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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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The shaking reality of Advent

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

 

 

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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

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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

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Advent Day 17 – The Burning Bush of the World

st. augustine beach, florida

Advent Day 17 ~ Monday of the third week of Advent

Advent themes are all about waiting for light to shine in our darkness.
For we who are Christians we await, Jesus, Yeshua, who is for us the Light of the World.
We prepare a place for him to shine in our own hearts this day.
We invite you to search out your own inner meaning whatever that might be.

During Hanukkah earlier this month we honored our Jewish brothers and sisters with these words
that appear in the Catholic liturgy just before Christmas, one of the magnificent O Antiphons:

O Adonai and Ruler of the House of Israel,

you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush

and on Mount Sinai gave him your law.

Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us.

And my prayer . . .

O Adonai*, we need you in our world more than ever!

You appeared in the burning bush long ago.

I remember this awesome sunrise over the ocean when I lived  some  years ago on St. Augustine Beach, Florida.

I’m reminded of the old sailor’s maxim:  “Red at night, a sailor’s delight; red in the morning, sailors take warning.”

Come with your refiner’s fire and burn your way into our hearts.

so we can prepare the way for the Messiah to come into our lives,

into our homes,

our workplace and marketplace,

our neighborhoods

and, most especially into our beloved country that so badly needs You right now,

and our waiting world!

Come Lord Jesus!

______

What are  the “O” Antiphons?”

They are one of the most cherished collections of our ancient liturgical chants called the seven “O Antiphons” that are sung each of the seven nights before Christmas at Evening Prayer. They have beautiful chant melodies.  I am using some of them interspersed this week before Christmas, like the one above.

If you’re interested in learning more about them, here’s a website that has information and  recordings of the chant melodies of all seven. (Skip the first half and scroll ALL the way down to the bottom for the O Antiphons themselves.  You will notice little speaker signs next to each one. If you click on those little music notes, it will play for you the actual chant melody for each O Antiphon.

But don’t miss this slide show of  O come, O come Emmanuel for your reflection.

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

* Adonai is one of the names the Jewish people use for God, meaning “Lord God Almighty.”

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

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Advent Day 16 ~ Rejoice! The Lord is near!

Third Sunday of Advent ~ Sunday December 16, 2018

In our Catholic liturgical calendar this is “Gaudete Sunday — the Sunday of Joy.    We’re more than 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, and so . . .

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 4-7)

In our Gospel today we hear again about John the Baptist.  The Jews were sure that God favored their nation; that God would judge other nations by one standard but the Jews by another. They felt they were safe from judgment simply because they were Jewish. John told them otherwise: that life, not their heritage was God’s standard of judgment, according to Scripture scholar William Barclay.

Barclay tells us that there are three outstanding things about John the Baptist’s message.

(1) He demanded that people should share with one another. It was a social gospel that declared that God would not be pleased if someone had too much while others had too little.

(2) He told people not to leave their jobs, but to work out their salvation by doing those jobs as they should be done. Let the tax collector be a good tax collector and a soldier be a good soldier.

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.” (Lk 3:10-15)

In other words, when people came to the Baptist and asked, “What should we do?” he gave them the most reasonable, commonsense reply. He says, in effect, “ Live reality. God is asking you to be faithful to the ordinary circumstances of your life. He will make himself evident there.

And with that advice, “ the people were filled with expectation, asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.” All because John made them attentive to their own hearts in a way that neglected nothing of their humanity. They can exult with their own heart because they can now trust that the desires of their heart are not illusions. They have no anxiety for the Lord is near as the next moment and whatever it brings.                         (Magnificat liturgical magazine, December, 2018, ed.)

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people. 

(3)  (Barclay) John was quite sure that he himself was only the forerunner. The King was still to come and with him would come judgment. The winnowing fan was a great flat wooden shovel; with it the grain was tossed into the air, the heavy grain would fall to the ground, but the chaff would be blown away. And just as the chaff was separated from the wheat so the King would separate the good and the bad.

Thus, John painted a picture of judgment and it could be faced with confidence by those who had looked after their neighbor’s needs and faithfully done their day’s work. (Barclay / Luke pp.44.2)

John was simply the sign-post, pointing the way toward Christ.  He was faithful even unto imprisonment and death and content 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, the meager way I have served him.  

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

     Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.  Amen.

And before you go, here is a 1970-ish John the Baptist and company from Godspell singing a spirited Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!  Click here. 

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