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Welcoming the New

We caHappy New Yearll January 1st "New Year's Day." Why?

Because it is the first calendar day of the year, of course. 

But does the calendar make it fully new, or can we look for more than just a paper measuring time and marking dates?

 Aware of the gift of time and the invitation to the aliveness God gives us, we remember the words: "See, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19)

What is the aliveness and new thing to which we are called in 2021?

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Led by Holy Light

Draw me to you, O Jesus,Nighttime branches with star
as the Magi were drawn.
Give me a glimpse—
perhaps not of a star—
but of holy light,
that I may be faithful,
that I may continue
to gaze and be led,
though all around would
draw my eyes away.
May I walk more and more
in your light,
even when the darkness
that tries to infect my spirit
would turn my heart from you.
Grant that I may persevere
as you draw me toward you
and in you.

 

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

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God Is Near

… for me, it is good to be near God.
(Psalm 73:28)

Thanksgiving is past and Christmas music is playing on the radio.  Commercial interests of all sorts are trying to convince us that what we really, really want, what we really, really need, is their product—that for us, it is good to be near the credit card.

But we are replying, “for me, it is good to be near God.”

What does it mean to be near God?  What does it mean for God to be near us? How is God near?  Why, if God in Christ is near, do we say, “Come, Lord Jesus?” Do we say, Come, because God is present or because God is absent?  Usually when we ask someone to come, it’s because that person is not here.  Are we waiting for Jesus, or is he already here?  Or both?  

What do we mean when we say, Come, Lord Jesus?

When we pray, or when we even talk about God, we are approaching Mystery.  

So that when we say God is near, we don’t mean near in the same way that we may mean that another human being is near, or that this particular chair is near and that one is farther away. When we talk about God being near or far, we are talking about our human experience, but we need to recognize that we are in the realm of mystery.  We are using human words to express something that can’t really be expressed.

"But how can I reproach you with your distance, when I find your nearness equally mysterious…?" asks Karl Rahner (“Before God,” Prayers for a Lifetime (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 4).

God is always with us, but the divine nearness to us is indeed very mysterious.  Sometimes God’s presence feels to us like distance, or even like absence.

So we are right to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

We are right to long for eyes to see and a heart to receive the One who is, in truth, already present to us and in us.

So we pray, "Come, Lord Jesus." And we let Jesus pray his prayer in us (“Our Father... hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done...”), as we express the desire for our hearts to be conformed to the heart of Christ, and for ourselves and the world to be transformed.

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The last Sunday of the liturgical year is the Feast of Christ the King — or more properly, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. If we ponder this feast and its readings, we find that we are speaking of one who is not a ruler like other rulers.

In the Gospel reading for this year, the King is identified with the “least” — the poor, the stranger, the ill, the prisoner (Matthew 25:31-46):

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me'" (Matthew 25: 35-36).

We learn that “whatever you did for one of the least,” we have done for Jesus (25:40).

In the gospel for Year B, where Pilate is questioning Jesus, it turns out that one sign that this reign is different from a worldly dominion is the absence of violence, even violence in defense of the Christ (John 18:33b-37). 

And in Year C, we hear the rulers and soldiers sneering at Jesus on the cross, while above him a mocking sign proclaims, "This is the King of the Jews." Even one of the criminals crucified along with Jesus seems to be jeering. The other, however, begs, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And we hear Jesus welcoming him, saying, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:35-43).

So this is a King identified with the poor, the oppressed, even the condemned, a King whose reign is marked by welcome and love, resurrection and healing. This is a king who, wonder of wonders, does not look down his nose on us from his royal throne, but calls us to share his own life.

__________

See also:
- Endings
- Peaceable Kingdom

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Eyes to See

 

One day this autumn, I was walking along the sidewalk not far from our house and was astonished to see, here in the big city, a single flower growing out of a crack in the concrete. It seemed to me a reminder of the love and beauty always present in us and for us, even when all around us appears to make that unlikely.

A couple of days later I walked by again, and it was gone. There was nothing left of either the blossom or the plant.  It wasn’t that it had just withered and remained there. I wondered if perhaps someone else had been heartened by it and had picked it. Or perhaps, worse, someone had simply pulled it up, reasoning that it didn’t belong there.

But in a way, that flower is always there for me now. It still speaks to me of beauty and love  — at least when I have eyes to see and a heart open to receive.

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Violence Is Not the Answer

As of two days ago, according to the Chicago Tribune, 2,749 people have been shot in Chicago this year.

What is the solution? Is the solution more guns? Shall we arm the populace?

Are guns a protection against the evils of racism? On another level, are looting and destruction of property a valid protest against society’s economic inequalities?

We remember the wise words of Martin Luther King:

"Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral.... Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers."

Martin Luther King, Nobel Lecture, December 11, 1964

Yes, “Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love… Violence ends up defeating itself.”

Let us pray that hearts which harbor racism and other forms of injustice may be transformed. And to begin with, let us pray that our own hearts may be transformed into the loving heart of Christ.

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Let Your Light Shine

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket,
but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
(Mt. 5:16)

“Let your light shine.” If the light is true, not just my own self-promoting light, then it cannot help but bring blessing, even in small ways.  Each one of us is created to be a blessing for this world where, too often, it is the darkness that seems most evident: the prejudice, the racism, the violence, the greed—you name it.

But when the light is true, we are shedding not just our own light, but the divine light which has been poured out on us and into us.

In this troubled time, let us “shine like stars in the world” (Phil. 2:15). Let us shine by the light of hearts that know that we are all one in Christ.

 

 

Video: “Let Your Light Shine”

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May 10, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of the canonization of our Cenacle foundress, Saint Therese Couderc.

Since we can't get together physically during this pandemic, we invite you to join with us in spirit as we express our gratitude to God for the gifts Mother Therese has bequeathed to us.

In thanksgiving we remember her words to us about the blessing of surrendering all to the good God. Here is a brief video of her meditation, "To Surrender Oneself":

 

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Living in Easter Hope

In a time of worldwide illness and the anxiety it provokes, can we let the promise of Easter lighten our hearts?

The future God plans for us is filled with divine beauty and love, which neither crucifixion nor illness can overcome.  In the second letter of Peter we read: 

May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.
(2 Peter 1:3-4)

This amazing assurance is followed by a call:

For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.  (2 Peter 1:5-7)

May we live in the blessing of the wonderful promise and its call.

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Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.Photo by Rose Hoover, rc (with the kind help of NASA)
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me:
Within thy wounds hide me;
Let me never be separated from thee.
From the wicked foe defend me.
At the hour of my death, call me
And bid me come to thee,
That with thy saints I may praise thee
For ever and ever. Amen.

_____

For reflections on each petition of this beautiful 14th century prayer, go to: "Soul of Christ."

 

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