A new plan

ChaosRepent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” – so cried out John the Baptist to those gathered in the desert of Judea. It is a scene we are all familiar with – but it doesn’t seem very much in the Christmas spirit. It is not in tune with the décor of the stores, malls, offices, and homes. It does not match the seasonal music available on radio, Pandora, or other streaming services. I can’t imagine receiving one of those talking Christmas card that would shout out “Repent!!” when it should play a pleasant and familiar holiday standard. Continue reading

Waking Up

sleep2To sleep, perchance to dream” such are the words of the great William Shakespeare written for his character Hamlet. It is only in such dreams can we mark the passage of sleep. Short of dreams, we really do not know we are asleep until we wake. We can be aware of the long glide path to sleep – the yawns, the stretching, the telling ourselves “just one more chapter in this book….” Or perchance, our afternoons when we think “I am just resting my eyes.” The thought gives away to the sweet rapture of the most awesome afternoon ever. Perhaps the reverie of our daydreams leave unperturbed the here and now. One short sleep past and we awake and the here-and-now is like our pet dog at the end of the bed or couch waiting for us to get up and fetch them a doggie treat. Continue reading

So it will be: Advent

advent_1stSo far we have looked at this gospel in its Matthean context. But what about it use on the first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the Liturgical Year?  If last Sunday (Christ the King Sunday) represents a culmination of things – when Christ reigns above all – then what are we to make of the First Sunday in Advent?  Do we go back to the beginning and again work our way through the year until Christ is again King? Continue reading

Preparing to prepare

be-preparedI think all of us have had the experience of walking into a store just after Labor Day and seeing the displays of merchandise for Halloween. And you say to yourself, “Really?” Needless to say, the Thanksgiving and Christmas displays and advertisements already are up. I saw a television ad the other night that wanted me to know that I could have white or orange Christmas tree lights, multicolored ones, and all the above with an optional remote control. “Really!?!” I guess I should get with it. Maybe it is good to do our own advertising for Advent! Continue reading

Advent Advice

advent-bannerWe get lots of advice all throughout our lifetime. And it comes from many different venues. For example: advice on the best schools, places to live and vacation, and places to dine. If you buy a book on Amazon, they are quick to advise you on other books that you should purchase. We are constantly bombarded with fashion advice. Still, it is hard to avoid advice. We are awash in it.

But among all the flotsam and jetsam of advice circulating through our lives, there are some gems. I suspect the best advice; the advice that changes our lives comes from people. People who know us and have insights into our heart’s desire, know the direction and heading of our life path, and who care for us. People who just might know us better than we know ourselves. It is great advice – and yet, for reasons explicable and not, we do not take the advice. Continue reading

The Power of Waiting

thepathofhopeAdvent is a season of waiting. Sometimes the goal of our waiting is not exactly clear in our minds; yet we wait. I wait for an idea or at least the seed of an idea for this weekly column. There are times I am just waiting for just a quiet spot within the day, hoping that an idea will surface. It has been a busy day. Plus the production schedule for the bulletin is pushed forward so that our publishing company employees will have time off at Christmas. I am writing this article more than 11 days before you are reading it. Mass, hospital, wedding rehearsal, bulletin – run, Father, run! Continue reading

God Is With Us: a context

English: Antiphon of Advent Français : Antienn...

Matthew 1:18-24. 18 Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,  yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. 20 Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. 21 She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,  because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 25 He had no relations with her until she bore a son,  and he named him Jesus.

Context. Our gospel is the traditional reading for the 4th Sunday of Advent (year A) and thus, in addition to its biblical context, this reading also carries a seasonal meaning.

A Seasonal Context. The Fourth Sunday of Advent always tells part of the story that just precedes the birth of Christ. These familiar episodes set the stage for one of the Bible’s best-known passages, the story of Christmas. This reading, as well as the gospels for the 4th Sunday in Advent in the other years, aligns well with the readings of the seven days of Advent that immediately precede Christmas.  Not only do the readings for the daily Masses just before Christmas include the beginnings of the Gospel infancy narratives (Matthew 1 on Dec. 17-18; Luke 1 on Dec. 19-24), but we again get to hear the traditional “O Antiphons,” at Mass. Continue reading

Advent Advice

advent_2ndWe gets lots of advice all through our lifetime. And it comes from many different venues. For example: advice on the best schools, places to live and vacation, and places to dine. If you buy a book on Amazon, they are quick to advise you on other books that you should purchase. We are constantly bombarded with fashion advice. I have to  admit I don’t pay too much attention these days to fashion advice. These days, my wardrobe consists of a basic brown Franciscan habit and minimal accessories – a knotted white cord to be precise. Continue reading