The Year of Mercy

Today, December 8, 2015, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we begin a Year of  Mercy.

This is a very special year, a year of jubilee, a holy year, in which sins are forgiven and all are welcome home to God.  As Pope Francis has said,  “The time has come for the church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis officially marked the beginning of this special year today in Rome by opening the “Holy Door,” an entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica which is usually blocked.

After declaring the jubilee open, Francis appeared from his window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to deliver the Angelus prayer, during which he called on Catholics to celebrate the Dec. 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception in two ways.

“First: Fully welcome God and his merciful grace into our lives. Second: Become in our time creators of mercy through an evangelical path.”

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,Rembrandt-The_return_of_the_prodigal_son
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Psalm 103

“I continue to say that today the revolution is that of tenderness, because from here derives justice and everything else.”

Pope Francis

 

 

 

Happy Easter!!! He is Risen!!!

John 19:41 (English Standard Version)

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.

File:Beautiful red flowers in garden.jpg

Happy Easter!!!! He is Risen!!!!

John 20+

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.File:Victory over the Grave.jpg

Happy Ash Wednesday!

 

 “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

 

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a time of reflection and repentance and reconciliation with God.

In other words, you get to start over.

Rembrandt-The_return_of_the_prodigal_son

That to me is a great thing.  God’s mercies are renewed every morning, and as human beings we need a lot of forgiveness, and a lot of chances to make things right again between us and God and between us and the people in our lives.  We “Fall down 7 times, but get up 8” — we are human, we fail, but we can get up again and try once more to do better.

As Catholics we are so lucky — so blessed —to have these opportunities to come back home to God.  We have Confession so that the mistakes we make in life do not weigh us down — we get to lay down our burdens at the feet of Jesus and start over again.

We have the Lenten season where we can reflect again on our lives, on our relationship with God and discover where we need to grow, to heal, to forgive and be forgiven.

We are strengthened by the Eucharist, healed by Confession and renewed by this season of Lent.

We are so blessed.

There are a number of resources out there with wonderful Lenten reflections, for example:

Praying Lent from Creighton University

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/index.html

The Holy Season of Lent

http://www.ewtn.com/faith/lent/

And we await Easter morning with a joyful heart as we renew our faith during this Lenten season and are given yet another opportunity to grow closer to God.

 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas!!!

The people walking in darkness

have seen a great light;

on those living in the land of the shadow of death

a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation

and increased their joy;

they rejoice before you

as people rejoice at the harvest,

as men rejoice

when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,

you have shattered

the yoke that burdens them,

the bar across their shoulders,

the rod of their oppressor.

Every warrior’s boot used in battle

and every garment rolled in blood

will be destined for burning,

will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor,Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

May you and your family have a merry and blessed Christmas!!!!!

Happy Second Week of Advent!

Dear Lord,
Through the darkness, I look for your wisdom.
I want my heart to be open to you.
But sometimes in these days, it seems that
so many things come between us.

Help me to be awake and aware
of the radiance you bring to my life.
Help me to be grateful each day
for the blessings of family and friends.
Let me be a peacemaker
in my own life, and in the world.
Let me pray especially for this difficult world
and those who are so in need of an end to violence.
My heart begs for this as my Advent prayer today.

 

From   http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/aweek2.html

Happy Advent 2011!

Isaiah 63 11-18 * :

11 “Then his people recalled the days of old,
   the days of Moses and his people—
where is he who brought them through the sea,
   with the shepherd of his flock?
Where is he who set
   his Holy Spirit among them,
12 who sent his glorious arm of power
   to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
   to gain for himself everlasting renown,
13 who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in open country,
   they did not stumble;
14 like cattle that go down to the plain,
   they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD.
This is how you guided your people
   to make for yourself a glorious name.

 15 Look down from heaven and see,
   from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.
Where are your zeal and your might?
   Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.
16 But you are our Father,
   though Abraham does not know us
   or Israel acknowledge us;
you, LORD, are our Father,
   our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17 Why, LORD, do you make us wander from your ways
   and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?
Return for the sake of your servants,
   the tribes that are your inheritance.
18 For a little while your people possessed your holy place,
   but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.
*(from Biblegateway.com)

And here are some Advent readings from EWTN!

http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/inspiration.htm

 

 

T’was the Month Before Christmas…..

Twas the month before Christmas
 
When all through our land,
 
Not a Christian was praying
 
Nor taking a stand.
 
See the PC Police had taken away
 
The reason for Christmas – no one could say.
 
The children were told by their schools not to sing
 
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
 
It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would
say
 
December 25th is just a ‘ Holiday ‘.
 
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and
 credit
 
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
 
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
 
Something was changing, something quite odd!
 
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
 
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
 
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
 
At Lowe’s the word Christmas – was no where to be
found.
 
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears
 
You won’t hear the word Christmas; it won’t touch your
ears.
 
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
 
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
 
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf
Blitzen
 
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
 
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
 
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
 
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
 
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
 
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and
discarded
 
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
 
So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your ‘Dream
 Tree’
 
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
 
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
 
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS ,
 
not Happy Holiday !
 
Please, all Christians join together and
 
wish everyone you meet
 
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
 
Christ is The Reason’ for the Christ-mas Season!!!!

(This is a very clever and unfortunately true early Christmas card that is being passed on through emails this year.  Many thanks to the brilliant and insightful author, and may our Christmas celebrations of the future begin again to belong to Christ!)

A New Season…

 To every son and daughter
Wayward and long gone
The love of a Father will leave the light on”

(From Nichole Nordeman’s “Lay it Down.”)


You know, it just occurred to me that there are other Seasons besides Christmas!  We are now in the Season of Lent preparing our hearts for the Risen Christ at Easter. 

 Lent is an incredibly important Season — an opportunity for a new beginning and a new relationship with the God Who loves us.  It’s an opportunity to stop and think, to turn around and find a new path. It is a time to lay the weight of the world –all of our sufferings, sin and burdens — down at the feet of Jesus and start anew.

 

 Here are a few lovely places to begin your Lenten Season — reflections, online rosaries and other things that I hope will help you on your journey.

“Praying Lent”  For Lenten prayers and reflections:  http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Lent/

And here is their Daily Prayer Blog: http://dailyprayers.prayinglent.com/

“Come Pray the Rosary” is a beautiful site that allows you to pray the Rosary with people from all around the world in real time.  http://www.comepraytherosary.org/

“The Virtual Rosary”  is a way to remind yourself to pray the Rosary every day and comes complete with an application that you can download in order to pray the mysteries of the Rosary.  http://www.virtualrosary.org/

God bless you in this new and wonderful season!!!

 




The Fourth Week of Advent

 

I thought that this reflection was really inspiring and hope that you do too.

From:

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/fourthweek.html

“So many of us experience the ironic reality that Christmas can be the most lonely time of our lives.  Some of these “mixed feelings” or “sad feelings” are difficult to recognize or name. 

For some of us, the Christmas we will celebrate this year pales in comparison to wonderful Christmases of our past – perhaps because we were younger or more “innocent” then, perhaps because some of our loved ones who were central to our Christmas are no longer living or not where I am, perhaps because the burdens and struggles of my life or the changes in our world and the war have robbed this Christmas of something that was there before.

For some of us, Christmas will be just another day.  Unable to get out to go to church to be with a faith community, and without family or friends to be with, Christmas will be a day we are tempted to ignore.

For some of us, Christmas inevitably means family conflicts.  Facing the days ahead, whether it be the last few remaining parties, or conflicting demands of family and friends, or the friend or relative who drinks too much, or the experience I’m having that I drink too much and this season is an easy excuse.

For some of us, Christmas challenges us with terrible financial burdens.  Children today become victims of the gross commercial exploitation of the day.  For those of us struggling to make ends meet on a day to day basis, feeling the cultural pressure of buying for our children things which we can’t afford, can lead us to put more debt on the credit card in ways that simply push us further and further behind.

Some of us, might be really looking forward to Christmas, and not be aware of these struggles with Christmas, yet feel that, in spite of our best efforts to make Advent different this year, there is still something missing, and we still feel un-ready for Christmas. 

For all of us, the story behind these days can draw us in, and invite us to bring our lives to the mystery of how Jesus came into this world and why.  Our best preparation for the Holy Night ahead and the Joyful Morning to follow is for us to reflect upon how he came.  He came in the midst of scandal and conflict.  He came in poverty.  He was rejected before he was born.  He was born in a feed trough.  He was hunted down.  And he grew up in obscurity.

He did not shun our world and its poverty and conflict.  He embraced it.  And he desires to embrace us today, in this day.  Right where we are.  Right where we are feeling most distant.  Right were we are feeling least “religious” or “ready.”  If we let him come into our hearts to be our Savior these challenging days, we will find ourselves entering the sacred night and morning of Christmas “joyful and triumphant” as never before.

Come, Lord Jesus.  Come and visit your people. 
We await your coming.  Come, O Lord.

Rejoice! Gaudete! It is the Third Week of Advent!

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/thirdweek.html

Gaudete Week

Our week begins with “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.  It comes from the first word of the Entrance antiphon on Sunday.  The spirit of joy that begins this week comes from the words of Paul, “The Lord is near.”  This joyful spirit is marked by the third candle of our Advent wreath, which is rose colored, and the rose colored vestments often used at the Eucharist.

….

“Preparing our Hearts and asking for Grace

We prepare this week by feeling the joy.  We move through this week feeling a part of the waiting world that rejoices because our longing has prepared us to believe the reign of God is close at hand.  And so we consciously ask:

Prepare our hearts
and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling
the joy and hope
which his presence
will bestow.

Each morning this week, in that brief moment we are becoming accustomed to, we want to light a third inner candle.  Three candles, going from expectation, to longing, to joy.  They represent our inner preparation, or inner perspective.  In this world of “conflict and division,” “greed and lust for power,” we begin each day this week with a sense of liberating joy.  Perhaps we can pause, breathe deeply and say,

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
     my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Each day this week, we will continue to go through our everyday life, but we will experience the difference our faith can bring to it.  We are confident that the grace we ask for will be given us.  We will encounter sin – in our own hearts and in our experience of the sin of the world.  We can pause in those moments, and feel the joy of the words,

“You are to name him Jesus, 
  because he will save his people 
  from their sins.” Mt 1:21

We may experience the Light shining into dark places of our lives and showing us patterns of sinfulness, and inviting us to experience God’s mercy and healing.  Perhaps we wish to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconcilation this week.  We may want to make gestures of reconcilation with a loved one, relative, friend or associate.  With more light and joy, it is easier to say, “I’m sorry; let’s begin again.”

Each night this week we want to pause in gratitude.  Whatever the day has brought, no matter how busy it has been, we can stop, before we fall asleep, to give thanks for a little more light, a little more freedom to walk by that light, in joy.”

From “Praying Advent” Advent Reflections at   http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/thirdweek.html

See also  http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent/index.html