayores. Visitas a la ayuda domiciliaria para disipar la soledad. Todas estas expresiones de amor crean el espíritu navideño, trayendo felicidad a muchos.

Por otro lado, hay quienes sufren mucho durante este tiempo, mientras lloran por la pérdida de seres queridos a causa de la muerte o las relaciones rotas. Es un momento en que los familiares y amigos reflexivos pueden ayudar prestando atención adicional a aquellos que necesitan consuelo.

Las temporadas de Adviento y Navidad también brindan oportunidades para comenzar a reparar las relaciones tensas dentro de las familias y con los demás. Enviar una tarjeta de Navidad o un regalo puede romper el hielo que ha mantenido a las personas separadas.

Finalmente, el Adviento es un tiempo para recordar que Jesús dijo que 
¡Lo que sea que le hiciste al menor de tus hermanos me lo hiciste!” (Mateo 20:40). Prepárese para la venida de Cristo en una persona necesitada, ya sea emocional, física o económicamente. Invitémoslo también a venir y nacer en nuestros corazones.
¡Ven Señor Jesús!

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:  ¿Cómo puedo mantenerme alerta a la venida de Cristo a mí hoy?


Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita

Do you have a special place for thinking of God? I can sit in a quiet corner of the church after Mass and wait for God to speak to me. Did a special phrase in today’s Mass call out to me? The words of the Consecration, “This is My Body, given up for you,” calls me to “give up” my aches and pains in atonement for my sins or for the anger so prevalent in the world today. St. Katharine noted that “Grace must find calm to grow.” We need to find a calm, quiet spot or moment to permit grace to grow in us.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

Preparation for the Christmas season always shifts me into high gear. Cleaning, decorating, writing greeting cards, shopping for food and gifts, meal planning, party going, baking and cooking…I’m feeling exhausted just writing these chores down. For as long as I can
remember, my holiday mantra is “there is never enough time.” My recurring pattern is one of accomplishing tasks; I’m a woman on a mission. However, it’s the wrong mission. The season of Christmas is about welcoming Christ into our hearts.

It takes focused attention to not fall into the throes of consumerism – our culture’s idea of Happy Holidays with all the outward dazzling sights and sounds- and to prepare to nurture our Spirit by turning within to clear the clutter in our hearts and souls to create the space to receive Christ anew with His offering of peace, light and life. 

Christ presents Himself to me in the homeless person, the grieving individual, the lonely elderly man or woman whom I might not notice as I rush past them with my arms and head full of stuff, anxious to check off another task on my “to-do” list.   Christmas is about Jesus. Jesus is about love, and His love is meant to be shared.

I genuinely appreciate your blog as we enter into Advent. I am going to make a sincere effort to slow down enough to notice the opportunities that come to me – to acknowledge the homeless person, comfort the mourning one, to listen to the pain of the old man or woman. The daily practice of meditating on the ‘reason for the season’ will help me transition from “doing to being” so I’ll have a gift to offer the Christ Child. This is truly the most important Advent preparation that matters and endures.