Friday, November 28, 2014

Pre-Advent Prep

For some of us, today is a "breather" as we relax after the preparations for and celebration of Thanksgiving. Mountains of food might remain for some, but provide for leisurely and still delicious eating for the weekend.  News coverage of the shopping mania encourages even more buying frenzy, but even the high school juniors who were delivering Thanksgiving boxes on Wednesday were disgusted at the emphasis put on the craze to acquire more material goods at discount prices.  We asked if anyone had ever received a huge flat screen TV for Christmas.  None of us had.  Then for whom is this frenetic shopping? Yet the headlines focus on "Black Friday."  Why black?  Black usually signifies death. Perhaps unknowingly the creators of this day recognize that the wild pursuit of THINGS leads to death of the soul.
Let us turn our thoughts away from Black to the lovely lavenders, pinks and greens of Advent which begins Saturday evening. These colors portend hope, the new dawn, the everlasting love of God in the circle of the ever-green Advent wreath.  Rich and nourishing readings from Isaiah in the weeks ahead will help prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ, not only in Bethlehem, but in our hearts. All things shall be made new.  (cf. Rev 21:15).  Let us use these days to prepare for Advent...the extra time for prayer, reflection, good deeds and sacrifices so that our hearts will be renewed and ready for the coming of the Savior.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Taking Time to Give Thanks

As part of our Thanksgiving prayer, it might help to make a mental list (or use paper...even more startling) of all the "gifts" we receive daily and rarely acknowledge as gifts:  sight, hearing, etc...the people who love us, whom we love...the events that have made us who we are and brought us to this day.   Lots of food for thanks, not to mention the special foods which will appear on our Thanksgiving Table.
Last night people braved the snow and sleet to deliver Thanksgiving turkeys and baskets to families in need.  It was shocking to some of the deliverers to discover that some families had only a table in their empty apartments.  Do we ever think to give thanks for our furniture, our beds?
Let us pause and make this truly a day of Thanksgiving.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Not A Hair Shall Perish

Nothing that we do can be ignored by the God who cherishes even one hair among those thousands (millions?) which adorn our scalps.  We never think this way, but Jesus make it clear that if one of these is precious in the sight of God, then how much more are we ourselves? See Lk 21:18.  So we fret about "beating the snow", getting all that we planned done before the storm, traveling to and from our Thanksgiving destinations, etc.  Yet time and time again, we learn that in the end, everything is all right, it all works out, or better, God works it out in a way that surpasses our most intricately detailed plan.  We don't see ourselves as so valuable, that God would be concerned with our "petty plans", but if he is committed to preserving even just one hair, he will take care of the rest.  Perhaps we need to meditate on our hair to remind ourselves of God's everlasting and unconditional love, care, and protection.  Let us proceed in peace to accept all that will unfold this day and at the end thank God for working things out so well for us.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Time For Gratitude

Thanksgiving falls in this final week of the Liturgical Year when we are looking at "the last things" and  ahead to the return of Christ in glory to claim the kingdom of God, which we helped build, and return it to the Father.  Can we mix gratitude with the sure finality which one day will come?  I think so.  Gratitude makes us aware of the generosity of the Giver, and our humble place as receiver.  We have done nothing to "merit" the gifts lavished by the Giver, but we can say thanks for the totally
FREE gifts we have received.  How happy we are when someone surprises us "out of the blue" with coffee and donuts, or takes us out to lunch unexpectedly.  It adds a brightness to our day that was not there before.  We are looking back at the Gifts God has given us in Christ, and the Gift of eternal life which is yet to come.  What better way to respond to this than by a deep, heartfelt THANK YOU to our God, whose love and kindness is so great that we in no way can match it.  We don't have to.  Thank you is enough.
Bro. Rene

Monday, November 24, 2014

Compassion

Reflecting more on the Last Judgement scene from Matthew 25: 25: 31-46, we see more than a King simply separating sheep from goats.  It is clear that his judgements are based on what he saw the people DOING:  either they were compassionate or they were not.  They gave a drink to the thirsty, food to the hungry, etc. or they did not.  Pure and simple.  And is it not only material needs that concern him, but the need for an encouraging word, a pat on the back for a good deed. an arm of sympathy to those in pain of loss.  It is by reaching out beyond ourselves that we most imitate Jesus who "emptied himself" for us. When people or events demand that we stretch our patience, give those extra minutes to listen to another's problems or questions,  or willingly do an errand for another when we think our day is already too full, drop off a donation to a local food pantry....it can be so many things, but if done as if we were doing them for Jesus himself, then we understand what the Judge was looking for and why such compassion far exceeds just ordinary kindness.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, November 23, 2014

King of the Universe

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe brings us to the culmination of the Liturgical Year. It sums up all that we have been observing and celebrating since the First Sunday of Advent. As Christians, our lives revolve around the life of Jesus Christ. Next week we will be preparing for his birth as we open up the New Liturgical Year. And then on and on through the familiar sequence. Each year's observances and recollections of the key events and their meaning for us should bring us a deeper love for Jesus and a closer adherence to his teachings. Our purpose on earth is to know, love and serve God in this world and be happy with him in the next," as simply stated in the Baltimore Catechism of days past and again reiterated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We focus on Christ the King today, who will come at the end of time to reap the harvest of the souls how have been faithful to this purpose. We rejoice at our existence, our calling to such a sublime purpose and end, and rededicate our loves and efforts to our Lord, Master, and Savior.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, November 22, 2014

JFK

November 22nd can't roll around without memories of the fatal day in 1963 when the world was shocked. We have had many similar shocks since then, but this one seems to stick out above all others. Life stopped until JFK was laid to rest in Arlington Cemetery.
We have learned more about the man as the years have unfolded, some deeper insights into his personal pain, and the pain of wrong decisions, but still he stands as a man who united the country and inspired us (who were the youth of the day). Such a charismatic leader we have not had since. Let us pray that another "new generation" will arise, pick up the torch and carry it on.
Bro. Rene