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Blessings in the New Year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

– Minnie Louise Haskins, 1908

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    On the Mystery of the Incarnation

    It's when we face for a moment
    the worst our kind can do, and shudder to know
    the taint in our own selves, that awe
    cracks the mind's shell and enters the heart:
    not to a flower, not to a dolphin,
    to no innocent form
    but to this creature vainly sure
    it and no other is god-like, God
    (out of compassion for our ugly
    failure to evolve) entrusts,
    as guest, as brother,
    the Word.

    — Denise Levertov, The Stream and the Sapphire


Nassau Book of Hours, circa 1467-80, BrugesWhat a mystery the Incarnation offers us. We are so wonderfully loved that God longs never to be separated from us, in spite of the worst we can do – and too often choose to do. Unworthy though we are, yet God becomes one of us.

And so, because God becomes and remains human, “all theology,” as Karl Rahner says, “is eternally anthropology.” And a corollary to this is that we must not devalue ourselves or other people, because we “would then be thinking little of God” (Karl Rahner, Foundations of Christian Faith).

The incarnation also reveals to us our call and our hope as human beings. “By the mystery of this water and wine,” prays the priest during the Preparation of the Gifts at Mass, “may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

God becomes one of us, so that we “may become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).  The gift of the Incarnation is the gift beyond all gifts.

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The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.
    Lamentations 3:24

    But as for me, I watch in hope, I wait for God my savior;
    my God will hear me.
Micah 7:7

Waiting can be tedious, a dreary time, a time in which we grow impatient. Preoccupied with ourselves doing the waiting, we do not expect much to come out of our waiting.



Waiting can be an invitation born of awareness that we are are called and promised God’s presence. Do we need more reason to hope – really hope – not with just a desire for what makes us feel good but a hope born of courage and profound trust?

The first Sunday of Advent readings remind us  that we do not know when the appointed time will come….  So we are to:

“Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33)

Stay awake?

What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'” (Mark 13: 37)

As Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., says: “Advent … warns us; hopes can be dangerous but for that reason we are not to suppress nor compromise them. The Lord will come suddenly, beyond our dreams and control. Advent, therefore, advises us: wait, pray, be patient and persevering. The Lord will surely come.”

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Storm Season

Sometimes, when we are battered by literal storms such as Harvey or Irma or the figurative storms of life, we feel like praying with Job:

    I cry to you and you do not answer me;
    I stand, and you merely look at me.

    You have turned cruel to me;
    with the might of your hand you persecute me.

    You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,
    and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.

    (Job 30:20-22)

Other times, while still suffering, we may find it easier to trust in the fidelity of God:

    Be merciful to me, O God,
    be merciful to me,
    for in you my soul takes refuge;

    in the shadow of your wings
    I will take refuge,
    until the destroying storms pass by.

    (Psalm 57:1)

We can be confident that both prayers are treasured in the heart of God.

 

[Photo is my own.]

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Rejoice with us! The Cenacle is celebrating 125 years since our arrival in North America.

This is a picture of the first four Religious of the Cenacle to arrive in New York from France in 1892.

"It was not without emotion," wrote Mother Bachelard, "that we saw the shores of France fade from our view, but we bore within our hearts One, Who being All things and everywhere, annihilates distance and bestows the necessary strength for every sacrifice. Henceforth all our thoughts and efforts were to be turned toward that American land where He was awaiting us."

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Ordinary Time

What does it mean to be Ordinary?

Routine? Usual? Typical? The same as what has gone before? Is it dull, boring, without surprise? Does being ordinary make something labeled ordinary plain? Full or overly full of "the same old same old"?

But is that what the church means when it numbers weeks between Trinity Sunday and the First Sunday of Advent weeks in "Ordinary Time"?

During these weeks we listen to the Word of God found in the Sunday Gospels. Rooted in them we hear the call to make visible the Gospel path we hear and pray each Sunday. There is nothing dull, boring, or even routine about that.

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The Mass of Our Lady of the Cenacle has been prayed in various forms and translations over the years. In today’s world, where the tumult around us may draw us away from interior stillness and deafen us to the peaceful voice of God, and where the powers competing for our adoration may try to turn us away from the love of God, the following form of the collect seems especially timely. And of course we don’t have to wait for the Mass to pray it. It’s a good prayer in any season, whether we are together or in solitude.

O God,
who enriched the Blessed Virgin Mary
with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
as she prayed with the disciples
in the Cenacle,
grant, we beseech you,
that earnestly cultivating
interior silence of heart,
we may be able to prefer your love
to all else,
through Christ our Lord,
Amen.

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Come, Holy Spirit!

All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,
together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus,
and with his brothers. (Acts 1:14)
 

In these days leading up to Pentecost, we remember the little group gathered in prayer in the first Cenacle: the Upper Room in Jerusalem. We too pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on ourselves and on our world, which sorely needs the peace and joy of the Spirit of Jesus.

Here you will find reflections on the beautiful Pentecost sequence. So we pray...

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Love Has the Last Word

In spite of all that may tend to discourage us, in spite of all we read in the newspaper or on social media, Goodness and Light are stronger than evil.

We need not fear, because we know that love has the last word.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5)

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A New Heart

“A new heart I will give you,
and a new spirit I will put within you;
and I will remove from your body the heart of stone
and give you a heart of flesh.”
(Ezekiel 36:26)

Photo by Rose Hoover, rc (with the kind help of NASA)It is never out of season to pray for the promised new heart. Lent, however, gives us a special opportunity to focus on God’s desire to transform our hearts into the heart of Jesus.  Thus may we “become participants of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). It is a breathtaking thought, but true: God invites us to share the divine life. This is our call.

It has been said that we become what we contemplate. So this Lenten season, we may ask for the grace of beholding the beauty of Christ in our daily lives, realizing of course, that our vision is limited and our attention will often stray. But each time we are distracted let us turn back, allowing the Spirit to transform us, for we read:

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)

__________

By the way, if you are in the Chicago area, you might check out the Lenten Retreat I will be leading the weekend of March 10-12. The theme is: “Resting in the Heart of God.” You can find information here.

__________

The photo, "Christ the Heart of the Universe," is by Rose Hoover, rc, with the help of NASA's public domain space images.

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