Friday, December 29, 2017

Fifth Day within the Octave of the Nativity of the Lord

Thomas Becket, Saint and Martyr (d. 1170)

Readings of the day: RB 71
Mass: 1 John 2:3-11; Resp. Psalm 96; Luke 2:22-35

God so loved the world that he gave his Only Begotten Son,
so that all who believe in him may not perish,
but may have eternal life.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)



From today’s readings, what might we consider in preparation for the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and the New Year 2018. The first rises from an oft asked question: ‘How do I know I am advancing on the spiritual journey?’ Put another way, ‘How do I know I am growing in intimacy with God—deepening my love for God and for my sisters and brothers?’ An answer can be found in the First Letter of Saint John: ‘This is the way we know we are in union with Jesus: whoever claims to abide in him ought to walk just as he walked.’ If we are not quite sure how Jesus walked imagine our Lord as a walking parable of tender mercy, compassion, patience, healing, unconditional love, abiding joy, and forgiveness. Is there one person you can reach out to so as to walk more closely with Jesus?

Another answer can be found in Saint Benedict’s Chapter 71, Mutual Obedience. He begins: ‘Obedience is of such value that it is not only to be shown to the Abbess but in fact all members of the community should be obedient to each other in the sure knowledge that this way of obedience is the one that will take them straight to God.’ In the context of any community, family, work group, or classroom, there are so many ways to be obedient to one another: filling in when someone is ill or hurting; helping another to prepare for an exam; comforting a crying child during another sleepless night; performing a task in a way that I might not prefer, but in the way someone else would like me to do it; remembering that ‘God loves a cheerful giver’; listening without interrupting. For other thoughts on obedience, one may turn to RB 5, Obedience. If all else fails, go immediately to RB 72 on Good Zeal, already noted as the most beautiful chapter in the Holy Rule. Is there one person you can reach out to so as walk more closely with Jesus in mutual obedience?

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses,
the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord,
just as it is written in the law of the Lord.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs

Readings of the day: RB 70
Mass: 1 John 1:5-2:2; Resp. Psalm 124; Matthew 2:13-18

Rise, take the child and his mother,
flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you.



On the Feast of the Holy Innocents, it seems fitting and right to reflect upon the Holy Father’s 2017 Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message, particularly his focus on the children of our world:

Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, ‘there is no place in the inn’ (Lk 2:7).

We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land. Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders. May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited.

We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country. May beloved Syria at last recover respect for the dignity of every person through a shared commitment to rebuild the fabric of society, without regard for ethnic and religious membership. We see Jesus in the children of Iraq, wounded and torn by the conflicts that country has experienced in the last fifteen years, and in the children of Yemen, where there is an ongoing conflict that has been largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases.

We see Jesus in the children of Africa, especially those who are suffering in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.
We see Jesus in the children worldwide wherever peace and security are threatened by the danger of tensions and new conflicts. Let us pray that confrontation may be overcome on the Korean peninsula and that mutual trust may increase in the interest of the world as a whole. To the Baby Jesus we entrust Venezuela that it may resume a serene dialogue among the various elements of society for the benefit of all the beloved Venezuelan people. We see Jesus in children who, together with their families, suffer from the violence of the conflict in Ukraine and its grave humanitarian repercussions; we pray that the Lord may soon grant peace to this dear country.

We see Jesus in the children of unemployed parents who struggle to offer their children a secure and peaceful future. And in those whose childhood has been robbed and who, from a very young age, have been forced to work or to be enrolled as soldiers by unscrupulous mercenaries.

We see Jesus in the many children forced to leave their countries to travel alone in inhuman conditions and who become an easy target for human traffickers. Through their eyes we see the drama of all those forced to emigrate and risk their lives to face exhausting journeys that end at times in tragedy. I see Jesus again in the children I met during my recent visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, and it is my hope that the international community will not cease to work to ensure that the dignity of the minority groups present in the region is adequately protected. Jesus knows well the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay one’s head. May our hearts not be closed as they were in the homes of Bethlehem.

GOD IS LIGHT,
AND IN HIM THERE IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

Readings of the day: RB 69
Mass: 1 John 1:1-4; Resp. Psalm 97; John 20:1a, 2-8

Mary Magdalene ran.
Simon Peter and the disciple whom Jesus loved ran,
but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first.
He SAW and BELIEVED.

St. Peter and St. John at the Tomb of Christ / Giovanni Francesco Romanelli
MAY WE RUN TO MEET THE WORD MADE FLESH DWELLING AMONG US.
REJOICE IN THE LORD, YOU JUST!

The Word of life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
(1 John 1:2-4)

O God, who through the blessed Apostle John
have unlocked for us the secrets of your Word,
grant, we pray,
that we may grasp with proper understanding
what he has so marvelously brought to our ears.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect, Mass)

Please God, make our joy complete.
Saint John, pray for us.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Feast of Saint Stephen, the First Martyr

Readings of the day: RB 68
Mass: Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59; Resp. Psalm 31; Matthew 10:17-22

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord:
the Lord is God and has given us light.
ALLELUIA.
 
Icon of St Stephen
The story of the stoning of Stephen from Acts woven into what we hear Jesus say to us in today’s Gospel, culminating in Psalm 31, provides a beautiful tapestry of the WORD. 

Beware of men, they will hand you over, throw you out of the city as they did Stephen.
Don’t worry about what to say, though, the Spirit will fill you—they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which Stephen spoke; they were infuriated and ground their teeth. ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ Brother will hand over brother, children will rise against parents—they will put you to death. They cried out, covered their ears, and rushed upon Stephen. They began to stone him. 
You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

BE MY ROCK OF REFUGE,
A STRONGHOLD TO GIVE ME SAFETY.
YOU ARE MY ROCK AND FORTRESS;
FOR YOUR NAME’S SAKE YOU WILL LEAD AND GUIDE ME.
INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMEND MY SPIRIT;
YOU WILL REDEEM ME, O LORD, O FAITHFUL GOD.
I WILL REJOICE AND BE GLAD BECAUSE OF YOUR MERCY.

RESCUE ME FROM THE CLUTCHES OF MY ENEMIES AND MY PERSECUTORS,
LET YOUR FACE SHINE UPON YOUR SERVANT;
SAVE ME IN YOUR KINDNESS.

Saint Stephen,
pray for us.


Sent from Mail for Windows 10

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

Readings of the day:
RB 67. Those who are sent on a journey

Vigil Mass: Isaiah 62:1-5; Resp. Psalm 89; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-2
Mass During the Night: Isaiah 9:1-6; Resp. Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Mass at Dawn: Isaiah 62:11-12; Resp. Psalm 97; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20
Mass During the Day: Isaiah 52:7-10; Resp. Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18



A child is born for us, and a son is given to us;
his scepter of power rests upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called Messenger of great counsel.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)

For lectio divina on this glorious day, I’ve gone through the liturgical readings, including other riches of our liturgy, and marked one line (when I could maintain discipline to do so ­čśŐ) from each. What follows is my litany: Give thanks to his holy name!

So shall your God rejoice in you.
You are my father, my God, the rock, my savior.
Fellow Israelites and you others who are God fearing, listen.
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.
Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth.
He will save his people from their sins.
In the profession of faith, all kneel at the words, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
To live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await with blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes.
You shall be called ‘Frequented,’ a city that is not forsaken.
Not because any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy.
Mary kept all these things reflecting on them in her heart.
Your God is king!
The refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
The Word became Flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory,
the glory of his Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD,
AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD.
ALL WHO HEARD IT WERE AMAZED!

Today Holy Christendom commemorates a birth, which should so gladden and delight the heart that, enraptured with joyful love and jubilation,
we should soar upward with sheer gratitude and bliss.
J. Tauler (d. 1361), Sermons

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Advent : Christmas Eve

Readings of the day: RB 66
Mass: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Resp. Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
 
From the Cistercian Abbey of Quilvo, Curic├│, Chile

Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One;
let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.
(Entrance Antiphon, Mass)

We have busy, exciting 24 hours in which to immerse ourselves. First, we move towards the conclusion of this holy season with the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, then end Advent before First Vespers of Christmas. At First Vespers of the Nativity of the Lord we enter Christmas Time.

Ethiopian icon
To prepare for today’s liturgy, I went to my postcard collection and selected those with artwork of the Annunciation. One of my favorites, included here, is from the Cistercian Abbey of Quilvo, Curic├│, Chile. The other depiction of the Annunciation I especially like is not on a postcard, but framed on my wall: included here, an Ethiopian icon written on skin. Although very different, these icons speak to me in similar ways. First, in the depths of their simplicity. Second, in the hands of the Angel Gabriel and of Mary. I’ve been told that eyes are the window to the soul; for me, hands are the window to the heart. Hands intrigue me: they speak to me in their lines, smoothness, coarseness, elasticity of the skin, in their delicacy no matter they big or small. Look at the hands in the photos. The artist of the Quilvo picture shows both Gabriel and Mary with oversized, plump hands—open, directed toward the Word, ready to give the Word, and receive the Word. In the Ethiopian piece, the writer shows hands with elongated fingers pointing to the Word, guided towards Mary; Mary too pointing while covering her heart. The sheer magnitude and impact of the Word: ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.’ Mary was troubled, afraid, yet with open hands, she pondered in her heart. I like to think Gabriel took the hand of Mary and calmed her. Today may be a day to take the hand of one lonely, ill, anxious, grieving, or appearing distant. Getting ahead of myself, I wonder what would have happened had someone taken the hand of ‘perturbed’ Herod. Or, take the hand of a loved one and look at it, hold it—examine its beauty and let it speak to you and lead you to the beauty of her heart. Hands—Heart: may they lead us to the child to be born.

When the human spirit is ready, God enters without hesitation or waiting.
You need not look either here or there.
God is no farther away than the door of the heart.
(Meister Eckhart)

With outstretched hands and enlarged hearts,
may we welcome the WORD made FLESH dwelling among us.

MAY IT BE DONE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD.



Saturday, December 23, 2017

O Antiphon - Emmanuel: Saint John of Kanty (1390-1473)


Readings of the day: RB 65:11-22
Mass: Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24; Resp. Psalm 25; Luke 1:57-66



O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law:
come to save us, Lord our God!

MARANATHA.

Friday, December 22, 2017

O King of All Nations

Readings of the day: RB 65:1-10
Mass: 1 Samuel 1:24-28; Resp. Psalm 1 Sm 2); Luke 1:46-56



O King of all nations and keystone of the Church;
come and save us, whom you formed from the dust!

MARANATHA.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Saint Peter Canisius (1521-1597) ; O Radiant Dawn


Readings of the day: RB 64:7-22
Mass: Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Resp. Psalm 33; Luke 1:39-45



O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death!

MARANATHA.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

O Key of David

Readings of the day: RB 64:1-6
Mass: Isaiah 7:10-14; Resp. Psalm 24; Luke 1:26-38



O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
come and free the prisoners of darkness!

MARANATHA.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

O Root of Jesse's Stem

Readings of the day: RB 63:10-19
Mass: Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a; Resp. Psalm 71; Luke 1:5-25
 
A redwood in the monastery's groove


O Root of Jesse’s stem, sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

MARANATHA.

Monday, December 18, 2017

‘O’ Antiphon

Readings of the day: RB 63:1-9
Mass: Jeremiah 23:5-8; Resp. Psalm 72; Matthew 1:18-25

O Adonai


I pass on a suggestion from a friend, for each day of the ‘O’ Antiphons:
Carry the name of Jesus and that day, the title for Him as a prayer in your heart,
as you are walking, working, moving.

O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the law to Moses on Sinai;
come to rescue us with your mighty power!

MARANATHA.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Third Sunday of Advent: Gaudete Sunday

Readings of the day: RB 62
Mass: Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; Resp. Psalm (Lk 1); 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28


AUGURI! BUON COMPLEANNO.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, POPE FRANCIS.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.

Welcome to Gaudete Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent!

As we rejoice wholeheartedly, we also begin our last week of preparation for the celebration of Christmas. In these days, one might reflect on how to prepare in a more direct way for the Nativity of the Lord. The Baptist heralds: ‘Make straight the way of the Lord!’ Saint Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, offers: Rejoice always; Pray without ceasing; in all circumstances give thanks. In what way will you testify to the light this week? A few suggestions: sit quietly with someone who is grieving; embrace someone who is anxious; reach out to someone with whom you have difficulties; sit with your family, community, or book club and allow each member to share something she is grateful for; listen to your friend tell a story, even if you have heard it before; contact a person with whom you are estranged.

Grant us the grace, living and true God,
to be to be generous in showing kindness and mercy.

Say to the faint of heart: Be strong and do not fear.
Behold, our God will come, and he will save us. 

MARANATHA.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Readings of the day: RB 61:6-14
Mass: Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11; Resp. Psalm 80; Matthew 17:9a, 10-13

The Prophet Elijah

ELIJAH WILL INDEED COME AND RESTORE ALL THINGS;
BUT I TELL YOU THAT ELIJAH HAS ALREADY COME, AND THEY DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIM BUT DID TO HIM WHATEVER THEY PLEASED.

Christian life demands, so to speak, the ‘martyrdom’ of daily fidelity to the Gospel, the courage, that is, to let Christ grow within us and let him be the One who guides our thoughts and our actions.
(Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, August 29, 2012)

Lord, make us turn to you;
let us see your face and we shall be saved.
(Resp. Psalm 80)

MARANATHA.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Readings of the day: RB 61:1-5
Mass: Isaiah 48:17-19; Resp. Psalm 1; Matthew 11:16-19



If you hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea.

During a lengthy drive yesterday, I became engrossed in the audio version of Graham Greene’s (1904-1991), The End of the Affair, narrated superbly by Colin Firth. The epigraph drew me in: ‘Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering, in order that they may have existence’ (L├ęon Bloy, 1846-1917). Bloy’s words are striking and ring true for me. In my experience it is in moments of suffering where one chooses life or death. Put another way, it is in suffering that we intensity our search for God (see Sarah in Greene’s novel), or distance ourselves from God. Or, it is in suffering that our faith in God strengthens (maybe Bendrix in the novel), or weakens. 

Suffering comes in packages big and small: grief over the death of a loved one, physical and/or emotional illness or decline, rejection, jealousy, being overlooked for a promotion I thought I deserved, being removed from a job I loved, doing the dishes when I know it is ‘someone else’s’ job. Do I murmur and complain about my lot in life—spend my energy criticizing like the crowds addressed in today’s Gospel? Oh, this generation who criticizes John the Baptist, ‘possessed by a demon’, and Jesus, a ‘glutton and drunkard’.

One of my favorite paragraphs in the Catechism speaks of the heart and sheds further light on the beauty and delicacy of its veiled corners: ‘The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death’ (CCC 2563). 

Suffering pierces our hearts in places that we didn’t even know were there. Will it be life or death?

The Lord will come; go out to meet him!
He is the prince of peace.

MARANATHA.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thursday of the Second Week of Advent; Saint John of the Cross (d. 1591)


Readings of the day: RB 60
Mass: Isaiah 41:13-20; Resp. Psalm 145; Matthew 11:11-15



WHOEVER HAS EARS OUGHT TO HEAR:

The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.

ALLELUIA.
Let the clouds rains down a Just One,
and the earth bring forth a Savior.
ALLELUIA.


MARANATHA.