Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Natalia Imperatori-Lee is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY, where she also coordinates the Catholic Studies program. She is the author of Cuéntame: Narrative in the Ecclesial Present (Orbis Books, 2018). Her work focuses on the intersection of Latinx theologies, feminist theologies, and Catholic ecclesiology.

Preaching for the Feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Natalia Imperatori-Lee invites us to find hope: "Guadalupe is still a locus of solidarity for women in travail, and as the patroness of the Americas she reminds us not to be afraid, even though our situations seem hopeless, and that she is here—accompanying us, rejoicing with us, hearing us into speech, encouraging our confrontations with the powerful, preparing a place where we might rest and rejoice in one another."

Source:  Catholic Women Preach

Friday, December 7, 2018

Christmas calls us to celebrate God at work in everyday events of human life

By Joseph R. Veneroso

A young woman, Mary, engaged to marry, becomes pregnant. Surprised, confused and disappointed, her fiancé Joseph considers breaking off their engagement rather than expose her to public humiliation and perhaps even execution for adultery. Meanwhile, Mary’s elderly cousin Elizabeth, beyond childbearing age, suddenly finds herself pregnant as well. Her husband Zachariah is dumbstruck. Literally. Mary heads into the hill country of Judea to share her good news and help Elizabeth. In all likelihood, Mary acted as Elizabeth’s midwife.

Thus, amid very human drama the “greatest story ever told” begins. The Gospel skillfully intertwines the human and divine elements surrounding the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. This is appropriate since Jesus is both human and divine. Keeping these two realities in balance, however, remains our constant challenge.

Through the stories of Jesus’ birth recorded in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, the seasons of Advent and Christmas invite us to reverence our humanity even as we celebrate God’s plan at work in the everyday events of human life.

Sometimes we let the miracles overshadow Jesus’ humanity. But if we stick to Scripture, surprising details emerge. There is no indication Mary saw an angel except for once in Nazareth, when she said yes to God. Angels appeared to shepherds in the field, but after that, the story leads them and us to the humble stable in which to find the Baby Jesus. We feel the wonder when Magi come to worship the child but soon share the fear of Joseph and Mary, who learn King Herod wants to kill the child. The Holy Family becomes history’s most famous refugees, not unlike so many who are forced to flee their homes today.

Advent candles and Christmas carols and concerts celebrate the mystery of God sanctifying our human existence—with all its joys and sorrows—by becoming one of us. More and more these days, people of different cultures around the world celebrate the Incarnation with symbols from their ordinary lives that are meaningful to them.

In the Korean countryside, a family traditionally announced the birth of a boy by stringing red peppers from the thatched roof. Some modern Korean crèches incorporate this custom. In Mexico, families re-enact Joseph and Mary seeking an inn (posada) by visiting the homes of relatives and neighbors on the nine days leading up to Christmas. In rural Tanzania, parents who can afford to, buy new clothes for their children. Children gratefully receive homemade toys instead of video games. Christians attend religious services all morning long and have family get-togethers and share a special meal.

All this serves as a reminder: before it was a book, the Gospel was a life. To fully appreciate its power, we need to do more than just read it or even believe it; we have to live it by recognizing the mystery and the very presence of God at work in the ordinary, human events of our everyday lives.

About the author:

Fr. Joseph R. Veneroso, M.M. is the former publisher and editor of Maryknoll magazine. He served in mission to Korea and now lives at the Maryknoll Center in Ossining, N.Y., and also ministers to a Korean Catholic parish community in New York City. His is the author of two books of poetry, Honoring the Void and God in Unexpected Places, a collection of columns from Maryknoll magazine titled Good New for Today, and Mirrors of Grace: The Spirit and Spiritualities of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Peace Prayer of St. Francis (revised)

Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
Where there is hatred, I sow love. 
Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
Where there is injury, I sow pardon.
Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
Where there is doubt, I sow faith. 
Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
Where there is darkness, I sow light. 
Because I am in instrument of Peace, 
Where there is sadness, I sow joy! 

Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
I choose to console others – and do not seek to be consoled. 
Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
I choose to understand others – and do not seek to be understood. 
Because I am an instrument of Peace, 
I chose to love everyone – and do not seek to be loved. 
I realize that when I give – I receive. 
I realize that in pardoning - I am pardoned.
I realize that in dying to self - I am reborn to a joyful meaningful life! 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Advent and the Fear of the Lord

By:  Philip Shano, SJ
Source:  igNation

It’s Advent! A new liturgical year is upon us. As with each Advent, we hear the reminder on this Sunday to be on guard and alert. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life. … Be alert at all times.”

The alertness that Jesus refers to is not related to the heightened security we experience throughout the world as we grow in fear of possible terrorist attacks, walking the streets with eyes wide open for anything or anyone suspicious.

The alertness Jesus speaks of has nothing to do with unhealthy fear. Jesus says, “Stand up and raise your heads.” That is hardly an image of cowering and hiding. It is pride.

However, scripture does encourage us to have a healthy fear of the Lord. Today’s scripture includes Psalm 25, with its reminder that “the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him.” Fear of the Lord is one of the seven traditional gifts of the Holy Spirit. It’s the gift that helps us to be aware of the glory and majesty of God.

Words such as wonder and awe help us comprehend what this gift offers us. A helpful analogy might be to think of what happens when we stand in the presence of someone we admire and respect. I spent several months in the early 1990s volunteering at Mother Teresa’s home for the dying in India.
The first time I met her I was trembling with nervousness. I had admired her for so long and I knew I was standing in the presence of someone often referred to as a living saint. I couldn’t help but contrast this holy woman with my own smallness. It is natural for us to feel that way upon meeting our heroes. How much more should I tremble when I find myself in the presence of God’s goodness!

Fr. Alfred Delp was a Jesuit priest in Nazi Germany. He was condemned as a traitor for his resistance to Hitler. He wrote a beautiful Advent reflection shortly before he was hanged in 1945. The Shaking Reality of Advent reminds us that we are always in need of being shaken up. Delp is speaking of the complacency that we can move into in times such as his or our own.

Advent serves as a reminder to be stirred from our sleep. Delp says, “All right, it was night; but let that be over now and let us be ready for the day.” Delp’s statement about his times is apropos for our strange times. “The great question to us is whether we are still capable of being truly shocked” or whether “we stand unshocked, unstirred, inwardly unmoved.”

Advent’s wakefulness is not mere a movement in our hearts. It must make us alert to all that is happening around us. Let’s allow ourselves to be roused from our slumber! Complacency in the face of world events won’t help.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Are you ready for Advent?

And here's an excerpt from a lovely Advent meditation by Peter Knott SJ:

Advent is the time between His first coming, his everyday coming, His coming at the end of time. Advent  is a time to leave behind all that weighs us down, holding us back from giving ourselves to God. It is our time to begin again, a season in which our own freedom is renewed. It is a time to put right whatever has gone wrong, to begin a new future guided by the light of Christ rather than our passing moods.

We should be joyfully expectant of Christ’s everyday coming, as a loving friend who knows us better than we know ourselves and loves us beyond our power to imagine.  We should expect him in small things as well as big events.  If our heart is right and our mind expectant we will find Christ in many places – in the face of a child, in some need of others, in our joys and in our sorrows.

Advent unfolds for us a time of promise. It shows us that patience is part of God's loving kindness. As we wait for Him so He waits for us, even as He waits on us.  This is the season of our be - coming, in which the opening dialogue of the Mass is recognised as both prayer and proclamation, fulfilled in his presence: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you" .. .forever.

To read the full article, click on: Pathways to God

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Free Public Lecture: Bridges Not Borders: Finding Hope in Syria

Fr. Nawras Sammour, SJ, of Jesuit Refugee Services in Syria, will deliver a talk at Corpus Christi–St. Mark's.

"I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges."— Pope Francis

For years Syria has been immersed in a full-scale civil war. The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries. At least 6.6 million Syrians are internally displaced, while another 5.6 million have fled abroad.

As the Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Services, Father Nawras Sammour, SJ works to accompany, serve, and advocate for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. Working in his hometown of Aleppo and throughout Syria, Father Sammour’s organization operates educational outreach for children, soup kitchens, medical programs, and more.

Join Father Nawras as he discusses the situation in Syria and explores why bridging borders and not building wall is crucial for our time.

Date and Time:  Tuesday, November 20, 2018, 7:00pm 
Location:            St. Mark's College at UBC, 5935 Iona Drive 
Cost:                    FREE. Please register to reserve your seat.

To register, click HERE