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Advent Day 6 ~ Our Lady’s Song of Justice

THE FEAST OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

December 8, 2017

This is a feast of Mary for us Catholics.  In today’s gospel, we read the story of Mary’s Yes to God, her consent to bring Jesus into our world.

I offer for your reflection the Song of Mary that Luke places upon her lips ~ the Magnificat, sung or recited everywhere in the church throughout the world each evening of the year.

And as you’ll see, it has a pretty radical message ~ if you allow yourself to think about it.

And Mary said:  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;

my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy on those who fear him in every generation

He has shown might with 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.

The hungry he has filled with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,

for he has remembered the promise of his mercy,

       the promise he made to our fathers [and mothers]

to Abraham [and Sarah and Hagar] and [their] children for ever.

+ + + +

The song speaks of lowliness ~ humility. Yet it recognizes what God does in our lives.

Look with favor on ME too, Lord.

Please ~ I need Your favor, Your grace.

Let me see (and accept) that You do good things for me, too.

Let me cry out every day:  Holy is Your name, my God!

Let Your mercy be on us and our world.

Show Your strength, Lord, the strength of Your justice.

Scatter the proud, the arrogant ones who control so much of our world.

Cast down the mighty!

Lift up the lowly!

Fill the hungry!

Send the rich empty away like the ones in Power often do to the poor, Lord.

Come to the help of Your people now, Lord!

We, too, are descendants of Abraham ~ Jew ~ Muslim ~Christian~ non-believer.

We are all Your children, Father.

To You be glory and honor and praise for ever.  Amen!

Dear Reader,

The Evangelist Luke places these words in the mouth of Mary at the very beginning of the story of Jesus.  It is the “Magnificat,” the Canticle of Mary, sung or recited by priests and nuns and monks all over the world every day of the year at Evensong.  So, it’s a pretty important text to reflect upon.

I would like you to notice how radical this message is: “Cast down the mighty.” “Raise up the lowly.”  “Send the rich away empty.”

Sounds like a pretty political message, doesn’t it?

People have been thrown into prison for saying things like that.

But these words are two thousand years old!

They’re an essential and enduring part of the Christmas story as told by Luke.

It’s a Song about Justice from the lips of Mary, the Mother of God.  About Justice entering our world.

I have sung Mary’s Song every evening for 30 years with spontaneous melodies arising from the mood of my soul of the moment.

And in that, I try to live the song!

How do you respond, dear friend?

How do you respond?  There are political messages buried in this song that are pretty obvious for us right now ~ or at any age or in any country.  If the shoe fits, wear it!

Now to thrill you and inspire you, here’s introduction to Bach’s Magnificat on You Tube.  If you scroll down the right side of the page, you will find other segments of the concert as well.  Or you can Google “Magnificat videos” and have an amazing choice, including Shubert and Mozart and John Michael Talbot Be sure to enter FULL SCREEN.  ENJOY!

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

A special notes for you:   The image above is a copy of the famous Vladimir icon. It hangs upon the wall in my living room opposite my chair where I pray and write.

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

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Advent Day 5 ~ The Feast of St. Nicholas December 6th (the man and the legend)

Advent Day 5 ~ St. Nicholas’ Feast Day ~ December 6th.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the old Julian Calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas’ life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry.

This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district. They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave. The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup. For Basilios’ parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled with grief. As the next St. Nicholas’ feast day approached, Basilios’ mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy. However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home—with quiet prayers for Basilios’ safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra. Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king’s golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children—which became his primary role in the West.

Nicholas’ tomb in Myra became a popular place of pilgrimage. Because of the many wars and attacks in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult. For both the religious and commercial advantages of a major pilgrimage site, the Italian cities of Venice and Bari vied to get the Nicholas relics. In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari succeeded in spiriting away the bones, bringing them to Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy. An impressive church was built over St. Nicholas’ crypt and many faithful journeyed to honor the saint who had rescued children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims, and many others through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession. The Nicholas shrine in Bari was one of medieval Europe’s great pilgrimage centers and Nicholas became known as “Saint in Bari.”

To this day pilgrims and tourists visit Bari’s great Basilica di San Nicola.

Through the centuries St. Nicholas has continued to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants. By his example of generosity to those in need, especially children, St. Nicholas continues to be a model for the compassionate life.

Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.

Despite various iterations handed down over the centuries, Dutch settlers brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sinter Klaas, to America towards the end of the 18th century. As their tradition goes, Sinter Klaas rode a white horse and left gifts in wooden shoes. This story merged with the British character Father Christmas, who dates back at least as far as the 17th century. Sinter Klaas was eventually Americanized to “Santa Claus.”

The rituals and fantasy surrounding Santa Claus became fixed in the modern American imagination with the publication of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore in 1823. Better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” the poem established Santa’s physical appearance (plump and jolly), his mode of transportation (a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer), and his method of toy delivery (down the chimney) for generations to come.

Now that I’ve got you in a holiday mood, (sort of) yet since this is Advent we want to keep Christ in Christmas. This goes contrary to our world that insists that it’s a “Holiday” season.  Here’s a great Christmas song that illustrates the point from a group that calls themselves (get this) ACLU.  You’ll want to turn up your speakers and enter full screen for this one! Click here.

 

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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 also chastises us for our idolatry and unfaithfulness to God and encourages us to be our best selves.

But today 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 peace and harmony today.

About the animal’s leading the way to peace.

(I have a Christmas short story about an owl from the banks of the Shenandoah

and a young lion from the Serengeti  Plain in Africa leading the way to peace.

It’s a delightful story.  Why not download it and save it for close to Christmas?

My puppy Shivvy (of happy memory) demonstrated a love for 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. 

What is so new about the promised “mountain of the Lord” is not that the wolf and the lamb are there, but that the wolf remains a wolf and the lamb remains a lamb and yet they dwell together without hurt in God’s kingdom. Under God’s rule, conversion and obedience do not mean the loss of identity, but the discovery of our true identity as one in Christ.

Think about it.

What can we do today to bring more harmony into the habitat in which we live . . .

– at home, at work, at church, in my neighborhood, in our world? 

In America today, we are so polarized and torn apart, this story can be an inspiration to us to help bring us together. Maybe this week you and I can make a little effort to reach out to someone across a divide and make a new acquaintance.

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 Welcome to Advent 2009 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.

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?  Come on board!  Put your email address in the hopper and you won’t have to think about it again.

And now, for your listening pleasure from Handel’s Messiah here’s “And the Glory of the Lord”  from Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony.  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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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,

If you’re new to this Advent blog,  I recommend reading Welcome to Advent 2009 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 (our) spirituality whether you are a Catholic or even a Christian.

I’d like to call your attention to yesterday’s first reading  (Isaiah 2: 1-5 ) because it’s an important Advent theme:

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 Afghanistan.

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

“No more war! Never again war!

And 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.”

And now Pope Francis has gone even further. The Vatican had a conference recently about building a world free of nuclear weapons.  Pope Francis has inferred that the global political system has become irrational, describing his decision last month to shift papal teaching away from an acceptance of nuclear deterrence as partly due to the world’s instability.

In an hour-long press conference aboard the papal flight to Rome Dec. 2, the pontiff also said it is his “convinced opinion” that the world is “at the limit of licitly having and using nuclear weapons.”

Asked what about the world situation had changed that caused him to break with the church’s previous acceptance of nuclear deterrence, and if recent saber-rattling between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un had played a role, the pope replied: “What has changed is the irrationality.”

 

Pope Francis pauses as he answers questions from journalists aboard his flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh, to Rome Dec. 2.

Comparing his November 10th statement at the Vatican conference that the “very possession” of nuclear weapons is to be “firmly condemned” to Pope John Paul II’s determination in 1982 that deterrence was “morally acceptable,” Francis said: “Many years have passed since the time of John Paul II.”

“Today, we are at the limit,” the pontiff continued. “Why? Because with nuclear arsenals that are so sophisticated today, the destruction of humanity is at risk, or at least the great part of humanity.”

Francis then told journalists he wanted to ask a question “not as part of the papal magisterium, but as a question made by a pope.”

“Today, is it licit to maintain nuclear arsenals as they are?” he asked. “Or, today, to save creation, to save humanity, is it not necessary to go backwards?”  (National Catholic Reporter / Dec 2, 2017 online edition / Joshua J. McElwee)

And now, what about you and me?

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.”

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

Before you go here’s a simple hymn about peace with a slideshow. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen.   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 2017 ~ December 3, 2017

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

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 losing our job / having a lump in our breast 
losing health insurance because Congress’ latest whim.

Global warming / gun violence /
corruption on Wall Street and government
North Korea / ISIS / cyber war.

“Stand erect,” the Gospel says.

Face your fears with courage.
Be strong!
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 from Godspell. Click here – enter full screen and turn up your speakers.  And as Tiny Tim would say, God bless you, everyone.  But that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves.

(Here are today’s Mass Click here

With love,
Have a wonderful Advent!
Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

 

 

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Giving Thanks in trying times

New blog post for Thanksgiving Day 2017

How can we celebrate Thanksgiving after a difficult year?

Let’s start with this: President James Madison in 1815 was the one who created the tradition of setting aside a day for the people of the United States to Give Thanks to the Creator for the goodness of our land. It would be good for us to reflect on what the original intent of this day was to be as, with so many things in our country we have forgotten who and what we are and that which was intended for us.

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.

No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events and of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. [ . . . ] And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.

It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assemblies unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.

Given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A. D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty- ninth.

JAMES MADISON.

Two items come to mind as I approach this Thanksgiving Day. First, how did we get so far from a President encouraging us to go to our churches to pray on Thanksgiving Day to the ACLU thrusting itself upon us to declare anathema any kind of mention of God in public speech at all!

Then there’s this: How many families turn off the football games for a moment and actually pause at the Thanksgiving table to have family members reflect on what they’re thankful for and to offer thanks for them?

How ‘bout your family? What are your traditions around the Thanksgiving table? Do you pray? (If you don’t have a ritual of sorts, perhaps you can start one. Take a few minutes and ask folks to write one thing they’re thankful for; then mix them up and have others share them instead of rushing into eating.

How many of us are really thoughtful about what we have to be thankful for this year as we approach the day. Especially about where our country is this year.

As I look over the past year, I see so much suffering in our country and throughout the world. I have a sensitive heart, I’m thinking of all those folks particularly.

We’ve been through three major hurricanes, as well as tornadoes, winter storms, and ravishing wild fires in the West. And on top of that, we’re dealing with climate deniers who are making it more difficult for those particularly on the coasts to cope with what must be done to prepare for the future. As Pope Francis has pointed out, it’s the poor who are hurt the most by Climate Change. And we’ve seen that dramatically in the sufferings of the poor in these hurricanes.

And my heart aches for so many migrants and refugees throughout the world—some of whom are stateless. And in our own country, what’s going to be the fate of the DACA young people who’ve known no other country than our own, but maybe cruelly deported anyway?

Then there’s the senseless and insane issue of gun violence.

Sandy Hook—the slaughter of the innocents / Charleston SC / Charlottesville / London –twice / Paris –twice / Orlando / Las Vegas / a church in Texas.  Where does it stop? When?

Are we at prayer as we approach Thanksgiving Day?

Are we truly thankful for what we have in this country?

+ Freedom of Speech. Some don’t want others to have that these days.

+ Freedom of the Press. That, too, could be threatened.

+ Freedom of Assembly. For the right to protest / the right to organize / the right for unions to meet.

+ The possibility of work. But not all have it or enough of it or at a living wage.

+ The possibility of a decent education. But again, not all are getting it.

+ The possibility of decent health care. Again, who can get it and who cannot?

Is America the bright beacon of a hill it once was? Do other countries look up to us as they once did?

As I think about these questions two days before Thanksgiving 2017, I feel not a little sad. Do I feel as proud to be an American as I used to be? I wish I could, but honestly, I think we’re in trouble.

For one thing, on the world stage, we are leading with threats rather diplomacy.

I feel rather embarrassed for us at times. And I can be a little afraid of the saber-rattling.

These days seem to me more like ancient Israel when they had lost their way and were unfaithful to God.

And yet—and yet, all through my own life’s struggles, I’ve learned to continue to pick myself up and sing: “I’ll go on and praise Him; I’ll go on . . . “

And so, dear friends, so will we! If we thank the Lord for the gifts He gives us day in and day out, day in and day out. And Praise Him—No. Matter. What.

Heavenly Father,

We are living in difficult times.

We do not know what lies ahead of us.

Some of us look forward with confidence;

others are fraught with fear.

But let us remember that if we look to you, Lord,

You will be our Strength and even our Joy.

Please be with us in our land today

and bless us.

Bless our President and elected officials

that they would serve all of the people of this land. 

And so, we give you thanks this day for all of the blessings

You have showered upon our country and each of us.

Please bless us most of all with peace among nations

and peace here at home.

 To You be all Glory and Honor and Thanksgiving. Amen!  

And now, before you go, here’s the great hymn “Now thank we all our God,” sung in a great cathedral. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers. And please pray along with the lyrics as you listen!

Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he as done for you, by blessing and extolling his name i song. Before all people, honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising him. (Tobit 12:6) 

Bob Traupman 

contemplative writer


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The Feast of St Francis of Assisi ~ Share the Journey!

October 4, 2017 ~ The Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

There are few in the world, including Muslims, who have not heard of this great, but so simple saint. He’s known often for his friendship with animals, particularly of the Wolf of Gubio whom he tamed . 

But today I want to talk with you about an action another Francis has taken that is quite significant.

I’m referring to Pope Francis, of course, who has launched a two-year educational, prayer-oriented, social-conscience raising program about the worldwide refugee and immigration crisis.  Francis, as so many of us know, is not afraid to go where angels fear to tread.

He’s initiating a program entitled  “Share the Journey”. The 2-year Caritas Internationalis campaign aims to promote the strengthening of relationships between migrants, refugees and communities.

It is Caritas’ response to Pope Francis’ call for a culture of encounter and to see people on the move with open hearts and minds.

The campaign was launched on Wednesday September 27th in the Vatican and by all members of the Caritas family across the globe.

Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Luis Tagle of the Philippines  stated that the campaign is asking people to see the real people behind the numbers and statistics. (Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Collectively and individually their claimed mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.)

Cardinal Tagle explains that the primary objective of the campaign is to ‘return to the Bible’, to the spirituality of the Word of God “where God always had a soft spot in his heart for the most vulnerable” and amongst the most vulnerable, he says, are the migrants, the foreigners.

“Jesus himself identifies his presence with that of the stranger: ‘when I was a stranger you visited me’ Tagle recalls.

So, with this campaign what is important, he says, is to remind the Christian world – and all of humanity – of this important message.

The Cardinal points out that the campaign of action and awareness-raising will promote the Social Teaching of the Church and it will put “a human face” on migrants who are often seen as mere numbers and statistics.

It embraces the call and the words of Pope Francis “to welcome, to protect, to promote the integral human development and to integrate” forced migrants and refugees.

“Through this campaign we hope to correct some negative myths about migrants and migration and also to address some of the roots of forced migration” as well as influence the Global Compact to make migration safe for people, Tagle says.

Pointing out that migration has always been part of human history, Tagle says recent trends force us to look at the causes of forced migration, to be aware of the violence to which many are subjected and of the new forms of slavery that have stemmed from the phenomenon.

Especially concerning, he says, is the vulnerability of young people.

“If we do not address this humanitarian crisis with the help of all governments and communities we will see generations of people with their hopes of a future destroyed” he says.

What the Church and Caritas are asking for is a change of mentality, “a conversion”.

Instead of demonizing migrants and building walls, we must create the basis for a culture of encounter which will ultimately destroy the walls of prejudice. 

How large is this crisis, you may wonder? Here are some statistics from the UN High Commission for 
Refugees:  55% of the world’s refugees come from three countries: Syria 5.5m, Afghanistan 2.5m and South Sudan 1.4m.

Who hosts them?  Europe 17% / Americas 16% / Asia 11% / Middle East 26% / Africa 30%  / Ethiopia, Uganda, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey take the most refugees.  There have been 65.6 people forcibly removed from their homes. 22.5 million are refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. The UNHCR says we are now witnessing the highest displacement of persons on record.  10 million are stateless! Meaning they are denied any kind of services: job, health care, education for their children and freedom of movement.  28,300 are forcefully removed from their homes because of conflict or persecution every day.

And yet, President Trump has reduced the immigrants to be received onto our shores to less that 50,ooo and has caused fear in the DACA young people, not knowing what their status is. And so many more of our immigrant families who’ve served here for years are being ripped apart cruelly and needlessly. 

Now, can you understand why Pope Francis has begun asked us to SHARE THEIR JOURNEY? 

Heavenly Father,

You must be very sad at the cruelty that governments

perpetrate against their own people! 

Soothe the pain of your suffering children throughout the world,

including those in our own country.

Dearest Lady, hear the cries and dry the tears of so many children.

Allow those of us who are safe in our homes

in some small way to share to share the journey with them,

at least in our daily prayer. 

This we ask through Jesus our Lord. Amen. 

And in honor of the Big Francis ~ St Francis of Assisi, here’s  Angelina singing Make me a channel of Your Peace as she sings it from Assisi. Click here. Be sure to enter full screen and turn up your speakers.

Here are the resources that were posted on my Diocese of Orlando website for the coming week. It allows you to take a look at the stories of several different refugees or immigrants. ( Scroll down for the stories below the leaders’ page.)  Click here.

 And here a the reference for the information from UNHRC: Figures at a glance: Click here.  


With love, 

Bob Traupman 

contemplative writer