What will 2018 bring for us?

St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime / bob traupman 2007. .

NEW YEAR’S DAY 2018

(and the seventh day of Kwanzaa)

Where are we, this New Year’s Day 2018, my friends?

Are we better off than we were a year ago?

What will 2018 bring for us?

Are we prepared for whatever the year will bring?  

Will the economy get better or worse?

Will I keep my job? Get a raise?  Be able to pay my mortgage and bills?  

Will some crisis happen that will affect our country, our state?   

Do we realize that “We never know” . . . what the next moment will bring?

Here are some excerpts from Pope Francis’ New Year’s message 

 Peace to all people and to all nations on earth!  Peace, which the angels proclaimed to the shepherds on Christmas night, is a profound aspiration for everyone, for each individual and all peoples, and especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence.  Among these whom I constantly keep in my thoughts and prayers, I would once again mention the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees. 

Many destination countries have seen the spread of rhetoric decrying the risks posed to national security or the high cost of welcoming new arrivals, and by doing so demeans the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God.  Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being. 

In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.

The wisdom of faith fosters a contemplative gaze that recognizes that all of us “belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth, whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches.  It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.” These words evoke the biblical image of the new Jerusalem.  The book of the prophet Isaiah (chapter 60) and that of Revelation (chapter 21) describe the city with its gates always open to people of every nation, who marvel at it and fill it with riches.  Peace is the sovereign that guides it and justice the principle that governs coexistence within it. 

Let us draw inspiration from the words of Saint John Paul II: “If the ‘dream’ of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees’ and migrants’ contribution is properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more a universal family and our earth a true ‘common home’. Throughout history, many have believed in this “dream”, and their achievements are a testament to the fact that it is no mere utopia.

And so I pray  . . . .

Give us hope, Lord, this New Year’s Day.

A realistic hope that we might be a little kinder,

a little less self-centered,

a little more willing to go the extra mile for someone, even for a stranger.

We’re also in need of your mercy, Lord.

You are the all Merciful One.

That is why you sent your Son into our world to live among us and die for us.  

Help us to be merciful too.

Give us the strength to be ready for whatever may come.

Give us the grace to be truly thankful, truly humble this New Year’s morning.

This is my prayer, Lord, for me,  for our country, for our world.

And now, may we pray as St. Francis taught us . . .

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen!

May it be so! may it be so!

And now here’s this prayer sung by Angelina at Assisi. CLICK HERE. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

A Happy and Blessed New Year overflowing with good health

                                ~ and many good things for you and your family!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

The Joys of Family Life

The seventh day of Christmas December 31st — the Feast of the Holy Family

(and the sixth day of Kwanzaa.)

I met a young couple at a welcome station  in the mountains of Virginia a few year ago.  I saw Joseph and Mary and Jesus in them.  May there be a touch of holiness ~ of wholeness ~ in their lives and in our families.   I pray for them and all young families ~ indeed all families on this traditional day in the Christmas season when we reflect on the hidden, ordinary life of Joseph, and Mary and Jesus in Nazareth.  They are a model of simplicity for us.

But for many of us, our family life can be very dysfunctional.   I think of those families today, Lord.  Children (some of them friends of mine) who grew up with alcoholic parents  and were in favor one moment and cast aside the next, had little normalcy, little stability.

Be with all families that struggle, Lord. Be with us who are imperfect, weak and selfish and perhaps capable of little love because we may  not have received  it ourselves as children.

We’re trying, Lord.   Strengthen our capacity to love, to be present to our own children and our spouse.  Help us realize, Lord, that our most important role is not to have a successful career  but to love our children and our spouse.  To be a community of love in which to call forth the gifts, the love, the moral courage and strength of our children for the next generation.

Last year, Pope Francis wrote an important document that arose from the two Synods of Bishops dedicated to discussing the issue of family life. It was entitled Amoris Laetitia ~ The Joy of Love. 

Here are a few quotes or quips of Pope Francis himself from the document. You’ll note his often down home folksy style.

Every family should be an icon of the family of Nazareth.

The Christian ideal, especially in families, is a love that never gives up.

When we have been offended or let down, forgiveness is  possible and desirable, but no one can say it is easy.

The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy experienced by the Church.

Just as a good wine begins to ‘breathe’ with time, so  too the daily experience of fidelity gives married life richness and ‘body’.

Young love needs to keep dancing towards the future with immense hope.  

I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfill their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way.

We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows. The other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy me.

In family life, we need to cultivate that strength of love, which can help us fight every evil threatening it. Love does not yield to resentment, scorn for others or the desire to hurt or to gain some advantage. The Christian ideal, especially in families, is a love that never gives up.

Marital joy can be experienced even amid sorrow; it involves accepting that marriage is an inevitable mixture of enjoyment and struggles, tensions and repose, pain and relief, satisfactions and longings, annoyances and pleasures, but always on the path of friendship, which inspirescns-pope-apostolic-exhortation married couples to care for one another.

Dialogue is essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life.

Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say. It requires the self-discipline of not speaking until the time is right. 

And so, on this Feast of the Holy Family may we as I honor you, Jesus and Mary and Joseph. I honor that young couple whose name I never knew because I saw in them an image of God  in their simple, ordinary love.   Lord, keep us all in your loving care.

And now before you go, here’s a hymn to Mary that tells us about Nazareth. Click here.

And here are the Mass readings for this feast. Click here.

(Below, I’ve included some information from America magazine that describes some of the important points of this document if you’re interested that goes beyond the spiritual interests of this blog. I do suggest you look it over.)

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

From America magazine on Amoris Laetitia

1. The church needs to understand families and individuals in all their complexity. The church needs to meet people where they are. So pastors are to “avoid judgments which do not take into account the complexity of various situations.”  People should not be “pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for personal and pastoral discernment” . In other words, one size does not fit all. People are encouraged to live by the Gospel, but should also be welcomed into a church that appreciates their particular struggles and treats them with mercy

2. The role of conscience is paramount in moral decision-making.  “Individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the church’s practice in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage” The church has been “called to form consciences, not to replace them” (37). Yes, it is true, the Pope says, that a conscience needs to be formed by church teaching. But conscience does more than to judge what does or does not agree with church teaching. Conscience can also recognize with “a certain moral security” what God is asking. Pastors, therefore, need to help people not simply follow rules, but to practice “discernment,” a word that implies prayerful decision-making.

3. Divorced and remarried Catholics need to be more fully integrated into the church. How? By looking at the specifics of their situation, by remembering “mitigating factors,” by counseling them in the “internal forum,” (that is, in private conversations between the priest and person or couple), and by respecting that the final decision about the degree of participation in the church is left to a person’s conscience.  (The reception of Communion is not spelled out here, but that is a traditional aspect of “participation” in church life.) Divorced and remarried couples should be made to feel part of the church. “They are not excommunicated and should not be treated as such, since they remain part” of the church.

 4. We should no longer talk about people “living in sin.” In a sentence that reflects a new approach, the pope says clearly, “It can no longer simply be said that all those living in any ‘irregular situation’ are living in a state of mortal sin.” Other people in “irregular situations,” or non-traditional families, like single mothers, need to be offered “understanding, comfort and acceptance.” When it comes to these people, indeed everyone, the church need to stop applying moral laws, as if they were, in the pope’s vivid phrase, “stones to throw at a person’s life”

~ excerpted and simplified from America magazine “Top Ten Takeaways from Amoris Laetitia by James Martin, S.J. April 5. 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We remember the Holy Innocents ~ Rachel mourns for her children ~ still

The memorial of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs ~ Thursday, December 28, 2017

( and Day 3 of Kwanzaa) 

Herod the Great had been elected “King of the Jews” by the Roman Senate in 40 B.C. When the Magi told him of the new King of the Jews, Herod could think of nothing but wiping out the threat to his throne. The Holy Innocents are those children who were brutally murdered by Herod as he sought the Christ Child. At his hand, the Church receives their first martyrs, thereby this feast three days after the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  

And because of  Herod’s act of terrorism among his own people, Joseph had to fly by night to Egypt with Mary and the young child Jesus. Thus, Jesus himself became a political refugee.

Today we think of other innocent children ~ some killed as the unborn are or have been. We also think of those innocent ones so tragically gunned down two years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.  

Then there are children who are trafficked as boy soldiers or as prostitutes or as child laborers.

And what of the horror of children caught in war as in Aleppo as the rescue of the five-year-old child searchOmran Dagneesh went viral last year, while thousands ~ millions of others remain nameless.  

images-3And what of the child immigrants in our own country who are held in overcrowded, unhealthy detention camp for years without legal representation. 

And what of the Daca children? What will their fate be? They have known no other country but ours.

In Ramah is heard the sound of moaning,

of bitter weeping!

Rachel mourns her children

she refuses to be consoled

because her children are no more 

    ~  (Jer 31:15).  

You know, the infant Jesus was threatened by violence himself.  So, the Christmas story is not all sweetness and light. The Wise Men inquired of Herod where the newborn King of the Jews was born. Seething with diabolical fury because of his jealousy, Herod orders the massacre of all who resemble Jesus in gender and age.

 The Mass texts proclaim . . .

The Innocents were slaughtered as infants for Christ;

spotless, they follow the Lamb and sing for ever: Glory to you, O Lord.  

I would think the same is true for our own dear innocent children ~ not that all of them are Christian, but that will in their own way sing for ever.  

Psalm 124, also from today’s Mass, states,

“Our soul has been rescued like a bird from the fowler’s snare.”

 So, for many, an eternal life of happiness and a reunion with loved ones is indeed a consolation.  

And I conclude today with prayers from our dear Pope Francis  . . .

Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity.  Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become child soldiers.

As we fix our gaze on the Holy Family of Nazareth as they were forced to become refugees, let us think of the tragedy of those migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation of human trafficking and slave labor.    

Lord Jesus, as a little child you were a refugee yourself,

and a political one at that.

Thousands of innocent children were murdered.  

Millions of children die in our world because of other despots.

Because of cruelty and brutality and bullying goes on and on.

Lord, I have no idea what the future holds for children in our own country.

Please watch over them all and keep them safe.

And please watch over all children who are refugees,

or in war-torn countries or who are migrants on the road

searching for a better home. 

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Now before you go, here’s a Christmas carol for you that reflects on the strife of the world.  Click here.

And here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

The Feast of St. John the Apostle and evangelist ~ the luminous lover

The Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist ~

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 ( and Day 2 of Kwanzaa)

The symbol for St. John among the four Evangelists is the eagle because he soared high above the others into the mystical heights of contemplation in his writings, especially his majestic final discourses—meditations on the mysterious communion of the Father and the Son (chapters 13-17). He shares a familiarity with  Jesus as a privileged witness to the Lord’s Transfiguration, the agony in Gethsemane and he reclined with his head upon Jesus breast at the Last Supper. And his epistles are simple, luminous lessons on God’s love.

 St. John is said to have traveled to Asia Minor, where he died at Ephesus around 100 CE. Jesus commended his Mother into John’s care at the foot of the Cross, and it is said that he brought her to Ephesus with him.

He is the Evangelist of the Incarnation. He proclaims  the glory of the Word coming forth from God to take on human flesh and dwell in our midst. Here’s an excerpt from the prologue from his Gospel . . .

In the beginning was the Word,

and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

 

All things came to be through him,

and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life,

and this life was the light of the human race

the light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

And the Word became flesh

and made his dwelling among us,

and we saw his glory,

the glory as of the Father’s only Son,

full of grace and truth.

 

Now I’d like to share with you a famous Christmas Day homily by St. John Chrysostom (c. 386  – 407). His name means “Golden mouth” because he was known as an eloquent preacher. He was Archbishop of Constantinople and an important early Church Father. He is known for his preaching and public speaking and his denunciation of abuses both ecclesiastical and political leaders, and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.

Here’s the excerpt as it’s very much in keeping with today’s feast . . .

Behold a new and wondrous mystery.

My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony.  . . . . He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised. [We are raised.]

What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment.

The Ancient of days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infant’s bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.

For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit that He may save me.

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Spirit, we offer all praise, now and forever. Amen.

 

With the words of these two great holy men, dear Lord,

I am speechless.

O how they both loved you!

And dear St. John, on your Feast Day,

help me through the words of your holy Gospel,

and your devoted love to your beloved Lord’s holy Mother

to love my Lord a little more really,

a little more dearly each passing day of my life,

and let me share that love through my own writing and speaking

to my readers and those I meet every day.  

And please help my readers do the same.  

Through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

And since this is only the third day of Christmas for those of us in liturgical churches, here’s the beautiful ancient Christmas hymn, Lo, how a rose e’er blooming. Click here. 

And here are today’s  Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here. 

With love, 

Bob Traupman 

contemplative writer

 

 

St. Stephen’s Day ~ Heroic Love (and the first day of Kwanzaa)

IMG_0884The Feast of St. Stephen, December 26, 2017

Today, December 26, is the second day of Christmas, and the first day of Kwanzaa (African-American).  May we learn about our own and each other’s celebrations.  It’s easy, just Google the word Kwanzaa.

For us Christians the mystery of Incarnation (God-becoming-human in the person of Jesus Christ) needs more than one day to celebrate.  Here is Day Two:  The Catholic liturgy centuries ago placed the feast of St. Stephen, the first martyr, the day after Jesus’ glorious feast to show that our faith is not sentimental but requires of us heroic, sacrificial love.  Stephen fearlessly witnessed in court (the word martyr means witness) his conviction that Jesus is  the Messiah, knowing that his testimony was his death sentence.

Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.       (Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59)

How heroic is our love, Lord?

Do we abandon people — our friends, our lovers, our spouses, our children when the going gets rough?

And I ask you please to be with those who have been abandoned by loved ones, Lord, such as children of alcoholic parents or kids who have gone through the foster care system and may never feel Your Love because of it, or those who have to prostitute themselves in order to survive.

Are we only concerned about our own survival?  What’s best for Number One — Me?

Are we willing to sacrifice for the sake of a friend in need — for You, Lord?  

Are you, elected officials willing to show any kind of heroic love for the sake of  our American people ~ black or white, rich or poor, Muslim, Christian or Jew, North, South, East or West, Wall Street or no street? 

And what about the DACA children? What about the Rohingya  people who are stateless and suffering untold violence and immigrants and refugees the world over?

Allow me the grace to witness to your love for me, Lord, to share it when I can.

My life has meaning only when I share the love and kindness you have shown to me.  Allow me the grace to do that this day, St. Stephen’s Day and every day. Stephen, a young man,  has always been one of my heroes, Lord.

We need such heroic love in our time, Lord, such heroic young people.

Inspire young women and men to break through the wall of their isolation and be there for their friends in the hard times ahead.

Teach us to never abandon a friend, Lord.

And let my readers know that you love them, Lord,  and You will never abandon them either ~ no matter what.

Now, before you go, here is Joan Baez singing Bob Dylan’s song Forever Young, that I referred to a young man whom I wished to aspire to heroic love.   Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. Click here.

And here are all of today’s Mass readings, if you’d like to reflect on them.  Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

The Birthday of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – 2017

  While all things were   

      in quiet silence,

And when night was

      in the midst of

   her swift course,

Your Almighty Word,

           O Lord,

Leaped down out

of your royal throne,

                            Alleluia! 

     ~ And the Word became flesh

and lived among us.  John 1:14

Dear Friends,

Our waiting is over.

Christmas is here!

And I’m thinking of some close friends as I write this. (With names changed.)

There’s Beth who was 92 last July—alone and lonely because her sweetie from high school and 67 years of marriage took off for heaven.  And yet she has more dates out than I’ve had in five years!

There’s my dear friend Gerry and his wife Martha who’s been struggling with cancer for more years than I can remember; she’s one courageous woman!

And there’s Dorie who sends me at least one Facebook messenger every day, though I don’t have the heart to tell her I don’t read them, though I send this blog to FB, I hardly follow my friends there. (Social media doesn’t much interest this contemplative—though they tell me I should promote my writings more.)

There’s my neighbor Linda who doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas because she misses her own dear one; I wish she would let me provide her some company and lift her spirits.

And there’s 99-year-old Father Gene who has been so kind to me over so many years—understanding my health limitations when few others would. He just lost his sister with whom he was very close.

And there’s my furry friend Shoney, who isn’t very well himself.  But dogs don’t know that; they just love you and keep you company and are always faithful.

I’m a contemplative, pretty much. I stay home. I have no TV. And I seldom even listen to music. I just crave silence. It’s just me and Shoney and Jesus in at home.

This Advent ha been very special for me, and I hope through what I’ve shared with you that it has been for you as well.  I’d like to summarize some of the fruit of my Advent prayer.

Pope Benedict wrote one meditation on John the Baptist that resonated with me . . .

The desert regions were places of temptation, but also where a person acquires a sense of his own poverty, because once deprived of material support and security, one“ understands that the only reference point is God himself.

I’ve had several intense desert experiences in my life, and I’ve been going through one as I approach Christmas this year. These have been experiences of not only physical poverty, but emotional and spiritual as well.  So I asked the Baptist to help me rely more intensely on God, remembering the many times material support and security eluded me.

And actually, this Advent—and this hardship experience—has brought me closer to Christ than I’ve been in years! Why? Because I’ve had to rely on him more radically as I resolve my external affairs.  Relying on Mary’s “Fiat; that is, her eager willingness to respond to the angel I try to make it my own: ”Be it done unto me according to your Word.”

And on the Feast of St. John of the Cross, (Dec. 14th), I took in his words . . .

“Preserve a loving attentiveness to God with no desire to feel or understand any particular thing concerning him.”

And finally, besides the Magnificat  liturgical magazine that I use for the staple of my prayer, I also want to share a bit of one of my “favoritist” meditations of all time from a book of Advent readings called Watch for the Light.  It’s entitled Shipwrecked at the Stable by Brennan Manning. I’ll let him bring us to our final countdown to our Christmas celebration.

The shipwrecked at the stable are the poor in spirit who feel lost in the cosmos, adrift on an open sea, clinging with a life and death desperation to the one solitary plank.  Finally they are washed ashore and make their way to the stable, stripped of the old spirit of possessiveness in regard to anything.

He relates a story of Francis of Assisi talking to his companion Brother Leo. Accept being shipwrecked—and this is my advice also to you, dear reader, on this Christmas Day:  Renounce everything that is heavy, even the weight of your own sins.  See only the compassion , the infinite patience, and the tender Love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Your guilt and your reproach disappear into the nothingness of non-attention, St. Francis told Brother Leo. You are no longer aware of yourself, like the sparrow aloft and free in the azure sky.  Even the desire for holiness is transformed into a pure and simple desire for Jesus.

And I think that’s where I am, this Christmas 2017.

The shipwrecked at the stable are captivated by joy and wonder. The pearl of great price is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

I believe, says our author, that the single most important consideration during this important season is intensity of desire. Paraphrasing the late Rabbi Abraham Heschel, “Jesus Christ is of no importance unless he is of supreme importance.”

Manning concludes by suggesting that perhaps many of us are in the same position as the Greeks in chapter twelve of John’s Gospel who approached Philip and said, “We would like to see Jesus.”

The question addressed to each one of us this Christmas is:  How badly?

And so, open your heart, dear friend.

Take some quiet time today and tomorrow to prepare yourself and be ready receive the Lord into your heart as if for the first time—in humility and the joy and wonder.

Try to be receptive to God as Mary was. She just said, a simple Yes! to the angel:

”I am the servant of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word.”

I pray so very earnestly that you receive the special gift God wants to give you.

Cleanse your heart of resentments—of preoccupations with unnecessary things.
Ask yourself what is the real meaning of life—your life.

For me the answer is to love as best I can, as meager as my life may be in the sunset years of my life.   But I suppose I have some wisdom and compassion to share arising from my own crosses over the years.  But it’s all gift; it’s all grace!

So, I hope you have received something nourishing and sweet in the posts I’ve been able to create this Advent. They are my gift to you.

May you have a wonderful Christmas with your those you love.
And if your Christmas is lonely with no one really special with whom to share, know that you have someone here who understands and who reaches out to you across these pages. I will remember each of you and your intentions and your needs in my Christmas Masses.

Be sure to open yourself to the holiness—
the wholeness—the peace of this Christmas.
It is there beneath all the craziness and hype.
It is yours if you seek it and ask for it.

Dearest Lord Jesus,
O how wonderful you are to me—to us.
I feel like a child again for you said
that we must be childlike before the Father
and you called him Abba—Daddy.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus,
for my priesthood, for my home
for the food on my table,
for my little furry friend Shoney,
for you my readers and so much more!
Please bless my friends and readers,
especially those who have missing a loved one this year,
or who are lonely or sick or in need in any way.
We ask you this, Jesus, always,
in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Now, before you go, here is a very special Christmas music video for you. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

If you would like the Scripture readings for any of the several Masses for Christmas. Click here.You’ll find a list of the Vigil, Mass at Night, at Dawn, etc.; click on the one(s) you want.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Mary’s Dilemma

The Fourth Sunday of Advent~ December 24, 2017

Well, in Luke’s Annunciation story, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive a child who will be the Son of God. She questions the angel, he reassures her and then she goes off to visit her cousin Elizabeth who’s with child in her old age whom the same angel had appeared to her husband Zack (for short).  Now Zack was struck dumb (couldn’t speak) till the baby was born because he, unlike Mary, did not believe.

Sounds like a soap opera, eh?

Well,  there’s more.  The angel left Mary and Joseph with quite a dilemma. you see.  She lived in a small village  (Nazareth) and her belly was growing and a small scandal was growing even bigger!

Now Joseph her husband, according to the Gospel of Matthew (1:18-24) was greatly troubled. And “since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.”

But voila! . . . enter an angel who appears to Joseph one night in a dream and tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary his wife into his home.

And as we know the angel, (probably ol’ Gabe again) said his piece and off he went and didn’t help with the dilemmas and hardships for this couple.  ( Some good he was, eh?)

+ They had to travel to Bethlehem while Mary was pregnant, apparently on a donkey ~ not exactly in comfort on rough Palestinian roads.

+  And when they got there, as you remember, there was no room for them in the inn and so we have the Christmas story that children have re-enacted year-after-year ever since.

+  And according to Matthew, they had to flee for their lives into exile into Egypt to escape the violent designs of Herod.

O Joseph, gentle, silent Joseph,

what was it like in your home at Nazareth?

We know you taught Jesus your trade as a carpenter.

Was he a good one?  Where you proud of his work?

Were you able to put good food on the table?

Have a nice party with friends and family once in a while?

Were you and Mary very affectionate?

Was Jesus at all mischievous?

Did you live long enough to see Jesus go out into his ministry?

We honor you, dear Joseph, as our Protector and friend!

Pray for us!

And now, before you go, here’s the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with a glorious rendition of Handel’s “And the Glory of the Lord. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

And here are the readings for today’s Mass. Click here.

Advent Day 18 ~ O Rising Dawn! ~ and the winter solstice

Thursday of the Third Week of Advent

“O Rising Dawn, splendor of eternal Light and Sun of Justice:

come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.”

                                                                                                                       ~ O Antiphons

The Winter Solstice, will happen today at 11:28 am, EST, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and celebrated by our pagan brothers and sisters.  I do not use the term pejoratively; they are the peoples who are reverently close to the earth.

Actually the date of Christmas was taken from the winter solstice because it marks, in the northern hemisphere, the beginning of the ascendency of the sun.  It connotes the phrase from John 3:22-30 in which John the Baptist says “He must increase, I must decrease.”  And the Baptist’s feast, likewise is near the summer solstice on June 24th.  Thus, the church did not hesitate to borrow from the existing pagan customs.  Christmas trees, for example, came from Germany as well as evergreen wreathes that symbolized eternity.  Again, these were pagan customs.

And did you know that in the middle ages they lit real candles on their Christmas trees?  How ’bout that?

Some Christians today misunderstand our “cross-enculturation”  of things that once had a pagan origin and sometimes berate those of us who celebrate Christmas.

Here’s my prayer for today . . . .

O John, in your humility,

you knew there was One to come ~

that you were only to prepare the way for Him.  

      Help us to prepare our hearts for Him this Christmas.

Help us to prepare a way for Him in our world today.

COME LORD JESUS!

Now before you go, here’s a terrific music video of Tiny Tim’s “God bless us, everyone” from Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, composed and sung by Andrea Bocelli. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.

And here are today’s Mass readings. if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.

With Love,

Bob Traupman,

contemplative writer

What wondrous love is this?

Wednesday of the third week of Advent 

O Come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear,

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel!

Emmanuel, they tell us you are “God-with-us.”

Where are you, Emmanuel?

Are you here?

Are you here in the messiness of our lives?

Can you really ransom us from our captivities,

our slaveries-to-addictions, our hatreds and grudges and jealousies

that eat us up and spit us out?

Our guilts, our “coulda, shoulda, wouldas — our druthers and regrets?

Our lethargy, our hopelessness, our slumber, our rage?

O Israel!  O America!

Do you want Emmanuel to come?

Do We want you to?  (Do I?)

Many languish in mourning, Emmanuel

in exiles made by Wall Street and homelessness and sickness

and loneliness and selfishness.

Many a young heart yearns / aches for direction and meaning and love.

Prisoners waste away.  Such a waste of young lives!

Will you ransom their hearts, and souls, Emmanuel?

~ our hearts and souls?

Will you change our justice system to be truly just?

Will you truly rain down justice as the psalmist says?

Yes, O come, Emmanuel!

Be God-with-us!

Even though we can sometimes hardly be with ourselves.

Captivate us, inhale us with Your love.

Dazzle us with hope and new life and possibility.

Yes, Emmanuel!  We believe you will come.

Maybe not today or tomorrow.

You will transform the secret yearnings of our souls.

We will dance and sing and embrace You and each other

because you came among us, Emmanuel.

You ARE with us, Emmanuel.

You are LOVE ITSELF!

If only we could ~ would ~ see You, right in front of us ~ with us.

Then, would we ~ could we ~ embrace You ~ open our hearts to you!

Because of You our being becomes “being-in-love!”

We rejoice! We give thanks! We believe!

Come, Lord Jesus!  Yes, Lord Jesus, come.

Brothers and sisters, this Christmas may each one of us give thanks

— and receive again in a new way

such a precious, wondrous love,

such a wonderful gift.

Here is a YouTube presentation of the powerful hymn sung by Steve Green  “What wondrous love is this? Be sure to  turn up your speakers and enter full screen. 

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

Enjoy and have a wonderful day!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 17~ Depressed or lonely at Christmas? (and Hanukkah Day 7)

O come, thou dayspring, come and cheer

Our spirits by thine advent here;

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

O Antiphons

Tuesday of the third week of Advent  

There sometimes can be a lot of depression swirling around at Christmas.

People can feel lonelier because we’re expected to be cheerier and we just don’t feel it.

This blog is meant for us to pray for, notice and reach out to these folks.

Let’s be with those who have lost a loved one and still miss them.

With kids who are shuffled back from one parent to another to “celebrate” the holidays.

With soldiers far away from home or their families at home without them.

And so, may we pray:

There are sometimes dark clouds in our lives, Lord.
Pierce the gloominess of our lives with Your very own Light.
May we allow You to dawn in us this day.
May we be ready for Your dawning in a new way in our lives this Christmas.
May this celebration of Jesus’ birth bring meaning and joy in the midst of our worries and concerns.
And may we BE the dawning of  your light and love and justice
in our homes, our neighborhoods, our jobs, our world.

And there are dark and ominous clouds over our world too, Lord.
Pierce our greed and hate, fear and complacency and violence with hope, Lord.
May we pray earnestly for a new dawn for our beloved country and our world.
May we BE the dawning of  your light, your love and your justice in our land.

Lord Jesus, come!
We need Your Light and Your Love more than ever.

 And before you go, here’s ~ “O thou tellest glad tidings to Zion ” from Handel’s Messiah.  Click here. Be sure to turn up your  speakers and enter full screen. 

And here are today’s Mass readings Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer