Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Love Shall Never Leave You

In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the LORD, your redeemer.

Isaiah 54:8

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And what an interesting verse...

...from Jesus' words in the Gospel today:

"And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."

I the LORD Do These Things

My view this morning after a swim.

For thus says the LORD,
The creator of the heavens,
who is God,
The designer and maker of the earth
who established it,
Not creating it to be a waste,
but designing it be lived in:
I am the LORD, and there is no other.

Isaiah 45:18

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

7 Habits to Pick Up During Advent and Christmas

Prayer is an important part of Advent preparations...and yet there's the shopping, and the holiday programs, and the baking and the travel plans, and just being a mom. It is too easy, in life and especially during the holidays, to find ourselves "too busy" to pray. This Advent, I have resolved to instill new habits of prayer in my daily routine.

Here are some that I have come up with. Many of these are things I am already doing, but not as regularly as I would like. Each of these practices is well established in the Catholic tradition of prayer, and each sounds a particularly appropriate note for the story and themes of Advent and Christmas. If you've overlooked any of these in your spiritual life, consider adding one (or more) to your devotions this season.

1) The Angelus. Whatever you are doing at noon, stop and pray this prayer commemorating the Incarnation, derived from the Liturgy of the Hours. Our family has set an alarm on the computer to play a sound file of church bells at noon. We recite the words of the prayer to a podcast recording, which is helping us memorize them as a family. Maybe later we can add the morning and evening prayer times as well.

2) The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). Mary's hymn, in response to her cousin Elizabeth’s greeting at the Visitation, was recommended to me as a good prayer to memorize by a spiritual director I had years ago. It is perfect as a prayer of thanksgiving in good times or a sacrifice of praise during trials.

3) The daily Rosary. Truly, Advent has a Marian flavor. The Joyful Mysteries, "where it all began" in the Gospel story, are recommended as Sunday's set of Mysteries for the Advent and Christmas seasons. They are also, on any day, a great remedy to the frustration or gloom that might creep in. A baby’s coming!

4) Devotion to St. Joseph. Mary is an obvious figure, but this time of year, more than any other liturgical season, belongs to St. Joseph. The Nativity story is just about the only time that we see him in the Gospels, but it is through his ancestry that all the messianic prophecies we hear at Mass are to be fulfilled in Jesus. My favorite prayer to St. Joseph includes a tender petition to the Christ Child in his foster father's arms.

5) Morning Offering. St. James tells us that everything, even our sufferings, can be a source of joy when we offer them to God to unite us to his redemptive work. This is what we do when we make an offering of our day. Here's a tip: Taking a page from Gaudete Sunday, keep a rose-colored candle, perhaps on your family altar, light it, and make your morning offering. Maybe you will use it every day, or maybe just on more challenging days when you need a little boost to "count it all joy."

6) Pray for life. The plight of unborn children gains special urgency when we contemplate the vulnerability of baby Jesus, the dangers his Mother faced as an unwed mother, and the hate of those who tried to kill him as a helpless child. Perhaps you could spiritually adopt a child; or pray daily for an end to abortion, and the conversion of those who participate in it; or channel God's grace by praying in front of an abortion facility.

7) Generosity toward the poor. This is not a prayer, per se, but it fits right in with the spiritual trifecta of prayer, fasting, and alms. One one hand, for many ministries this is the critical month for donations to come in. And on the other, how easy it is to think of Jesus' birth story and know that what you are doing for the least of our brothers you are doing for Him. Some Advent-prompted suggestions: homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, prison outreaches, refugee aid organizations, children's programs, and charities that help families deal with adverse conditions or situations.

Are you doing anything new in your prayer life for Advent?

A People Humble and Lowly

For then I will change and purify
the lips of the peoples,
That they all may call upon the name of the LORD.

Zephaniah 3:9

Monday, December 13, 2010

Teach Me Your Ways, O Lord!

So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”
He himself said to them,
“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Matthew 21:27

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.

Isaiah 35:4

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Tree Is Known by Its Fruits

A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

Luke 6:45

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Lead You

If you would hearken to my commandments,
your prosperity would be like a river,
and your vindication like the waves of the sea.

Isaiah 48:18

Thursday, December 9, 2010

John, the Voice in the Desert

And if you are willing to accept it,
he is Elijah, the one who is to come.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Matthew 11:14-15

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mary, Model of Christians

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For Your Amusement

We've had a sick baby, and it appears to be working through the ranks now, so it's going to continue quiet here for a while. But my daughter requested this--we saw it last year and were tickled--so here you go. We hope you enjoy it.

Give Comfort to My People

Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!

Isaiah 40:9

Monday, December 6, 2010

No More Sorrow

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.

Isaiah 35:10

Sunday, December 5, 2010

That We Might Have Hope

May the God of endurance and encouragement
grant you to think in harmony with one another,
in keeping with Christ Jesus,
that with one accord you may with one voice
glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Saturday, December 4, 2010

"Go to the lost sheep..."

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

Friday, December 3, 2010

One thing I ask

One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

Psalm 27:4

My first thought on...

...seeing this: this:

"I was by now too experienced in literary criticism to regard the Gospels as myths. They had not the mythical taste. And yet the very matter which they set down in their artless, historical fashion--those narrow, unattractive Jews, too blind to the mythical wealth of the Pagan world around them--was precisely the matter of the great myths. If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this. " (C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Saintly ATCs

The ones I got--aren't they beautiful?

We were so excited to receive our new artist trading cards from the For All the Saints ATC Swap at Pondered in my Heart. I never take the time to make ATCs outside of the two swaps Kimberlee has hosted but I'll be honest--I crave more.

My camera was acting up when it was time to send the cards in, but I think that's remedied now (thanks to my generous husband). Here are the cards we got:

Natalie: St. Philomena, Our Lady - Sancta Maria, St. Therese the Little Flower, St. Teresa of The Andes, St. Elisabeth of Hungary.

Luke: St. Matthew, St. Nicholas, St. Helen the Empress, St. Cecelia, St. George.

Caleb: St. Theodore Guerin, St. Edith Stein, St. Michael, St. Anthony the Abbot, St. Francis with a wolf.

Catherine: St. Patrick, St. Gertrude, St. Margaret, St. Bernadette, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Aidan: St. Denis of Paris, St. Nicholas, St. Dominic, St. Peter, St. Anthony.

Mine (at top) are, of course: St. Patrick, St. Joseph, St. Nicholas, St. Juan Diego, and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha.

All so lovely!

Part of the fun of making these ATCs was learning new things about the members of the Church Triumphant, a few of which I noted earlier:

Did you know that St. Gabriel is thought to be the angel sent to strengthen Jesus in Gethsemane? That Adam and Eve are traditionally held to be in heaven and therefore saints? That the saints are a vastly diverse set of people from all walks of life and widely different manners of holiness? Well, yes, we knew that already, but it was a delight to rediscover it with this swap.

Now we get to go at it from the perspective of other artists. We will be reading about each saint we have a card for. Maybe we will discover a few favorite new friends.

Kimberlee has put up a Mr. Linky so you can go and share the love.

Lord of the poor

He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.

Isaiah 26:5-6

Thoughts: Do I trust God to deliver me through my needs?

Do I reach out my hand to the needs of others?

Am I ready to be leveled?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

O Eve!

An entry from 2008, when I first experienced the artworks described. I keep hoping to hear that Frank La Rocca, the composer of the musical piece, has released a recording on CD--I have heard that one is in the works.

I can't express the depths to which this resonates with me, in me. I'm only just now noticing the reverberations in my soul--which, I think, is an echo of the song's own development: an unpretentious progression of talents outpoured, until suddenly you realize that your breath has been taken away, and breathing deeply again you are refreshed and a little bit shaken.

First, I read about a card. I don't know if the picture came first or the poem, but both were original works sent out as a Christmas greeting by the Trappistine nuns at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey. When I first came upon them over at The Anchoress I thought the picture was a nice, bright drawing and the poem was a nice, well-written verse.

A simple image, but loaded with meaning.

A short, graceful verse about two mothers, two daughters, an ancient idea but new.

O Eve!

My mother, my daughter, life-giving Eve,
Do not be ashamed, do not grieve.
The former things have passed away,
Our God has brought us to a New Day.
See, I am with Child,
Through whom all will be reconciled.
O Eve! My sister, my friend,
We will rejoice together
Life without end.

Then I started studying them. I noticed details in the picture, like the snake coiled around both of Eve's feet but crushed under Mary's. The arch of pear tree limbs like a church window, heavy with fruit. The many other signs of Eve's shame--head bent, the clutched apple, nakedness barely covered--and the hand outstretched to touch her hope within Mary's grace-clothed, grace-filled body. Very intellectually satisfying.

And then I heard this.

You know what they say about music, that it is the language of the angels and of the divine, that it is a form of prayer in itself, that it gives us a sense of the infinite. I think my favorite is by Sidney Lanier:

"Music is love in search of a word."

When I heard this piece, for four minutes I felt that I was Eve, and all my years of sorrow were at an end, and a gentle hand was leading me out of a thicket of thorns into daylight.

Advent is here--but some people might have a hard time looking forward to Christmas, even if they don't know it or understand why. Some people have a problem with a God who is so intimate. Some might struggle with despair--with accepting forgiveness, or trusting it. Some of these things I understand, and I know and trust that God has a way to touch these people with his healing love.

For me, I think when my dark night of the soul comes, I will sit in the dark and listen to this and cry for joy.

Lord of All

On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations.

Isaiah 25:7


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