Advent Day 18 ~ Depressed or lonely at Christmastime?

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 Christmastime.

People can feel lonelier because we’re expected to be cheerful and we may just not feel any Christmas joy, but instead may feel plain down in the dumps or like drowning in a bottle.

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

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

Let’s also remember kids who are shuffled back from one parent to another to “celebrate” the holidays; that’s got to be a terrible thing to do to children.

And what about service men and women away from their families and others who have to work long hours and come home to an empty house.

And so, may we pray:

There are sometimes dark clouds in our lives, Jesus.
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 Your 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 now 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

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 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

Advent Day 14 ~ Rejoice! The Lord is near!

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Third Sunday of Advent

In our Catholic liturgical calendar this is “Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Joy.    We’re half way through Advent and the vestment color is Rose, rather than purple, the color of penitence.  So, we see the celebrant in rose vestments.

This is supposed to be a joyful time of year but . . . some us don’t see things clearly, or can’t speak up for ourselves or are disabled.  some of us are afraid / disillusioned / confused / depressed / lonely / weak-kneed and in need of a good old-fashioned infusion of hope and joy, so . . .

Today’s first reading from Isaiah 61:1-2.10 sums up the joyful, hopeful mood of  this third Advent Sunday: 

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the LORD,
in my God is the joy of my soul;

In the Gospel of John today, the Jews send priests and Levites to ask John the Baptist if he is Elijah or the prophet.

He tells them . . . “I am the voice crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord.”   

John was simply the sign-post, pointing the way toward Christ.  He was faithful even unto imprisonment and death to simply be the messenger.

My spiritual director some time ago suggested I pray to John the Baptist, and so I do so now . .  .

O John, how lovingly you served your Lord.

I am dumbfounded at my own lack of humility,  

my refusal to serve, my paltriness when I do serve.  

You inspire me, even in my later years to wait upon my God to act in my life,

to wait for him to do new things.  

Thank you, John, for your service-unto-death;

ask for me the grace, the strength and the courage to also serve my Lord unto the end of my days.  

Amen.

Here are today’s Mass readings, if you’d like them. Click here.

To get you in a joyful mood I have a surprise for you ~ the hallelujah Chorus sung in a shopping mall during lunch by opera singers mingled with the munchers. This is truly amazing and lots of fun.    Click here. Turn up your speakers and enter full screen. Turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

(With our joyful gratitude to Alphabet photography.)

And here are all the of the Readings for today’s Mass, if you’d like those as well. Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

WHAT WILL 2014 BRING?

St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime © bob traupman 2007.  all rights reserved.
St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime © bob traupman 2007. all rights reserved.

Where are we, this New Year’s Day 2014, my friends?

Are we better off than we were a year ago?

What will 2014 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? Get sick? Be able to pay my mortgage and bills?  

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

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

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.

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.

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

St. Stephen’s Day – Heroic Love

Today, December 26, is the second day of Christmas,  the first day of Kwanzaa (African American).  May we learn about our own and each others’ 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, as a result 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?

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 will never abandon them either ~ no matter what.

Now, before you go, here is Joan Baez’ Forever Young that I referred to a young man that I wished to aspire to heroic love.   Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for a beautiful slide show accompanying the song.  Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Mary’s Dilemma

IMG_1504Fourth Sunday of Advent

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 20 – What wondrous love is this?


Friday 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 let 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,

Enjoy and have a wonderful day!

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer




Advent Day 19 — Our vulnerable God

Our Lady breast feeding Jesus — Shrine of our Lady of La Leche — St. Augustine, Florida

Thursday of the third week of Advent

Luke tells us the charming story that God became incarnate ~ enfleshed ~ as a little vulnerable baby boy.

It truly is amazing to really think about that.

Even if you’re not ready to accept the story as true, the meaning of that story can really grab you if you let it.

But, sadly, so many of us celebrate Christmas all our lives without really reflecting on the implications of the story for our lives.

Jesus was not only vulnerable in his birth, but also in his death.

He chose to stand before Pilate, bound, scourged and silent.

He chose to say nothing or do anything in his defense.

Vulnerable indeed.

What’s the message here?

St. Paul gives us a clue:

“When I am powerless then I am strong” ~ 2 Cor. 12:9-10.

How can that be?

I think about that a lot because I was powerless a lot dealing with depression.

Some days I wasn’t able to get out of my chair.

Jesus is showing that in our vulnerability,

in our weaknesses,

in our poverty of spirit,

in the brokenness of our lives

we will find God.

Jesus,

You came into this world as a little child

as needy as any other baby.

You sucked at Mary’s breast 

and received your nourishment as God from a human mother.

You became one of us and with us.

You accepted our fleshiness, our misery, our joys and sorrows.

You came down to our level to raise us up to the dignity of God.

Thank you, Jesus!

Come into our world this day.

Teach us to accept our own vulnernabiity as something positive.

Teach us to recognize Your face in the most vulnerable among us

for they can be our most radical spiritual teachers.

They know.

Help us understand, Lord.  Help us truly understand.


Now to get us in the mood here is a charming YouTube rendition of  The Little Drummer Boy. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 18: Depressed or lonely at Christmas?

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

Wednesday 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 now, before you go, enjoy this little holiday concert by the Air Force ensemble. Click here. (You have to scroll down a little bit until you see the video.)Be sure to turn up your  speakers and enter full screen.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer