Sunday, January 09, 2011

Baptism of the Lord

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him. Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist.

- Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (330-390) Doctor of the Church

Monday, January 03, 2011

Holy Name of Jesus

At the name of Jesus every knee must bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; every tongue should proclaim to the glory of God the Father: Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil 2: 10-11)

Reflection:

This memorial provides us the chance to live the special attentiveness before the Holy Name. If you think the name 'Jesus' continually, it purges your sin and kindles your heart; it clarifies your soul, it removes anger and does away with slowness. It wounds in love and fulfills charity. It chases the devil and puts out dread. It opens heaven, and makes you a contemplative. It puts all vices and phantoms out from the lover.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Epiphany

To offer gold is to proclaim Christ's kingship, to offer incense is to adore his Godhead, and to offer myrhh is to acknowledge his mortality.

Creation responds as well: When the king of heaven was born, the heavens knew that he was God because they immediately sent forth a star; the sea knew him because it allowed him to walk upon it; the earth knew him because it trembled when he died; the sun knew him because it hid the rays of its light.

The manifestation of the Son of God to the world begs belief from us by which we will be led home by another way.

The Proclamation of the Date of Easter

The Proclamation of the Date of Easter on Epiphany dates from a time when calendars were not readily available. It was neccessary to make known the date of Easter in advance, since many celebrations of the liturgical year depend on its date. The number of Sundays that follow Epiphany, the date of Ash Wednesday, and the number of Sundays that follow Pentecost are all computed in relation to Easter.

Although calendars now give the date of Easter and the other feasts in the liturgical year for many years in advance, the Epiphany proclamation still has value. It is a reminder of the centrality of the resurrection of the Lord in the liturgical year and the importance of the great mysteries of faith which are celebrated each year.
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Dear brothers and sisters, the glory of the Lord has shone upon us, and shall ever be manifest among us, until the day of his return. Through the rhythms of times and seasons, let us celebrate the mysteries of salvation.
Let us recall the years culmination, the Easter Triduum of the Lord: his last supper, his crucifixation, his burial and his rising, celebrated between the evening of the 21st of April and the evening of the 24th of April.
Each Easter -- as on each Sunday -- the Holy Church makes present the great and saving deed by which Christ has forever conquered sin and death.
From Easter are reckoned all the days we keep holy. Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, will occur on the 9th of March. The Ascension of the Lord will be commemorated on the 2nd of June. Pentecost will be celebrated on the 12th of June. And this year, the First Sunday of Advent will be on the 27th of November.
Likewise the pilgrim Church proclaims the passover of Christ in the feasts of the holy Mother of God, in the feasts of the Apostles and Saints, and in commmemoration of the faithful departed.
To Jesus Christ, who was, who is, and who is to come, Lord of time and history, be endless praise, forever and ever.
Amen.

Friday, December 31, 2010

As 2010 ends and 2011 approaches......

Meditation:

Ponder on some key events of the year. We each have much to thank God for, regardless of the pains and disappointments we had experienced during the year. Without God, our lives would not only be worse; but also would be empty of its meaning, purpose and joy. Ponder on the truth of this insight.

Reflection:

Only a few hours more, and this year too will come to an end and pass into history. I too finish the year and await the new dawn of joy. I go down on my knees before my God and, recalling His kindnesses to me this year, I humble myself in the dust and thank Him with all my heart.

- Blessed Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)

Prayer:

In thanksgiving for the time that has been,
in hope for the time that is to come,
let us pray through the intercession of Mary,
the Mother of God:
We praise you, O Lord, and we bless you.

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take the long view
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
It is even beyond our vision

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the
magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit
brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold
future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects.
Far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation
in realizing that.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
A step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, no Messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

~ Archbishop Oscar Romero (1980)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas

Reflection based on Luke 2: 1-14

Unexpected Joy

There had been alot of resistance to the Pope's visit to the Holy Land in 2009. Most of the local Arab Christian population had sensed that it would be seen as a pontifical benediction of the dispiriting state of affairs between Arabs and Isrealis. As a parish priest, I was fighting an uphill battle trying to explain why the visit was something that we should rejoice in. Even some of my staunchest Christian friends could not see it. Yet as I concelebrated with the Pope the rites for Christmas Day Mass in the Nativity Square and looked out at the large crowd, searching for my parishoners, I noticed something; undeniably, there was joy in the air.

It is the human person's spontaneous response to the intuition that he is in the presence of something life-giving. We feel it even before we know why. That is what makes Christmas a joyous time. Before learning who and what he is, already we intuit that this child is a presence that promises to save our lives from darkness. This event was repeated on that sunny May day.

Despite our dark situation of violence and injustice, this event of faith allowed us to perceive his life giving, joyous presence. Suddenly, there were no objections. The first thing is always this fact: a child is born to us.

Father Vincent Nagle, F.S.C.B.


Father, I am fixated by the shadows. Let the light of your Son's birth always be the dawn enlightening my darkness, giving the world joy.

The Proclamation of the Birth of Christ



Today, the twenty-fifth day of December, unknown ages from the time when God created the heavens and the earth and then formed man and woman in his own image.


Several thousand years after the flood, when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant.


Twenty-one centuries from the time of Abraham and Sarah; thirteen centuries after Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt.


Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges; one thousand years from the anointing of David as king; in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel.


In the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad; the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome.


The forty-second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;the whole world being at peace, Jesus Christ, eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,being conceived by the Holy Spirit,and nine months having passed since his conception,was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary.

Today is the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Reflection based on Luke 1: 67-79

Preparing the Way

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah to announce the good news that his childless wife would announce the good news that his childless wife would give birth to a son, the old man at first refused to believe. For that disbelief he was struck dumb -- a priest of God, who could not preach the holy law. At the child's birth, he had to declare the boy's name in writing: John, or "God is gracious." Only after the act of faith did Zechariah regain his speech, bursting into song the Church uses to greet the dawn.

Rightly so: since the grace of God rushes like a flood of light over the shoals of darkness. That boy John, son of the man who lost his speech, "shall be called the prophet of the Most High," preaching to the people "knowledge of salvation / by the forgiveness of their sins."

In that duty he, named for God's grace, stands with Mary as the first of all Christians. We too are meant to prepare Christ's way, by faith that issues forth in bold word and deed. We know too well the fault of the good man Zechariah, who did not wish at first to believe that God could be soo good. That fault ties our tongues. Let us celebrate instead the grace of God, and sing.


Gracious Father, untie our tongues, and send us forth as messengers of Christ, the morning star that never sets, now in this vigil of your Son's nativity, and forevermore.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Poem Prayer for Hope

O God, we dare not place our hope in you
because we have no hope to place.
We have forgotten mercy, like the dew;
we have lost sight of days of grace.
Our heart's bowl brims with hollow emptiness.
Our dreams have vanished like the smoke
of incense burned to gods of faithlessness
upon an altar stone that broke.
O God, you have stirred up the darkened heart
with promises of light to come.
The embers of our cold hearth shift and start
a flicker that may yet become
the fire we fear because we shy from burns
our soul once suffered at ths hands
of our own treachery. If life returns
for us, we dread rebrith's demands.
O God, ignore our plea for cold despair,
its ashes undisturbed, its chill
unwarmed by any hint borne on the air
by unseen angels, crying still
that promises are kept. Grant us instead
that small perturbing flick of flame
that wakens even in the living dead
just hope enough to call your name!

~ Unknown ~

The "O" Antiphons

Introduction

From December 17 to 23, the Church observes the ancient custom of praying each day one of the seven "O" Antiphons, so called because each one addresses the God who comes in Christ with a different biblical title, beginning with the invocation "O".

In latin, the first letters of the titles, read in reverse order, form the acrostic "Ero cras" which translates as "I will be with you tomorrow." These texts, traced back to seventh-century Europe, are drenched in biblical allusions offering a rich source for personal prayer and reflection during these final days of preparation for the celebration of Christmas.




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December 17: O Sapientia (Wisdom)


Scripture Reflections (if desired):

- Sirach 24: 3-4, 7
- Baruch 3: 29-37
- Wisdom 9: 1-6
- 1 Corinthians 1: 24


Reflection:

O Wisdom, you came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and reached from end to end, and disposed of all things sweetly and mightily: come and teach us the way of prudence. Amen.




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December 18: O Adonai (Lord)

Scripture Reflections (if desired):

- Exodus 3: 1-6; 6:6; 19: 16-20: 1; 20: 2-6

Reflection:

O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and with an outstretched arm, redeem us. Amen.
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December 19: O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse)

Scripture Reflections (if desired):

- Isaiah 11: 1-5; 52: 13-53: 6
- Revelation 5: 5; 22: 16
- John 15: 1-4

Reflection:

O Root of Jesse, who stood as a sign for the people, before you kings shall remain silent, and to you the Gentiles shall make supplication: come to deliver us, and delay not. Amen.


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December 20: O Clavis David (Key of David)
Scripture Reflections (if desired):
- Isaiah 22: 20-24
- Revelation 1: 18; 3: 7; 20: 4-6, 13
Reflection:
O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel: you open and no one shuts; you shut and no one opens. Come and lead forth from his prison the captive sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

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December 21: O Oriens (Dayspring)

Scripture Reflections (if desired):

- Luke 1: 78-79
- Hebrews 1: 1-4
- Malachi 3: 2
- John 8: 12

Reflection:

O Dayspring, brightness of eternal Light and Sun of Justice: come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.
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December 22: O Rex Gentium (King of Nations)
Scripture Reflections (if desired):
- Genesis 2:7
- Ezekiel 37: 21-28
- Isaiah 26: 8-9; 40: 31
Reflection:
O King of nations, and their Desired, the Cornerstone who make all one: come and save our race, whom you formed out of clay. Amen.
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December 23: O Emmanuel (God-with-us)
Scripture Reflections (if desired):
- Isaiah 7: 10-15
- Romans 8: 20-24
- John 1: 1-18
Reflection:
O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Savior: come and save us, O Lord our God! Amen.

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Reflection based on Luke 1: 57-66

Take Two

When I exited the city bus after high school one day, I saw the engine of my neighor's car engulfed in flames. I froze, utterly shocked by the fire. After I asked permission to call for help, her desperate stare set me in motion to the nearest phone.

A few weeks later while again returning from school, I heard the painful grind of the bus' wheels crushing metal as it turned the corner. A women glanced out and screamed as I recalled a boy on a bicycle whom the bus had just passed. All the passengers remained motionless, but I raced to the front, ordered the driver to open the door, forced entry into the nearest house, and phoned for help. Prepared by the hard lesson of the first event, I was ready for the second.

Something similar happened to Zechariah. His doubting the angel cost him his speech, but upon the birth of his son he puts down his word: the newborn's name is John. But why is this name from nowhere? Because it came from the angel Gabriel and it offers a fresh start.

Zechariah has also learned to break with his own precedent and not hesitate again. Like him, we can reflect and learn from our past mistakes with the confidence that our forgiving Lord will create opportunities for us to do better.


God, heavenly Father, help me to learn from my past mistakes. Continue to provide me with the ongoing lessons of life that I may gain practice in believing you more firmly and obeying you more promptly.