Advent Day 3 – The wolf and the lamb – the owl and the lion

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

Isaiah dreams of a bright future for us. He shows us a wonderful vision: the animals lead the way to peace  . . .

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb . . . .

The calf and the young lion shall browse together,

with a little child to guide them.

The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,

together their young shall rest:

the lion shall eat hay like an ox

The baby shall play in the cobra’s den – Isaiah 11:5-10.

Let’s muse about the animal’s leading the way to peace, especially during this anxious time as we await the inauguration of the new president and the changes that will bring about, celebrating the holidays during the pandemic, and awaiting the vaccine for Covid and how that will affect us as even more people come down with the virus and die from it. Yes, today’s first reading from Isaiah is  Good News for us today!

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah River and a young lion from the Serengeti in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a fun story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas? (Be sure to use the < back arrow at the top left-hand corner of your browser so that you can come back to this page.)

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) demonstrated his curiosity about his fellow creatures of all sorts.

I have stories of him with turtles and little doves with broken wings and bunny rabbits and ducklings on our walks around our condo.

Think about this . . .

What can I do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which I live – at home, at work, at church, in my neighborhood, in our world?

Behold a broken world, we pray,

Where want and war increase,

And grant us, Lord, in this our day,

The ancient dream of peace.

Bring, Lord, your better world to birth, 

Your kingdom, love’s domain,

Where peace with God and peace on earth,

And peace eternal reign. 

         ~ Timothy Dudley Smith / 1985

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading my Understanding the Seven Advent Themes to get a sense of why we want to spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help you deepen your spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian. Click here

I will be posting each day of Advent, (God willin’ n’ the creek don’t rise.

You can make yourself  mini-retreat for five minutes a day and have the best and most meaningful Christmas ever!
It’ll relieve your stress.  Calm your nerves.  Put a bounce in your step and a smile on your face.  And it’s free! 
So, what are you waiting for?  

And now, for your listening pleasure here’s an excerpt from the great sixties movie musical “Godspell to get you in an Advent mood. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.

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

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

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Be Watchful! Be Alert! You don’t know when . . .

The First Sunday of Advent 2020 ~ November 29, 2020

Be Watchful! Be Alert! You don’t know when . . .

It’s kinda interesting. Advent begins at The End instead of The Beginning. The End of Age and the end of our lives. This blog and  today’s readings would have us think about these things.

At a certain point in life, the deep desires and cravings of our heart reach a point of eruption in us. Yet at the same time comes the awareness that we cannot bring about what we want—we don’t have inside us what’s needed to fulfill and satisfy our longings. And so, with our infinite yearnings we turn to the Infinite and cry, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down.” Our experience of helplessness before our boundless human need moves us to ask for fellowship with God’s Son Jesus Christ our Lord. The nature of our desire assures us as we enter into Advent that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift as we wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. “The Lord of the house is coming” “Be watchful! Be Alert!”   (the December 2017 Magnificat liturgical magazine)

And so, the Church begins a New Year this Sunday as we turn from the Cycle A readings of the Gospel of Matthew to the Cycle B readings of the Gospel of Mark—the shortest of them all. And as tradition has it, we begin with “the End”—a warning of what is to come. The Gospel is from 13:33-37—just before Mark’s account of the Passion.

“Jesus said to his disciples: Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come” (13:33).

Be Watchful: Jesus will urge this again during his agony in Gethsemane.

A Fifth Century writer: If each person is ignorant of their own day of judgment, they will contend to be baptized at their final breath, as a result of which they will enter eternity bereft of good works—saved by faith but unable to manifest its works. [ . . .] Jesus adds all but saying, “The reason I did not tell you the day is so that, not knowing you might watch and pray and keep awake, showing that if people knew when they were going to die, all would be virtuous only at that hour.”

Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning” (13:35).

 The Lord may come in the evening as he does at the Last Supper. He may come at midnight as he does in the garden of Gethsemane when he was handed over by his betrayer. He may come when the cock crows—the time Peter denies him. Or he may come in the morning: the time of the Resurrection.

May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping” (13:36).

Mary Healy: “Jesus warns that he may come suddenly and find them sleeping—which is just what happened during the agony in Gethsemane (Mk 14:3-41). To be asleep signifies spiritual laziness and self-indulgence (Rom 11:8); to be awake is to be alive in faith (Rom 13:11; Eph 5:14).

St. Augustine: “It is clear that God takes no pleasure in condemning. His desire is to save, and he bears patiently with evil people in order to make them good. Do you despise him and think his judgment a matter of no account because he is good to you, because he is long-suffering and bears with you patiently, because he delays the day of reckoning and does not destroy you out of hand?”

“What I say to you, I say to all: ’Watch!’” (13:37).

The Scripture-scholar William Barclay would summarize this by saying Jesus’ words here tell us a couple of things about the doctrine of the Second Coming.

~ It tells us it contains a fact we forget or disregard at our peril.

~ it tells us that the imagery in which it is clothed is the imagery of Jesus’ own time and that to speculate on it is useless, when Jesus himself was content not to know. The one thing of which we can be sure is that history is going somewhere; there is a consummation to come.

~ It tells us that of all things to forget God and to become immersed in earth is most foolish. The wise person is one who never forgets that the need to be ready when the summons comes. If we live in that memory, the end will not be terror, but eternal joy.

The first reading from Isaiah is a wonderful piece of prose . . .

 You, LORD, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever.

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,with the mountains quaking before you, while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for, such as they had not heard of from of old.

No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful; all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind. (Isaiah 63)

Yes, we should be  . . .
prepared ~ watchful ~ alert ~ aware ~ awake
knowing what’s happening
. . .  but so many of us are asleep, Lord.
We tend to not recognize the signs of the times.
We often dull our senses; stay in our own little worlds,
choosing not to care.

We’re often complacent, Lord.
Many don’t want to be bothered pondering or praying about the real issues.
We’re into Cyber Monday bargains and wowed by the latest iphone.

But deep down we’re fearful and anxious, caused by threats
. . . of Covid 19, of losing our job having a lump in our breast 
losing health insurance because of Congress’ latest whim.Global warming / gun violence /
corruption in our government
China/ Iran / ISIS / cyber war.

“Stand erect,” the Gospel says.

Face your fears with courage.
Don’t fear the terror of the night (Psalm 91.)
That’s what Advent faith is all about . . .
Being vigilant.  Being prepared for anything life throws at us.
Standing proudly humble or humbly proud ~ no matter what.

That’s the kind of faith in life ~ in You, my God, that I seek.
I want it. I ask you for it.
Today I consent to it.
Amen.  So be it!

+ + + + +
There will  be fresh blog posts  (God willin’ n’ the creek don’t rise) almost every day of Advent till Christmas.

Why not make this Christmas season a special one for you ~ a meaningful one?

Now before you go, here’s a song to get you in an Advent mood Click here. enter full screen and turn up your speakers.  (But before you do that, notice that there is a < arrow of some sort on the top left-hand corner of your browser. Be sure to click on that once you’ve viewed the first video, so that it will bring you back to this page so you can view today’s readings on the link below it.)

(Here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.

With love,
Have a wonderful Advent! I’ll see you again on Monday morning.
Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

Advent Day 2 ~ Swords to plowshares ~ Guns to roses

The price of peace paid by the Prince of Peac
The price of peace paid by the Prince of Peace

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Dear Friends,

There’s a powerful sentence in Isaiah that has been quoted by statesmen seeking disarmament throughout the Twentieth Century . . . .

They shall beat their swords into plowshares

and their spears into pruning hooks.

Nation will not take up sword against nation,

nor will they train for war anymore. — Isaiah 2:4.

All of my adult life my writing and my prayer has been against war —

Viet Nam / the Balkans / the Gulf  War / Iraq / and now this never-ending war in Afghanistan.

Pope Paul VI, speaking before the United Nations General Assembly made an impassioned plea:

“No more war! Never again war!”

Pope John Paul II said the Iraq war was a defeat for humanity.

And Dwight David Eisenhower, the great general of Word War II and President of the U.S. said: “When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.” 

Pope Francis in his New Year’s message at the beginning of this year wrote: 

 Peace, a journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial

Peace is a great and precious value, the object of our hope and the aspiration of the entire human family. Our world is paradoxically marked by “a perverse dichotomy that tries to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust, one that ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any form of dialogue.

Advent is a time to wish for peace ~ pray for peace ~ work for peace.

The Christmas story is about peace.  One of the titles of Jesus is “Prince of Peace as you see in this image on this side altar in the Anglican National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

But we become cynical about peace.

Many of us have our private little wars that we engage in every day with a sibling or a friend or co-worker.

Let’s “Practice peacefulness”, as a friend put it to me once.  Let’s stop the gossiping, giving people a chance. Try  to be kinder to the folks you interact with today.

The legend of St. Christopher carrying a child across a stream on a stormy night invites us to greet every human person as if they were Christ himself.

Think thoughts of peace.  Be peace.  At least try it today, the second day of Advent.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,

a voice that speaks of peace,

peace for his people and his friends.

and those who turn to him in their hearts.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;

Justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth

and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper

and the earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him

and peace shall follow his steps.

Psalm 85

And if you’re new to this Advent blog, or want to refresh your understanding of the season, I recommend reading >> Welcome to Advent to get a sense of why we spend four weeks preparing for our Christmas celebration and how it can help us deepen our spirituality. It can work whether you are a Catholic or just interested in your spirituality.  (In order to return to this page, you’ll need to use the back arrow <  on the top left-hand corner of your browser.)

Before you go here’s a great music video from people gathered from around the world ~ “Let there be peace on earth”. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. 

And here are today’s Mass readings; it’s the Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. (Wish everybody you know whose name is Andrew a “happy name day!”   Click here.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

What will 2019 bring for us?

St. Augustine, Florida at Christmastime  bob traupman 2007.

NEW YEAR’S DAY 2019

(and the seventh day of Kwanzaa)

Where are we, this New Year’s Day 2019, my friends?

Are we better off than we were a year ago?

What will 2019 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 . . . .

Good politics is at the service of peace

1. “Peace be to this house!”

In sending his disciples forth on mission, Jesus told them: “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you” (Lk 10:5-6).

Bringing peace is central to the mission of Christ’s disciples. That peace is offered to all those men and women who long for peace amid the tragedies and violence that mark human history.The “house” of which Jesus speaks is every family, community, country and continent, in all their diversity and history. It is first and foremost each individual person, without distinction or discrimination. But it is also our “common home”: the world in which God has placed us and which we are called to care for and cultivate.

So let this be my greeting at the beginning of the New Year: “Peace be to this house!”

2. The challenge of good politics

Peace is like the hope which the poet Charles Péguy celebrated. It is like a delicate flower struggling to blossom on the stony ground of violence. We know that the thirst for power at any price leads to abuses and injustice. Politics is an essential means of building human community and institutions, but when political life is not seen as a form of service to society as a whole, it can become a means of oppression, marginalization and even destruction.

Jesus tells us that, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35). { . . . .}

Political office and political responsibility thus constantly challenge those called to the service of their country to make every effort to protect those who live there and to create the conditions for a worthy and just future. If exercised with basic respect for the life, freedom and dignity of persons, political life can indeed become an outstanding form of charity.

3. Charity and human virtues: the basis of politics at the service of human rights and peace

Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”.This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.

In this regard, it may be helpful to recall the “Beatitudes of the Politician”, proposed by Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyễn Vãn Thuận, a faithful witness to the Gospel who died in 2002:

Blessed be the politician with a lofty sense and deep understanding of his role.

Blessed be the politician who personally exemplifies credibility.

Blessed be the politician who works for the common good and not his or her own interest.

Blessed be the politician who remains consistent.

Blessed be the politician who works for unity.

Blessed be the politician who works to accomplish radical change.

Blessed be the politician who is capable of listening.

Blessed be the politician who is without fear.

{  . . . . }

7. A great project of peace

In these days, we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in the wake of the Second World War. In this context, let us also remember the observation of Pope John XXIII: “Man’s awareness of his rights must inevitably lead him to the recognition of his duties. The possession of rights involves the duty of implementing those rights, for they are the expression of a man’s personal dignity. And the possession of rights also involves their recognition and respect by others”.

Peace, in effect, is the fruit of a great political project grounded in the mutual responsibility and interdependence of human beings. But it is also a challenge that demands to be taken up ever anew. It entails a conversion of heart and soul; it is both interior and communal; and it has three inseparable aspects:

– peace with oneself, rejecting inflexibility, anger and impatience; in the words of Saint Francis de Sales, showing “a bit of sweetness towards oneself” in order to offer “a bit of sweetness to others”;

– peace with others: family members, friends, strangers, the poor and the suffering, being unafraid to encounter them and listen to what they have to say;

– peace with all creation, rediscovering the grandeur of God’s gift and our individual and shared responsibility as inhabitants of this world, citizens and builders of the future.

The politics of peace, conscious of and deeply concerned for every situation of human vulnerability, can always draw inspiration from the Magnificat, the hymn that Mary, the Mother of Christ the Saviour and Queen of Peace, sang in the name of all mankind:

“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever” (Lk 1:50-55).

From the Vatican, December 8, 2018

Francis

And so I pray  . . . .

Give us hope, Lord, as we begin this New Year and a new season of politics,

We ask your blessing on our country and indeed all the nations of the world

as we seek peace, mindful of our limitations, our pessimism,

our unwillingness to reach across walls and aisles and borders

to build new alliances and friendships.

Give us a realistic hope that we might be a little kinder,

a little less self-centered,

a little more willing to go the extra mile to truly make this world our “common home.”

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 Fourth Day of Christmas ~ The Feast of the Holy Innocents ~ Rachel mourns for her children ~ still (and Day 3 of Kwanzaa)

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs ~ Friday, December 28, 2018

( 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 Parkland, Florida.

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 or in Syria or the Tsunami in Indonesia or the wildfires in California.

images-3And what of the child immigrants in our own country who are held in overcrowded, unhealthy detention camp for years without legal representation that caused two tragic deaths of 7-year-old Guatemalan boy followed by the death of an 8-year-old Guatemalan girl in the custody of Homeland Security.

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.

We mourn for the children who have been gunned down,

or sick and died unattended while under the protection of Homeland Security.

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 Second Day of Christmas ~ St. Stephen’s Day ~ Heroic Love ~ How heroic is your love? (and the first day of Kwanzaa)

The Feast of St. Stephen ~ First Martyr, December 26, 2018

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 the second day of Christmas:  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’ve been abandoned by loved ones, Lord ~ children of alcoholic parents or kids who have gone through the foster care system and may never feel Your Love 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 or the immigrant children lost in the system? 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.

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 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 – 2018

  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!

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 hasn’t been as fruitful as others for me, yet I hope  what I’ve shared with you it has touched you in some way.  Politics got in the way, I think in the aftermath of the election. I get bombarded with political  emails with organizations that I got involved with and now I find disturbing my peace. But my Advent came just two days ago with one of Pope Benedict’s writings (as Cardinal Ratzinger). I’ll quote it here. The gospel that day was the story about the angel Gabriel appearing to Zechariah in the temple, announcing that he was to bear a son in his old age. He was struck dumb because he didn’t readily accept the angel’s message But Benedict has a different take on it, rather than as a reprimand . . . .

What was Zechariah actually praying for?  He was old and his wife was barren. When the angel promised him a son, he rejected this as something absurd that he did not expect from God., as something that as it were he did not include among the things it made sense to pray for.  From that we can see clearly that for a long time he had no longer prayed for a son but for more than this, for something greater, for what the Bible calls the consolation of Israel, the redemption of the world.

Quite obviously Zechariah belonged to those for whom Luke says when describing the righteous Simeon that they were looking for the consolation of Israel (Lk 2:25). He says the same of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. When Zechariah was young he too would certainly pray for a son. Then the time when he became unimportant and irrelevant to himself and no longer asked for himself; but nor did he lapse into bitterness and fatalism as if the world no longer concerned him and God who had not responded to him, could be indifferent to him. His life had become freer, greater, and richer.  He had trusted in God not less but more, and prayed to him for the divine gift of the salvation of the world . . . . 

Prayer must become a way for ourselves in which gradually we learn to see more. It must not end in us shutting ourselves off in our egoism.  Through prayer we must become freer, take ourselves less and him more seriously, and thus find our way to the real point of prayer: to ask God for the salvation of the world ~ even today. And I might add our country, as I’ve pleaded for years.                                                           (Magnificat liturgical magazine ~ December 2018 issue, p. 288.)    

I am closing out my seventy-fifth year and in the middle of my fiftieth year of priesthood, so perhaps you can understand how Pope Benedict’s thoughts resonated with me, especially since my priestly life has in recent years been mostly interior and I prefer to live in silence in my home most of the time. I do hope as I grow older that I, too, can be content to have a “freer, greater and richer life” if I can deepen my prayer once again.

And so, dear friend, it’s time.

Open your heart.

Take some quiet time over the weekend 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.  You see, Christmas is really not about giving gifts, but about receiving the one that Jesus want to give you

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.
May we feel like children 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 are 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 ~ The power of visiting a friend

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 23, 2018

Today’s Gospel story is a beautiful one. When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a child, she was given a way to confirm that message: to go visit her “kinswoman who has also conceived in her old age.” (Lk. 1:36)  . . . .

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Our Scripture scholar friend William Barclay says, this story of Mary’s visit is “a kind of lyrical song on the blessedness of Mary. Nowhere can we see the paradox of blessedness than in her life. To Mary was granted the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. Well might her heart be filled with a wondering, tremulous joy at so great a privilege. Yet that very blessedness was to be a sword to pierce her heart. It meant that some day she would see her son hanging on a cross.

“To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same to me a crown of joy and a crown of sorrow. The truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task. God chooses us to use us.”  (Barclay / Luke p. 17.)

I know. As many of you know, I have struggled with manic-depressive disorder that has affected my priestly ministry at points throughout my life. My priesthood has been a joy and a cross.

And now back to Mary and my prayer to her this Sunday . . . .

Dearest Lady,

what courage you had for a young girl!

You travelled to visit Elizabeth;

they said she was your cousin.

What did you want to know?

But you found a surprise, didn’t you?

The baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy.

There was your confirmation.

Mary, so often we need, confirmation

for the decision we have to make.

You believed that the word that was spoken

to you would be fulfilled.

Mary, Jesus, help us to have that kind faith,

that kind of trust.

I praise and thank you, dear Lady

for bringing Love into our world.

And now before you go, here’s the ancient Christmas carol “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” with a slide show. Click here. 

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

And before we go, I’d like to call your attention that the Winter Solstice will arrive on Friday, December 2ist in the northern hemisphere at 5:23pm. Did you know that the Church chose the date of Christmas to coincide with it?  Remember what John the Baptist said? “He must increase; I must decrease.”  The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the sun begins it’s ascendency again. The Summer Solstice is near the time of the birthday of John the Baptist (June 24th) when the sun begins on it’s waning path again in northern hemisphere. How ’bout ‘dat?

Acknowledgment: William Barclay / The New Daily Study Bible / The Gospel of Luke

Westminster  John Knox Press / Louisville KY / 1975, 2001

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

 

The shaking reality of Advent

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Thursday of Third Week of Advent

O Key of David,
opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom:
Come and free the prisoners of darkness!

~ The O Antiphon for December 20th

Father Alfred Delp, S.J. aptly wrote two years after I was born about being shaken up, as so many of us feel in our world today, unsettled as we are by political events in our own country at times. He wrote with his hands in shackles in his prison cell in Berlin, just before he was hanged for high treason in 1945, three months before the war ended. His ashes were scattered on the winds; Hitler wanted him forgotten. (His writings were smuggled out of prison.) In a widely published article, The Shaking Reality of Advent, he wrote:

There is nothing we modern people need more than to be genuinely shaken up.

Where life is firm we need to have a sense of its firmness;

and where it is unstable and uncertain and has no basis, no foundation,

we need to know this too and endure it.

We may ask God why he sent us in this time,

why he has sent this whirlwind on the earth,

why he keeps us in this chaos where all appears hopeless

and dark and why there seems to be no end to this in sight.

I found Father Delp’s message considerably consoling in the light of what our country and our world situation is in at the moment. He goes on . . . .

Here is the message of Advent:

faced with him who is the Last,

the world will begin to shake.

The world today needs people who have been shaken by ultimate calamities and emerged from them with the knowledge and awareness that those who look to the Lord will still be preserved by him, even if they are hounded from the earth. [ . . . . ..]

 If we are inwardly unshaken, inwardly incapable of being genuinely shaken,

if we become obstinate and hard and superficial and cheap,

then God will himself intervene in world events and teach us what it means to be placed in this agitation and be stirred inwardly.

Remember, that Father Delp was talking about the disastrous times of war-torn Germany in 1945.

God of mercy and compassion,

our times are very much like the days Father Delp was writing about.

We, too, need to be shaken from our complacency.

Even today, hatred  and bullying and fear has increased among our people.

We need you, Lord!

Come among us once again and shake us up to the reality of your Justice!

And as the O Antiphon shouts:

Free the prisoners of darkness among us ~  

The poor, those imprisoned unjustly, those without healthcare,

and so so many more crying out to us, pleading for mercy and our love.

     Come Lord Jesus and do not delay!  

And now, before you go, here’s an appropriate selection from Handel’s Messiah, His Yoke is easy and His burden is light. 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  

Alfred Delp, S.J. The Shaking Reality of Advent / translated by the Plough Publishing Company

 

 

Advent Day 19 ~ 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 “shoulda, wouldas, couldas—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,

loneliness and selfishness.

Many a young heart yearns and 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 we?

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.

Shower 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!

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