Today is the forty-eighth anniversary of Roe v Wade.
In light of the fact that we are in the midst of a pandemic which may be peaking, and in view of the heightened pressures that law enforcement officers and others are currently facing in and around the Capitol, this year’s March for Life will look different.
The march, which was scheduled for January 29th will be largely live-streamed.
When it began in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade in 1973. the March for Life turned the nation’s conscience toward the particular horror of abortion and the taking of human life that it entails. The four decades since have seen millions of deaths from abortion in the United States alone.
In each of those deaths, the world lost a unique and irreplaceable person. (Planned Parenthood and others insists in calling it a fetus, not an unborn child or a person.) Doesn’t that ring rather ugly to you on your tongue?
We live in a world that does not recognize that and sacredness of every person’s life on this planet is sacred and inviolate. It doesn’t understand this concept. In fact, it doesn’t understand the word ‘concept’ for the most part. (Many of us would do so for our pets, but not the unborn.)
But let’s stand down, stop the condemning and judging and seek light and understanding, forgiveness and wholeness, kindness and compassion for young women in desperate situations who have no one to turn to and who may themselves be abandoned.
My sense is that the sin of those who are quick to condemn others is as great as those who bring violence and bloodshed into their very own bodies.
We ALL have much for which to ask forgiveness. We ALL need to ask God to increase our capacity to love and turn away from condemnation. Mr. Biden made a very strong plea for that in his inaugural address.
The ones Jesus loves the most are the lost sheep of this world. He would reach out to those who have had abortions!
The enemies of Jesus are those who justify themselves, the self-righteous, the hypocrites, the ones who know nothing of compassion, those who would not think of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes but would lash out with their tongue ~ sometimes by those who minister the Body of Christ at the altar!
St. John has said no one is without sin! He also said that “Anyone who hates his brother or sister is oneself a murderer.” (1 John 3:15)
Are Christians only concerned with abortion? Do we champion the cause of life only until it’s born?
With an assault on people with terminal illnesses, special needs, the poor, migrants and refugees, minorities, and others, the call of the Christian to defend and advocate for life is real. Questions about capital punishment, euthanasia, war, torture, climate change, and other life issues are pressing and need clear answers.
President Trump was hailed for placing three pro-life judges on the Supreme Court but at the same time conducting filthy squalid, over-crowded camps for immigrant children and not being able to find their parents. That’s not exactly pro-life. And his anti-mask policy and failure to lead in a Covid epidemic is not exactly pro-life either as it has caused more casualties in our country than World War II. And Mr. Trump for some unknown reason revived the death penalty! Why?
And at the same time, even our Catholic bishops are knocking President Biden for his stand on abortion that is not extreme at all. We are seeing Democrats becoming pro-life now.
In an attempt to provide an answer to these questions, some have promoted a “consistent life ethic,” a type of seamless garment theory that was once taught by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. Contemporary versions of the theory, therefore, have retrieved the rich doctrine of solidarity from the Catholic tradition.
In answer to the question about the Christian’s specific mission to serve and advocate for life, subsidiarity shows us the obvious: Before we can advocate about any other life issues, we must have life itself. The first and fundamental right that must be argued and defended, therefore, is the beginning of life.
And so, we must oppose abortion without confusion or uncertainty. It stands as the primary and perennial issue for the person who cherishes and respects life.
Then a solidarity compels us to care for the poor, the migrant and refugee, the person with special needs, and others who are helped by our attention and service. Such a solidarity urges us to work for peace, champion the rights of minorities, oppose capital punishment, and seek social harmony however we’re able.
None of these issues, however, are equal to abortion but all of them are connected to the dignity that abortion offends and they call for our intervention and action.
The above explanation can help the Christian who wants to be a true brother or sister to other people, or who wants to accompany and serve those who suffer, without being entrapped in only one issue.
And now I begin my prayer as I always do , , , ,
I praise you and thank you for the gift of life
and of love that you share with me ~ with us.
On this Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children,
please allows us not to judge anyone who has had an abortion,
but to reach out with compassion to all with love and understanding.
And now, before you go, here’s the penitential hymn “Remember Your Love” Click Here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.
And here are the Mass readings for today, if you’d like to reflect on them. Click here.
And P.S. Don’t worry about the aborted children; the innocent ones will shine like the stars in God’s kingdom.
The tragedy is that they will never set foot on this beautiful planet.
Tomorrow, we will inaugurate the 46th President of the United States of America—Joseph R. Biden, Jr . . . .
Some folks are rejoicing in his victory, while others were contesting his election to the point that many stormed the United States Capitol building to stop the solemn process of certifying the electoral college votes. They were protesting that the election was stolen from Donald Trump and horrifying damage was done to the Capitol building and they threatened the very lives of Senators and Representatives. Much of this was instigated by a far-right organization called QAnon, who it seems was winning the influence of the president even in his phone calls to election officials in Georgia and the disruptors at the Capitol.
And because of that, much of the city of Washington is even now lockdown mode for fear of further violence. The image you see above with thousands of people at a previous inauguration won’t be repeated for Mr. Biden’s tomorrow for two reasons.
First, Mr. Biden, unlike his predecessor, does not want to draw large crowds because of the pandemic and become a super-spreadder of the virus. And secondly, because the FBI and the District police have been warned of the possibility of further violence. The inauguration itself and all of its festivities will be live-streamed with very few in live attendance.
So, I’ve musing about what his inaugural address might be like. In addition to giving us a glimpse of his agenda, I’m sure he’ll make an effort to bring our nation together.
I came across some ideas while reading the alumni magazine of my seminary—Theological College of the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. from the spiritual writer Megan McKenna . . .
Every time we bring hope into a situation, every time we bring joy that shatters despair, every time we forgive others, and give them back their dignity, every time we listen to others and affirm them and their life, every time we speak the truth in public, every time we confront injustice, we are practicing resurrection. (Resurrection is about bringing new life where there’s decay or listlessness or despair.)
I expect to hear words such as these in Joe Biden’s inaugural address tomorrow. He’s already shown that this is the kind of man he is. Joe has had to face personal tragedy in his life in the car accident that killed his first wife. On December 18, 1972, a few weeks after the election to the Senate, Biden’s wife Neilia and one-year-old daughter Naomi were killed in an automobile accident while Christmas shopping. Neilia’s station wagon was hit by a tractor-trailor as she pulled out from an intersection. Their sons Beau and Hunter survived the accident and were taken to the hospital in fair condition, Beau with a broken leg and other wounds, and Hunter with a minor skull fracture and other head injuries.
And then he lost his son Beau who was the highly successful State Attorney for Delaware to cancer in 2015. But it only made Joe Biden more empathetic. He became sought out to deliver eulogies for Democrat and Republican leaders, and no leaders, all across the country. That’s the kind of president we are about to have for as long as God will allow us to have him. He’ll be the age that Pope Francis is now at the end of his term ~ 82 ~ and Francis is still going strong!
Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear words such as this—healing words, words of hope, inspiring words, uplifting words, from the next President of the United States? That he would be able to listen?
Perhaps we will. I hope and pray we will. (I was surprised when Ms. McKenna asked to become friends with me on Facebook.)
One of the roles of a president is to inspire the people of the country. Yes, to bring about resurrection. To show us the way forward. To offer hope. To bring life!
It is up to the President to lead us in the work of healing. Should it not be one of his first orders of business to bring us together? To reach out to those with whom he disagrees and be magnanimous? To bring us together again to be a president for all Americans—whites and blacks, Christians, Jews and Muslims, men and women, the poor and the rich; Latinos, LGBT folks, immigrants, and so many more?
I must say I’ve already been inspired by the men and women he has selected for his team. I just hope that Congress and the Senate will work with him for the good of the country and the world.
Joe Biden has remained a devout Catholic all of his life, going to Mass most Sundays, taking his children when they were young, often seen with his rosary beads wrapped around his fingers. Some Catholics, including friends of mine, condemn him for receiving holy communion because of his liberal stand on abortion, though his bishop Francis Malooly of Delaware is supportive of him. (Malooly and I were in the seminary together and I pray for him whenever I celebrate Mass.) Some other bishops and priests have actually refused communion to Joe when he came up to them in the communion line ~ something that Jesus would never do! The National Catholic Reporter noted that it has been exactly 60 years since we had the last Catholic president, John F. Kennedy.
I’d also like to add a couple of program notes about Mr. Biden’s inauguration. He hasn’t chosen a cardinal, like the one who will be his pastor in Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, but a long-term friend, Jesuit Father Leo O’Donovan, former president of Georgetown University, will deliver the invocation.
The priest, a friend of the Biden family, was the main celebrant at the funeral Mass for Biden’s son Beau in 2015 at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Wilmington, Delaware.
And he will also have a five-minute poem read. Only three other presidents have done so.
Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, will be making history during the inaugural ceremony.
“The poem isn’t blind. It isn’t turning your back to the evidence of discord and division,” she said, though the poem will still focus on unity and hope — two points the Biden inaugural team asked the young poet to expand on.
Gorman, who’s Black and grew up in Los Angeles is a graduate of Harvard University and became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She was handpicked by incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and will be just the sixth poet to read a piece at an inauguration, according to the Academy of American Poets.
According to the literary organization, only three presidents have had a poet read at their swearing-in ceremony: President John Kennedy in 1961, President Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, and President Barack Obama 2009 and 2013. Gorman will add her name to that list, which includes Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Alexander and Robert Frost.
So, let’s sum up then. . . .
From St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians for all of us . . . .
Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.
Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.
Then God’s peace which is beyond all understanding, will guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, Brothers and Sisters, your thought should be directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous, or worthy of praise.
Live according to what you have heard me say and seen me do.
Then will the God of peace be with you. (Phil. 4:6-9)
And now my prayer . . . .
Almighty God, Creator of the Universe,
We thank you for the 241 years we have been a strong, vibrant country.
We’ve been through wars—one that almost sundered our own land, and many of our young have fallen so that we could be free.
We’ve been through droughts and depressions, hurricanes, and all sorts of tests to our national will and just now the desecration of our own Capitol sanctioned by our very own leaders in an act of insurrection; but we’re still more or less in one piece, dear God.
And now, we come to another moment of transition of power in our land.
Almighty God, we ask your blessing on Joseph R Biden, Jr. and Kamala Harris as they assume their office tomorrow..
Please open them to your guidance.
Send upon them your Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Wisdom,
the Spirit of justice, peace, and unity for all in our land.
And finally, dear God, we ask your blessing on all the peoples of our great country,
from east to west, from north to south, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours!
And finally, dear Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris . . .
The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace! ~
And please grant Donald J. Trump and his family peace as well.
And now, before you go, here’s a thrilling version of ‘God Bless America’ by Whitney Houston Click Here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.
On this coming Monday, January, 18, 2021, we will honor a great American ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was 39 when he was martyred on April 4, 1968.
On that fateful day, Dr. King took an assassin’s bullet that he knew was waiting for him at any time. It came while he was leading a strike for sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee. He inspired and led the Civil Rights movement that acquired great change in our land. This man is one of my mentors. I was in his presence only once in 1963 when I was in the seminary in Baltimore. Our Rector arranged for some of us to hear him speak when he came to Baltimore. Today, I have an image of him near my desk in my home.
He was a man who committed himself to nonviolence like Mohandas Gandhi, and also Jesus my Lord who died on the Cross for us, that Dr. King and I believe is the only way that justice and peace can be achieved. Dr. King inspired ordinary folks, black and white, to stand up for their rights and to sit down and accept the vicious blows of police and others in their racial hatred. His organizers trained them to have the courage to go to jail for what they believed.
On, the day after his assassination on April 4, 1968, I formally entered the service of the Roman Catholic Church as an ordained deacon. I was a seminary student at the Theological College of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
The shrill sound of sirens all over the city mingled with the ancient chant melody of the Litany of the Saints as I lay prostrate on the floor of our chapel with my brothers to be ordained. As I looked up to this man and his ideals of justice and peace and freedom, I also wanted to absorb them into my body and soul, I sucked in a deep breath and pledged my life to Christ.
Today, in this land of America, the freedoms and ideals that Thomas Jefferson told us all men are created equal and have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness are seriously in danger of slipping away from us. Just this week we witnessed the desecration of our Capitol instigated astonishingly by the President of the United States. Mobs of people broke into the Capitol and into the House of Representatives and the Senate chambers and threatened their members and ransacked some of their offices, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. Their intent was to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden. Their insistence was the election was stolen from President Trump..
Two days ago, on Wednesday, January 13, 2021 with a vote of XXX, the House of Representatives drew up articles of impeachment for ‘High crimes and misdemeanors”in act of “incitement of insurrection”. “He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of government. He thereby betrayed his trust as president, to manifest injury of the people of the United States,” according to the documents of the House of Representative impeachment of Donald J. Trump.
Racism that was covert for centuries before it reared its ugly head and been condoned when it should have been severely condemned by President Trump, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the very home of Jefferson’s great University of Virginia, two years ago, in the bombings of Jewish Synagogues, in Muslim Mosques and violence in El Paso deliberately against brown people.
The number of race-based killings and other incidents in our country in the last two years has been astounding — some by officers of the law. It has taken our young people to lead the way to and advocate for real change against gun violence led by the courageous leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
O God of Justice,
raise up men and women in our day who will inspire us and restore us to the original ideals of our nation.
Enable us to wake up from our slumber and see what we have lost, and safeguard our freedoms.
Give us the strength and courage to pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to win this spiritual revolution of justice, peace and love that now lies before us in 2021. We ask you to watch over President Trump as he leaves office that he may face up his life and it’s consequences. We also ask you bless President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming administration and our whole country that we may heal, come together and start anew in this new year of 2021.
We pray to you, God, for You are the God who cries for justice for your children and who still hears the cries of those who know and realize they are poor without You.
We pray ~ for only You can can restore us to the ideal of freedom and justice FOR ALL. To You Glory and Honor and Power, now and forever, Amen!
May we call each other more than a generation later to the principles of Nonviolence Dr. King instilled in his followers.
They were trained to sit down on the ground and take blows of the police because they knew that Nonviolence was a more powerful weapon than guns and bombs.
Dr. King held no public office. He persuaded us by the power of his words and the depth of his conviction.
And his willingness to give his life for what he believed in ~ no matter what.
Is there anything you are willing to give your life for?
I continually ask myself the same question and pray the answer is Yes! (Or at least I hope so.)
It has been a generation since Dr. King delivered his most powerful and eloquent speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963 that led subsequently to President Lyndon Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act into law on June 2, 1964, I offer this video reflection from the History Channel on Dr. King’s “I have a Dream speech at the Lincoln Memorial, followed by some powerful excerpts from that speech. Click here.
Then follow with this excerpt from his speech. Click here. Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen.
In urging his supporters to see the routine act of certifying the election results as an illegal affront against him and against them, Mr. Trump helped set in motion hours of violence and chaos that continued as darkness fell on Wednesday. (The New York Times)
It all started this afternoon with with this tirade by the president.
I was heartbroken today. For our country. For Donald Trump. For the members of the Congress who had their sacred space desecrated today and where afraid for their very lives as an angry mob invaded not only their outer chamber but even ravaged some of their offices and took selfies in Mike Pence’s presidential chair.
I was so devastated as I read what the President was screaming at the crowd to fire them up and send them to the Capitol, ending in violently storming the into the building and interrupting the most sacred proceedings of our democracy ~ the certification of the new President! The violence involved a killing inside the Capitol to further desecrate it.
Our country may not soon recover from this act of betrayal, this coup d’état as the whole world looks on in dismay and disgust.
It only happens in Third World countries.
President George W. Bush condemned what he called “mayhem” and a “violent assault on the Capitol.”
“This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic,” he said in a statement. “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement.”
“Insurrection could do grave damage to our nation and reputation,” he added. “In the United States of America, it is the fundamental responsibility of every patriotic citizen to support the rule of law.”
(As I’m composing this blog, in the background, I’m listening to the Senate certifying the election of Mr. Biden @ 12:38 am and some members are still objecting to the certification!
I’d like for us all, including the President, to reflect on these words from the first epistle of St. John . . . .
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.
If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen.
Now let’s think about that. “Whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
I’m thinking of the president at the moment and praying for him , because I believe that he needs a lot of love. He didn’t get it as a child and he has closed himself off from it (it would seem) all of his life. He’s a fear-laden man. And therefore he wants to punish others. Lashing out at others, He doesn’t know how to love or receive love. I pity his wife and his children; they seem to act in the same mold.
Sadly, he has done a great deal of harm and this last act today was a treasonous act of insurrection that he clearly plotted out and his mob executed. And he needs to be, for his good and for the good of his country, to be once and for all, to be held accountable.
This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
And that’s what we must do, brothers and sisters. We will have a devout Catholic inaugurated as president of the United States who attends Mass weekly and says his rosary and believes in compassion.
Now before you go, here’s a very hopeful Catholic song for you “City of God” Click Here
And you’ll be surprised how fitting today’s Mass readings are. Click here, if you’d like to reflect on them.
The Feast of the Epiphany ~
Sunday, January 3rd, 2021
Today’s feast day has two meanings. In the Roman Church we celebrate the story of the Magi visiting Jesus and offering him gifts. In the Eastern churches, they focus on the story of the Baptism of the Lord. Both celebrate the manifestation, that is, the revelation of Jesus to the whole world.
St. Paul in today’s letter to the Ephesians proclaims that
“The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” (Ephesians 3:6)
We focus on the story of the Magi in our celebration today. In the Gospel of Christmas, the angels proclaim the Good News of Christ’s birth to the shepherds, who were uneducated, poor folk. The story from Luke indicates that the gospel is to be preached to the poor.
Today’s story is from Matthew. The Magi are scholars and learned men. They discern from their study of the heavens that the Messiah was to be born in their time and they would risk the search for him and offer their treasures. The Magi represent all the peoples of the earth outside and beyond the Jewish experience. Jesus is the Christ for everyone!
This Gospel story is about darkness and light. Brilliant light and terrible, fearful darkness.
The Magi were comfortable with the dark. They knew how to find their way in the dark, because they could interpret the lights of the sky. They were adventurers ~ seekers ~ explorers.
They represent all people who are at home in the world of the intellect. All people who are willing to journey far to seek and find the truth. (Unfortunately, we live in a world where some of our leaders don’t bother with seeking truth and are afraid of science.)
The Magi went out into the night following the light, the great star which marked a singular event in human history.
They stopped to see Herod, expecting that he would welcome the light. He couldn’t; he was filled with diabolical darkness; he could not abide the light of truth. He tried to snuff out the life of the God-Man: Jesus the Light of the world.
Herod, the guy in charge, a king, was worried about the birth of a baby. Herod was powerful, and yet, as Matthew says, “ . . . he was greatly troubled ~ not unlike some leaders today.”
What was Herod afraid of? He knew that Jesus was going to make a difference in his world and was afraid that a change would mean losing the power he had. He wanted Jesus gone before any of that could happen. He liked things just the way they were, the proverbial “status quo.”
So Herod decreed that all firstborn males under two were to be killed. Jesus and Mary and Joseph would have to flee into the night to find a safe place in a foreign land, the land of Egypt. And so a shroud of violence would invade the innocence of the Christmas story. Jesus and his family became political refugees. (Remember that fact if you are inclined to quickly condemn other political refugees.)
I’d like to try to penetrate the meaning of this sacred event by sharing excerpts of two articles that really impacted my faith and understanding of this great feast.
The great 19th Century Danish philosopher-poet and theologian Søren Kierkegaard, in an article entitled, Only a Rumor, states,
Although the scribes could explain where the Messiah should be born, they remained quite unperturbed in Jerusalem. They did not accompany the Wise Men to seek him. Similarly we may know the whole of Christianity, yet make no movement. The power that moved Heaven and Earth leaves us completely unmoved.
What a difference! The three kings had only a rumor to go by. But it moved them to make that long journey. The scribes were much better informed, much better versed. They sat and studied the Scriptures like so many dons, but it did not make them move. Who had more of the truth? The three kings who followed a rumor, or the scribes who remained sitting with all their knowledge?
What a vexation it must have been for the kings, that the scribes who gave them the news they wanted remained quiet in Jerusalem. We are being mocked, the kings might have thought. For indeed what an atrocious self-contradiction that the scribes should have the knowledge and yet remain unmoved. This is as bad as if a person knows all about Christ and his teachings, and his own life expresses the opposite.
Father Alfred Delp, the Jesuit priest imprisoned and executed by Hitler in 1945, whom we recently quoted in a powerful Advent article before Christmas, The Shaking Reality of Advent concurs . . . .
The wise men. Whether they were really kings or just local eastern chieftains or learned astronomers is not important. The secret of these people is as plain as the shepherds. they are the men with clear eyes that probe things to the very depths. They have a real hunger and thirst for knowledge. They subordinated their lives to the end in view and they willingly journey to the ends of the earth, following a star, a sign, obeying an inner voice . . . . The compelling earnestness of their quest, the unshakable persistence of their search, the royal grandeur of their dedication ~ these are their secrets.
And it is their message for us and their judgment of us. Why do so few ever see the star? Only because so few are looking for it .
What are we looking for anyway? And will we find a genuine yearning so strong that neither fatigue, nor distance, nor fear of the unknown, nor loneliness, nor ridicule will deter us?
Where is our desire? Where is our risk to set out to find the meaning of our life? To find Jesus at our center? Where is our yearning? Hunger? Thirst? What star do you follow?
And so, listen to these powerful words from Isaiah in the first reading:
RISE UP IN SPLENDOR, DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD, YOUR LIGHT HAS COME.
THE GLORY OF THE LORD SHINES UPON YOU.
This feast is about a light that penetrates the most stubborn darkness of our lives.
This feast brings a Light to us all, if only we, like the Magi, would seek.
SEE DARKNESS COVERS THE EARTH
AND THICK CLOUDS COVER THE PEOPLES.
Violence seems to shroud our whole planet at times.
Some of us too are swallowed up by darkness, enshrouded by night, as happened to all of us this past year because of the pandemic.
Some of us live in dysfunctional families. That too can be terrible darkness, though we may not recognize it. We may think that yelling and screaming are quite normal.
Some of us get up and work hard, day in and day out. Perhaps it is work that we do not enjoy, perhaps even hate. Perhaps our spirits are far away from our jobs. We go to work trying to eke out a living, hoping to not be enshrouded by darkness. And because of the pandemic, so many lost their jobs or where in unemployment lines trying to apply for assistance!
And we know that there is darkness in the world. Israelis refuse to seek peace with the Palestinians.
And there’s troubles in hotspots all over the world and in our own country. People have been displaced by the wildfires in the Amazon and in California. Hate seethes deep in the souls of neighbors a few blocks away from each other.
BUT UPON YOU THE LORD SHINES
AND OVER YOU APPEARS HIS GLORY.
Don’t despair of the darkness, dear friends. Know that there is a Light that can penetrate it.
There was sadness and a thick veil of darkness over my own life for many years. I had the good sense to move to the little bit of light that I could find.
A candle flame can be as bright as a great Nova when one is looking for light.
WE need the light of God’s truth in the world today.
NATIONS SHALL WALK BY YOUR LIGHT,
AND RULERS BY YOUR SHINING RADIANCE.
And finally, dear friends, out of the darkness came the Magi bringing gifts for the Light of the World. Gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Holy Child who was the Light.
But before we can give a gift, we must ~ often in the midst of the darkness ~ open our hands and our hearts to receive the gift God would give to us. We must first receive before we can give.
Out of the darkness of your lives, you also can find gifts to give to the Lord and your family and friends.
What gifts do we bring?
Do we bring Jesus the gift of our adoration that the Magi did? The gift of our hearts?
These learned and influential people got down on their knees before this little child.
What or who receives the gift of OUR adoration and allegiance?
The world does not know how to adore God. We adore so many other things. Maybe we adore a favorite movie star or our favorite sports team when they’re winning at least, or a new sports car, a new home, a gifted child of our own.
Maybe we adore our career path, willing to do whatever it takes, even as we embrace the darkness along with it.
And so, this Epiphany Sunday, I pray . . . .
When I get down on my knees on Sunday morning,
I’ll be humbled by this story of the Wise Men who traveled from afar and fell to their knees with their gifts for you.
Please allow me ~ allow us – to be renewed in your love this day.
May we live in your Light and share your Light with our families, friends and neighbors, and, indeed, all the world!
And please, as I’ve pleaded for years and years for our country, dear Lord,
help us to remember that it is in You we trust.
and are the source of our justice,
and the reason for us to live in civility and good will.
Renew us in your justice, love and peace.
To You be glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever. Amen.
And before you go, here’s a beautiful rendition of ‘ O Holy Night’. Click Here. (Remember to click on the < back arrow on the top left corner of your browser for the three remaining items I have for you below! enjoy!
Further, if you’re interested in the star of Bethlehem, you might read this article “Synchronicity and the Star of Bethlehem” Click here.
And if you’d like an extra treat, do you remember the little drummer boy? Here he he is! Click here.
You can find today’s Mass readings at this link. Click here.
The Birthday of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ ~ 2020
While all things were
in quiet silence,
And that night was
in the midst of
her swift course,
Thine Almighty Word,
Leaped down out
of thy royal throne,
~ And the Word became flesh and lived among us. John 1:14
Our waiting is over.
Christmas is here!
My dearest Brothers and Sisters, I pause to think about you intimately at this moment. I have 397 of you on my email list and I’m aware some of you share with other friends. I also reach out to others on Twitter and Facebook. As my cursor crosses the page I’m thinking and praying for each of you wherever you are and yes, I do have one or two readers on other continents.
So on this Christmas Eve, let’s collectively think about where we’ve been this past year. It’s been a helluva ride for every one of us trying to cope with this pandemic, hasn’t it? We’re all sheltering in place and getting “cabin fever” –though many have found good things from staying at home. The grim thing is that this disease is not something to play around with. I had heard a statistic that this is has been the deadliest year in US history and I just confirmed it.
So how do we celebrate Christmas against that background? How is all this affecting your own celebration of Christmas?
I want to share with you an excerpt from one of my favorite Advent authors —Brennan Manning entitled Shipwrecked at the Stable. I shared it last year, but it has become more poignant this year. Think about the image of being shipwrecked for a moment. You’ve been to sea, and are now washed up on some beach somewhere—groggy, famished, thirsty, in rags, wondering where the h – – you are, probably struggling along with other grumbling, annoying former shipmates; in other words: Lost!
Our author begins . . . .
God entered into our world not with the crushing impact of unbearable glory, but in the way of weakness, vulnerability and need. On a wintry night in an obscure cave, the infant Jesus was a humble, naked, helpless God who allowed us to get close to him.
God comes as a newborn baby, giving us a chance to love him, making us feel that we have something to give him.
The world does not understand vulnerability. Neediness is rejected as incompetence and compassion is dismissed as unprofitable.
The Spanish author José Ortega puts it this way:
The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from fantasy and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. (Like so many of us during this pandemic!) And this is the simple truth—that to life is to feel oneself lost. The shipwrecked have stood at the still-point of a turning world and discovered that the human heart is made for Jesus Christ and cannot really be content with less.
We are made for Christ and nothing less will ever satisfy us. As Paul writes in Colossians 1:16, “All things were created by him and for him.” And further on, “There is only Christ: he is everything” (3:11). It is only in Christ that the heart finds true joy in created things.
Do you hear what the shipwrecked are saying? Let go of your paltry desires and expand your expectations. Christmas means that God has given us nothing less than himself and his name is Jesus Christ. Be unwilling next Christmas to settle for anything else. Don’t order “just a piece of toast” when eggs Benedict are on the menu. Don’t come with a thimble when God has nothing less to give you than the ocean of himself. Don’t be contented with a ‘nice’ Christmas when Jesus says, “It has pleased my Father to give you the Kingdom.”
You know, dear Readers, this is what I’ve been sharing with all my heart with you for years. To know Jesus and his heavenly Father is the sole reason for the existence for this Blog!
The shipwrecked have little in common with the landlocked. The landlocked have their own security system, a home base, credentials and credit cards, storehouses and barns, their self interest and investments intact. They never find themselves because they never really feel themselves lost. (Like so many we know in politics these days.) “At Christmas, one despairs of finding a suitable gift for the landlocked. “They’re so hard to shop for; they have everything they need.”
The shipwrecked, on the contrary, reach out for that passing plank with the desperation of the drowning. Adrift on an angry sea, in a state of utter helplessness and vulnerability, the shipwrecked never asked what they could do to merit the plank, and inherit the kingdom of dry land. They knew that there was absolutely nothing any of them could do. Like little children, they simply received the plank as a gift. And little children are precisely those who haven’t done anything. “Unless you… become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
The shipwrecked at the stable are captivated by joy and wonder. They have found the treasure in the field of Bethlehem. The pearl of great price is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
So here we are at Christmas once again.
Dear Sisters and Brothers it’s time.
Open your heart.
Prepare yourself to be ready to receive your Lord into your heart as if for the first time—in humility and joy and wonder. As you see from Brennan Manning’s wonderful story, Christmas is really not about giving gifts, but about receiving the one that Jesus wants to give you.
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. Keep your Christmas very simple this year.
And, 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. There are many more to come.
May you have a good Christmas with your those you love—even you’re not able to be with them physically present to them this year.
I will remember each of you, your intentions and needs in my Christmas Masses.
Dearest Lord Jesus,
O how wonderful you are to me—to us.
May we be like children again for you said
that we must be childlike before the Father
and you called him Abba—Daddy.
Thank you, Jesus,
for my priesthood, for my home
for the food on my table,
for my little furry friend Shoney for the time you gave him to me,
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 and those caring for them.
We ask you this, Jesus, as always,
in union with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
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.You’ll find a list of the Vigil, Mass at Night, at Dawn, etc.; click on the one(s) you want.Click here.
P. S. We’ll be back again on December 26th ~ The Feast of St. Stephen and the Twelve Days of Christmas and the celebration of Kwanzaa!
THANKSGIVING DAY 2020
In years past for my Thanksgiving blog, I made a list of some of the things for which I was thankful over the past year and have probably bored you by now with a list that hasn’t changed much at all. (I don’t tool around Ft. Lauderdale any more in my red Mitsubishi eclipse spyder convertible.) I have a red 2011 mustang hard top instead, which I am very grateful to own along with the finance company.
So I’ve reached out to some old friends and asked them to share their thoughts with me and I’ll tell you how I know them.
Monsignor Jim Fetcher is the pastor of St. Sebastian’s beachside parish here in Ft. Lauderdale and has been a friend and mentor of mine for a number of years . . .
I’m grateful that COVID-19 has given me an appreciation of people, even my “thorns,” because we’re all in this together, like it or not.”
I’ve known Mrs. Chris DiComo (and her husband Chuck) for about thirty years when I was stationed in St. Bartholomew’s parish they live in about thirty miles south of here in Miramar. We’ve kept a close personal friendship all these years . . .
“I am grateful that the Lord has seen fit to give me the strength to care for a loved one, while dealing with my own difficulties. In addition I am grateful for two wonderful sons and their wives, who are always there for me when I encounter a problem.”
I’ve known Mrs. Chris Lafser for about fifty years since my seminary years at Theological College in DC and then all the way through at different points and visiting at her home and watching her three children grow up. She and her husband Bill live in Richmond, Virginia. . . . .
“I am grateful for my family – For my loving husband, and my dear children, and now precious grandchildren. But for the last several years, I have been more and more aware of what a special gift my parents were. They showed me that they loved me, shared their faith with actions, not just words, provided structure, safety and love. They gave me confidence, encouragement, and discipline. They were humble and kind, and exemplified hospitality and charity to all. They were brave, and funny, fun-loving, and creative, hard working and generous. It is because of their love that I can believe in the loving God.”
I’ve known George Ducharme for sixty years now and he is one of my closest friends. We met at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, Connecticut and he invited me to his home for thanksgiving because I was a Floridian and, though distance is an issue, we are as close as ever. He and his partner at Communitas, Pat Beeman, work with people with disabilities all over the state of Connecticut. . . .
“Thank you for asking me to share a moment of Profound Gratitude!
For me Friday, August 21 is a special day for us! This day we (Pat Beeman and our Communitas Family) celebrated the stolen life of Richard LaPointe (age 74). I was his conservator till his death on 8/4/2020! Richard was imprisoned for 26 years for a crime he did not commit! With the remarkable pro bono work of Centurion Ministries he was exonerated and freed in 2015! He always had a smile and positive attitude for his 5 years of freedom! I am profoundly grateful to have had him in my life for 31 years! Peace and Blessings.”
I’ve known Msgr. Ray East since I was in Washington, DC in the early 1980’s. He was a young priest at the time; I was 40. I’ve always loved living in Washington. Ray and I became fast friends during that time and have been ever since. Today, he is the pastor of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in southeast Washington across the river. Ray is black and the parish is largely a poor black parish. And he wrote this magnificent piece for us . . .
“Today, as I prepare for another funeral on Saturday, I am grateful for the MINISTRY OF BEREAVEMENT in this time of COVID19. I am grateful for God’s grace poured out on those front-line hospital personnel who hold the hands of the dying and close their eyes after their last agonizing breath. I am grateful for hospice nurses who come to my neighborhood late at night. I’m thankful for police officers and medical examiners, and for funeral home personnel who come to pick up the body of a loved one who has died at home. I’m thankful for funeral directors who go the extra mile to make services affordable and dignified.
I am grateful for parishioners whose ministry involves sitting with families and patiently planning funeral liturgies. I could not pastor without those members who are always ready to usher and read and cantor and play instruments and who clean up afterwards and get ready for the next funeral. I am grateful for our deacon who always serves at the altar, accompanies me to the cemetery, and locks up the church after every funeral. I thank God for our Catholic Cemeteries personnel who help me find resources to bury the poor. I’m grateful for the un-thanked caretakers who dig the graves, cover them with earth and who keep the cemeteries beautiful. And finally I thank Our Creator for the bereavement ministry member, the hospice staff volunteer and the friend who calls the family a year later and asks: “How are YOU doing?”
I also asked two friends outside the United States to contribute as well.
I’ve known Marie Denis for the past twelve years or so since I’ve been living in this Condo Association. She’s a Canadian, living in Ottawa, and one of our “snowbirds”and a nearby neighbor of mine on the first floor when she comes south. My dog Shoney liked to go to her door to see what’s up.
‘’It is a pleasure to tell you how grateful I am to see two of my grand daughters with their little ones regularly. The four babies are 3 yrs to 8 weeks old. It’s a blessing for me and I thank God every day”