Tuesday, December 6, 2016

God Comforts Us

When we grow weary from routine or over-extension and feel flat and out of steam, God comes to us in his Word, as he does today through the prophet Isaiah (40: 1-11) and the Gospel of Matthew (18: 12-14).  The prevailing image is that of the shepherd feeding and gathering his sheep, even leaving the ninety-nine to save the one which has strayed from the flock.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Health and Happiness

The prophet Isaiah again presents a poetic picture of health and happiness, and as we are perhaps writing Christmas Cards these days, we are most likely wishing these promises to our family and friends. Are these just words, or is there a deeper dimension that gives a fuller meaning in the context of Advent?  The Jesuit priest, Fr. Alfred Delp who was imprisoned and executed by the Nazis in 1945, gives us a key insight into where we find true health and happiness: "...man becomes healthy through the order of God and in nearness to God.  That is also where he becomes capable of joy and happiness.  Establishing the order of God, and in announcing God's nearness, and teaching it and bringing it to others: that is what my life means and wants, and what it is sworn to and abides by."
Emmanuel, God is with us...allowing that nearness to direct our lives in God's way, then spreading our discovery to others will bring health of mind and body and as much happiness as we can know on earth.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Having Hope

Isaiah presents us with the gifts of the Spirit and the idyllic scenario of the wolf and the lamb being guests of one another, the cow and the bear being neighbor, and the baby playing by the cobra's den. (Cf. Is 11: 1-10) A time and place of peace. Paul tells the Romans that what has been written in the. Scriptures is to encourage us to have hope. (Cf. Rm 15: 4).  If this is to happen, we urgently need to "repent", says John the Baptist: "Repent,  for the kingdom of. Heaven is at hand." (Mt 3:1).  Where there is discord, unrighteousness, gloom and lifelessness, there is need for repentance.
The Church prays for repentance and the Season of Advent encourages it.  If we can change even one behavior, one attitude...or even just BEGIN to change it, then there is hope.  Our prayers ARE answered:  The God who gives us each breath and strength for each step, knows our hearts, minds and desires.   We have nothing to fear.  Ask God for the grace you need and live in the hope that he will give it to you.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Count Not The Cost

As we remember St. Francis Xavier today, a verse from today's Gospel fittingly applies to him,
St. Francis and ALL who aspire to live a holy life: "Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." (Mt 10: 8).  These and others received the gift of God's love along with the gift to love him in return with their whole heart and strength. It was this love that enabled them to give so totally of themselves. They did not count the cost and the consequences of their gift are still being felt today.
God wants to give us the gift of his love; may we accept it and respond with generous hearts ready to do whatver God wants, without counting the cost.
Bro. Rene

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Time Will Come

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet, Isaiah proclaimed, "But a very  little while,/ and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,/ and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear/ the words of a book;/ And out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see." (Is 29:17-18).  We are still waiting for this idyllic scenario to be played out, and these Advent days remind us that God works, but works slowly.
Here in Assisi yesterday, a tall Franciscan brother reminded us that the conversion process of St. Francis, covered two and a half years.  Slowly, God made known his desire and plan for him and gave him TIME to grow into it.  Our speaker, Br. Andreas, experienced something similar as a law student who had strayed from the Church, but who found himself led slowly and gently back and then on to the Franciscan. Brotherhood.  And what a happy man he is.  When he received "sight", his whole world changed.
We are all "blind" but with God's grace working through time, we too shall SEE.  Let us proceed patiently through Advent to the insight and love God passionately wants to give us.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Pope of Mercy

At his regular Wednesday Audience yesterday, November 30th, Pope Francis finished (for now) his catechesis on the works of mercy addressing the four thousand people assembled in the Pope Paul VI Audience Hall on the final work or mercy, on the last day of the month of the Holy Souls,  burying and praying for the dead.  "Even though the Year of Mercy is over", he said, "let us continue to practice mercy."  He urged us to make prayer for the deceased a regular part of family prayer even  beyond November.  He encouraged comforting the sorrowful,  prayerful visiting of cemeteries and attendance at wakes and funerals as visible acts of this spiritual work of mercy.  Translators gave a summary in at least 10 languages, to make sure everyone understood.
The formal part of the hour-long audience concluded with a papal blessing extended through us to our families and communities (readers, consider yourselves included), and then the Pope spent another hour praying over the sick and handicapped who were wheeled to the front of he hall, and then blessing babies and as many as he could reach as he slowly made his exist up the main aisle.  No hurry, but a sincere attempt to make sure he touched everyone. He is an amazing example of compassion and personal interest in, and care for everyone.  He resembled, as we might imagine Jesus, working his way through the crowds gathered on the hillsides of Galilee.
Let us imitate our Shepherd as best we can, and pray that his health remains strong so that he can continue to teach and show us how to be merciful for many years to come.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tragedy in Colombia

We come to the end of November, the month of the Holy Souls, with 76 more souls to pray for: passengers on a plane carrying soccer players, coaches and reporters to a soccer match in Brazil.  In seconds the dreams of the team shattered and grief descended like a thunderstorm on the five survivors and the families of the deceased.  We cannot imagine or describe what that grief must be like, but we can join with the mourners in prayer for their comfort and the eternal rest of their loved ones.   May St. Andrew, crucified on an X cross, intercede for all; may Mary, "Soother of Sorrows", gently drop her mantle of peace over the mourners, and intercede with her Son for the repose of the souls of the deceased.
Bro. Rene