The Mystery of Love

22 Dec

Baby

Take a moment.

Think.

Forget carols, presents, trees and last-minute rushes.

Think about the great mystery of love—not what passes for love in modern entertainment and “romances.”

Love, that real, unsullied, selfless and everlasting love—the love that prompted God to become one of us, like us in everything but sin.

The angel asked, “Will you?”

Mary said, “Yes.”

And God became one of us, fully human and yet still divine—truly a human with body, blood, bones and a soul.

God has become so human that, like us, he is totally vulnerable, able to suffer pain and hunger, cold and chill. That Baby, soon to become a man, had to have his diapers changed. He had to learn to walk, to talk, to pray.

Jesus is his name—Son of God, Son of Mary, Son of Man, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Messiah and Savior.

But, also, he is Friend and Brother.

Jesus had to grow, to work, to play with his young friends.

He grew in age and wisdom, as do we all. He, Son of God, had to learn the depths of his Father’s love, the path he was to walk, the mission he was to fulfill, the death he was to suffer and the resurrection that would defeat sin and death.

That’s the mystery of love—of God’s love.

Christmas isn’t about trees and lights. It is about the Light of the World.

It’s about how the wood of the crèche foreshadows the wood of the Cross.

God so loved the world…

That’s the mystery.

That’s love.

Have a Holy Christmas—one filled with the joy born of being loved and the hope born of resurrection.

 

A Child Deserves Better

18 Dec

Family

A thirty-something single woman has decided to make a difference in the lives of needy children.

She has become a foster mother—and in her own family of parents, siblings and grandparents, the children are smothered with love.

As I understand it, she’s had a series of what might be called “short stays,” little ones whose foster parents need a break or whose mothers, for whatever reason, cannot care for them for whatever reason.

The kids are a delight—particularly the little ones who are crawling or beginning to walk. They receive hugs, kisses and cuddly spells in a rocking chair. Their responses are bright smiles, returned hugs and peaceful sleep.

One little boy, about six, has a great ear-to-ear grin—even with his two front teeth missing.  He has problems in school and acts, at times, like unleashed energy. He finds it difficult to take directions. Everything is a game that he wants to play by his own rules.

Apparently his mother is unable to care for him. He craves to be hugged and loved.

All these little ones, but especially our little rebel, deserve better than what life has so far given them.

Please God, bless them, their real parents and their foster parents.

I can hear the echo of the angel, “A child is born.” Every birth of every child is precious, a treasure.

Christmas and Old Folks

5 Dec

 

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 This is a West Virginia scene. No snow in Central Florida!

For us older parishioners, Christmas brings back many memories of the “good old days.” I remember my earliest Christmases—the mystery of Santa Claus and the anticipation of what would suddenly appear under the tree.

I remember loving and generous parents, although they were far from rich and not especially comfortable with expenses vs. income. And I had wonderful grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins galore. Then there was brother, nine years my senior—and the wicked joy he took in teasing me.

Memories of Joy and Sadness

But burned ever more deeply in my memory was the tradition of Midnight Mass for all of us, with Mama singing alto in our parish choir.

Even when I was five or six years old, I knew the real meaning of Christmas—Jesus, our Savior is born.

Christmas joy and love remain among us—but, along with other older Catholics, there is that sadness that “things are no longer the same.” We are not as spry as we used to be. We forget things that happened last night while we recall a Christmas decades ago.

And there is sadness, too, that “things are no longer the same” in our families. There are fewer families boasting relatives who live near us, who can come together for Christmas dinner.

And, many of us old folks experience disappointment that, in our judgment, some of our children, grandchildren and other relatives seem to have lost the significance of the birth of Christ.

Incarnation is for Every Day

The Incarnation of the Son of God, and his birth from the virginal womb of Mary, must remain a daily reality. You see, we are part of the mystery of Incarnation. The Son of God became a man like us in all things except sin. We are in Christ; we are the Body of Christ.

In baptism, we were filled with divine life of God—and Jesus’s mission became our own when he commanded: “Go forth and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19 ff).

Live What We Believe

We have no idea how our faith will impress or inspire those around us. Blessed Pope Paul VI said that we first of all share our faith by our goodness and holiness. In other words, we live and practice what we believe before we can ever hope to convince others when we speak to them about our faith.

 

A “Vacation/Retreat” — 2015

18 Nov

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You are invited to Deacon Henry’s 

14th Retreat Cruise

RCCL Serenade of the Seas

 November 13-23, 2015

Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, FL with stops at Tortola, BVI … Bassettere, St. Kitts …Roseau, Dominca …St. John … Antigua … Philipsburg, … St. Maarten

Starting at $1,087.00 per person.

You will need a valid passport

Contact:

Vacations by Annette

http://www.AnnetteTravels@aol.com

Phone 407-971-1971  

Retreat Outline:

Moving into God … How to Live the Faith More Effectively

The retreat will help already committed Catholics to renew an appreciation for their faith. It will also invite participants to reflect on how they embrace the call to grow and live the faith in their own families, communities and the environments of work and play.

Session One: Conversion, Moving from Darkness into Light

                Wonderful and Wounded Humanity

                Finding the Light

                Move into the Heart of God

Session Two: Move into God’s Embrace

                Called into the Community of Faith

                Why Belong to the Church

                The Mass—Perfect Prayer

Session Three: Prayer is Living the Mystery

                The Five ‘Words’ of Mary

                Adventures in Prayer—Getting Personal

Session Four: Move into the Mission of Christ

                Called to Give What You Have Received

                Feedback

(Note: Each session will be held while we are at sea and will run from sixty to ninety minutes. If you wish to prepare, look over the Gospels, the Documents of Vatican II on the Laity and the Liturgy, as well as Pope Paul VI’s “On the Evangelization of Peoples” and Pope Francis’ “Light of Faith.”)

Part 2: Merry Christmas!

12 Nov

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Part One was posted Nov. 11, 2014

As the old man says, “It’s where the rubber meets the road.”

The gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior challenges us to live what we say we believe.

It isn’t enough to accept Jesus Christ intellectually or emotionally.

Conversion is Challenge No. 1.

 Without conversion there is no real acceptance of Jesus Christ.

Just what does it mean to be converted to Jesus Christ?

  • Your life changes; you focus on the Lord, thirst for his truth, pray for total conversion, which by the way, is a lifelong effort.
  • You measure all statements and events in the light of Holy Scripture and the authentic teachings of the Church. Truth sheds a light that reveals things as they really are. In faith you will see the extremes of capitalism (it’s all about profit) and of socialism, which would deny private ownership of property and the opportunity to become financially independent. Faith reveals the fallacy of the ill-advised push for same sex-marriages, the totally unacceptable co-habitation of men and women outside of marriage. Faith also will shed divine light on the “political” problems among nations, revealing the moral dimension of those events in our world.
  • Conversion makes you an eager participant in righting the wrongs in society: the oppression of the weak and minorities, the lie that a strong economy alone will make our nation what it should and can be. You will be willing to stand up for justice and other moral values in the midst of public ridicule—and to declare your faith before an increasingly pagan values system in our nation and world.
  • Conversion, continually fortified by God’s Word and the Sacraments of the Church, will help you become that proverbial “city on a mountain” that cannot be hidden (See Mt 5:14-16). You will be able to explain why you believe in Jesus Christ and live in the warmth and strength of his Church.

Courage is Challenge No. 2

We might well be prepared for the future hinted at by current politics and government interference with religious freedom.

One example?

The government is demanding copies of sermons by certain pastors who preach the truth regarding the government’s unconstitutional foray into both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Still another?

Obamacare fights Catholic institutions which refuse to carry abortion coverage in their health package for employees.

Could you not add other challenges to our faith and our Church? Consider how often we are told we can’t speak of God in schools or public meetings; however, it seems the irreligious and anti-religious can spew their disbelief anywhere and anytime with the government’s blessing.

If you can turn your back on these challenges, you may want to ask yourself: Have I really become converted to Christ and his Church?

Part 1: Merry Chrismas!

11 Nov

56256

What? Already?

Yep, already.

It’s easy to think about Christmas before the Thanksgiving turkey is slaughtered, cooked and eaten—commercials and movies about Christmas abound on television. And few of those holiday offerings have anything to do with the real meaning of Christmas.

Let’s take a breather.

Why not turn a deaf ear to all the secular holiday music and turn away from the tinsel and glitter of a commercial Christmas. It’s time to refocus on what God offers us in this historical event and eternal reality—the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God and his birth of the Virgin Mary.

We find in this mystery both hope and challenge.

The Hope of Incarnation

Today’s world is not all that different from the world at the time of the birth of Jesus: People suffer and nations fight; people experience sadness and despair, joy and sorrow, success and failure.

People seek God or ignore him. God accepts gratitude from those who remember him; he stands ignored by others who think they are the authors of all the good in their lives.

In the ones who seek and embrace truth, an imperishable hope is born in the birth of Jesus Christ and his life, death and resurrection.

It is the hope echoed in Scripture: “God does not lie” (Nm 23:19, Heb 6:18). He has promised salvation and he never breaks a promise (Jer 32:42 and 33:14; EZ 37:12-14).

The promise of the Messiah comes first to us in a rather veiled reference. God is cursing the serpent (Satan) and tells him that the woman’s offspring will strike the serpent’s head. At the same time, God acknowledges that Satan will continue to strike out at the Messiah and his people: “you will strike at his heel” (See Gn 4:14-15).

So, the Messiah has arrived—a weak and totally dependent Babe, the Son of God, the only begotten Son of the Father. This Babe, and the adult man he is to become, possesses two distinct natures. He is at once totally divine and totally human. He is the One who will teach, heal, admonish–the One who will bring believers together in the Church enlivened and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

This is our hope: We share the divine life of God in Jesus who suffered, died, was buried and rose from the dead. We share his divine life in Baptism and in all the Sacraments of the Church, in hearing, believing and living the Holy Scriptures.

But. we find challenge in the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Next: Part 2, Merry Christmas!

 

A Key to a Fuller Life

27 Oct

iStock_000004551858Medium

I must recognize his power to create and sustain all things…

A very helpful  insight came, over a period of several weeks, as I prayed the psalms and prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours.

I’m bad about underling both in my breviary and my Bible. I also had made marginal notes in both.

In the psalms and prayers of the “Hours” (breviary), on various pages I have underlined two phrases which struck me as important: “a sacrifice of praise” and “a sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

One day, I put these two together, and saw a little bit better what Jesus did on the Cross. He was indeed “a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”

He was a sacrifice of praise: Jesus, in his humanity, knew and loved God the Father. He knew so well the omnipotence of the Father. Jesus, in his humanity, gave his Father all he could give—even to his death on the Cross.

He was a sacrifice of thanksgiving: At the Last Supper, Jesus gave us Eucharist (a word rooted in the Greek word for thanksgiving). He took bread and wine and changed them into his Body and Blood, offering the eternal gift as food, the gift of salvation which would be fulfilled the next day on the Cross.

Jesus commanded us to follow and to take up our own crosses, to join him in his mission of salvation of all peoples.

So, I must become a living sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

I must recognize and praise God for his very Being that has no beginning and no end. I must acknowledge his power to create all things and all peoples, including me, and to sustain us all in life. I must see him in all of creation—the blue of a fall sky, the glorious change of colors in forests, the smile of a baby, the wisdom of the aged.

And I must be grateful. After all, if I acknowledge that all the wonders of the world are created and sustained by God, I will want to thank him for his great goodness. I will want to thank him for the gift of Jesus and the salvation he won for us. Also, I must experience deep gratitude for the Church, the Gospel and the Sacraments, especially for the Eucharist, in and through which we experience in real time the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus the Lord.

Then, another insight: When I thank God, am I not praising him? Are not praise and gratitude so closely connected that they actually become one movement of the faithful soul?

 

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