Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas ~ X Marks the Spot ...

CHRISTMAS ... An every day celebration of the Heart!

Some of you might think I am a little late for Christmas with this post ... and you might be right if you are thinking of Christmas day. However, I am a firm believer in the 12 days of Christmas. We are at the last day of December ... and at the 6th or 7th day of Christmas. How good it is to continue to celebrate!
Many years ago on a bus ride home for Christmas when I was in college, I saw a painted sign in a store front window that read. "X marks the spot where Christ is taken out of Christmas! " I have never forgotten that ...
We must not let that happen ... Let us celebrate Jesus, Emmanual, God-with-Us ... a baby born in a humble stable and the God who came to share humanity with us.
May the blessings of Christmas fill your heart with the gifts of peace and love! ... and may we in turn bless others as we journey into a new year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Hope of Advent Waiting

HOPE comes in little ways,
it only takes one shining star, one faithful friend, one wisp of inspiration,
one touch of creation's beauty, one deep sip of love,
to keep the illumination alive in us.
~ Sr. Joyce Rupp

So many times over the past few days the theme of HOPE has jumped out at me! I stumbled upon Sr. Joyce Rupp's wonderful quote a week or so ago and just loved it ... Then hope came to me during my Saturday morning walk through "one touch of creation's beauty" as shown in the picture above of the frost covered holly branch. Over the past few days I keep bumping into the word ... on a car bumper sticker, during the homily at Mass yesterday, in the lines of the psalm that I prayed during morning prayer, in several reflection prayer books I have and even on an ad on my e-mail page .... Hope is the word of the week for me! I do believe that this is what Advent and the beautiful season of Christmas is all about!

As I went for my walk this past Saturday morning it was very cold, a bit of fog was hanging and everything was frosted over ~ it was really quite beautiful. At first I couldn't get that Christmas song "... frosted window panes ..." out of my my head. However, as the sun started to peak through, the frost on the trees and bushes started to melt. My Christmas carol turned into a mediation....

Here we are in a very dark time of the year. For me, certain things in life have been on the bleak side. Three significant people in my life died within 6 weeks of each other a few months ago, and a short time later a friendly neighbor died. I've also been dealing with some health issues and the concern of an ailing Mom. All those things can start to drag a person down ~ or at least stress me out a bit. Seeing the beauty of the frosted holly branch touched me with refreshment and I felt a sense of hope. As the sunshine began to hit each branch, the frost disappeared and water droplets were left glimmering in the sun. That is what the light of Jesus, our Sonshine, does to our sometimes cold and frosty hearts. God's love can melt away so much if we can just bask in the warmth for awhile. Advent gives us that time ... time to be still, to ponder the mystery of the Incarnation and the wonderful gift of Jesus to us ~ Emmanuel ~ one with us! Let us light that third candle of Advent with joyful expectation and hope!

As Sr. Joan Chittister says so well, "Hope sends us dancing around the dark corners trusting in a common tomorrow we cannot see."
What brings you HOPE? How and when does hope find a way into your heart and mind? ... Please share ....
May the God of hope fill you with all joy, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~ Romans 15:13

Thursday, December 3, 2009

...Advent Advantages...

O Radiant Dawn,
Splendor of Eternal Light,
Sun of Justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness ...

It is that beautiful season of Advent already! Although this season came all too quickly for me, I am happy for this time of the year. Yesterday I spent a little time in my office trading out items from the Fall and Thanksgiving seasons and putting out reminders of Advent for myself. The lovely card in the picture above is one of those items. It is a piece of artwork done by Sr. Mary Southard, CSJ entitled "Madona of the World", and the quote next to the picture are the words that grace the card. This Advent Season gives us a time of preparation for Christmas, not in the consumer sense, but in the spiritual sense!

Advent is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for Christmas .... and that is the advantage of these four weeks in our Church! Hopefully we all can STOP briefly each day, take a little time, pull ourselves aside from all the busy shopping and decorating of the season, and ponder the gift of Jesus that was born as one of us!

Perhaps these words from St. Francis of Assisi will give you something to think about as we begin this Advent time ... Francis used to tell his brothers: "As you announce peace with your mouth, may you keep it in your heart, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal, but rather to kindness and gentleness. For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring."

As our Gospel reading this weekend says, "Prepare the way of the Lord." Wishing you many blessings as we journey through this Advent Season!
Oh, I almost forgot ...The United States Catholic Bishops have a great site with an advent calendar. Check it out at There is a door for everyday of Advent that opens up when you click on it and gives some Advent thoughts. Does anyone else have a good Advent preparation tip to share?