Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Daily Dose - 7th Day in the Octave

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Tim Brown, a parishioner

My New Year’s Resolution
Expressing my love of Christ and asking for His assistance by regularly repeating a prayer has allowed me to more fully realize how the Holy Spirit can be a transforming agent in my life.  For example, I silently repeat a version of the Jesus Prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner) as I prepare to receive the Eucharist.  This simple act has dramatically increased the reverence I have for this Sacrament.  

I’ve also added a litany, which is a prayer consisting of a series of petitions with a fixed response, to my daily routine, and this simple prayer practice has begun to fundamentally change how I approach and deal with many aspects of my life.  So, top on my list of New Year’s resolutions is to keep praying the Litany of Humility by Cardinal Merry del Val.   Since I began making these petitions on a regular basis, I’ve become much more aware of my arrogant and pride-filled behaviors.  I pray that through God’s grace, I will continually adopt a more humble and service-oriented approach to my life.    

O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, HEAR US
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may increase and I decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be become holier than I, provided
That I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Homily Follow-up

Below is the prayer that I read during the homily on Sunday (today, 12/30).  It's part of a longer Devotion called "Mother of Perpetual Help Devotions" that was written by St. Alphonsus Liguori.  The prayer is below; along with some links about the Devotion and St. Alphonsus.

"Mother of Perpetual Help, bless our families with your tender, motherly love. May the sacrament of Marriage brings husbands and wives ever closer together that they may always be faithful and love each other as Christ loves us. Help all mothers and fathers love and cherish the children that God has entrusted to them. May they always be models of a truly Christian life. Help all children, that they may love and respect their parents. Inspire all people to value Christian marriage and family life. Give us a sense of responsibility that we may do our part in making our homes havens of love and peace. Mary, our model, help every family grow daily in genuine love for God and neighbor so that justice and peace may flourish everywhere in the human family." (emphasis added)

Link to biography of St. Alphonsus
Link to information about the Devotion (offered every Tuesday at MQP following the 8am Mass)

Christmas Daily Dose - Feast of the Holy Family

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Steve Arendt, a parishioner

Christmas was a great family experience for me this year and I sat down to write about my perfect family in a perfect Christmas setting.  I was going to paint the picture of awesome wife, super kids, a great day with parents and siblings.  A “God is great, God is good” type of message. 

But then I remembered.  Oh Cr-p  I can’t paint the perfect family picture.  That is not fair, It is only perfect once in a while.  Becky and I were pregnant before we were married.  My teenage boys get into trouble once in a while.  There was a time when my fathering skills were seriously challenged.  My relationship with my parents has been rocky at times.  Becky and I experience highs and lows in our finances that causes stress.  I struggle being a great husband at times. 

I can honestly say that there have been struggles and there will continue to be struggles.  Our family has great days and we have challenging days.  HOWEVER, I have grown into two concepts that have made all the difference.  They are Faith and Hope. 

I am not talking about a faith in the rules of my religion and a hope that they are right.  I am talking about a faith that I am a creation of God, created in the likeness of God and guided by a God who loves me.  Grounded in this faith I then experience the hope that everything in my family is perfect. 

For me it is about the “experiencing the hope” .  This is real and tangible.  It has become so real that if on any given morning I am feeling something less than a creation of God I have to come to a complete stop and renew my own faith that I am a child of God, made in God’s image and desirable by God.  If I don’t take the time to renew this basic faith, then I am doomed to have a cr-ppy family experience and a bad day.  I will not experience the hope that is designed to be a part of my day. 

This is my simple reality. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Daily Dose - 5th Day in the Octave

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

A Reflection from a daily devotional called, From Season to Season

"Christmas is more than just a celebration for  children. The truth of Christmas is that we encounter Christ in person; our God is no far-off deity who has no experience of our lives. Our God is truly God, but He is also a man who is all that we are. The fact of the incarnation has changed our lives: The Lord has come to free us from sin and death. Experiencing Christ's presence through the Church and her signs, 'we recognize in Him God made visible'" (pp. 243-4).

"Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of His own will He was born for us today, in time, so that He could lead us to His Father's eternity."  (St. Augustine of Hippo)

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

A Holy Day of Obligation

December 31 - 5pm
January 1 - 8 & 11am

Christmas Daily Dose - Feast of the Holy Innocents

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Becky Arendt, a parishioner

My grandpa use to keep a small blackboard (double-sided) hanging on his wall in the basement.  We would write short notes to each other - he would write on one side and I would answer on the other.    I think I was around 11 years old when we began doing this.  I remember feeling safe enough to tell him things that I normally wouldn't say out loud... maybe that was his plan.  There was a lot of advice and a lot of "I love you's".  This man was my biggest cheerleader and hero and when he died, I thought my heart would never mend.   But those years we spent writing notes to each other will always remain a blessing.

I still have that blackboard and the last note he wrote to me is still on it.  It's a poem by Edwin Markham and it reads,  "He drew a circle that shut me out.  Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.  But love and I had wit to win, we drew a circle that took him in."  It was great advice to a 13 year old girl who felt like she didn't fit in.  He would always tell me, " If they shut you out, you just got to draw your circle bigger!". That quote has come up quite a bit though the years and has been passed along as advice to family and friends who needed it along the way.  So I thought I would share it with you.  If you're not feelin the love today, draw your circle bigger.

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Daily Dose - Feast of St. John the Evangelist

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Tom Cummins, a parishioner

Today’s gospel reading leaves me a little disoriented. This Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist - with the passage from John’s Gospel about finding the tomb empty - is stuck between the Feast of Saint Stephen, Martyr, and the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs. We have the feast day of the one “Jesus loved” surrounded by martyrs. A grim setting in the lectionary cycle.

But that is not what has me disoriented. It’s that just two days ago we celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus. Just two days ago! The scrap of wrapping paper behind the couch remains undiscovered. A tin of fudge from the neighbor has a couple of pieces left … still there but not forgotten. Christmas lights throughout the neighborhood will glow in the night for several more days.

But in today’s reading, the tomb is empty! And, therefore, so is the manger. Our salvation story – Jesus’ birth and Resurrection - collapsed into two days.

Why are we so quickly reminded of these things to come? That the heavenly host and the adoring shepherds are to be replaced by jeering soldiers. The magi bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the newborn baby become Nicodemus bringing great quantities of myrrh and aloes for the burial of the King of Kings. Swaddling clothes are now burial cloths. Mary and Joseph in adoring awe and wonder, become a few disciples staring in awe and fear into Jesus’ empty tomb.

Abrupt. Why? What’s the point now?

I’m most assuredly off base, but I feel this: It’s because we are a Resurrection people. The tomb is always empty. No matter what the feast day, liturgical memorial, or simply a day in ordinary time, the tomb is empty – He is Risen! We need the reminder.

We need the reminder because we can become so mesmerized by the grandness we have placed upon the Christmas season. Don’t we wish that the Holy Family could spend many peaceful days posing for our Christmas cards while the cattle shift around in their straw bedding, and visitors keep dropping by with their gifts? It’s not to be. This is only the beginning of a story that is, at once, sorrowful yet joyful

I’m probably making more of this reading’s placement than is necessary. But in my reflection I find myself looking away from our lovely crèche at the left-front of our church and directing my attention to the body of Jesus on the cross above the altar. That is what was started with birth of the Christ Child. Jesus on the cross is the enduring symbol of our forgiveness and redemption.

Today I’m being asked to put down my eggnog for a moment and kneel in prayer, a prayer of gratitude and thanksgiving.

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Daily Dose - December 26th

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Sheila Burton, a parishioner

On this the day after Christmas, the calm after the storm, when all the preparations for Christmas are over, and the Advent season completed, there is quiet. And in that quiet, one thought, on where we go from here....In the words of Meister Eckhart, a great Christian mystic,...

"We are all meant to be mothers of God for God is always needing to be born."

Some words to ponder and a challenge for us all.

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Advent Daily Dose - 4th Monday - Christmas Eve

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Steve Schaefer, a parishioner

Breathing on the Eve of Christmas

Weary from the business of the day,
I prepare for the excitement of the night.
Stepping into the darkness, it’s not enough.
So I close my eyes, then gently exhale, before I say,
“I want to feel the Light.”

With confidence I know it is near.
Imagining all God’s love before I start.  
I stumble and look back, “Did I reflect it in every glance and every word?”   
Inhale. Without fail. Refreshing, crisp and clear.    
His spirit weaves its way into my heart.

The calm washes over me for His generosity.
I envision the glow of Bethlehem. The stars are brighter than before.
Angels, on the verge of their joyful song,
But the minutes labor with intense fear from the holy family.
Joseph, exhausted, takes his wife to a stable with dirt as a floor.

I should have had a plan,
“How can I be a good father to the Son of Man?”

He closes his eyes and takes a breath.
Feels God’s love and inhales again.
Courage to try, he prepares the hay.
Comforts Mary the very best he can.
Kneeling down, humble and strong,
a gesture of hope, he folds his hands.
“I trust you, please light the way”
and then a sign, an overwhelming release,
God will be with us.
Emmanuel, a masterpiece.


+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Advent Daily Dose - 4th Sunday

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Daily Readings

Reflection by Tim Brown, a parishioner

The divine inspiration that we receive from Christ through the Sacraments, prayer, and the support of family and friends recently propelled me through a particularly challenging issue at work.  Reflecting back now, I can see how God gave me what I needed, when I needed it. 

The inspiration came during the Sunday Mass when a line from the Gospel of Luke jumped out and bit me.  It was so completely obvious the verse was meant for me that I laughed out loud when I first read it.  There was no interpretation needed here.  Christ was telling me the deal as clearly as He possibly could; now I had to accept it and apply it.  As the work conflict unfolded, that verse continued to pop into my head, challenging and lifting me up at the same time.

Christ spoke to me again at the end of Mass while I was serving as a Eucharistic Minister.  I have no explanation for how or why this happened, but when offering the Body of Christ, I got struck to the core by a stranger’s returning glance.  The brief exchange took my breath away, and the feeling of joy and humility that overtook me when I got back to the pew has been a source of strength for me this week.

Christ spoke to me in a song on my way home after a particular trying day. I really wanted to get beyond the emotions of the day but was struggling.  I turned on the radio and the song that began playing was “My Savior Loves, My Savior Lives,” by The Casting Crowns.  The first line immediately caught my attention, and as I continued to listen, my thoughts turned to my relationship with Christ.  This song starts out with the line, “I am not skilled to understand what God has willed, what God has planned.  I take Him at His word and deed.  Christ died to save me, this I read. And in my heart I find a need of Him to be my savior.” A few verses later, a pounding course kicks in with “My Savior loves, My Savior lives, My Savior’s always there for me.” What a song – what a God!  Before arriving home, I spent some time with Christ in Adoration, and we had a wonderful talk.

The next day at work I received a Christmas card from a colleague that included a very kind and affirming note.  This was exactly what I needed to hear, when I needed to hear it.  Christ spoke to me through a friend.  On the drive home that night, lost in my thoughts, the song “Remind Me Who I Am” by Jason Gray came on.   I love this song, and hearing it flooded me with positive emotions and an overwhelming feeling of love.  The card and this song was the final one-two punch I needed to knock me back to the realization of how fortunate I truly am.  As the song continued to play, I felt complete relief from the burdens I was holding onto. When I pulled in the driveway, I was at peace.

I am so blessed to have Christ as my friend.  My commitment to regularly seek Him out through the Sacraments, prayer, and other people has provided countless benefits.  Filled with the Holy Spirit, may we all leap for joy with the knowledge of the coming of our Lord!  

Merry Christmas.

+In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.