Worth Revisiting:Procrastination

Last year at this time, I was sitting on a beach and feeling an unbelievable gratitude for the gift of being present to the moment. Thankful, if you will, for the ability to procrastinate much needed tasks and to-do’s to simply discover God. Take time today to pause, reflect and examen God at work in your day!

Procrastination

thy name is mine- Reminiscing.
Warm sand, waves crashing
I am engulfed by your inspiring presence.

Laughter of children
Amazed by your splendid treasures,
My soul sings with joy.
Little palms upturned, bare feet carrying such gifts.
sea, beach, grass:

 

And yet I hear you
Not in a rushing wind rather
A small gentle breeze
Instantly mindful of the infinite ways

 

 

 

morgueFile free photos:

 

You long to converse
Desiring to be discovered
You hide not from me.
But smile-sunlit rays dancing upon sea sprays.

 

 

morgueFile free photos:

 

 

Suddenly I find
Myself exceedingly thankful
Gifted graced moment
Aware that I am unbelievably loved.

 

Oh yes, procrastination thy name is mine! Returning from Winter Break I honestly felt that I needed a day to recoup, a time to catch up on neglected chores and conversation over a cup of coffee with a close friend. Back to school for my children, work for my hubby and I find I am finally enjoying my groove in the normalcy of a routine.

Yet, there is definitely a need in our lives for retreat and a break from the everyday. A time to reflect on all of our commitments, re-examine our priorities, as well as to appreciate all that God has given us. As I sat on the sand, my children laughing as the waves were crashing I was reminded of the joy intended for us. Moreover, that through the ups and downs God is always there, breaking into our day to allow us a respite, moments of peace, clarity, joy and love.

What then is waiting for me? There is that elusive final integration project (aka thesis) needed for my Master’s degree.  Procrastination in part stems from placing extremely high expectations on myself while knowing full well that perfection is not what is required, or even possible through my own efforts. I find solace in recognizing that if meant to undertake a task, speak to a situation, God will give me what is needed to do all these things and more.

 So the other part to this picture is discernment and that is the better part of delay. The time that I spent with my family and with God was necessary. Can we continue to race forward with endurance if we do not pause to reflect on where we have been, where we are and desire to renew our spirit? Connection, we were never meant to do it on our own, the love, support and guidance are there to be discovered.  With this, I ask for your prayers as I embark on the path ahead.

 Peace,

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To Honor the Innocents

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“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:

 “A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”                         Matthew 2:16-18

 As Augustine noted these “infant martyr flowers”; they were the Church’s first blossoms, matured by the frost of persecution during the cold winter of unbelief”. In remembering them, I cannot help but also be reminded of the countless martyrs that have given their lives long after them.

This Christmas,Pope Francis spoke to the “brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis. These are “our martyrs of today,” those brothers and sisters, he said, “who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith…”

ABC News on Dec. 23, 2015 reports that Iraq’s Christian population has dropped from 1.3 million people in the 1997 census to about 650,000 now. Lebanon, who has taken on many of Syria’s refugees, is an area where according to the NY Times Christians in 1925 constituted 85% of the population now constitute less than a quarter. The recent bombings in Beruit and Paris, as well as the attacks in Mali, and Tunisia this November show little regard for unarmed or innocent citizens.

What can we do?

Pray and…work – with courage towards promoting change, real substantive change. This means having a goal that involves more than just eliminating Isis, for as history has proven, there are others that will merely step into their place. Looking at the underlying problems of poverty, unstable governments with recruitment of child soldiers, not to mention human and drug trafficking we see that there is fertile ground for violence. Are we ready not just to fight but to witness God kingdom in the world? Are we prepared to get to the work of education, justice and peace?  Then, there is also a true need for dialogue, and reconciliation.

My mom, a high school math teacher in a very poor area of the south, understood this well. Her classes consisted of students who others had already given up on, those who were absent due to fights, arrests, drugs or early pregnancies. An expected typical day or life for a student, or child was not typical for them. Many were living the only life they knew, in cycles of violence, dependence and poverty where few had ever taken an interest in their potential. That is, before my mom. Meeting with students before and after school to mentor, she also created homework and make up for long extended absences and most importantly…let them know she cared. Years later, on innumerable occasions she would be stopped by a former student, all grown up who would tell her the difference she truly had made in their life.

Though a seemingly small step, these are the actions that each of us can do in promoting peace, and justice in our communities, in living out our faith with courage. In serving as spiritual mothers and fathers we too can nurture the children we encounter and give voice to Holy Innocents whose lives ended too soon.

Peace,

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An Engaging Faith: 12/28-1/1

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

 Gifts of the Visitation by Denise Bossert (Ave Maria Press), & Rock-Bottom Blessings by Karen Beattie (Loyola Press)

12/28-1/4 Giveaway http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/356b4e8328/:

Drawing runs 12/28-1/4 Click to enter..

Getting ready for the New Year and counting our blessings!

Dr. Hosffman Ospino joins us to discuss Oscar Romero,  Jennifer Grant  with Wholehearted Living,  Karen Beattie with Rock-Bottom Blessings, 

And  Encores Jordan Denari and  Margaret Felice


Monday: Dr. Hosffman Ospino, 
is an Assistant Professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry.  Besides publishing numerous essays, Dr. Ospino is the author several books, including Cultural Diversity and Paradigm Shifts in Catholic Congregations (Fordham University Press, forthcoming), Evangelization and Catechesis in the Context of Hispanic Ministry (Liguori, 2013, in Spanish), the editor of Hispanic Ministry in the Twenty-First Century: Present and Future (Convivium Press, 2010), and Oscar Romero Prophet Of Hopecoeditor of Hispanic Ministry in the Twenty-First Century: Urgent Matters(2015). He served as the Principal Investigator of the first ever National Study of Catholic Parishes with Hispanic Ministry and served as a Co-Principal Investigator for the National Survey of Catholic Schools Serving Hispanic Families (results to be released in October 2015).He joins us to discuss the newly released book on Oscar Romero by Roberto Morozzo della Rocca

Jennifer Grant

Tuesday: Jennifer Grant is the author of two previous works of nonfiction about family life: Love You More and MOMumental. A former health and parenting columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times Media newspapers, Grant contributes toWholehearted Living her.meneutics, Fullfill, and other publications. Grant graduated from Wheaton College and Southern Methodist University, and lives with her husband and four children in the suburbs of Chicago. Find her online atjennifergrant.com.

Karen Beattie

Wednesday:Karen Beattie has been a writer for more Rock-Bottom Blessings than 20 years and been published in several publications including Moody, Christianity Today, and
Midwest Living. She recently became a Catholic, and she and her husband are members who attend Old St. Patrick’s in Chicago, Illinois.

Thursday:Jordan Denari, is a writer, speaker, and Research Fellow for the Bridge Initiative, a project of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. A voice on interfaith issues, Jordan writes about Islam, Christianity, the Middle East, and Islamophobia. Jordan has published articles in TIME, America, Commonweal, Sojourners, Huffington Post, On Faith, Busted Halo, and other outlets.

Felice Fridays!:Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic!

 

Worth Revisiting: An Expectant Mary

This fourth week of Advent bears thoughts of an expectant Mary, awaiting the arrival of her son, with hope and joy. May we too bear joy and anticipation of the birth of our Savior and carry forth his love in all that we do!

The Visitation of Mary & Elizabeth

Meeting of Elizabeth and the Theotokos - I LOVE this icon with Christ and John the Baptist in utero!:
(GK) Orthodox Woman

Today is the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which recalls Mary's visit with her cousin Elizabeth.  Reminder that ALL life is precious, even the baby in the womb of an unmarried woman. Or the baby in the womb of a woman thought to be past child bearing age.::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

File:The Visitation. Mary and Elizabeth in the garden of a country house - Huth Hours (1485-1490), f.66v - BL Add MS 38126.jpg:
Huth Hours (1485-1490
File:The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. Engraving. Wellcome V0034588.jpg:
Wellcome Library, London

Pregnant Mary

How beautiful is our Blessed Mother Mary!:

File:Virgen encinta, Colegiata de Sta Mª La Mayor, Toro.JPG:
Virgin Encinta, Colegiata de Sta Ma La Major, Toro.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This pregnant Mary is carrying a basket of bread, for the journey to Bethlehem, which is the "House of Bread," and of course she is the maternal house of Jesus, the Bread of Life, in the Eucharist.:

File:The pregnant Virgin Mary, with a dragon at her feet; represe Wellcome, London.1772:
Wellcome Library, London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expectant Mary: Fresco from Santa Sabina:

BEAUTIFUL DETAILED SAND "NATIVITY" Flickr - Photo Sharing!:

 

Peace,

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Do Not Fear:The Shepherds’ Journey

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For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 41:13

Throughout the accounts of the nativity story we encounter God working the extraordinary amidst the ordinary. Today, I find myself accompanying the shepherds in their journey this advent, beside the sheep in solitude and silence.

“Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2: 8-14)

The life of a shepherd was simplistic, the daily tasks at hand were few and one day could easily flow into the next. Yet, a lack of attentiveness could put the whole flock at risk and without a shepherd the sheep easily lost their way. The needs of the flock were to always supersede one’s own, and this included the need for community that we have so become accustomed to. Due to a very transient lifestyle, company was but only occasionally found with fellow shepherds along with the animals they watched and cared for.  Moreover, as they could not consistently observe the ceremonial rituals of purity prescribed by Jewish law, shepherds were considered among the lowliest of professions. Gone were the early days of Israel, as with King David, where their responsibility was respected, now they were included among the marginalized in Jewish society.

Artgate Fondazione Cariplo - Mulier Pieter, Annuncio ai pastori.jpg:
Artgate Fondazione Cariplo-Mulier Pieter

Certainly not a life easily undertaken for those who crave conversation or comforts, it did offer its own unique recompense. Under a blanket of stars and away from the hubbub of the city life they had time for quiet moments and reflection. I’ve often wondered if they, while aware their social standing, also recognized the value and purpose in their life’s work.

Even if they had, they most definitely did not expect to have been called out to receive the most magnificent angelic proclamation of the birth of the Messiah. With not one but a host of angels, breaking through the stillness and the darkness, hope was born this night. As Luke truly stresses, God moved from heaven to earth- to the peripheries to reach all of humanity. Undoubtedly aghast at their divine invitation and despite any misgivings they may have had–their unexpected response was to make way for Bethlehem in haste. Oh, the trepidation the shepherds had to have initially felt from the sudden marching orders and the impending arrival to a city, given their unkempt appearance!

Surprisingly instead of a stately palace, or grand estate customary to a king or “Lord”, they were welcomed by the small stable surroundings. Who is this king, that he would choose this as a birthplace, as a seat of governing, a site of lowly stature? Could it be that He has come for us too…and what does this mean for our lives? The peace that the angels spoke of had to have meant more to the shepherds than an absence of physical conflict, but resonated an inner peace of finally resting in God’s grace.

Schwerin Dom - Fenster 5b Hirten.jpg:

Consider: Do I believe that Jesus was born for me? And, what does this mean in my life, particularly for those times I feel alone, persecuted, or marginalized?

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. Psalm 56:3

Peace,

Signature

 

An Engaging Faith: 12/21-12/25

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST.

Final week of Advent there’s still time to get prepared! 

Sarah Reinhard with Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary , Brooke Taylor of Good Things RadioJoseph Johns with 2535 Apparel  

and  Encores of Terry Hershey with Sanctuary  and Greg Wolfe with God With Us .

Monday: Sarah Reinhard is a Catholic author, blogger, speaker, and freelance writer. She contributes regularly to the National Catholic RegisterCatholicMom.comIntegrated Catholic Life, Catholic Exchange, andSpiritualDirection.com.

Reinhard is the author of a number of books and writes a monthly column in the Diocese of Columbus’s The Catholic Times. She earned a master’s degree in marketing and communications from Franklin University and has worked for many years for corporate and nonprofit organizations. She lives in central Ohio with her husband and four children.

bioTuesday: For nearly a decade, Brooke Taylor  was the co-host of the “Family Friendly Morning Show” on 95.5 The Fish in Cleveland, Ohio. Brooke is the founder of “The Mom Squad,” a ministry of women from all walks of life, blogging, hosting retreats and workshops, building a sisterhood of believers for Christ. She is also involved in the ministry Food for the Poor and has traveled to Guatemala and Haiti to raise awareness and funds for the poorest of the poor. in 2014, Brooke led a pilgrimage to Italy for the canonization of St. Pope John Paul II and St. John XXII.Brooke and her Army Veteran husband Jim have five children: four sons and a daughter they adopted from Poland. Brooke frequently speaks to groups on the topics of motherhood and family life, the gift of the Catholic faith, adoption, special needs, and her own re-conversion story. Brooke also maintains a blog shares stories of her day-to-day adventures at The Sacred Sink and podcast at Good Things Radio.

http://2535apparel.com/pages/about-us: Wednesday: Joseph Johns of 2535 Apparel a small group of multi-lingual caregivers, full-time volunteers & creative artists. Funded by volunteers with various foundations, abbeys, parishes, they seek to aid groups around the globe. Traveling to remote and impoverished areas where there is often armed conflict, they teach in orphanages, help prisoners with social reinsertion and personal development, keep company with abandoned elderly and support the poor in a number of ways.Their mission statement is simple, Matthew 25:35.Jesus says. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’…  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” 

All the proceeds (100%) from sales of 2535 Apparel go to the purchasing and bringing of food, clothing, blankets, socks, shoes, shirts, winter hats, toys, soap, tools, and other necessities to those in need. 

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Thursday: Terry Hersheyauthor, inspirational speaker, ordained minister, self admitted golf addict, and gardener. Terry lives on Vashon Island, near Seattle, WA.  His work has been featured on The Hallmark Channel, PBS, and NPR and he is the author of The Power of Pause (Loyola Press) which encourages us to slow down,Soul Gardening and his latest book Sanctuary: Creating a Space for Grace in Your Life .  He “divides his time between designing sanctuary gardens and sharing his practice of “pausing”and “sanctuary,” to help us do less and live more”.

 : Friday: Greg Wolfe , is editor of Image, one of America’s leading quarterly journals. He serves as Writer in Residence and Director of the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing program at Seattle Pacific University. His literary imprint, Slant Books, is published by Wipf & Stock. Wolfe’s books include Beauty Will Save the WorldIntruding upon the Timeless, and The Operation of Grace. He has served as a judge for the National Book Awards. He is here with us today to discuss God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, a book he is co-editor of along with Greg Pennoyer

Worth Revisiting: Go Light the World!

‘Being Christian is a gift that makes us go forward with the power of the Spirit in the proclamation of Jesus Christ.” And “baptism is enough, it is sufficient to evangelize,” to preach Christ even amidst persecution or when one lives in insecurity.’ Pope Francis, Vatican City Apr 17, 2013

As a Catholic, few can say that they remember the experience of their own baptisms…that is unless they too are a convert. Looking back, I have often thought what a blessing God has given in allowing me to so vividly recall the details of this incredible undeserving gift.  Along with those later made in choosing to become a Catholic, I can see how these sacraments have formed me, and continue to transform me throughout my journey with God.  For those who have yet to hear my story, as well as for my own children, I feel today is a good day to share.

Having grown up in a strong Southern Baptist family, I would venture to say that I spent almost as much time at church as I did at home. Yet, there was no pressure or time set aside when I was to decidedly become a Christian. This was a time of Sunday school, a time to color, to play, listen to bible stories, and sing in the Children’s choir. However, early on I began to realize that, while young, more was being asked of me. One evening, sitting with my mother I had inwardly been praying. It was a deep soul searching prayer, one in which I sat in conversation with Christ asking what I needed to do. To any onlooker, I must have looked a bit odd because I was totally immersed in the moment, unaware of things going around me. “Be baptized.. Come you are loved and forgiven” were the words that resounded in my heart. Tears streamed down my little 7 year old face as I opened my eyes and related this to my mom. Now, so intimately I knew what sin was and that in choosing to follow Christ I could not also follow sin.

Though excitedly awaiting my baptismal date, it was only to be postponed by- chicken pox. An outbreak had hit all the schools and I was among the many, including the boy that I was to be baptized with. By the time the day finally arrived, my anticipation had truly grown. My mom and grandma sat in the congregation as I expressed my commitment to follow Christ’s teachings. Then, three times my head was slowly pushed back into the water and I joyously heard the words “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

As a funny aside, I was so little and lightweight that with the gown I was wearing my feet automatically sprang to the surface with each submersion.  I literally popped to the top of the water, my grandma would later tease, just like an apple. Standing up and turning to face the congregation, I was greeted by a wave of applause and a chorus of Amens. This was, as Pope Francis would be the first to add, my new birthday in the Church.

Just a few months afterward, a couple of teens broke into that church taking any items of value before setting it ablaze. I remember the sadness that I felt at the sin that had caused so much devastation. I prayed for them, asking God to help them to realize this and to find their way to Him one day. While all church records were lost, my mom provided a living witness to my baptism and letter of testimony when I sought to be confirmed in the Catholic Church. Oh, and that small Baptist church would be replaced by a new one just 2 years later..three times the size.

Father you are everything new and good in this world! You created me anew through my baptism and called me to share in the life, love and mission of your Church here on earth. You have given me a light to guide me, and an open door through which to grow and embrace a sacramental life with you within the world. Please enable me Lord to always show your light and love to the world!

Peace,

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This Advent: Where Are We Headed?

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Advent is a time to prepare yet also to discern where we are being led towards. The journey that Joseph and Mary were to make from Nazareth to Bethlehem, by many accounts, was not a fairytale but fraught with much danger, miserable weather, and challenges. Even in the best of health, this undertaking would have been difficult for the ablest of travelers. And yet, as scripture reminds us this is how God was to become Incarnate in our world. Not in comfort, or amidst luxury but One who walks with us through the most difficult moments and trials that we might encounter in life.

Along the unpaved flatland trails of the Jordan these feet do embark,
A journey not lightly undertaken but an arduous engagement of heart,
Of readiness for unforgiving weather and unforeseen dangers ahead,
Of hopefulness, peace, and joy that yet expectantly lie in its stead.

In this heavily forested valley, lions bears and boars await,
To seize upon their prey without cause to hesitate,
The ups and downs of the hilly ground that I now find myself upon,
Are unrelenting and still provide a daily impetus to carry on.

The desired and seemingly undesirable invited to travel this road together,
Bringing the weight of our cares and the sum of our joy assuredly tethered,
To the birth of our Savior who was to be born on this promised day foretold,
These 90 miles in a stable laid bare- the eternal salvation of all to behold.

Elizabeth Reardon, Come To Bethlehem, 2015

 

Not a single solitary journey but a walk together, a walk of dependence and trust on God and profound hope of God’s providence. And beautifully too

“Through Jesus, God enters into the broken and sinful territory of the human condition in order to help men and women, lost in their earthly sojourn, find their way back home to God.” The incarnation is, “the great migration of human history: God’s movement in love to humanity makes possible humanity’s movement to God.”[1]

 

Not simply a stationary commitment to inactivity, our waiting this advent is instead an invitation to move towards the divine image that God intends for us to be, while drawing ever closer into community with one another.

Where are you headed this advent?

Peace,

Signature


[1] Hans Urs von Balthazar, Love Alone: The Way of Revelation, 5th ed. (London:Sheed & Ward, 1992) 84.

An Engaging Faith:12/14-12/18

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

 Gifts of the Visitation by Denise Bossert (Ave Maria Press), & Time to Get Ready by Fr. Mark Villano (Paraclete Press)

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Drawing runs 12/14-12/21 Click to enter..

3rd Week of Advent Anticipation!

Denise Bossert joins us to discuss Gifts of the Visitation,  An Encore with Ginny Moyer and Random Moments of GraceFr. Mark Villano with Time to Get Ready

And  repeat co-hosts Tony Agnesi  and  Margaret Felice

 

Monday: Denise Bossert , The daughter and former wife of Protestant ministers, Bossert converted to the Catholic Church in 2005 after being inspired by the books of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.  Denise writes a syndicated column called Catholic by Grace for diocesan newspapers across the United States. She has also written for Gifts of the VisitationCanticle Magazine (now called Women of Grace), Women for Faith and Family, and Catholic Exchange.Bossert is a member of the Legion of Mary, Catholic Writers Guild, and ACTS Retreat Community. She gives talks at parishes and to women’s groups on conversion, women of salvation history, and spiritual mentoring. 

Tuesday: Ginny Kubitz Moyer, an award-winning writer with a focus on motherhood and spirituality. Her book Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood celebrates the spiritual adventure of parenting, showing how grace can be found even amid the laundry and the Legos. Her first book “Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God” (winner of a 2009 Catholic Press Award) shares modern women’s thoughts on the world’s most famous mother. Ginny lives with her husband and two small boys in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she trips over toys, teaches high school English, and does her best to approach it all with mindfulness and humor.

 

Wednesday: Tony Agnesi who is Finding God’s Grace in Everyday Life is the Senior Vice President of Rubber City Radio Group, WQMX, WONE, and WAKR in Akron and WNWV in Cleveland and member of Radio and Television Hall of Fame. A relentless storyteller, his Sunday blog and Wednesday podcast have an International audience in over 70 counties and has been translated in over 40 languages. Tony and his wife Diane have two adult sons and are members of the Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Wadsworth, Ohio.

Thursday: Fr. Mark Villano, a native of New Haven, Connecticut, studied theology at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he received his Master of Divinity degree. He has ministered at parishes and campus ministry centers across the country, including at the University of Texas, UCLA, Ohio State University, and Yale. He earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the School of Cinematic Arts at USC and served as Director of Creative Development at Paulist Productions. Currently, he is Director of Mission and Ministry at Marymount California University, south of Los Angeles. Besides teaching in both the Religion/ Philosophy and Arts/Media departments, he pursues his interest in the connections between faith and popular culture.

Felice Fridays!: Margaret Felice, Boston College alumnae and faculty member of Religion and Performing Arts at BC High in Boston MA, Opera Singer and blogger joins us for a fun an engaging talk about all things Catholic!

Worth Revisiting: Embracing Advent

As  Pope Francis opened the year of mercy, it is a time to mark our conscious and concerted effort to be a continual witness of God’s mercy in the world. This begins, as he notes, for each of us with our daily conversion of heart, a turning towards Christ and an acceptance of the love and mercy that is available for all. We are to then share and radiate this mercy that we have been given to all those we encounter. Why wait? Today is the day..

This Advent season, I find myself disenchanted with the stores, and the constant promotion of items to be bought in order to win smiles and love. Some years are like that we say to ourselves, and yet I know that there is something much profound at work. Searching, I recognize that while society hasn’t necessarily changed, I have.

The other day, I took a moment with a local homeless man just to talk. As he stood there, leaning uncomfortably against my church, I could not pass him by. That is, without sharing a smile and asking him how he was doing. Even from a distance, I noticed that the cold weather had left his skin and lips weathered, and reddened.  I suddenly realized that I had come prepared. For, inside my car were a new pair of tube socks with lotion, wipes, chap stick, toothbrush and toothpaste enclosed. Gladly, but a bit surprised, he accepted the gift.

Examples of items to include in a care kit..

This morning on my way to take my son to school again I saw him, with a huge smile on his face walking with a couple of other men. What a gift he had given me to see him enjoying a bit of happiness and company. The homeless life can be so very isolating, for mental illness and addictions have often served to distance them from relationships and even recognition. In our hurry and perhaps even fearful, we are accustomed to look straight ahead towards our destination.

Where are our eyes focused this Advent? Upwards toward heaven, forward in completing the day’s events, or all around seeking God in everything? Are we, as Mother Teresa observed, “seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor”?  [1] Times have been difficult in my suburban community, and many more families are either finding themselves cutting back, overextended, or without.  Yet, while we can’t do or be everything to everyone we can greet, love, and support one another in whatever way we can. Today, an invitation was extended for more volunteers at our parish food pantry in order to serve more people, and provide rest for regular helpers. Maybe an hour this Advent season is a gift you too can give.

How are our hearts this Advent? If we are serious about preparing for Christ’s coming, it’s time now to think about the condition of our hearts. Are we hardened by our own circumstances, and the pitfalls we have found ourselves in? Where are my thoughts this Advent? Trusting the path and journey we are on isn’t easy to do alone, for the temptation is to seek control.

Prayer and the Eucharist– are for me the most transforming corrections for my squinted vision, stiffening heart,  and human tendencies to control my world.  In quiet prayer, I can silence the noise and hear Jesus’ voice once again. All my pretences fall away, as I stand like a child at his feet. Feeling his embrace, my heart melts and I long to stay with him. His smile reminds me who and whose I am. Created and loved I am asked to see as he does. His daughter, I am called to be ever close to him. This intimacy of the Eucharist draws me not inward but outward.

 I am called to be more than I could have ever imagined, and all that you know I can be.  “Let faith arise..open my eyes!” 

[1] Mother TeresaIn the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

Peace,

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