Mary, Our Model in Advent – by Bill Thornton

Immaculata2-1 [This was originally given to be a spoken sharing at an Advent evening prayer liturgy at St. Edward’s On Tuesday December 9. The liturgy was snowed out, so I am publishing it here. Most of the people who customarily attend this liturgy know me quite well and make allowances when I tend to ramble and run on. So I thought that I would “tighten it up” before I published it, but, on second thought, I decided to leave it alone. Here it is “warts and all.”]

 

When I agreed to give this little talk tonight, I noticed that today is the feast day of St. Juan Diego, the person who saw the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Also, Friday [Dec. 12] is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and, of course, yesterday [Dec. 8] was the Immaculate Conception. It seemed clear to me that this week was Mary’s week, and that I should talk about Mary. Later, while I was sorting books donated to the parish library, I came across this one, “Mary Today,” by Basil Pennington. You probably know Father Pennington as the Trappist monk and priest who was the author of several books, most particularly the popular book on Centering Prayer. What especially caught my eye with this books, was the subtitle, “Model for Maturing Christians.” Anybody here consider yourself Maturing Christians? So here was a slant on Mary that I could write on.

In his book, Fr. Pennington asks, “Who is Mary? And who is she in my life? Who ought she to be in my life as a disciple, follower, friend, and lover of Jesus Christ?”   Neither Fr. Pennington nor I have any answers to these questions, rather we both set out to raise some thoughts for you to ponder.

As I began to work on this talk, I was drawn to Pennington as a person primarily because of some interesting parallels in our lives.

Pennington entered the Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1951 at the age of 20. I entered the Paulist Fathers minor seminary in Baltimore, Maryland, in the following year at the age of 13. He made his vows on September 8, 1956. I made my first temporary promises on the same date, three years later. It was customary in many religious orders to make vows on September 8 because it is the birthday of Mary. [In case you Continue reading

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Nothing will be impossible – an Advent reflection by Doreen Salse

article-2260923-16E195DD000005DC-914_634x313…..for nothing will be impossible for God
-Luke 1:37

The beautiful theme of hope – the impossible becoming possible – runs throughout Advent, the season of wonder.

Perhaps children relate best to the whole idea of Advent, the thought that something good is coming to them as they count down to Christmas in hopeful anticipation.  They look for signs that the special day is almost here: colored candles in church and songs they can sing along with on Sundays, bright lights shining in the night on neighboring houses.

When I was about 10, I pretty much knew Continue reading

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Extravagant Metaphors – An Advent Reflection by Bill Thornton

62919_jumboWhen my daughter, Lisa, was about 13 or 14, we drove to Chicago to visit my sister Frances. Traveling across northern Indiana on I-90, we passed mile after mile of summer corn fields. At some point, Lisa said to me, “If you say look at all that corn one more time, …” I don’t tell you this to introduce some story about Lisa, Chicago, Frances, Indiana, or corn fields. I want to tell you that Advent is the time of the extravagant metaphor.

The metaphors in the readings for the Advent liturgy, especially those from Isaiah, are talking about lions lying down with lambs, bears grazing with farm animals, little children playing on top of poisonous snakes lairs, and – yes – mountains being flattened and valleys being filled in. A good poet – like Isaiah – chooses figures of speech that will appeal to his readership. Since the Jews of Isaiah’s time lived in an agrarian society where most travel and transportation was by foot, human or animal, he selected metaphors that fit their life. He told them that they would not have to worry about predators and that farming and transporting their goods to market would be simplified.

At least to me, flattening mountains and filling in valleys sounds a little like turning the Adirondacks into northern Indiana. But to the Jewish farmer who had to plow his fields by walking behind a pair of oxen, that sounded great. And to the pilgrim who at least once a year had to walk – say from Nazareth – to Jerusalem pretty much uphill all the way, they could shout Alleluia.

So if the extravagant metaphors don’t really appeal to you, maybe it is time Continue reading

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Season of Waiting – An Advent Reflection by Anne Wasielewski

(Today’s reflection is offered by parishioner Anne Wasielewski.)
waiting-webShow us your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation. Psalm 85:7

The season of Advent is upon us – a time of waiting, but waiting with expectation. It is a time of hope in the midst of uncertainty and the busyness of the season. Its symbols, songs, and rituals reflect the promise of the return of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In a world torn apart by war, injustice, secularism and greed to name just a few, it is so very easy to become discouraged, and ask where is God? Has God forgotten us? Advent reminds us that our wait is not fruitless, for God is at work bringing about God’s purposes and promises to us. Be still, and know that I am God…Psalm 46:10

Though God may seem silent, God is always at work. God’s “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5. We know the God who has come and who will come again, and that hope is a hope that will not disappoint us.

As a Church and faith community, we begin the third week of Advent. Our week begins with Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice in Latin. The spirit of joy is upon us. We read of stories of faithful people who prepared our way to salvation, and we enter into the story of how Jesus’ life began, and the promises of what Jesus’ life will mean for us – salvation

In this season of waiting, we must prepare our hearts and ask for God’s healing grace – the reign of God is becoming closer and closer. No matter how busy our days and evenings are, we must set aside a few minutes to give thanks for a little more spiritual freedom to walk by the light of our Savior in joy. With God, all things are possible.

We will continue with our daily routines, but it is my hope that we will experience the difference of what our faith can bring to not only us, but others we may encounter on an everyday basis. May we quite our hearts, and be still, and know that God is truly present in the now.

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Rejoice Always – A reflection for Gaudete Sunday by Chris Hannan

1-Thes-5_16-18-1024x416 (Today’s reflection is offered by parishioner Chris Hannan.)
For two weeks we’ve been turning inward trying to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Christ. In our busy lives it becomes easy to wander out into a desert of our own making. Dry, lifeless times where we’re so busy, that thinking about prayer seems like just another job to cross off the list. Times when being so connected by electronics leaves no time for real friends, real people, so we are parched with loneliness even in a crowd of hundreds of ‘friends’. A desert is also full of abrasive sands, like the constant flurry of messages that try to convince us that if we accumulate more, or change our looks, we’ll be happy. A desert is full of shifting sands, sending us in directions we hadn’t thought of going.

Enter Continue reading

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Redeemer – An Advent reflection by Bill Thornton

This reflection on today’s readings is from Bill Thornton.
scrooge-cratchit-e1381236911525In Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol,” two “gentlemen” come to Scrooge’s office to ask for a donation for the poor, and this conversation ensues:

           “Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

            “Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

            “And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

            “They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”

Scrooge was asking why the gentlemen were collecting money for the poor since the state had made “accommodations” for the poor, by throwing the debtors into jail and their families into workhouses where they could get subsistence food and shelter in return for work. The wages charged for the work would go to the local official in charge of the workhouse.

In today’s world, government in developed countries usually have some sort of “safety net” provisions so that most of the poor will not die in the streets. Depending on the government, these provisions have greater or lesser actual benefits for the poor, and depending on the agency that administers the provisions a greater or lesser amount of dignity and compassion.

In ancient Israel, government was not involved in these problems. Society was Continue reading

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Tolle Lege – thoughts about Advent reading by Bill Thornton

image_large[From parishioner, parish librarian, Hosanna prayer group member, lector, dedicated long time blog contributor and all around great person, Bill Thornton: In past years, I have written little sharings on the Mass readings for the day during Advent, and I probably will again as we progress into Advent. But today, I am taking a different approach by speaking of my one-person campaign to encourage spiritual reading during Advent.]

I am the self-appointed librarian at St. Edwards, and I am trying to encourage my fellow parishioners, i.e. you, to do a little “spiritual reading” during Advent to prepare in another way for the coming of Christmas. With all of the reading that we do for work, for home, and for a little relaxation, it would be hard to add a new reading stream of any length. What I am suggesting is maybe 15 minutes (or even 10 or 5) to put a little spiritual thought in your head (and your soul) that might come back to you over the course of the day to help you grow nearer to God.

45_tolleWhy should Catholics do spiritual reading? In his Confessions, St. Augustine tells of a vision or a dream in which a child speaks in a sing-song way , “Tolle, lege,” translated “Pick it up and read it.” So for Augustine, reading led to conversion of heart. In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul says, “Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.” Rom 10:17. For Paul, then, reading meant the growth of faith. St. Peter wrote, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” 1 Pet. 3:15. And for him it meant an ability to evangelize people who ask you questions about your faith, but he adds, “but do it with gentleness and reverence.” And so on and so forth. There are many reasons for doing spiritual reading, and many testimonies of the saints. In today’s parlance, Continue reading

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