Saturday, 15 December 2012

Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

Sir 48:1-4, 9-11

Ps 80:2ac And 3b, 15-16, 18-19

Mt 17:9a, 10-13

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

The three disciples – Peter, James, and John – have just been witnesses to the miraculous transfiguration of Jesus into a figure cloaked in dazzling white whose face shone like the sun.  Then, to top this grandeur, they saw Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus and heard the booming voice of God announce “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!”  Peter was so taken with the moment he wanted to pitch some tents and hang out on the mountaintop for a while.  Can you imagine, then, the mix of emotions that filled these men as they began their trip down the mountain with Jesus?  I am sure that they were so excited to tell all their buddies about what they had just experienced and must have been devastated when Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone until he had been raised from the dead.  I can just hear them saying “C’mon, man . . . “  The disciples understood from Malachi that Elijah’s coming would precede the final coming of the Savior.  They were confused, though, by Jesus’ comment about being raised from the dead.  Jesus affirms to them that Elijah will appear at the end time, but hints at this, his first coming, which was announced by John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah.

The quiet of Advent is a time to prepare our hearts by considering the three comings of Christ; his coming as a baby in Bethlehem, his coming into our hearts daily, and his final coming at the end of all times.  During this season we hear the story of his first coming captured in word and song but perhaps for you, like me, it is easy to transpose the lowliness, filth, and fragility of the manger into an idyllic scene.  His first Advent was not among the rich and powerful, it was among the poor and hungry, the marginalized and powerless.  His first coming is our calling to serve those at the fringes of society.  To grasp the mystery of the manger, we must claim and experience His daily Advent in our lives.  We, like Peter, are quick to want to set up camp on the mountaintop, but we fail to call Jesus into the valleys of our lives.  Jesus promises to be there – “I stand at the door and knock” (Rev 3:20) – we only need to open that door.  As we wait in anticipation of the final Advent, we must do so surrendering our claim on power, privilege, and prestige and accepting that we are called not only to preach Christ but to be Christ in the world.

 

Mark Reinking is chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training at SLU.

 

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Friday, 14 December 2012

Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, priest and doctor of the Church
Is 48:17-19
Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 And 6
Mt 11:16-19
The readings for the day can be found here.

Throughout the season of Advent, our readings and prayers invite us to meditate on the coming of Christ not only at Christmas, but at the end of time. The images in scripture are provocative and challenge us to “prepare the way” for Christ in our own lives. As I pondered on how today’s Gospel asks us to prepare our hearts, Jesus’ words painted a picture of division and misunderstanding that is all too familiar in our the church today.

John the Baptist and Jesus both had a keen awareness of God’s different plans for their lives. John was a prophet, called into the desert and fasted on wild honey and locusts. Jesus came to eat and drink with people, to be with humanity and share in our lives. Despite the ways in which they followed God, both of them were criticized for their lifestyles: John, “possessed by a demon” and Jesus, “a glutton and a drunkard”.

Too often the church has become polarized: people are labeled by their fellow Christians as “too liberal” or “too traditional”, “too focused on liturgy and personal piety that they ignore the poor” or “too focused on serving the poor that they ignore the bishops”. What good does this do to “prepare the way” and build up the Kingdom of God? Where is the hope for our future?

The first reading and the psalm give us insight into the source of our hope: turning to God leads us to truth and life. Following the commandments of God is an invitation to know and love God. When we allow our hearts to be open to God’s work in our lives, we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit, to Wisdom.

God longs for relationship with us, not only to be close to us but to become one with us. It is through the gift of the Incarnation that we can know for what and for whom we are created. In his poetry, Saint John of the Cross reflects on the incarnation:
“For he would make himself
wholly like them,
and he would come to them
and dwell with them;
and God would be man
and man would be God
and he would walk with them
and eat and drink with them;
and he himself would be
with them continually
until the consummation
of this world…” (The Romances, part 4)

Even in the parts of our lives that seem mundane, in our eating and drinking, God is wholly with us. The gift of the Incarnation is not only that we are created to “be God”, as John of the Cross says, but our union with God calls us deeper into union with others, “to love your neighbor as yourself”. We do the work of Jesus together, each person in a unique way, as a community of believers and as the Body of Christ. Through our love of one another, we build up the Kingdom of God.

May the task of our love be to seek God’s wisdom and to walk, eat, and drink with the tax collectors and sinners, with the poor in body and spirit, with people who are different from us, and to love one another with the Incarnate love of God.

Jen Petruso (A&S 2010) is the Campus Minister in Griesedieck Hall.

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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Is 41:13-20

Ps 145:1 And 9, 10-11, 12-13ab

Mt 11:11-15

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Fear of the unknown. That is something that I have commonly felt, especially being in my senior year at SLU. The idea of uncertainty of where I will be in the coming months, whether or not I am accepted into the graduate school I so deeply want to get into or hear back from the job I applied for. It is like I am travelling down a road with an unknown destination.

In the readings for today, God realizes the fear, the trials, and the tribulations that his people are experiencing. He will not forsake them. He is always there to “grasp your right hand” and inform you to “fear not” because He will always be there to help you.

During this season of Advent, it is important to remember that our savior is coming. He is the hope that we have to hold onto when we feel the fear creep up or the anxieties of uncertainty consume our thoughts. Jesus truly is the reason for the season, as clichéd as that may sound. We have to remember that when there is nothing else to turn to, God will always be there to guide us down the right path and carry us towards the light.

So let’s embrace the idea of uncertainty. It is an unknown adventure but when we realize that God is always there and giving us hope for our savior to come, that will triumph over fear. Be thankful for where you are. Give thanks to God. And know that the hope for the future is so much stronger than the fear of the unknown

 

Victoria Glatz is a senior studying Nutrition and Dietetics.

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Zec 2:14-17 OR Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

Jdt 13:18bcde, 19

Lk 1:26-38

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Mary’s Hope

I have always loved how, in Luke’s gospel, the story of the Annuciation is followed by Mary’s canticle in which she praises God who “puts down the mighty from their thrones.” Some scripture scholars think the song may be Luke’s own addition. Perhaps.  I am not a scripture scholar. But as a mother of three, I wonder if those who don’t see a connection between pregnancy and hope in God’s justice are missing something.

Pregnancy is all about hope. I remember when my husband and I were waiting for a sign of our first child. When it came, we were overjoyed. In a few weeks, we had reason to suspect a miscarriage.  It was during a month that I was between jobs and without health insurance.  I went to a free clinic and the nurse there confirmed our fears. We were devastated. A few weeks later I returned to a regular doctor.  Suspicious of the clinic’s conclusion, she hooked up a sonogram, and there on the screen was a beating heart. We were having a baby after all.  Our hoped for future together was beginning.  In the weeks that followed, our joy continued as I felt and saw my baby swimming in my womb.

But pregnancy is not all joy.  It involves sickness that is not limited to mornings, fatigue, and giving up wine, coffee, and your figure. Pregnancy requires a certain measure of self-emptying. It is all about hope, but it is a hope that requires us to change.

Perhaps this is why Mary can sing about God and about justice. She has just been told that she is pregnant with GOD.  How can she not sing?  How can she not be afraid? How can she not think that God, her savior—the one whose greatness she has always heard about—is not asking her to be faithful in a fundamentally new way?

Pregnancy and birth are our symbols of hope. In the dark of winter we tell a story about the future. About a child growing in a young woman’s womb.  About a young woman who sings, “my soul proclaims greatness of the Lord.” About a God who “will fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away empty.” About a pregnant woman who, like the prophets of old, is ready to join in working for God’s reign of justice. Her “deed of hope will never be forgotten.”

If there is any good time to say “we’re pregnant,” it’s now, in Advent, as we claim the same joy, the same faith, and the same hope.

 

Julie Hanlon Rubio is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics in the Department of Theological Studies.

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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Is 40:1-11

Ps 96:1-2, 3 And 10ac, 11-12, 13

Mt 18:12-14

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Those of you who have read the local newspaper (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) for any period of time know that, in December of each year, they promote a program called “The 100 Neediest”, wherein the paper publishes stories of local individuals and families whose circumstances are particularly dire, and who have significant material needs. The hope is that those who read these stories are moved to make donations to help those individuals survive the ravages of winter and make it through another difficult Christmas season.

The stories of these individuals are often moving, heart rending, and just plain sad. As someone who has been blessed with material abundance all my life, I admit to an internal struggle of what my response should be to these seemingly never-ending stories of woe. On the one hand, simple human decency demands that I take action and offer some financial support to these brothers and sisters who have so little. But there is a part of me, I am ashamed to say, that looks with some disdain on those whose circumstances are not safe or healthy or warm or comforting, and wonders why “those people” don’t do more to lift themselves out of these terrible conditions.

When I reflect on this hardness of heart, especially in this Advent season, I wonder if I would have been equally dismissive of a similar story of years ago whose headline might have read “Unwed Mother from Nazareth Gives Birth to Baby in Barn”. What benefit is there in shutting my heart to those who may be different from me in race, creed, economic status, education, power, possessions or prestige? And, more to the point, what prevents me from embracing the goodness, the holiness, and the spirit and beauty of God’s creative power in all of his children? The story of the longed for King that comes to our world as a tiny infant is a vivid reminder of my need — our need — to see past the externals, and to build bridges instead of walls. Our hearts yearn for connectedness—Jesus calls us to connectedness—and this beautiful season invites us to hope in a world where connectedness and love are valued as cornerstones of our existence.

In today’s short Gospel, Jesus reminds us that a man with one hundred sheep will surely go in search of even one of those sheep that goes astray, and when he finds it, “rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”  Perhaps today I am that lost sheep—the one of the one hundred who has gone astray. I pray during this Advent season a short prayer of intercession (“Come, Lord Jesus, come!”) to open my heart to include all of God’s children.

 

 

Larry Bommarito is the Program Manager of the Institute for Biosecurity in the School of Public Health.

 

 

 

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Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Is 35:1-10

Ps 85:9ab And 10, 11-12, 13-14

Lk 5:17-26

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Simply be for one minute.

The presence of the Lord is powerful. The teachers of the law sit there near Jesus, and the paralytic is placed in front of Jesus, into the presence of Jesus. To enter His presence, to sit and gaze at the Beautiful Word spoken into existence and birthed by Our Mother through the Holy Spirit requires assistance from outside sources.

By faith I believe in His presence, and through Him I enter into it. My motivation to sit in His presence, therefore, ultimately results from Him. I also ask others to help me when I am paralyzed. I choose to ask Mary, His Mother and mine, to help me get to places where He teaches, and where He lies down his sweet head, and where He remains, and where He loves, so that I too may sit with Him and learn about Him. And Mary helps me also explore and distinguish that place, the abode of my heart where jackals lurk—wherein He heals and expels the dusky, horrid crevices—in order to allow Him admittance. For the Healer, the Savior of the world resided in the cloister of Mary’s womb for nine months, her blood and His mixed, her heart and body inebriated by the Holy Spirit. She sat with Him often, and her faith was so excellent she bore the Healer to us and for us. She fears not, and rather loves His presence; she allows His will to be done unto her according to His Word. The Lord teaches those who sit in His presence so that those with eager dispositions may be re-formed and glorify God.

Vigilant to her Baby’s needs, Our Mother assists us her children to receive her Son’s redemptive healing. Jesus desires us to be healed. Jesus desires us. Jesus loves us. Our Lovely Lady kissed Him on His tender and mild forehead, and He longs to kiss us with peace in our hard and frightened hearts.

I encourage you to sit in the presence of Our Merciful Lord today and ask Him to show you the jackals in your heart. Simply be still and perceptive. Trust in Him. Ask Mary to help you. You could do it right now, or make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and sit directly in front of Jesus.

May God the Father of Mercies grant us pardon and peace, so that we may go home along the way of his steps to the house of the Lord, and glorify Him forever in our cleansed hearts.

There is a Reconciliation service tonight with individual confessions from 7-8:30 pm in Our Lady’s Chapel in Lower College Church. Come with Our Mother and enter into His presence. Prepare your heart for His inebriation. Receive the sacrament of His peace.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

 

Naomi Beauclair is a senior theology major and philosophy minor and a member of Sorores in Christo, SLU’s Catholic women’s group.

 

 

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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Second Sunday of Advent

Bar 5:1-9

Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

Phil 1:4-6, 8-11

Lk 3:1-6

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

I have always though it was fitting that the Thanksgiving holiday comes not too long before the start of Advent.  I know of course the two aren’t officially related – there isn’t really a theological connection between the celebration of a communal feast between Pilgrims and Native Americans and the coming of our Lord and Savior.  But still, I think it is pretty neat that the two are so close, and if you think about, they really do compliment each other.

I was reminded of this fact by the both the Responsorial Psalm and the Second Reading from today.  Our Psalm reminds us that “the Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy”.  Thanksgiving is often a time that we acknowledge all the things we are thankful for, but how often to we give thanks directly to God for all of the blessings He has bestowed on us?  In the second reading we are called to “increase our love ever more” and “to discern what is of value”.  If Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for our blessings, surely Advent is a time to remember what is truly important in our lives.

The Gospel reminds us that Advent is a time of preparation – we wait, and prepare, for the coming of Christ, who will offer us eternal salvation.  What better way to enter into this preparation phase than to be ever-mindful of all of our blessings, of all that we are thankful for, of all that God has generously bestowed upon us?  Once we can acknowledge these joys in our life, and that God has provided them, I think we can more fully prepare for the coming of our Lord.

May we always be reminded of our blessings in life, and may we hold these blessings close to our heart as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Bobby Wassel is the Assistant Director of the Center for Service and Community Engagement.

 

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Saturday, 8 December 2012

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Gn 3:9-15, 20

Ps 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4

Eph 1:3-6, 11-12

Lk 1:26-38

The readings for the day can be found here.

In today’s readings God calls us on to something greater.  The reading from Genesis shows the series of events immediately following The Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  They eat the forbidden fruit and see that they are naked, so they hide themselves from God.  They hide, ashamed and vulnerable of what they have done, and upon facing God they do an incredibly human thing: they make an excuse. I think that this is a human tendency; no one likes to feel at fault and ashamed.  Adam and Eve were banished from the garden for their transgression, but I think all too often we think of God as an angry father punishing his children in this story.  When reflecting upon this I do not see an angry father, but a disappointed father.  I reflect on my own father being upset with me for falling short, but remember that each disappointment was followed by compassion and hope for reconciliation.  God did not abandon us when we turned away from him, but promised us that we would again be free in His time.  Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians that we were not made to be alone; we were made for the glory of God.  We were chosen by God to live radically, and to say yes to his call as Mary does in the gospel.  It is only through this yes that we can return to God.  Mary as the mother of God became the new Eve, beginning again our intimate relationship with God unimpaired by human shame.  It is important to recognize the importance of Mary’s willingness to follow God, especially in this Advent season, that we may prepare our hearts to be like hers, so that we may receive her Son.  We are called to be like Mary, to say yes to God even when we are afraid, to realize that we are called to bring glory to God.  In each and every one of our lives there is a fall, our own Adam and Eve moment that we stray from God.  We all do it, and we fall short of the will of God, but that does not expel us from the garden forever, for in Christ all things are made new.  We are given the chance to say yes and bring glory to God.  Like Adam and Eve were tempted, we are tempted, but this temptation is an empty promise.  Pope Benedict XVI tells us, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.  You were made for greatness.”  We are called to live a life radically for Christ, to move past the excuses and shortcomings to embrace the loving father that awaits our return.

 

“I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the calling you have received.” ~ Ephesians 4:1

AMDG

Adam Dirnberger is a Sophomore Theology and Philosophy double major with a minor in Urban Social Analysis.  Adam is originally from St. Charles, MO.  He is active in the Micah Program, Alpha Phi Omega, Billiken Buddies, Oriflamme, and is a vocalist for the Upper Room Band and the Spanish Mass Choir.

 

 

 

 

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Friday, 7 December 2012

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

Is 29:17-24

Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14

Mt 9:27-31

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

Vision is a common theme in the scripture readings for today. Through the prophet Isaiah, God promises that “out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see,” while the Psalmist confidently proclaims his hope in the Lord who is his “light and…salvation,” asking only that he “may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.”  And in today’s Gospel, two blind men come to Jesus to seek—and obtain—their healing.

At first glance, this short passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew did not strike me in a particularly powerful way. However, as I continued to ponder these five brief verses, it was the image of these two blind men approaching Jesus together that remained with me. Perhaps there is something for us to be attentive to in this story of two companions who petition Jesus with a shared faith in his ability to heal, and who experience a shared encounter with Jesus resulting in new vision. Perhaps there is even something in this story for us to take to heart in a particular way at the end of this first week of Advent.

The beginning of a new liturgical year seems like an appropriate time to make “new year’s resolutions” concerning our faith. These resolutions usually have to do with being more committed to prayer and spiritual disciplines, and less prone to succumbing to our favorite sins and vices. Many of my own Advent resolutions are closely connected to my personal practice of faith: “I will do this less; I will do that more.” But I find that Matthew’s story of the two blind men challenges my somewhat individualistic approach to growing in my relationship with Christ. I am stirred by the sort of faith these two men have that prompts them to answer in unison, “Yes, Lord,” when Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I can do this?”

The Gospel narrative reminds me that the faith I call my own is not something I have arrived upon by myself: it has been formed by many faithful people, in addition to being mediated by the Church and its sacraments. The faith I profess is not a formula I have cobbled together on my own; I confess it in unison with a communion of saints throughout history and around the world. When I look back upon the twists and turns of my journey of faith, I realize that my own relationship with Christ is always linked in some way or another to my relationships with his people.  So, as I enter into the second week of the Advent season this year, intent upon nurturing and strengthening my own spiritual life, today’s Gospel invites me to consider how my “Advent resolutions” draw me more deeply into a shared faith and shared encounter with Christ who heals and transforms my vision.

Rachel Kondro is an alumna of SLU (A&S ’07, Grad ’09) and a Campus Minister in Reinert Hall.

 

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Thursday, 6 December 2012

Thursday of the First Week of Advent

Is 26:1-6

Ps 118:1 And 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a

Mt 7:21, 24-27

The readings for the day can be found here.

 

So begins the holiday season. Break out the peppermint hot chocolate, walks in Winter Wonderland, nights snuggled up in front of the fireplace, wool mittens and caps, and of course, gingerbread house building. It is no secret that gingerbread house building is an art form that requires skill, patience, and creativity. After gathering the graham crackers, marshmallows, colorful gumdrops, sprinkles, and icing supplies, construction can commence. The four walls, a roof, decorations, and frosting in the seams comprise a standard gingerbread house. However, many times there comes a point in the building process when the weight of all those M&Ms, licorice bits, and chocolate chips causes the roof to sag, shift, and finally, collapse. The foundation of the house was not sturdy enough to support it. Just as the gingerbread house collapsed, we too can be brought down by the weight of the world without a strong foundation. Both the first reading and the Gospel for today warn against the instability of a foundation set in anything other than God. Matthew speaks of storms that threaten the integrity of a house, “but it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.” God, our faith, and a commitment to both can be our foundation, because as Isaiah says, “the LORD is an eternal Rock.” Building gingerbread houses is a holiday pastime, but it can serve as an example of the effects of faulty foundation. One builds a house from the ground up; everything in a house relies on the strength, stability, and reinforcement of the foundation. Therefore, we must seek God as our foundation. In times of trouble we can rely on and call upon God’s support if we have used Him as the base for all else in our life.

This Advent Season, let us slow down and take the time to build a solid foundation in Christ. As we gather the ingredients to build our own gingerbread houses bring a presence of mind and awareness to the comparative process of building our life. The recipe for a lasting house consists of the following:

God as the foundation- always providing a sound frame

Family, friends, and faith as the walls- supporting and holding us up

Our profession, studies, or purpose as the roof- strengthening the values of the

foundation and helping us reach new heights

Communities, organizations, and groups as the icing- sticking it all together and

allowing us to combine all the different parts of our lives

Then come the decorations, the M&Ms, licorice, gumdrops, and marshmallows- these can add creativity and color to the gingerbread house, but too much and the house cannot sustain it all. The M&Ms- confidence, licorice- wealth, gumdrops- power, and marshmallows- concern about what others think. These are that which we must be careful to handle gently and with discretion in life. In excess, these can threaten to destroy the lives we have built, but totally without and a house seems incomplete.

During Advent let us resist the urge to build up our lives too quickly and heavy with that which will collapse us. A life rooted in the Gospel is one that will sustain us. As we continue on with holiday traditions may we remember the recipe for a sturdy gingerbread house and life grounded in faith.

Cami Kasmerchak is a sophomore studying public health.

 

 

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