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Off the Island
AUTHOR
Joan  »

"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up their fellow. But woe to the one who is alone when they fall and has not another to lift them up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?" Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV

Ah...our need for others.  Our physical, emotional and spiritual desire for other people, a bond which reminds us we are human, reminds us we are communal animals.  But why is this so?  What is to be gained by having other people in our daily lives?

I would surmise God has graced us with this need in order to give us numerous opportunities throughout of day to grow in our love for all creation and transcend our limited egotistical selves – in essence so we can spiritually grow.  As Ecclesiastes states “if they fall, one will lift up their fellow…How can one keep warm alone?”  I can’t “wing it” totally on my own.  I am not, and can never be, an island unto myself.  And for this I am grateful to my creator.

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AUTHOR
Mark  »

As Jean Vanier wrote in Living Gently in a Violent World:

The Word became flesh to bring people together, to break down the walls of fear and hatred that separate people. That's the vision of the incarnation — to bring people together. ...

Maybe the most important thing is to learn how to build communities of celebration. Maybe the world will be transformed when we learn to have fun together. I don't mean to suggest that we don't talk about serious things. But maybe what our world needs more than anything is communities where we celebrate life together and become a sign of hope for our world. Maybe we need signs that it is possible to love each other.

 

Some years ago I read that excerpt of the late great Jean Vanier on a retreat. It resonates with me, especially as we progress from holiday gatherings to the newness of time in this New Year. We’ve gathered. We’ve celebrated. But, alas, have we built communities of celebration?

 Sometimes Christmas parties may seem like “forced fun” insofar as we’re obligated to spend time with folks we may not want to. Sometimes we think the only way we can have a celebration is by having a potent beverage in our hand. But striped of liquid courage or of family obligations, immersed in total freedom how would we choose to love one another? How would we build communities of celebration? In the bleakness of winter how are we going to be a sign that life, and love, and our relational nature is both possible and hope-filled? I, for one, plan on asking a specific question: What do you need? For I believe we can only build community when we know what we’re building with.

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Pursuit of Peace
AUTHOR
Jill  »

The dawn of a new day, a new year, a new beginning approaches with every drifting second. The collection of thoughts and plans scattered on the frontier of the imagination yields possibilities. Those annual fragmented promises we reflect on and recite like rituals keep the mind in a constant pursuit of personal peace. Peace that sets the scales for all future prospects and promises that will expand spirit and body into something greater.  Allowing ourselves the opportunity to reset and realign our anatomy and intention of ever prayer going forward. Peace we seek in every ambitious endeavor and habitual action we strive to make or break. So here’s a proposal for the year end reset/resolutions; remain in pursuit of peace in every personal practice old and new, and most of all become the peace you seek.

James 3:18 “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace…”

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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AUTHOR
Sr. Rose  »

The ninth chapter of Isaiah contains this beautiful prophecy concerning the Messianic king:

 

The people who walked in darkness

    have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness—

    on them light has shined.

. . .

For a child has been born for us,

    a son given to us;

authority rests upon his shoulders;

    and he is named

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

(Isaiah 9:2, 6)

 

What does it mean for us to welcome Jesus? Is it even possible for us to welcome the Prince of Peace in this world torn by violence and discord?

 

We are indeed called to welcome gladly the peace and love of Christ, so that his peace becomes our own. But the peace of Christ that is poured into our hearts, if it is truly Christ’s peace, is not just for us, and not just for the people most like us.  It is to flow from us into the world around us.

But what about this troubling saying of Jesus:  “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34).

For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. (10:35-36)

Is this contrary to the peace that otherwise seems to be promised and that we are called to embody? Does this justify wars and violence?

No, the Prince of Peace does not call for violence. He is speaking here metaphorically of what happens in practice: when people become followers of Christ, they risk alienating family and friends. (See the parallel passage in Luke 12:51-53, where the word “division” is used instead of “sword.”)

Even today, there may be people, perhaps in our own families, who will disagree with us or condemn us—or even cast us out—if we are true followers of the Prince of Peace. Like Jesus, we risk disapproval, alienation, or worse if we share his love and peace, particularly with those whose lives seem to indicate that they are unworthy of the love of Christ.

We must remember, however, that we ourselves are also unworthy. We are unworthy, but we are of infinite worth. And amazingly enough, we are to be Christ-bearers in the world. We are to be bearers of the love of God, not only to the peaceful and the loving, but also to those unwilling or unable to receive the gift.

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AUTHOR
Joan  »

As we enter the 3rd week of Advent we can be tempted to be distracted by the ever growing list of things to do, cook, purchase and decorate. We can lose sight of the miracle we are celebrating – the arrival of God in the flesh and presence of a little baby. The mystery and message of the incarnation can easily get lost in the effort we put forth to “do” Christmas. But can I pause? Can I take a step back from my lists, my time tables and easy access to technology and consumption to really consider just what the arrival of this baby centuries ago means for me? Can I consider the message the Christ child brought to the world as he grew and traveled about preaching the gospel of love, compassion, peace and charity? How am I going to slow down to embrace Christ’s presence in my life? I find the stepping back is simple if I ask God for help. Inevitably, God responds in the way that is best for me, and often with a sense of humor. It might not seem helpful to sit in traffic after a long day at the office but I have learned to turn off the radio and use this time to pray and converse with God. When I do that God helps me pause and within that pause I find the peace I know Christ came into the world to show us.

 How does God help you pause? How do you find the true peace of Christmas as you travel towards Christmas Day?


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What is Peace?
AUTHOR
Mark  »

December, draped in Advent, invites us to define the word, “peace.”

And so, what is peace to you?

But wait, before you answer that, or to best answer that, perhaps meditate on a few other questions that might lead you to a good definition of peace.

Who are the peaceful people in your life? Is peace accompanied by silence or can it be found among sounds, be they cacophonous or melodic?  When you recall instances you yearned for peace, what were you looking for -- perhaps understanding, calm, love, or togetherness? Lastly, is peace only external; is peace only a gift received or generated outside of yourself or might you be able to find peace inside, receive peace from yourself?

Advent covers most of the month of December and Advent is a time of anticipation leading up to the joy of Christmas, leading up to ‘peace on earth’?  What is peace to you and how do you plan to birth it this season?  

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At the Door
AUTHOR
Jill  »

The turkey is still roasting; every potato, string bean and dinner roll has been precisely buttered. The table linen and silverware is elegantly set and the center piece’s vivid colors are cascading from the light of the chandelier. Still robbed you swiftly dash to your bedroom throwing on the ensemble you laid out hours before.  A glance in the mirror and then a swift turn toward the clock; and panic takes hold because its 10 minutes til dinner time. Ding dong! Guest are already arriving, “I am not ready” you anxiously begin to repeat to yourself as you pace the floor of the kitchen. Turkey isn’t done! Ding dong! I forgot to get ice! Ding dong! OMG, where’s the cranberry sauce! Ding dong!

 In our lives we sometimes are concerned and panicked by the undone. The list of intangible order we wrestle with day to day. Reflecting and dissecting past conversations and those regrettable big mistakes; the “If’s” breach the space where sanity and faith reside. Ding dong! Christ is at your door. He is waiting for you to invite Him in, so He can relieve you of those patterned pressures you pledge your silent hours to. Perfection and order isn’t needed before He can be welcomed in our lives. I used to believe I must have it all in place to have a “real” relationship with Christ. I was ashamed of the list of things that I religiously muddled through that kept me away from God. Christ desires us as we are; He who is our freedom is standing at the door of our hearts.

 Ding Dong!  Will you let him in? Or keep Him waiting at the door?

 

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Inner Hospitality
AUTHOR
Joan  »

There is a lovely portion of 1 Peter 4 where he states:

"....keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."

Other translations of this verse use the word complaint or grudging.  I prefer grumbling because it strikes me as such a visceral word.  It sounds like the sound I do make when I am grumbling inside my head.  I was raised with very proper manners so I rarely, if ever, externally grumble or complain when called to be hospitable.  But I must admit to times that I am glad I don't have a microphone in side my head proclaiming my grumbling about it to the world.  

This time of year there are many opportunities to welcome, feed, house and entertain family and friends.  I will pray for the grace to not only welcome all who enter my home with external joy and love but to deeply feel the presence of Christ in all who enter.  When I do that all inner "grumbling" is dispelled and replaced by "earnest love" and hospitality.  Perhaps if I embrace all opportunities for hospitality as God's gift to me to BE love, patience, joy and graciousness I'll truly grow in my relationship with all of God's creation.     

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Share A Cup of Hospitality
AUTHOR
Mark  »

Being hospitable can be a most challenging trait. At the Cenacle we borrow the line from the Benedictines: when a guest comes, Christ comes. The idea being that we must be welcoming and hospitable to all. It is easy to have a very narrow gate, to allow just a few worthy souls to enter and receive your hospitality, at the appointed hour; it is quite another, to have an expansive sense of hospitality, which includes the unscheduled and unexpected.

“Do not neglect hospitality,” Sacred Scripture reminds us, “for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2). Again, it can be easy to prepare for the times we expect to be hospitable, when holidays approach or planned gatherings happen. This we know and thus prepare to be hospitable perhaps by cleaning up, making arrangements, by preparing gifts or food especially things our planned guests may like. It’s the unexpected, the welcoming, the hospitality at the many unexpected guests and instances where we didn’t plan to have a comfortable cup of tea ready, or our time expended in listening to another. Try as we might, being hospitable is not dependent on being proactive (though it helps to be prepared). Being hospitable is a mindset, and a choice: a choice to welcome, a choice to share, a choice to lay previous plans aside to honor, help, and welcome another whether or not they are expected. Having a hard time with hospitality? I’ve found that gratefulness is a regular companion with hospitality. Perhaps there are other ways to engender a spirit of hospitality, to encourage us to say yes, and to understand that, whether angels, persons, or Christ himself, when someone approaches us we can choose to be hospitable.

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The Son Remains
AUTHOR
Jill  »
It’s the constant rotation around the sun that offers us a delightful optimism each year. This steady orbit grants us the seasonal evolution to shape and form our most fundamental occasions. Whether it is sharing a laugh with a friend or holding the hand of someone we love-each obtained second flows into the next. The minute into the hour, into the day, and so on we find ourselves growing and maturing spinning around the sun. As the golden rays turn the leaves into various hues of chestnut and auburn; our lives also lead their very own seasons. Some seasons are transformative and some are just formative, but in due time we will be propelled into another portion of life.

 

 There is an unwavering grace in each season the Son reveals. In every unwelcome circumstance mercy and hope resides there. During the transition between seasons we must have faith and sow seeds of thanksgiving. When the nights grow longer or there is a pain from a loss or disappointment, the Son will remain. And when the days are yielding the sunlight across all spaces overwhelming us with immense joy, the Son will remain. The sun is steady but never changes, as our world transitions season to season our God the creator of all things great and small will remain.

 

Are you looking toward the Son to help transition you through your greatest and most challenging seasons in your life?

 

  

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