The Reason for the Season – by Charles Burre

waiting+on+LordMeditation on the readings for December 2, 2014

Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Luke 10:21-24

I decided to look at the next day’s readings each day until I found one that struck a chord with me and provided some thoughts for reflection. Bingo! Paydirt on the first day.

The reading from Isaiah: “but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.” echoed the book I am currently reading: Just Mercy by Bryon Stevenson. Bryon is a Harvard lawyer who has dedicated his life to defending the poor who have been sentenced to die in Southern prisons. His stories of hopelessness and injustice in the courts and prisons of our country are heart-rending. However, his selfless dedication to provide mercy and justice to those who need it most is inspiring. I am sure that he is guided by the vision that Isaiah had and that he is sustained by the Wonder-Counselor and Prince of Peace.

Last year I Continue reading

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The Unexpected God – An Advent Reflection

(Image courtesy of lovecatchmsile)

(Image courtesy of lovecatchmsile)

Here I am, with a simple post about today’s Gospel ready to go. It is Sunday morning, and I would like to get it ready for publishing tomorrow. No, I don’t usually think these things up at 4am and hit publish! There is typically some planning involved. Until the Holy Spirit shows up, reminding me who the boss is.

The first hint came along as I prayed early on Sunday morning, with one Advent candle illuminated before me. My December copy of Give Us This Day was open to the “Within the Word” feature that begins every week. The author of this one was Anthony Ruff, OSB, a monk of St. John’s Abbey, and an authority on liturgy and music. Fr. Ruff moderates the blog, Pray Tell.

centurion-and-jesusIn this reflection Fr. Ruff spoke of Continue reading

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Be watchful, be alert

adventThe words are quite clear, the Psalmist pleads with God:

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R/ Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Advent is here, and this is the psalm we intone at the first Advent liturgy. Please, Lord, come to save us, make us turn to you – if we see your face, we shall be saved.

How much time do we spend trying to “get saved?” Or to “be saved?” Yet, it has happened already, God has come to save us. Haven’t we turned to God, haven’t we have seen the face of Christ both in birth and death? We have already been saved.

18884Or have we? Are we watching? Paying attention? Can we accept this news? And live with the gift that has already been given to us? Or do we want the gift, but feel unworthy to receive it? Maybe we can find a clue in our first reading from Isaiah, which poses an important question:

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

God does give us the gift of freedom, God never forces us to love, God never forces us to do anything. Which leads us back to us asking to see God’s face, hoping to be saved. Yet, how often do we see God’s face? In today’s Gospel could it be any more clear? Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert!

We have the chance to see God’s face in many places, not just in church, not as we gaze at images of the Baby Jesus, or any other time that we think we might see God. God is everywhere? Are we being watchful and alert? We are told to be mindful at the start of Advent and at the end of Lent, I think that God is always very clear, but we often can’t take it all in, can we?

keep-calm-and-pay-attention-58Perhaps we should hold the words from the psalm in our hearts as we begin Advent, asking to see God’s face, and accepting being saved by recognizing God’s face in the most unlikely places. To do this we must heed Jesus’ words and be watchful and alert. In these times of holiday stress, demanding jobs for some, the pressure of unemployment or underemployment for others, fear regarding the state of the world, or just our unrest, our anger, our despair and the endless itch of distraction, we are likely to miss the face of the One we seek.

Here is a little music to get you on your way as we begin Advent. Let us seek God’s face!

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Uprooted – a guest post from Sue Karpovich

transplant-tree_400(Sue Karpovich, who moved away from the Clifton Park and from St. Edward’s, not too long, sent this to me the other day. I’m a bit late in posting it, but her words are good food for thought, as we enter Advent – a time of watching and waiting. Not to mention her words about being grateful at Thanksgiving. Thank you, Sue!)

Today’s readings talk so much about harvest and reaping, the results of a good planting. They really made me think about my own situation. Since our move to a new city, my spiritual life has been a bit dry and hungry. I feel like a transplanted tree that has not been given enough water. I am thirsty—thirsty for the rich, beautiful, soul-fulfilling worship that I am accustomed to at St. Edward’s. While I have managed to find a parish I can tolerate attending mass in, I have not yet found one that I cannot wait to join and become involved in. My spiritual roots are not taking hold in well in this new place and I feel like the life is slowly being drained out of me, like a plant that the farmer has forgotten about, or that seed that falls into not-so-good soil. My roots are trying to grasp for all the nutrients they can find, but it’s just not enough. I’m withering.

I miss my involvement in the women’s reflection events, my time with Continue reading

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Returning – and an invitation

Good day! Yes, it is me Fran, warming up the blog as we celebrate the last Sunday of the liturgical year, Christ the King. Beginning next Sunday – God willing – our Advent posts will begin.

Please join us by reading, and if you are so inclined, find a day of Advent that you might like to write about. The readings for each day are easily found at the USCCB website. Click through the calendar and see what moves you. Typically we run one post per day, but sometimes two. If you find a day or day that you might like to write about, please contact me through email or the comments. I can read the comments and not approve them, and they will provide me with your contact email.

Looking forward to returning after a long hiatus!

 

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The Christian Life – by Don Wilson

This is the text of a talk given by Don Wilson at the Coxsackie Correctional Facility, as part of a REC (Residents Encounter Christ) weekend. God bless this ministry, please pray for all those imprisoned, and for all who serve them.
amenChristian Life? – How do we search for it?

How many folks here today think they can live out the Christian Life all by themselves? Many people try to do just that. They’re pretty sure God has saved them, but in practice, they believe a life that pleases Him is possible only through their works and efforts.

This is how I felt for many years!
I felt that if I attended church, tithed enough, not only donated but delivered food to the Food Pantry, and always had a smile on my face at church, my life would go well, and consequently I’d be saved.

 

*Well, while that was all going on*
I still experienced times of envy, anger, jealousy, lack of patience, and pride – till one, day I realized my life was actually an EMPTY Struggle (Kind of like being on a Hamster/wheel)?

I thought as long as I had this one2one relationship with God (Just ME and HIM) – I would be much better off than my friends, looked on with favor by God, and most of all be Saved – Kind of like: making sure I paid my insurance premium on time?

It’s one thing to struggle through life on our own. But it’s something else to walk through life with Jesus at our side?

Let me first congratulate us all on the fact that we are here for this weekend’s Retreat, and attending Bible Study together on Thursday nights. This very action puts us at the “GO” Square on the Monopoly board of seeking a Christian Life.”

Many People ask:

How do I live the Christian Life? >Perhaps you never learned how to live it.
>It is something we don’t just inherit.

“I will do my best to provide you some elements, or steps, to aid in your search but ultimately it will be YOU who will find your way. You see my methods work for me but yours may be a little different.”

Who is a follower of Jesus Christ? >Someone who knows he cannot inherit Christianity?
>Someone who has made the Decision to commit themselves to a Christian Life.
>Someone who has a hunger, desire or calling to follow Jesus Christ.

If that hunger, thirst, or Desire is there…. That Desire will overtake you.
Many times we want postpone the Decision, — Don’t really feel the Desire.
Kind of like:
“Make me a Christian Lord – But not today”

In the Lord’s Prayer there is a line that goes: “Thy kingdom come” – to abide by that we need to be willing to accept: “My kingdom Go”

➢ To Receive Christ – is (no doubt) an act of our Will

➢ Perhaps someone has asked you, “Have you had a Personal encounter with Jesus Christ?”

➢ Many Ecumenical Evangelists ask: “Have you been to the Cross?”

What are my 4 steps/elements in my “search” for the Christian Life?

ONE: HUMILITY – the admission of our remorse or shortcomings. (Contriteness) – Acknowledge that you have tried to live the Christian Life but have been unsuccessful. The first act should always be the act of Humility, followed by reflection, atonement and penitence

Think, for a minute, how Father Shaw or Chaplain Anne starts the mass each Saturday? We are acknowledging our humility and our contriteness to God when we hear: “My brothers and sisters, to prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries, let us call to mind our sins.”

TWO: DESIRE – We need to possess that hunger, thirst, ambition and attitude to want to receive Christ in to our Life. The act of our WILL to serve —-Christ and One Another.

The Desire to establish Community or what we call, “The Church” – A solitary Christian life – is not what is meant by Church.
Seek out your brothers of other ecumenical and inter-faith religions here at Coxsackie. And when you speak to them call them by “name” – there’s no greater compliment in a conversation than addressing someone by their name. There is so much to be learned from them.
.
THREE: DISCIPLINE– The discipline of Prayer, Reflection, and Surrender.
Pray earnestly and continuously. That dialogue with the Lord is perhaps the most important acknowledgement we can make to His Holy presence. And once you’ve found that victory in the word – be sure and share it with your Brother’s in Christ, here at Coxsackie

Read the Bible with an ambition of “Expectancy” – Lead with that Humility again. Go in to Him and say: “Jesus, come to me in my reading – I’m lost and need your help.” Then just be still and wait with an open heart – how long —- I can’t tell you that! – I can only tell you that if you bring expectancy to the ambition of Prayer, you will be more successful than if you bring doubt or anger.

Discipline ourselves to Prayer – Sometimes we don’t feel like praying?
If possible set aside a particular time in the day (Evenings perhaps) – WE all know that this is not easy request in this environment.

Discipline ourselves to find “Quiet time” – Listening is sometimes the hardest thing we try to do -Especially, here, inside Coxsackie.

Perhaps we can find that image of our “inner sanctum” that I’ve often referred to on Thursday nights. – Go to the Lord with the ears of and open heart – and, go to it with that Expectancy I just spoke of.

FOUR: FORGIVENESS: – The act of letting go of Anger.
(Ephesians 4:30-32) – Memory verse!
I
Adversity comes our way; Loss comes our way; Regret, Remorse, and Hurt come our way. I guarantee you; every one of us is experiencing some degree of Adversity this very day. I suppose we could try to handle it on our own. Or we could choose to see it as a path to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are a searcher for the Christian Life and a true believer: The awesome power of the Holy Spirit is available to equip, transform, and carry you through any suffering or adversity. The Bridges of forgiveness, adversity, and suffering can take you to an indescribable closeness with our Lord and Savior.

Perhaps we’re feeling a lack of DESIRE, or we’re dwelling in a time where something or someone caused us anger, injury, or a hurtful experience. Our pride is saying “well he should make the first move.”
There is awesome power in Forgiveness. It is God’s solution to bitterness, resentment, and hostility. You and I need the freedom found only through sincerely and completely forgiving others.
What are some of the obstacles to Forgiving? (What brings on that “un-forgiveness” that is so easy to find)? – I’m sure you’ll recognize some of these examples, especially from your experiences here at Coxsackie.
➢ Negative advice: Not so well-meaning friends don’t always offer Godly counsel.
➢ Relying on our immediate emotions: Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you feel like forgiving – the longer you put it off, the less likely you will do it.
➢ Expecting quick results: Forgiveness can & does take time.
As a “searcher” for the Christian Life, we all have the responsibility to take the initiative in dealing with our un-forgiveness.

Just recently I came across a book written by Ray Edmund entitled, “They found the Secret.”– It’s book of 20 spiritual biographies, not of the Saints or formalized clergy, rather it’s about common people, authors, blue-collar workers, labors, teachers, people we might meet on the street.

The summary of the work provides a simple: “4 (A’s) to the Christian Life:”

Abandonment = Abandon our current life in search for the “Christian Life.” This is tougher than you think. Remember my illustration of “Thy Kingdom come”?

Abiding = is done by Obedience to His Will (It is not struggling or striving – rather it’s the resting-in or listening for the Faithful One’s word – our surrender is what He’s looking for. It doesn’t matter our works but rather the determination of our Will:

The Holy Spirit t will fill your life with the presence of Jesus Christ. – By your Faith- NOT just by your Works.

Abundance = the Christian Life can be an abounding one –The Savior has promised “Rivers of Living water” to flow from a Spirit filled with His Life…..He is always Generous yet will be just Sufficient enough to give us what we need when we need it.

Adventure = the journey is a mystery and is ongoing and ever changing. Faith and Prayer will be your compass in navigating your way. Yes, you will make mistakes and occasionally take wrong turns….

Conclusion:
Who is in charge of your life – you or Jesus Christ? If you are in search of the Christian Life, you will allow the Son of God to direct you each day. Let him give you guidance, direction, and the power to make godly choices. Does this mean you will escape all your problems, heartaches, and burdens? NO. Nor does it mean that you will never sin again. But you won’t struggle on your own. Instead you can walk in the power of the living God Celebrate the “Christian Life” – it is life at its very best ***Lets Go Find It Together!!***

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Dear Parish Blog

keep-calm+bloggingDear Parish Blog and Parish Blog Readers,

I’m so sorry that it appears that I have abandoned you. I opened the blog today and nearly fell over when I saw that the last post went up on July 12; that one being written by parishioner Don Wilson. And I’m back to post something else from Don, but I will post this first, and his will publish tomorrow.

This blog got started during the summer of 2007, over 7 years ago. I was new to the parish and the area back then, and a blog felt like something that I could do to contribute to St. Edward’s. Fr. Pat gave me the go-ahead, so off I went.

Over the years, many of you have submitted posts, either once, or multiple times. For a time, we had regular writers, but one got her own blog, and others dropped out for various personal reasons. These comings and goings  were fine, because as The Book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.

We specifically seek guest posts during Advent and Lent, another tradition dating back to 2007, although they were first posted on the parish website, then they migrated to the blog.  Advent and Lent remain the times when we are most popular, with many more readers than usual.

imagesThis blog also got started when I was transitioning out of a job in NYC, and moving here. I was unemployed for most of 2008, which gave me more time. Somehow while beginning both work and grad school, and while maintaining my own blog, I kept plugging away. Then I started a blog for my work parish, as part of a practicum in grad school. Still all the plates kept spinning, and I tried hard to keep up, although the same copy would often appear on all three sites.

By time this summer rolled around I knew that I had to cut back and let go, so I did. Truth be told, I am spending more time (although hardly consistently) trying to write more and post to my own blog. Every now and then I get a paid writing assignment, like right now when I am overdue on submitting two pieces. I kept thinking, that I would get back to this blog, and post – but that has yet to happen. And yes, I do sleep and exercise more now that I am not trying to “do it all.” But still – what about the blog?

Don Wilson got in touch with me to post something that you will see tomorrow, from his recent prison retreat with the REC group. That was what brought me face to face with the blog dashboard, and the reality that it has been over three months since the last post.

I am really, really sorry – although I am not sure who is even reading this any longer. Nonetheless, I feel like I have dropped the plate, so to speak, and it may have smashed.

There’s some discerning to do around the more regular posting, although I do promise you that Advent reflections will be back in about a month. Please join me in prayer so that the right decisions can be made. Thank you.

And stay tuned – Don’s post will go up tomorrow!

Thanks for reading, back then and now.

Fran

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