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Monday of the Third Week in Advent

Scripture Readings

One of the best things about the holidays is remembering what Christmas was like at home as a child. We were a large family and there was always great fun, big messes of paper and presents, going to Mass and visiting grandparents and a lot of good meals. Most of my memories are good ones but I also remember some very painful holidays. There was a close relative that always seemed to be in a crisis of his own making and his behavior inevitably impacted everyone. Year after year I watched my parents feeling afraid, sad and frustrated over the behavior of this beloved relative. As a child, I did not understand these things and I remember wishing he would be gone and not come back and hurt my parents and grandparents anymore. Now I realize how much they loved him. Now I can see that, despite the pain they endured, they never stopped trying and hoping and helping because that is what families do when they love someone.

Third Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

This week, I spent quite a few hours in the confessional. I celebrated he Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students of St. Helen School on Tuesday. On Thursday, I was at the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the students at Immaculate Conception School. On the same evening, we also the Tri-Parish reconciliation service. In numerous instances, the sense of comfort and relief in the faces of the penitents is something that only I get to see. One penitent put it this way: “I just want to be this (makes a gesture connecting her heart and God above), to be OK.” Tears rolling down her cheeks, she longed to have God back in her life again. She left the confessional in total relief and peace. It’s also called joy!

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Have you ever had a wonderful evening with your spouse, children, or dear friends? Maybe it was more than an evening. It could have been a nearly perfect vacation or getaway. Or if you are like me, maybe you’ve had the perfectly made coffee, dinner, or glass of chocolate milk. In the midst of that experience, a thought always zips through my mind, “Why can’t it always be like this?” That question exists in our spiritual life as well.

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

The second candle in the Advent wreath stands for peace. Peace, in the ways we tend to use the word in our culture, refers to the fact that we agree with each other, or at least, we "agree to disagree" (aka "Let's just never ever bring up this subject again..."). We use it to refer to having harmonious relationships with family members, friends, and politically, with other nations or between political parties.

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Scripture Readings

In holding someone’s hand, we know we are not alone. I’ve been the one in need of a hand to hold and I’ve been the one able to offer a comforting hand. Whether in sickness, fear, the labor pains of childbirth, accompanying someone dying, the grief that accompanies loss, the need to steady a young child, elderly or injured person, praying with others, exchanging marriage vows, or simply sharing closeness on a walk, holding a hand connects us to another, comforts us and reminds us that we are not alone.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Scripture Readings

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the miraculous appearance of Mary to a poor Indian near Mexico City some 470 years ago. On this Marian feast, I find myself reflecting on the Mother of God by thinking about my mom, my own motherhood, and the motherhood of all the many other women in my life (including the many ways to be mothers: biological, adoptive, foster, and spiritual).

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

I had the opportunity to travel to Ireland with my husband over the summer where we visited a sheep farm to observe sheep dogs in action. It was impressive to watch and hear the farmer use his voice and whistles to command the dogs to guide the sheep where he wanted them. One of the more difficult skills involved having the dogs separate one or two sheep from the rest of the herd. The sheep clearly did not want to be separated; there’s greater strength and safety huddled together as one flock. I got the impression that when there’s not imminent danger, however, it’s not uncommon for one to wander off, to go astray.

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Advent is now in full swing as we wait and prepare for Christmas. Although waiting typically involves patience, today’s readings indicate that maybe we are called to do more than just sit around and wait for Christ’s coming. The peace, healing, mercy and love of Christ that is described in scripture is a foretaste of what God desires for all mankind. Yes, the fullness of God’s kingdom is not here yet, but our actions and words can help hasten His arrival.

Second Sunday of Advent

Scripture Readings

In today’s gospel Luke provides us with some very descriptive historical details. This kind of historical detail is rare in the four gospels, because, in terms of literary genre, they are not historical books. The gospels are a unique genre, and it is meant to inspire faith. Since Luke does give us historical data, we must pay attention to it. Luke tells us who the Roman Emperor was (Tiberius Caesar), who the governor of Judea was (Pontus Pilate), who the regional leaders were (Herod, Phillip, and Lysanias), and who the high priest were (Annas and Caiaphas), when John the Baptist began his ministry. Surely, Luke was being intentional in giving these details. What do these details teach us? I would like to suggest three things:

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Scripture Readings

Anticipation. Advent is the season of anticipation and today we celebrate one of the greatest fests of anticipation. In anticipation of her role as Jesus' mother, we believe that God preserved Mary from Original sin and safeguarded her from personal sin. This is a feast that I find myself thinking about frequently, not just because our parish is Immaculate Conception, but it is a belief that raises a lot of questions from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Here are two of my musings.

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Scripture Readings

Lots of non-Christians have wanted to claim that Christians are dualistic: that is, that they separate the body and the mind. They claim we see bodies as evil, that we don't like sex, or eating, or anything else that is bodily. Instead, we promote fasting and abstinence and giving up things as a way of trying to make our bodies insignificant.

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Scripture Readings

Today's gospel is one that many of us are familiar with - a house built on sand will crumble and fall, but a house built on a strong foundation of rock will be able to withstand the storms of this world.

Scripture Readings 

“It’s still dark out, Mama,” my three-year old exclaims, as we stumble down our steps and into our car, ready to start a new workday. I will take her to her preschool and then make the trek to my office. “Yes, it is still dark,” I affirm. And, while her three-year-old mind might not yet look ahead to the end of the day, I do - and I know that when I pick her up from preschool and get dinner started for the family, it will again be quite dark. Our going and our coming home are bookended by nighttime moon and stars; for these next couple months, days will be shorter and colder.

Scripture Readings

It’s hard not to feel as though Jesus is talking to us in verses 23 and 24 in today’s reading from Luke’s Gospel. Like the disciples, we have seen and we have heard. No, we haven’t actually walked with Jesus, or sat at his feet to hear his teachings, or witnessed his passion. But, thanks to this Gospel and others and the writings of Paul and others, we see him. We hear him.

Scripture Readings

My maternal grandmother lived to the age of 103. She was the daughter of German immigrants and grew up on a farm in St. Henry, Ohio in the early years of the 20th century During the last couple of years of her life, despite many days of confusion and disorientation, she continued to pray the rosary each day and took Communion as often as possible. One of the things I remember is that no matter whether she was attending Mass or receiving Communion from her bed, she always said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, only say the word and I shall be healed.” Even through all those years before the Liturgy was changed, she continued to say these words. She was not protesting or ignoring the changes in the Mass, it was just that she was used to saying this and meant it from the depths of her heart. So it is not surprising that today’s Gospel passage always reminds me of her. My Grandmother had her moments of being “frisky” and had no trouble sticking up for herself, but when it came to prayers and Mass and her devotions, she was completely serious. When it came to faith and her spiritual life, she knew who she was in the sight of God. She was a perfect example of living in humility.

Scripture Readings

A friend of mine was telling me her experience at the stores on Black Friday. A mother was standing at the checkout line. Her two little children were giving her a harrowing time. My friend, who was also in line, decided to help her out. She pointed towards the security camera and said to the kids, “Santa is watching you from there!” The kids’ eyes grew big and they stopped dead! The mother had no further trouble with them.

Scripture Readings

A while ago I found a great reflection from Bishop Robert Barron on the Seven Deadly Sins.  I know that is a cheery start to this reflection stay with me.  I want to draw our attention to sloth in particular.  He mentioned that people can run around, busy with all sorts of things, but still be slothful.  He described that as being spiritually slothful.  He warned that being lethargic about our faith can be slothfulness.

Scripture Readings

After two thousand years of Christian history, it is sometimes easy to forget what happened in the early years of Christianity.  And it is easy to overlook the importance of people in previous times.  Our lives as Christians are possible because of the witness of holy women and men throughout the ages who handed down the gospel of Jesus Christ to us.  The scripture readings for today remind us of the importance of apostles and missionaries and their role in turning people’s attention to Christ. 

Scripture Readings

As we come to the end of the liturgical year before the beginning of Advent, we continue to have readings from the book of Revelation as well as hear of the second coming of Christ in today’s gospel from Luke. Perhaps to the disappointment of some, the book of Revelation is not a prediction of when or even how the end of the world will come.  It was written to bring hope to the persecuted Christians through proclaiming God’s justice and ultimate victory over evil in history.  Scripture scholars tell us that the symbolic or “coded” language was used by the author of Revelation to criticize the Roman emperor and empire in a way that would not necessarily put his readers at risk of persecution or even death at that time. 

Scripture Readings

As the liturgical year comes to a close our readings continue the theme of the end times.  It amazes me sometimes how many people think the literal end of the world is near. This morning I was talking with this Catholic family who described how now was the end times, because of the writings of some priest from 40 years ago. In contrast I stood with a patient as the doctor told them there was nothing more they do to improve the persons health.  In one case the family was afraid of the predicted doom, in the other a patient offered courageous acceptance of the real outcome of their condition.