During the midst of an emotional crisis, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior in March 1984. I thought I had known him previously since I was quite involved in my parish. However, I soon realized that those activities did not equate to intimacy and that it was indeed necessary for me to pursue that personal relationship with him. It is a decision that I have never regretted.
Almost immediately after I confessed Jesus as Lord, the woman who led me to him began a non-stop recitation against Catholicism, and stated the many reasons why I was to leave. She was quite emphatic on this subject, and insisted that many of my blessings from God would be delayed unless I was obedient in this one matter. I understood that I needed to grow in the Word, but I was reluctant to put aside what had been the core of my life since infancy. Nevertheless, I ultimately did so in 1995 at which time I started to attend a non-denominational church in Rockland County, followed by one in New Jersey.
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12
Today, Saturday, I celebrated early Mass with 10 Carmelite nuns and 10 laity. I had the privilege to give them the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. As I was praying about the readings I recalled a hymn I learned in elementary school with the Sisters, “O Come, Little Children.” With this old German hymn I felt some words needed to be changed to fit our current understanding. O come, little children, O come one and all, O come to the altar for Christmas today. You’ll find there a miracle so bright and so clear. For Jesus our savior comes blessing us today.
When we attend Mass we could quietly sing to Jesus with all the angels present after the consecration, though it is not one of the three new responses, a few lines from that Old Christmas Carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” “O come, let us adore him. O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.” We can think in our mind, from all the movies and stories we have heard about the first Christmas, what might have happened.
I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTMAS Blog Link-Up 2013
Be sure to visit as many links as possible,
listed at the bottom of this post.
On the first Sunday of Advent we open our hearts to the Lord by opening “O Radiant-Dawn, 5-Minute Prayers Around the Advent Wreath” as we prepare to light the first candle.
Lisa Hendey's beautiful booklet for Advent reflects her deep faith and willingness to share what’s important to her family as we all prepare for Christmas. Each of the 28 daily devotional services take only five minutes for individuals, couples, families or other groups.
Lisa was inspired to write this for us by a glorious sunrise she almost missed from her kitchen window. “Recently, while standing at that window on a particularly crisp, clear morning,” she writes, “my heart soared at the first rays of light. In that moment, one of the ‘O Antiphons’ of Advent came to mind and sparked in my heart a sense of amazement at the splendor of God's love for me: ‘O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice; come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.’”
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122:1-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
Now we have finished the liturgical year with the Solemnity last week of Christ our King. Today we begin a new year. Each year we take the time to reflect on the whole earthly life of Jesus. This is not so much a penitential season like Lent. It is a remembrance of the first coming to earth of Christ and getting ourselves ready for his personal coming back to earth at the end of our life here.
We don’t know when our life will end here. Knowing that our final home is not here on earth is not morbid. St. Paul says today in the second reading: “…awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” He reminds us not to be so caught up is earthly things that we are not ready to leave. This thought changes the way we love and care for others. We want to be in right order with God and others.
Our family tradition for Thanksgiving grace is sung to the tune of “Edelweiss” from the Sound of Music. The Von Trapp family at the festival performed the forbidden national anthem as they prepared to escape the country.
Bless our friends,
Bless our food,
Come, O Lord, and sit with us.
Make our talk glow with peace
Come with your love to surround us.
Friendship and peace may it bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow forever.
Bless our friends, bless our food.
Bless our dear land forever.
When we celebrate with the family of one of our married children, they sing the doxology, a familiar hymn to both Protestants and Catholics. It’s the last verse of the hymn, “Awake My Soul,” by Thomas Ken in 1674, taken from Psalm 57.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Wherever we are, after dinner we take turns around the table expressing one or two things we are thankful for. This starts out being sentimental and ends up being hilarious. We leave the table laughing.
(© 2013 Nancy H C Ward)
2 Sam 5:1-3; Ps 122:1-5; Colossians 1:12-20; Lk 23:35-43
Why do we end our Liturgical Year with this great feast? Renewal movements, 600 worldwide identified by the Vatican, are graces of the Holy Spirit to renew and enliven every aspect of our Christian faith. The Liturgical Renewal began with study and various conferences from 1920 to 1947 when Pope Pius XII wrote his encyclical letter Mediator Dei. It was a blueprint, as it were, to bring especially the Mass from a personal to a more communal act of worship of God.
My 16-year-old granddaughter Mary Grace plays the guitar for the Youth Ministry meetings, Camp Jesus and Sunday prayer meetings of our covenant community. She shared an insight about learning to play the guitar:
“When I decided I wanted to learn how to play guitar, with some encouragement I remember my Dad saying he was going to teach me the very first cord. He pressed my fingers down very hard. I said, ‘Ouch, Dad, that hurts! I don’t want to anymore.’
“It really hurts badly. But I get the message: ’Let God use you.’ When people say things like that you think, ‘That’s okay; it’s cool,’ except when you actually want God to use you. Then it’s like, ‘Ouch, God, that hurts. You’re stretching me in ways that I don’t want to.’