Advent Day 22 ~ The shaking reality of Advent

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Tuesday of Fourth 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, especially this past year with the pandemic with hundreds of thousand of deaths and a contested election and having to spend days on end sheltering in place and the loneliness which that has brought about for so many of us.

Fr. Delp 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 quite like the days Father Delp was writing about.

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

Even in recent years ~ and this year too ~ 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, the unemployed, those about to be evicted, the homeless,

the DREAMERS who’ve got a reprieve from being deported,

and migrants all over the world in search of safe harbor.

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 Josh Groban singing J. S. Bach’s awesome Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring. Click here.

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

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer  

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

 

Advent Day 16 ~ What’s it all about?

Downtown Ft. Lauderdale
Downtown Fort Lauderdale

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Dear friends,

We’ll take a deeper turn in this Advent blog beginning today.

Christmas Eve is one week from tomorrow.

As I get closer to Christmas, my prayer is opening up and enriching from the reading I’ve been doing. I pulled an old favorite book off my shelf and reading it again after nearly fifty years was sort of like a mini-retreat.

 It’s bringing me a deeper realization of my sinfulness and frail human nature.

Also an ongoing surrender to the process of transformation that’s occurring in me as I turn my life and my will over to God once again.

That, ongoing dual process ~  “a kind of coincidence of opposites” ~ sin and grace ~ dear friends, is always what gives meaning and joy to my life.

The Church invites us to enter into that process of ongoing repentance and conversion each year during Advent ( and Lent as well, of course).

Advent is counter-cultural. A time to step out of the rat race. To take a look at our maneuvering ~ scheming ~ elbowing for status or power or success or prestige. Or any of the things American society tells us we’re supposed to “have or or possess ” to make us happy.

The wise person realizes they won’t!

Let’s reflect a little more on what we can learn from John the Baptist tell us it’s all about . . .

He was a pretty successful preacher.  People were streaming out into the desert to listen to him; he was persuasive.  People were willing to change their lives after listening to him.

But he didn’t let it go to his head.  He realized what his role was.  He was just the “advance man” ~ the Messenger of the Son of God.  And he was content with that.

He knew who he was.   He didn’t want to be the star.  Even though many thought he was “The Man.

The saying of John that I love and pray often myself is:

       “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

My spiritual director at the time reminded me to stay focused on Jesus. To make all my plans provisional.

I was a young, cool, creative priest.  I was a rising star.  I thought I was pretty hot stuff.

A bishop once told my father, “He’ll be a bishop someday.”

But God had other plans.

Today, I’m just a little guy, content  with a tiny flock to care for, and to write a little blog few know about.

Arrogance was my greatest character defect and it has taken till recently to whittle that away.

And so today I pray inspired by the one who was content to live in the wilderness . . .

Jesus, You are the light of my life.

Without You I would be nowhere.  Nada. Nothing.

And that’s okay with me.

I want You to be in all my relationships,

in all of my writing,

You help me to be humble, Lord. 

You cast me down and raised me up again.

You chastise me; You heal me.

With St. Paul, You’ve helped me realize in the midst of my brokenness,

it was ~ and is ~ You who make me strong.

Whatever flows from my relationship with You will be good

if I allow You more and more to increase

and  allow my false self, my little (Big) ego to fall away.

To  be humble is to be close to the “humus” — “muck”.

So, I’ve finally learned to be content with the muckiness of my life.

And You have surprised me ~ delighted me ~  ravished me with Your love.

And you know what? 

It’s there that I found You!

You raised me up!  You drew me to Yourself!

You bound up my wounds!  You clothed me with Your LOVE!

What a joy!

And now I’m eager once again to share Your Love.

To help others know that You love each and everyone ~ no matter what.

Yes, Lord Jesus, You must increase; I must decrease.

Let me never ever forget that.  No matter what.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

In this last week before Christmas I’d like to have us take a deeper look at  the mystery of the Incarnation — God’s love affair with our messy ~ mucky ~ crazy  human race, as it appears in Matthew’s and Luke’s stories of how God came into our world as a vulnerable, homeless baby who cooed and pooped in his pants like the rest of us.  That story ~ even if you just accept as a story ~ has much to teach us.  Let’s take a fresh look at it and go down to a deeper level.

Before you go, here’s an inspiring YouTube orchestral and voice arrangement of J. S. Bach’s lovely Advent piece sung by Josh Groban.     Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. Prepare to be goosebubbed!

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

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer

Advent Day 18 ~ What’s it all about?

Downtown Ft. Lauderdale
Downtown Ft. Lauderdale

Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

Dear friends,

We’ll take a deeper turn in this Advent blog beginning today.

As I get closer to Christmas, my prayer is opening up and enriching somehow.

 It’s bringing me a deeper realization of my sinfulness and frail human nature.

Also an ongoing surrender to the process of transformation that’s occurring in me as I turn my life and my will over to God once again.

That, ongoing dual process ~  “a kind of coincidence of opposites” ~ sin and grace ~ dear friends, is always what gives meaning and joy to my life.

The Church invites us to enter into that process of ongoing repentance and conversion each year during Advent.

To step out of the rat race. To take a look at our maneuvering ~ scheming ~ elbowing for status or power or success or prestige. Or any of the things American society tells us we’re supposed to “have or or possess ” to make us happy.

The wise person realizes they won’t!

Let’s reflect a little more on what we can learn from John the Baptist what it’s all about . . .

He was a pretty successful preacher.  People were streaming out into the desert to listen to him; he was persuasive.  People were willing to change their lives after listening to him.

But he didn’t let it go to his head.  He realized what his role was.  He was just the “advance man” ~ the Messenger of the Son of God.  And he was content with that.

He knew who he was.   He didn’t want to be the star.  Even though many thought he was “The Man.

The saying of John that I love and pray often myself is:

       “He must increase; I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

My spiritual director at the time reminded me to stay focused on Jesus. To make all my plans provisional.

I was a young, cool, creative priest.  I was a rising star.  I thought I was pretty hot stuff.

A bishop once told my father, “He’ll be a bishop someday.”

But God had other plans.

Today, I’m just a little guy, content  with a tiny flock to care for, and to write a little blog few know about.

Arrogance was my greatest character defect and it has taken till recently to whittle that away.

And so today I pray inspired by the one who was content to live in the wilderness . . .

Jesus, You are the light of my life.

Without You I would be nowhere.  Nada. Nothing.

And that’s fine with me.

I want You to be in all my relationships,

in all of my writing,

You help me to be humble, Lord. 

You cast me down and raised me up again.

You chastise me; You heal me.

With St. Paul, You’ve helped me realize in the midst of my brokenness,

it was ~ and is ~ You who make me strong.

Whatever flows from my relationship with You will be good

if I allow You more and more to increase

and  allow my false self, my little (Big) ego to fall away.

To  be humble is to be close to the “humus” — “muck”.

So, I’m content with the muckiness of my life.

And yet, You have surprised me ~ delighted me ~  ravished me with Your love.

And you know what? 

There, I found You!

You raised me up!  You drew me to Yourself!

You bound up my wounds!  You clothed me with Your LOVE!

What a joy!

And now I’m eager to share Your Love.

To help others know that You love each and everyone ~ no matter what.

But You want us to love You in return.

Yes, Lord Jesus, You must increase; I must decrease.

Let me never ever forget that.  No matter what.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

In the coming days I’d like to have us take a deeper look at  the mystery of the Incarnation — God’s love affair with our messy ~ mucky ~ crazy  human race as it appears in Matthew’s and Luke’s stories of how God came into our world as a vulnerable, homeless baby who cooed and pooped in his pants like the rest of us.  That story ~ even if you just accept as a story ~ has much to teach us.  Let’s take a fresh look at it and go down to a deeper level.

Here is an inspiring YouTube orchestral and voice arrangement of J. S. Bach’s lovely Advent piece sung by Josh Groban.       Click here.  Be sure to turn up your speakers and enter full screen. Prepare to be goosebupped!

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

With love,

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer