Saturday, December 31, 2016

I Resolve...

'During this new year I resolve 
to begin a new life. 
I do not know what will 
happen to me during this year. 
But I abandon myself entirely to You, 
my God. And my aspirations
and all my affections will be for You. 
I feel so weak, dear Jesus, 
but with Your help I hope and resolve to live a different life; that is, a life closer to You.'

St. Gemma Galgani

Friday, December 30, 2016

Do You Not See?

How beautiful is the poor little Babe!   
I beg you to take your repose close to Him,
  because He will not fail to love your heart just as it is,
  with all its lack of tenderness and of feeling.
 Do you not see how He receives the breath of the oxen
and the ass, which have no feeling at all?   
How will He not appreciate the operations of your poor heart,
which, even though it lacks tenderness, yet throws itself
 resolutely and firmly at His feet, pledging itself
to be always a faithful servant of His divine Heart.

                                                                                 St. Francis de Sales

Painting:  Arthur Hughes, The Nativity

Monday, December 26, 2016

From the Measure of This Bright Day

'All days from the measure of this bright day gain blessings.
All the feasts from the stores of this feast have their fairness and their ornaments...
Great is this day above all days, for in it came forth mercy to sinners.
A medicine chest is this great day, 
because on it shone forth the Medicine of Life to the wounded.
A treasure of helpful graces is this day, because on it, 
Light gleamed forth on our blindness.

St. Ephraem the Syrian 

Painting: Edward Burne-Jones, Star of Bethlehem (detail)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

In This Night

In this night of reconciliation, let none be angry or gloomy.  
In this night that stills everything, let nothing threaten or disturb.  
This night belongs to the sweet One; let nothing bitter or harsh be in it...
In this day of gladness, let us not spread sadness.
St. Ephraem the Syrian

Painting:Tahi, 1896

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

If You're Not Feeling Merry

It's a bad time of year to be hurting.  Not that there is a good time for pain, of course, but the days around Christmas and New Year's can be particularly poignant for some.

Many of us have had such seasons. Times when we can't be with loved ones, or a close friend has died, or we've suffered a miscarriage, or we're sick, or we've lost our job, or there is illness in the family.  Even the time of year can make us feel blue.  Here in the northern hemisphere, night falls early in these months of bleak midwinter. We may be struggling to adjust to the long, long, long dark.

For anyone reading this who is sad, in pain, or maybe just wishing the holidays would be over and gone - know that you're not alone. In fact, you are so 'not alone' that I'm going to ask a favor of everyone reading this.

Could we each take just a minute and offer a little prayer for anyone coming across these words who might be hurting?  If this gets to a number of people, that could amount to quite a few prayers.

May God lift burdens, heal pains, comfort loneliness, and soothe hearts. 

'We beseech You, Lord and Master, be our help and succor, save those among us who are in tribulations, have mercy on the lowly, lift up the fallen, show Yourself to the needy, heal the ungodly; convert the wanderers of Your people, feed the hungry, release our prisoners, raise up the weak, comfort the fainthearted, let all nations know You are God.'  (St. Clement of Rome)

'Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for You.' (1 Peter 5:7)

Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Change This Straw

'My soul is poor and bare of virtues,
the straws of so many imperfections
will prick You and make You weep;
but O, my Lord, what can You expect?
This little is all I have.
I am touched by Your poverty...
Jesus, honor my soul with Your presence,
adorn it with Your graces.
Burn this straw
and change it into a soft couch
for Your most holy body.

'Jesus, I am here waiting for Your coming.
Wicked men have driven You out
and the wind is like ice.
Come into my heart.
I am poor, but I will warm You
as well as I can....

'I want to adore You,
to kiss You on the brow, O tiny Jesus,
to give myself to You once more, forever.
Come, my Jesus, delay no longer.
Come, be my Guest.'

Pope St. Pope John XXIII

Monday, December 19, 2016

Toward Us He Is Journeying

'The nine months draw to a close, and our Lord's last act is to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It is toward us, as well as toward Bethlehem, that He is journeying. He is about to leave His home a second time for the love of us. As He had left His uncreated home in the bosom of the Father, so is He now going to leave His created home that He may come to us and be still more ours.'

Fr. Frederick Faber

Painting: James Tissot

Saturday, December 17, 2016

This Solitude Cannot Be Violated

'Always remember… to retire at various times into the solitude of your own heart 
even while outwardly engaged in discussions or transactions with others.  
This mental solitude cannot be violated by the many people who surround you 
since they are not standing around your heart but only around your body.  
Your heart remains alone in the presence of God.'

St. Francis de Sales 

Painting: Carl Larsson, 1904

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Message of the Tree

"The traditional Christmas tree is a very ancient custom which exalts the value of life, as in winter the evergreen becomes a sign of undying life. 

In general the tree is decorated and Christmas gifts are placed under it. The symbol is also eloquent from a typically Christian point of view: it reminds us of the 'tree of life' (Genesis 2:9), representation of Christ, God's supreme gift to humanity. 

The message of the Christmas tree, therefore, is that life is 'ever green' if one gives: not so much material things, but of oneself: in friendship and sincere affection, and fraternal help and forgiveness, in shared time and reciprocal listening."

Pope St. John Paul II

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Love in the Smallest Things

'Only one thing is needed to please God: to do even the smallest things 
out of great love - love, and always love.'

St. Faustina

Monday, December 12, 2016

In the Noise and Clatter of My Kitchen

'The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees'

Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

Sunday, December 11, 2016

While You Are Doing Your Work

'Build an oratory within yourself, and there have Jesus on the altar of your heart. Speak to Him often while you are doing your work.'
 St. Paul of the Cross

Saturday, December 10, 2016


'Joy is the true gift of Christmas, not the expensive gifts that call for time and money.  We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, a little help, forgiveness. And the joy we give will certainly come back to us.'

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Friday, December 9, 2016

In This Time of Preparation

‘Silence is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy,
which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God. 
In this time of preparation for Christmas, 
let us cultivate interior recollection, 
so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.’

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI 

Let's Watch and See

Because many are pressed for time during this busy season, most of the posts here during the rest of Advent will be brief thoughts or prayers. I know that I, for one, am in need of ongoing reminders of the Presence of Christ in what could be hectic, stressful days.

If things go as I expect, we will start by thinking about how we can spend this season with God 'in the midst of the world.' Then the final week of Advent can (ideally) be spent going more deeply into silence.

Will things work out that way? 

I expect that either they will or they won't. Now, how's that for a plan?

Let's watch and see....

Thursday, December 8, 2016

If You Knew He Worked Through Your Hands...

'How to find Christmas peace in a world of unrest? You cannot find peace on the outside but you can find peace on the inside, by letting God do to your soul what Mary let Him do to her body; namely, let Christ be formed in you.... 

'As He was physically formed in her, so He wills to be spiritually formed in you. If you knew He was seeing through your eyes, you would see in every fellowman a child of God. If you knew that He worked through your hands, they would bless all the day through.'

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Painting Gerhard Wilhelm von Reutern, 1843

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Revisiting The Wondrous Interruption

Sometimes the activities of Advent and Christmas can feel like an intrusion. Day to day life is more or less put on hold by an urgent need to shop and wrap and plan. Chairs and tables are displaced by, of all things, a tree in the middle of our house.  There is no time to do ordinary things, as everyday life is seriously disrupted for weeks on end. It can seem like a major interruption. 

A few years ago, the truth of it hit me. This is what Christmas has been since the instant of the Incarnation: an interruption. Please stay with me here, because our first reaction to the word “interruption” could be negative.  But interruptions are often quite positive, and this Interruption was the most positive of them all.

Think of it.  Mary was living a quiet, hidden life.  She was betrothed. Then one day an angel appeared to her, and with that Holy Interruption Mary’s life was changed forever. As was Joseph’s, as was yours, as was mine.

As we know, there was a Birth.  There were shepherds tending their flocks, and again an angel appeared.  A night of sheep-watching was interrupted.  

While most of the world went on unaware, a few men in the east noticed something out of the ordinary.  A sign in the sky.  Something signaling, to them, a wondrous Interruption – one so marvelous that they must drop any other plans they had and go in haste, and they must bring gifts.  These men were wise enough to know that somehow the world had changed, maybe even that the course of life on earth had been altered.

The change was so shattering that mankind took notice.  Calendars would later mark the divide. 

God Himself had split the heavens.  

We now measure time by the before and after of that Grand Interruption, in effect saying that yes, we see. We may not understand, really, but we recognize the wonder and the mystery of it. God interrupted the cycle of sin and death by breaking into our world (John 3:16).  Jesus broke into the flesh of man, shattering hopelessness with His power and mercy.

With Jesus' arrival in the flesh, God interrupted our misery.  He opened to us the path to salvation.   

When I feel stressed by Christmas interruptions, I try to remember what I'm celebrating. Death was interrupted by Life. Despair was interrupted by Hope. 

With His glorious interruption, God tore through the fabric of time.

Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

To Carry Him As You Did

'Teach us, O Mother, to carry Him as you did, completely oblivious of material things, with the eyes of your soul fixed unceasingly upon Jesus within you, contemplating and adoring Him in continual wonder.

'You passed in the midst of created things as in a dream, seeing everything that was not Jesus as though in a mist, while He shone and scintillated in your soul as resplendent as the sun, and encompassed your heart and enlightened your mind.

'Teach us to act on our little excursions in this world and indeed on our whole journey through life so that we may walk as you did, on your travels and every day, seeing external things as though they were plunged in deep darkness, with our eyes fixed only on your Jesus Who illuminates our souls like a flash of fire.'

Charles de Foucauld

Painting: Chiesa de S. Pietro, Madonna del Parto

Monday, December 5, 2016

Advent in Daily Life

'It is necessary to understand that the whole of our life must be an 'advent,' a vigilant awaiting of the final coming of Christ. 

'To predispose our mind to welcome the Lord who, as we say in the Creed, one day will come to judge the living and the dead, we must learn to recognize Him as present in the events of daily life. 

'Therefore, Advent is, so to speak, an intense training that directs us decisively toward Him Who already came, Who will come, and Who comes continuously.'

Pope St John Paul II

Painting: Jules Breton. The Weeders, 1868

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Do We Seek A Savior?

"The question is: is the humanity of our time still waiting for a Savior? One has the feeling that many consider God as foreign to their own interests. Apparently, they do not need Him. They live as though He did not exist and, worse still, as though He were an 'obstacle' to remove in order to fulfill themselves. Even among believers - we are sure of it - some let themselves be attracted by enticing dreams and distracted by misleading doctrines that suggest deceptive shortcuts to happiness. Yet, despite its contradictions, worries and tragedies, it seeks a Savior and awaits, sometimes unconsciously, the coming of the Savior who renews the world and our life, the coming of Christ, the one true Redeemer of man and of the whole of man."

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Painting: T F Simon, New York

Friday, December 2, 2016

To Recollect the Mind

'One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquility, is not to let it wander too far at other times: you should keep it strictly in the presence of God; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least recall it from its wanderings.'

Brother Lawrence 

Painting: Dante Gabriel Rossetti