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.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
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.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
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?
Monday, December 13, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
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.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
"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
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:
Caleb: St. Theodore Guerin, St. Edith Stein, St. Michael, St. Anthony the Abbot, St. Francis with a wolf.
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.
He tumbles it to the ground,
levels it with the dust.
It is trampled underfoot by the needy,
by the footsteps of the poor.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
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.
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.