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Archive for November, 2017


John 14: Seek Presence

Thursday, November 30, 2017

With the institution of the gift of Eucharist, Jesus promises that he will remain with us always. Matthew 26:26-28

With the gift of bread and wine as the real presence of Christ, the Spirit dwells in us today. Mark 14: 22-24

With the physical remembrance of transformed bread and wine, of God fulfills the promise to live among us. Luke 22:19-20

With the gift of Eucharist, or Thanksgiving, we have the way to be in the real presence of God. John 14

Richard Rohr, OFM writes: “The Eucharist is an encounter of the heart, knowing Presence through our available presence. In the Eucharist we move beyond mere words or rational thought and go to the place where we don’t talk about the Mystery anymore; we begin to chew on it. Jesus did not say, ‘Think about this’ or ‘Stare at this’ or even ‘Worship this.’ Instead, he said, ‘Eat this!’ It was to be a bodily action and a social action with the group . . . We are the very Body of Christ. We have dignity and power flowing through us in our very naked existence – and everybody else does too – even though most do not know it. This is enough to steer and empower your entire faith life”. (Rohr 299)

We can infer from these verses and Rohr’s words that realizing the true presence of God in our lives will not happen when we are alone in a quiet corner contemplating God’s existence. Rather, we best find God as we act as Christ asks us to act, when we abide in the Spirit as the Spirit urges, and when we agree to become the Body of Christ as God invites us.

Finding the True Presence, then, is more likely when we are moving through our days with Christ ever on our minds and in our hearts, hands, lips and feet. We find the presence of God when we are truly open and thankful. We encounter the presence of God when we remember that Eucharist means Thanksgiving, and when we thank God for all that we have and all we are.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

When we use the scripture links and drop-down menus to compare varying translations of these verses, we discover the presence of God within.

 

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Exodus 40: Seek the Word

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Claiming the Word

I am thinking of how careful Moses is as he prepares a place for the Lord’s word to rest.  The tablets of the Ten Commandments are contained in the Ark of the Covenant along with a jar of manna that fed the Hebrews in the desert, and Aaron’s rod which blossomed and performed miracles in Egypt.  This special ark was adorned with gold and placed in a special tent, and the tent later became a temple. The children of Israel – led by Moses – took care to set aside these emblems of the covenant in a special place.  We too, are called to prepare the temple of ourselves in which the Holy Spirit might take up residence.  Several times in this chapter we read: Moses did exactly as the Lord had commanded him.  We – like Moses – must prepare our hearts for the in-dwelling of God’s spirit just as God asks.

In his letters, St. Paul reminds us that our bodies are the New Testament temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19, Ephesians 2:21-22) replacing the temple in Jerusalem.  In Romans 10, Paul tells us where to find this word of God, and also how to claim it as our own: The word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, that is, the word of faith, the faith which we preach, that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.  It is by believing with the heart that you are justified, and by making the declaration with your lips that you are saved. 

Belief that God creates, that Jesus saves and that the Holy Spirit comforts does not make us followers of Christ in and of itself; we must also proclaim this story to others with our own lips and our own actions.   Yet, even this declaring alone does not bring us into full participation in Christ’s body.  We must, as James tells us in his letter, be doers of the words and not sayers only.  (1:22-23) When we claim this word with our lips and hearts, and when we act on this word, we enter into full partnership with Christ.

The prophet Jeremiah predicted that there would come a day when the word of God would no longer be contained by tablets but would be written on our hearts (31:31), and it is with this writing that God claims us as his own.  It is this stepping forward on our part that designates us as the faithful.  We who come willingly and openly to sing God’s praise and to claim God’s word . . . also join our hearts with God’s.

A Favorite from November 23, 2009.

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Amos 5:18-20: Seek Impoverishment

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Being Open in Mourning

The prophet Amos left his sheep and fig trees to speak God’s word to the faithful and unfaithful alike.  These words came at a time of prosperity, when his prognostications were easily and readily jeered by those who enjoyed luxury at the expense of the poor.  From our 21st century perspective, we can see that his audience would have done well to listen better to this simple yet eloquent man.  His sober, ardent proclamation is concise, pointed and brief . . . but carrying a deeply important message for the part of the Gospel which is eagerly forgotten by many.  It is not enough to be kind, in the New Kingdom.  We are called to be just as well.

It is easy to look at foreign countries in civil war, at the poor in our own city streets and point to the places where justice cannot flourish or even get a foothold.  What is more difficult is to look to our own lives to find the pockets of impoverishment and injustice there.  When have we walked away from a situation in which we should have given voice to God’s word?  When have we reacted in an anger that stirs the pot rather than in patience which opens doors for communication?  When have we avoided?  When have we harassed?  When have we neglected?  When have we manipulated?

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.  Psalm 72 calls on God to make his justice clear to those who yearn for it.

Justice shall flower . . .

May God rule . . . 

God shall rescue the poor . . .

God shall have pity on the lowly . . .

The lives of the poor God shall save . . .

We ought not to shrink from God in our poverty of spirit, for it is the poor in spirit whom God touches quickly, heals surely, abides with eternally.  We ought not shrink from confessing our lacks, from asking for our needs, for expressing our heart’s desire.  Let us offer up our impoverishment daily.

May God remember your every offering, graciously accept your holocaust, grant what is in your heart, fulfill your every plan.  (Psalm 20:4-5)

Amos reminds us when he speaks of the woes that God knows the content of our hearts.  There is nowhere we can hide our secrets.  So when we mourn, let us open our hearts fully to the God who created us.  It is with this small action that we will be healed.  It is with this openness that we best love God.  It is through this honesty that we bring about the justice that the prophet Amos yearns to witness.  Let us take our offerings of our own accord, let us seek impoverishment, and let us place them on the altar of our life.

To learn more about the prophet and his prophecy, click on the image of the shepherd above or visit: http://www.catholiclane.com/amos-the-lion-of-gods-salvation/ 

Adapted from a reflection written on December 3, 2008.

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St. Gertrude the Great 1256-1302

1 Maccabees 16: Seek Kindness

Monday, November 27, 2017

Adapted from a reflection written on November 15, 2009. In memoria for my mother who always preached Killing with Kindness

The name Maccabees means the hammer and as we read through these books in scripture we experience a great deal of violence in the name of God.  These books are stories about “the attempted suppression of Judaism in Palestine in the second century B.C.  . . . [The author’s] purpose in writing is to record the salvation of Israel which God worked through the family of Matthias . . . Implicitly the writer compares their virtues and their exploits with those of the ancient heroes, the Judges, Samuel, and David”.  (Senior 550)  Portions of this book may be used when dedicating an altar . . . or when praying for persecuted Christians.  The lesson here is that living the life of an apostle of Christ will inevitably include bloodshed – whether it be spiritual, mental or physical.  Each time I pray to my Mother for a special intercession, I find myself in this story.  She, the gentlest of shepherds, realized real battles in her life.  Her slogan was: Kill them with kindness. 

St. Gertrude of Nivelles (626-659)

There is no avoiding the central message of Jesus’ life: When in doubt, exercise kindness and compassion . . . and listen for the word of God to tell us which way to turn, when to pause, when to proceed.  Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St. Gertrude.  My mother and my sister – both deceased – are named for this saint.  Both of these women had a plodding, patient persistence when confronted with evil, and they were formidable and unmoved when it came to right and wrong.  The Morning Prayer for tomorrow begins with a verse from Isaiah (30:15): By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.  I reflect on the betrayal and carnage we witness when we read Maccabees.  The deception of the son of Abubus who gives the faithful a deceitful welcome shakes me to the core.  There is nothing more wicked than luring in the innocent to later spring up, weapons in hand, to rush upon the loyal servant of God – thus repaying good with evil.

What do we do when we are witness to this?  We are utterly astounded as is John in today’s reading.  We go to God who tells us to shake the dust of the unfaithful from our feet and move on.  And we do as my mother always recommended: Kill them with kindness.

Gertrude the Great was a German Benedictine mystic with a special dedication to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A number of her writings are still in publication today. Gertrude of Nivelles founded an abbey with her mother, Itta, in present day Belgium. She is the patron saint of gardens and cats. 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.550. Print.   

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.11 (2009). Print.  

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Matthew 3: Seek Newness

Sunday, November 26, 2017

As we prepare for the Advent season . . .

In becoming human, Jesus shows us that our humanity is not an obstacle to our communion with God, but rather the only path to our divine destiny . . . If my heart is not begging, “Come, Lord Jesus” in my ordinary life today, then I cannot pretend I would have recognized him when he first came, and I cannot expect truly to welcome him at is glorious return.  That is why the church gives us this season of Advent, to recognize the longing in our hearts for a salvation which we cannot give ourselves, but for which we can beg today and for ever, “Come, Lord Jesus”.  Fr. Richard Veras, November 28, 2010, THE MAGNIFICAT ADVENT COMPANION (17)

What is this newness that is ours in our humanity?

What is this divinity we have been gifted as part of our destiny?

What is this fulfillment of salvation that we cannot give ourselves?

Today our Noontime takes us to the proclamation of the new kingdom, the baptism of Jesus, and God’s announcement that he is well pleased with the beloved son.

Today we have the opportunity to think about our own place in the divine plan as a human creature.

We have the opportunity to open ourselves to the newness of the season and the cyclic beginning again of a calendar year.

We have the opportunity to make ourselves ready – as Jesus made himself ready – for the days ahead.

Let us heed the words we hear in today’s Gospel . . . So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come (Matthew 24:44) .

We will want to receive this newness that brings hope – Come, Lord Jesus.

We will want to be open to this healing that mends mortal wounds – Come, Lord Jesus.

We will want to experience this divinity that manifests in the obstacles of our humanity Come, Lord Jesus. 

And we will want to be awake and ready for the salvation with which we have been graced, the peace and serenity that are our heritage – Come, Lord Jesus . . . and fulfill this longing in our hearts . . .

Written on November 28, 2010.

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Evelyn De Morgan: Cassandra

Mark 9:23-25: Seek Belief

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Jesus said to him, “If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 

Cassandra, the daughter of ancient Troy’s King Priam, was beautiful and so she drew the attention of the god Apollo who presented her with the gift of prophecy. Because she rejected his suit, he followed this gift with a curse . . . that no one would believe her insights or forecasts. Modern religious institutions usually warn against the dark world of the occult and our desire to know our future, and there are strong reasons for this. Rather than rely on Christ’s guidance and the Spirit’s wisdom, we may be tempted to rely on magic. Rather than open ourselves to justice, newness, sincerity, restoration, confidence and splendor, we might be tempted to give in to the allure of personal power, status and fame. The story of Cassandra reminds us that when we speak truth – especially to power – we must prepare ourselves for the cry of unbelief. When we open ourselves to newness, we must prepare for the support of God’s love.

Today we explore the story of Cassandra, and the effects our own disbelief may have on our lives. Click on the links above or visit: https://www.greekmyths-greekmythology.com/the-myth-of-cassandra/ 

To learn more about how after catastrophes, we find that we have ignored experts who warned us, click on the “Warnings” image or visit: http://www.warningsbook.net/

For a review of this book, visit: https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/5/book-review-warnings-finding-cassandras-to-stop-ca/ 

 

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Psalm 16: Seek Confidence

Friday, November 24, 2017

Trust

When we begin to trust God, we grow in confidence. When we grow in confidence, we are better able to trust God.

You, Lord, are all I have,
    and you give me all I need;
    my future is in your hands.
How wonderful are your gifts to me;
    how good they are!

This is a beautiful prayer of Trust in God’s love for us – for his safekeeping of us. I like the metaphor of the Cup. It may refer to our daily drinking from the chalice of Christ’s sacrifice for us; or it may refer to our own willingness to offer our lives back to God as a blessing in the Cup of Our Lives.

God says: You have every reason to doubt my existence; but know that I move in you as the Spirit of goodness, justice, truth and mercy.

And so I am thankful and glad,
    and I feel completely secure,
because you protect me from the power of death.
I have served you faithfully,
    and you will not abandon me to the world of the dead.

God says: You have every reason to believe in me. I have created a world in which you have freedom of choice and the promise of my strength and guidance.

I praise the Lord, because God guides me,
    and in the night my conscience warns me.

I am always aware of the Lord’s presence;
    God is near, and nothing can shake me.

God says: When you read these verses today, rely on my deep and constant love for you.

You will show me the path that leads to life;
    your presence fills me with joy
    and brings me pleasure forever.

God says: Each time you recite these verses, my Spirit rises in you as it calls you to join me in the great mystery I have planned for us.

Protect me, O God; I trust in you for safety.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    all the good things I have come from you.”

God says: You have every reason to doubt me. You have every reason to believe in me. Today I call on the Spirit within you. Today I call you to place your trust in me. Today I ask you choose to grow and live in my love, mercy and confidence.

Adapted from a reflection written on July 1, 2007.

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Wisdom 7:22-30: Seek Splendor

Melanie Rogers: Portrait of Lady Wisdom

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Do we know women and men who exemplify Wisdom?

Intelligent, holy, unique. Manifold, subtle, agile. Clear, unstained, certain.

Are we able to allow Wisdom to operate in us?

Not baneful, loving the good, keen. Unhampered, beneficent, kindly. Firm, secure, tranquil.

Do we see Wisdom waiting by our gate each day when we step out of the door?

All-powerful, all-seeing, pervading all spirits. Mobile beyond all motion. Penetrating, pervading all things.

Do we touch base with Wisdom as we go through our day?

An aura of the might of God. A pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty.

Do we give thanks for Wisdom each evening when we retire?

Nought that is sullied enters into her. She is the refulgence of eternal light.

Do we believe that Wisdom is with us every moment of every day, in every space and in every time? If not, we might spend time with Wisdom today.

When we compare versions of these verses, we find that we encounter the splendor we seek.

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1 Timothy 2: Seek Equality

Annibale Carracci: The Samaritan Woman at the Well

 Wednesday, November 22, 2017

This letter contains some clear restrictions for women – they are to be silent and not speak out.  Men are put in charge of prayer and liturgy.  Women are meant to be on the sidelines in this ancient world.  Some men today wish women to remain so – as unequal partners.  Other men today are wise enough to understand that women have equal worth before God and it is indeed a woman who brings Christ into the world.  We can allow ourselves to be contained by these sentiments or we can rise above them.  Modern commentary points out that these injunctions against women are a sign that the Holy Spirit was clearly in motion, encouraging the oppressed half of humankind to speak up and speak out.  The oppressing half of humanity responds in the way it knows best – it calls for silence.  Equality, in the end, will be gained.  Women, as the oppressed gender, have the opportunity to understand and to know that as a part of the marginalized in society they hold a special place.

John Martin Borg: Woman Caught in Adultery

In the Gospels, Jesus pays attention to women – the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), the woman (and we notice that the man is not brought forward) whom the men wish to stone for adultery (John 8), women suffering, women grieving, and his own mother at the time of his crucifixion (John 19).  Jesus makes wine of water at his Mother’s request.  Jesus includes women as his apostles.  Jesus values women as equal to men.

In Thursday’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation, Father Bede Jarrett writes: When we say God is everywhere, we mean that he is in all things because he made all things.  Not only does the whole world lie outstretched before his eye and is governed by his power, but he himself lurks at the heart of everything.  By him things have come into existence . . . Wholly is God everywhere, not as some immense being that with its hugeness fills the world, but as something that is within every creature he has made.

Rogier Van Der Weyden: Deposition or Descent from the Cross

We believe this to be so . . . and when we do, we believe that women and men are created as equals in a glorious, mysterious dance of opposites that resist and yet attract.  This marvelous tension draws us in to ponder the inscrutability of life.  This equality that is rejected by many is actually the foundation of life itself.  This union of contrasts is stronger than the binds which hold together like beings.

When the age-old conflicts of gender and sexuality surface, we might remember this: Wholly is God everywhere, not as some immense being that with its hugeness fills the world, but as something that is within every creature he has made.

Do we reject this different-ness from ourselves?  Or do we take it in and in so doing . . . welcome a Jesus we have yet to meet?

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.11 (2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on November 13, 2009.

 

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