Open Anticipation

p1020696Who remembers the Advent Calendars of old, with their pop-up windows for each day of the season? As kids, we loved opening them, excitement growing as we were reminded what Christmas means.  As adults, hopefully we realize that anticipation of God breaking into our lives at every moment is what it’s all about.  So how can we prepare now? What are the windows that must be opened?

Darkness envelops many lives and places in our world. Illumine a candle and pray for greater trust that the light of Christ can overcome all despair. Work at having a more open attitude toward those whose ways and ideas we don’t understand. Listen with an open ear to the Advent Scriptures of the Mass, believing that we really can expect God with us in every situation, challenge and time.

Make Advent 2016 one of open anticipation.  Use this lovely Advent Calendar for Adults. Or sign up for this Sacred Advent Retreat. You’ll receive a daily e-mail that invites you to pray with a Scripture reading and related points of reflection. Open windows this season that really make a difference.

Overwhelmed by Gratitude

Golden leavesDuring these days before Thanksgiving, I find myself intentionally trying to slow down—not just my pace, but my thoughts, activities, desires and expectations. In the Big Scheme of things, not much of it really matters anyway. For me, life is about living with an open heart. The more I practice this (and it takes a LOT of practice!), the more I find myself overwhelmed by gratitude. I catch glimpses of myself and all of creation with new eyes. It is pure gift. Is there a practice you have for living with an attitude of gratitude? We’d love to hear it.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough. -Melody Beattie

Reblooming

My favorite hideaway when I need some extra quiet and prayer is a “Secret Garden.”  A small oasis located in the Missouri Botanical Garden, it’s surrounded by a hedge that provides just enough solitude and silence. It never fails to calm my spirit.

untitledSo it was that a week ago I made my way there. The sun was bright and the air crisp. Breathing deeply as I entered the garden, I was astonished to see iris blooming. In November? Feeling like Moses with the burning bush, I felt I had to get closer to this unusual sight. Sure enough, dazzling iris were blooming and beautiful.  And as the accompanying sign declared, these were reblooming iris. They bloom in the spring, but also have the ability to flower again in summer and fall.  It all depends on their having the right nourishment, water and climate.

After a tumultuous week in our country, I wonder what might need to rebloom in us. Would a climate of gratitude and appreciation for what we so often take for granted make us more open? Could nourishing words of affirmation for one another release new beauty in us as a people? Might a resolve to more frequently contemplate the Source of Life within us all bring forth fresh energy and possibility?  Thanksgiving is only 10 days away. It’s time to prepare our hearts and not just the menu!

When I Was in Prison

chainlink fence clipartDid you know that Pope Francis declared last Sunday the Jubilee of Prisoners? It was one more Jubilee within the Jubilee Year of Mercy. You can read the pope’s moving homily here. And here is Pope Francis’ Sunday tweet: “No cell is so isolated that it is shut to the Lord. His love reaches everywhere. I pray that each one may open his heart to this love.”

While we may not all personally know someone who is incarcerated, we all know someone—very often ourselves—who are prisoners of a different kind: a closed mind, a judgmental attitude, a hardened heart, addictions, and so on. As I prayed with Pope Francis’ homily, I began to ask myself this question: How am I like a prisoner? You may want to reflect on this question, too. Keep in mind that in the Old Testament the understanding of Jubilee always had to do with freedom and liberation. We can continue this Jubilee of Prisoners by reflecting on how each of us can offer freedom and forgiveness to ourselves and others. Spend some time with Matthew 25: 31-46. You may also want to consider this quote from Pope Francis’ homily: “Let us never yield to the temptation of thinking that we cannot be forgiven. Whatever our hearts may accuse us of, small or great, “God is greater than our hearts” (1John 3.20). We need but entrust ourselves to his mercy.”

 

Saints Today

Happy Feast of All Saints!  To prepare this post, I surfed the web a little to see what’s been said about modern day saints, and I found a nice blog written by Faith Noah.  I p1020727quote her:

  • “The truth is: there is no such thing as a cookie-cutter saint.
  • YOU DO YOU–Each person has a unique path to sainthood. There is no mold. There is no yellow-brick road to follow. There is only you and God’s distinct plan for your life. The only prerequisite you must meet is love for the Lord. . . .you have the chance to be a saint in your daily decisions to live for Christ, whatever that may look like. . . . The Church and the world needs you, future saints. . . Show ‘em what you’ve got.
  • Our world is in desperate need of saints who understand what it’s like to be a Christian in modern times.”

Read the whole post on the Life Teen website to learn more about becoming one of today’s unique and beautiful saints, filled with enthusiasm and self-giving love.