Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good Words to End The Year by Ronald Reagan

Here we are, December 31st, 2013. Almost 2014. That number really sounds crazy to me. 

Here are some good words, from our "good" President  - Ronald Reagan - good words for us to end the year. Let us pray that next year will be better, much better.

You can call it mysticism if you want to, but I have always believed that there was some divine plan that placed this great continent between two oceans to be sought out by those who were possessed of an abiding love of freedom and a special kind of courage. This was true of those who pioneered the great wilderness in the beginning of this country, as it is also true of those later immigrants who were willing to leave the land of their birth and come to a land where even the language was unknown to them.

Standing on the tiny deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop said, 'We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us...."

 We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of America was all that stood between the world and the return to the dark ages, Pope Pius XII said, "The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind."

We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Feast of the Holy Family

Bartolome Esteban Murillo c.1650
This beautiful painting is named "The Holy Family with a Little Bird." It reveals the tenderness of a mother, winding a skein of thread, watching her baby, who is the Christ, leaning on his father while playing with a little bird and dog. The painting exalts home life, family and work. It expresses the love between the members of a family.

Yesterday, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents,  I proclaimed the Gospel at the Missionary of Charity soup kitchen. The Gospel has some of the same verses as today, concerning Joseph and Mary taking the Christ-Child to Egypt, to escape Herod's death sentence. I explained to the men and women who were there waiting to eat - the importance of family - how it is the domestic Church - how marriage is a sacrament of peace - how loving families that stay together not only serve each other but all those around them. The family is an instrument of God's peace.

During Christmas week, in Irvington, NJ, three men were fatally shot and two were wounded outside of a night club. On the same day in Newark, a 13-year old girl and a 14-year old boy were shot dead. Newark has had at least 100 killings this year. Why? There are many reasons. The most important reason - the break down of the family unit - of family life - of family values - of family prayer. Today, let us pray for families - that they may mirror The Holy Family - thus bringing peace into our world.

O dear Jesus,We humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to all families.
May their homes be a shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith. Amen.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Lo How a Rose

Passers-by stopped for a moment to pause and listen in the busy streets of Washington, D.C., as Dominican brothers, sisters and friars gathered in joyful song to wish people a Merry Christmas.
One observer, John Cherry of Washington, D.C., described the scene as “very soothing to my spirit.”

He told CNA that religious brothers and sisters represent the “call of the future” of the Christian Church.

“The purpose of Jesus is to come and let the light shine in the darkness,” he continued, saying that the Dominicans’ singing offered a reminder of this in an often busy and sometimes difficult city.  

Student brothers and friars from the Dominican House of Studies, along with Dominican sisters from the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia and the Dominican Sisters of Mary, took a short ride from their Washington, D.C. priory and convent to sing Advent and Christmas carols to people walking the downtown streets on Dec. 16.

Some of the friars, brothers and sisters also stopped to talk to the people walking by, praying with them, answering their questions about Catholicism and the meaning of Christmas, and handing out crucifixes blessed by Pope Francis.

Asdrubal Mencia, a D.C. resident and member of the Knights of Columbus at his local parish, said that while he had heard there were religious brothers and sisters in the city, this was his first time seeing them.

They have a “great tone,” he observed, but added that there was also a quality to their singing that he could not quite describe.

“It’s something joyful,” he said, a type of warmth. “I like it! It’s excellent.”

Bridget Boland and Branan Durbin – childhood friends who both attended a Dominican-run high school in Baltimore – explained that they had come specifically “to hang out with the Dominicans” during winter break at their colleges.  

“It’s so cool to see them interact with everyone,” said Durbin, explaining that she loves to “see them talking to the little kids” and “out in the community.”

Read the rest HERE

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Blessed Christmas to All

 Photo by Brian J. Murphy

                                 Carol - Thomas Merton 1946

Flocks feed by darkness with a noise of whispers,
In the dry grass of pastures,
And lull the solemn night with their weak bells.
The little towns upon the rocky hills
Look down as meek as children:
Because they have seen come this holy time.
God's glory, now, is kindled gentler than low candlelight
Under the rafters of a barn:
Eternal Peace is sleeping in the hay,
And Wisdom's born in secret in a straw-roofed stable.
And O! Make holy music in the stars, you happy angels.
You shepherds, gather on the hill.
Look up, you timid flocks, where the three kings
Are coming through the wintry trees;
While we unnumbered children of the wicked centuries
Come after with our penances and prayers,
And lay them down in the sweet-smelling hay
Beside the wise men's golden jars.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Gift of Wonder

"Each year, God asks us to shed one more coat of awareness, one more dream state and come alive to the vision of God’s plan for each of us and the world-at-large.

   "The older we get, the harder this is to do. As children we had a sense of wonder. Our eyes were wide open and drinking in the fascinating gifts we beheld…Our thirsty souls could not have enough of the wonders of creation.

   "Then, somehow, we grew too old to dream. We tired of the abundance of the world, or at least grew weary of keeping up with the feast of life, and stepped away from the banquet of life.

   "The natural gift of wonder God gave us as children was meant to be kept alive.…Instead we let wonder go to sleep. We entered the typical dream state of most humans.

   "Why else does Jesus tell us today, ‘Stay awake!’…Advent says, ‘Wake up and realize the gifts of love you have received.’

Rev. Alfred McBride, O. Praem.,The Priest, Oct. ‘87

Saturday, December 14, 2013

St. John of the Cross

"Souls will be unable to reach perfection who do not strive to be content with having nothing, in such fashion that their natural and spiritual desire is satisfied with emptiness; for this is necessary in order to reach the highest tranquility and peace of spirit. Hence the love of God in the pure and simple soul is almost continually in act" St. John of the Cross

Today is the Memorial of St. John of the Cross. St. John of the Cross (along with St. Teresa of Avila) is one of the founders of the Discalced Carmelites. St. John is one of the acknowledged masters of mystical theology. Indeed, perhaps no other writer has had greater influence on Catholic spirituality.

Two years ago, in the midst of a winter storm in my local park, I shot this above image of a pine tree, engulfed in wind blown snow. It was quiet, I was alone. St. John says that our "natural and spiritual desire" is satisfied with emptiness. I find that when I am in quiet places, even places close to home - I can free myself from life's burdens for a time, and open myself up to hearing the voice of God. Yes, we should all seek a quiet place now and then.

Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk, February 13, 1949 – "It seems to me that what I am made for is not speculation but silence and emptiness, to wait in darkness and receive the Word of God entirely in His Oneness and not broken up into all His shadows."