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December 21, 2013

Saturday in the 3rd Week of Advent

Click here for today’s O Antiphon, "O Radiant Dawn"

Saint for today: St. Peter Canisius (1521-1597)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Song of Songs 2:8-14 0r Zephaniah 3:14-18

Psalm 33

Luke 1:39-45

As I read through the Holy Scriptures appointed for today’s Liturgy – even the two options for the 1st reading – I couldn’t help but think of one of the earlier songs of the St. Louis Jesuits, “It’s a brand new day. Everything is fine. I want you to know the sun’s going to shine…”

Brand new dayEven if we go back a few days we can still see that God is promising new life out of the darkness of a cold winter – for many of us in the northern hemisphere. It’s not going to get worse but only better and there is hope for all of us. Even those in old age will be restored and new life will spring from old roots.

Just look back at the Old Testament readings of these last few days and see how God fulfills his promises of new life – even to those who thought they were overlooked. All of the Holy Gospel readings of these days are about new births with special focus on the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus. The extremes of what would seem improbable or impossible are brought together as we hear about miraculous gifts of new life.

These stories in these last few days of Advent are told in order that we don’t lose hope of that “Brand new day!”  

The Responsorial Psalm is often the “bridge” that connects the first Scripture with the Gospel. Sometimes it’s good for us to go through the day’s Responsorial Psalm slowly on our own when we don’t have to worry about remembering our little response verse. Especially when it’s just enough different from the way it’s given in the Psalm!

Each line of today’s psalm is a line of hope as we sing to the ten-stringed harp and chant his praises. We are His people and in Him our hearts rejoice and we trust in His Holy Name

In today’s Holy Gospel we are given the account of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. It’s another way in which the Holy Gospels try to get across the idea that “with God all things are possible” and the young maiden – as well as the older women – will know something of the power and wonder of God for His people.

Elizabeth 1I love the image of Elizabeth’s reaction to greeting Mary: her whole being shook with joy. It makes us wonder why this doesn’t happen more often for us? Once again we go back to those wise words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “You can’t give what you don’t have!”

This puts us back to square one: we have to be open to the Lord’s presence in our lives and allow that Holy Presence to take root before we can even begin to proclaim anything great.

That’s why I write these reflections in the early hours of the morning in the quiet of our little house chapel, before the Blessed Sacrament. I pray that I might know of the Lord’s promises and write down words that might cause some little spark of hope

to “stir” within the lives of those who read them. Remember: we only need the tinniest spark of God’s presence to start something wonderful in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Amen!

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I’d like to hear from you to know that you’re getting these reflections. Use this link to go to my home page where you will find a link to e-mail me.

December 20, 2013

Friday in the 3rd Week of Advent 

Saint for the day: St. Dominic of Silos (c1000-1073

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm 24

Luke 1:26-38

The “O Antiphon” for today’s Evening Prayer can be found at this "link"

“The Lord spoke to Ahaz: Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God; let it be deep as the nether world or high as the sky.” (Isaiah 7:10ff)

It’s interesting that this Holy Scripture Reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah comes on the same day as the Feast of St. Dominic of Silos. Be sure to follow the “link” above to know how this St. Dominic and the Dominic who founded the Dominican Order are subtly connected. The story is worth reading especially in the context of all three Scriptures that we are given for today’s Liturgy which certainly seem to focus on birthing.

The Isaiah readings ends with, “… the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”(Isaiah 7:14)

“Emmanuel, God with us” leads us right into the Responsorial Psalm refrain, “Let the Lord enter; he is the king of Glory.” (Psalm 24)

Then, just in case we might have forgotten, the Gospel repeats the Announciation Story from St. Luke. Mary responds to the Angel’s announcement with a question, “How can this be?” When she is told that the “Holy Spirit will come upon you…” She - unlike Zachariah in yesterday’s Gospel – says her famous words, “May it be done unto me according to your word.”

In yesterday’s Holy Gospel Zachariah’s response to the angel’s announcement is just slightly different from Mary’s “How can this be?” and he says, instead, “How shall I know this?” The lessen for us might be this subtle difference between Mary’s openness to a miricle happening in her life and Zachariah’s wanting to know how it will happen. Maybe that’s just the classic, “male/female thing” but there’s a lessen in this for all of us.

Is it another reminder of the saying, “God writes straight with crooked lines.” And our western mind always wants to know how. It’s almost as if we “tie God up” and then wonder why we are struck dumb!

Today, we are reminded, once again, to follow the example of Mary and say, with trust, “I am the [servant] of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Amen!.

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I’d like to hear from you to know that you’re getting these reflections. Use this link to go to my home page where you will find a link to e-mail me.

December 19, 2013

Thursday in the 3rd Week of Advent 

Today I’m writing this reflection while sitting on the beach at the Pacific Ocean just north of San Francisco. Yesterday, with fog on the horizon, the sunset was less than spectacular and nothing like what I had grown used to in my trips to Mombasa. Still, the wonder of the majesty of the Ocean draws me into the beauty of God’s creation. If I only looked at the way the waves come in and wash the beach and refresh it – twice each day – that would be enough to keep me aware of God’s gift or creation.

Now to see how these thoughts fit into today’s celebration as we near the Feast of Christmas.

I inadvertently didn’t remember to bring in the significance of these last nine days before Christmas which contain special O Antiphons that are used to intone the Magnificent Canticle of the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. These days are a kind of “novena” to prepare us for the feast. Use the highlighted “link” above to read about their origins and to get yet another handle on the beauty of Christmas. I hope you know how to "click" on that "O Antiphons" link to get to that web page.

Tuesday’s “O Antiphon” was, O Sapientia (O Wisdom) Wednesday’s was “O Adonai” (O Lord) Today’s is, “O Radix Jesse” (O Flower of Jesse’s stem).

But for now, just look back on the ones that I missed: we start by seeking “Wisdom” so that we can know “the Lord” who is the “Flower of Jesse’s stem,” the O Antiphon for today.   Even before we get to the actual commemoration of the Birth of Jesus we begin with seeking “Wisdom” so that we don’t just run with any whim that’s out there. And there are many!

Once we’ve found “wisdom” (the highest of the gifts) we can know the Lord who has his roots in Old Testament awareness, the “Flower of Jesse’s Stem,” the basis of our Advent Wreaths - this new green and living branch coming out of the old “root of Jesse.”

Now, to put it all in context: here are the Scripture readings for today's Liturgy:

Judges 13:2 … 25

Psalm 71

Luke 1:5-25

In the first scripture reading from the Book of Judges we hear of another “miraculous birth,” that of Samson who grew up strong in the Lord. The Responsorial Psalm gives an outline of how he grew up with God as his refuge.

The Holy Gospel for today recounts the birth of John the Baptist whose parents were older and well beyond the natural age to have children. But nothing is impossible with God. Yet even John would say, “I am not He … and I am unable to even carry his sandals. I must decrease so He can increase.” (John 3:30)

So, there you have it: lots to think about. And, as I set here looking out over the vast Pacific Ocean whose waves just keep coming, washing the beach and reminding me that our God, the creator and sustainer of all that is … is still Emmanuel – God With Us. It’s another reminder – in this busy time of year - to allow the Lord to renew us and keep us in His Peace. Amen

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I’d like to hear from you to know that you’re getting these reflections. Use this link to go to my home page where you will find a link to e-mail me.

december 18, 2013

Wednesday in the 3rd Week of Advent 

Saint for the day: St. Winebald (died: 768)

Scripture Readings for today's Liturgy:

Jeremiah 23:5-8

Psalm 72

Matthew 1:18-25

It should not come to us a secret when everybody is crying out, “the Lord gave us this land! It’s ours! And people have been fighting over it ever since.  But the people are also reminded that, “This is the name they give him: ‘The LORD our justice.’”  And the Responsorial Psalm begins with the verse, Justice” shall flourish in his time and peace for ever. And the Holy Gospel ends with the words “And they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

So we are given some key words that we need to pay attention to. Working backwards from the Holy Gospel we are promised that “His name is Emmanuel which means, God is with us” and He is “our justice! If we truly believe that this savior is called, Emmanuel, and that He will be with us all the time as our justice that should be able to alter the way we relate to our world’s peoples and their lands. We don’t have to look around very far from home to see that most of us have fallen way short of the ideal of God’s presence to His people. The only way these promises will ever become a reality is if each and every individual walks as if walking with God. St. Paul tells us “we are the temples of the Holy Spirit” (Reference 1:2345) and the Holy Spirit is the creative force of God to build up and restore our broken world. But none of this will ever happen if each one of us doesn’t realize that it’s not going to happen when those people do it but only when we take these promises seriously.

Take some time to read today’s Responsorial Psalm and insert your name all throughout these healing words: “O God, with your judgement endow me; help me deal justly with the people around me; Help me, Daniel, to rescue the poor when they cry out.

Continue in this vein, but change the phrase to when have I helped someone helpless? When have I had true pity for the lowly and the poor? Perhaps our “bottom line” might be that this God Emmanuel really does depend on you and me to keep his healing presence – His God is with us - in our world.

In a short time we will be at the Christmas Feast. All of us need to struggle to allow the grace of the feast to permeate our activities and not getting swept along the commercial paths without realizing what the Birth of Christ – and the Birth of Christ into our lives is supposed to be all about. ”Emmanuel … God is with us!” Amen!

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I’d like to hear from you to know that you’re getting these reflections. Use this link to go to my home page where you will find a link to e-mail me.

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The General Curia

The church and convent of Santa Sabina on the Aventine hill in Rome have been home to the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) since the 13th century. At that time the church and associated buildings formed part of the holdings of the Savelli family. A Savelli Pope, Honorius III, approved the Order in 1216. Read more...

Province of St. Joseph

The Dominican friars of the Province of St. Joseph were founded in 1806 by Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., an American who had joined the English Province of the Order as a young man during its exile in Belgium. Fenwick eventually returned to the United States with the dream of establishing the Order in his native land. Read more...


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The Third Order of Saint Dominic consists of men and women, singles and couples living a Christian life with a Dominican spirituality in a secular world. Read more...


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