On February 8 our Parish will be hosting a film night. The film is the cartoon "God is with Us" that is found on formed.org. It is meant primarily for those ages 7+, but I enjoyed seeing the Gospel come alive in ways I haven't seen before. One can do more with cartoon films than non-cartoon films sometimes.
If you don't want to watch the film, then you have two other options. First, you could join those under 7 in playing or second, you could join other adults downstairs in fellowship. This event is not just for families. You can head on down to room D to share in fellowship with your Church family. Let's get to know each other a little better, go outside our bubbles and clicks to share the joy of Christ.
Welp friends Christmas is officially over and we are in Ordinary time for the next 8 weeks. We kick off this weekend with the Wedding Feast of Cana found in the Gospel according to John. This reading is very loaded, but I want to just touch on a couple things. One, that Mary is present at the wedding. And two, that Jesus probably doesn't have all of his disciples yet.
First, since Mary is present we can deduce that those getting married were relatives of Jesus. How can we reach to this conclusion? Well, not everyone would have known that they had run out of wine. Those in the inner circle would have had this knowledge. Mary was in the inner circle, and Jesus wasn't. This is very interesting to me. It points to some spiritual insights. If we let Mary into our lives, then she will bring our concerns to Jesus. There are religions out there, like Islam, that accept more Marian truth than they do Christology.
The second point that Jesus does not have all of his disciples yet can be seen by looking at the previous verses. He has at least six so far. One can then imagine Jesus showing up with a plus six to a wedding and since these guys have not been taught that they may have had a little to much to drink. Maybe Mary saw this and it's one of the reasons she went to Jesus. One thing we do know for sure is that the disciples saw the exchange between Mary and Jesus and that John wrote about it because it was Gospel worthy.
Yes, it's still Christmas. We just had the Epiphany last weekend and this coming weekend we will remember Jesus' baptism, which will conclude the Christmas season. Therefore, I hope you all still are saying Merry Christmas to people and still have some of your stuff up. Sometimes I hear people shoulding all over themselves after the new calendar year that they should have all their stuff down. I try and remind them to be easy on their self and remind them that it's still Christmas. Don't buy into the fast pace of the secular world. We are still in the slow down season. Slow down, but confusing Christmas season is.
Something I have noticed this Christmas season is that I along with a number of other people get all confused at the time of day and which day it is. How can we not? Just to name a few: meal times are different, we go to Mass four times in two weeks, and talk to family at not the normal times. An example of the confusion is that one night after dinner my daughter almost had a melt down because I told her it was time to shower. She was so mixed up on the days and times of days that she thought we had just had breakfast. I hadn't even served a breakfast food like waffles. Sneaky me wants to do that next year though.
It's nice this last week of Christmas to be getting back to normal. It's the first full week of school and work. But, there must be something that God wants us to learn about the confusing time that is the Christmas season. Please share your stories and thoughts on your Christmas season confusions and things you have learned.
God bless, -dave
I had a really nice one written. Probably the best blog ever about Christmas in the history of the world. But, I lost it and don't have enough coffee in me to recreate it. But, I do remember the ending. I asked the readers, um... YOU, some questions. What are some things that you do spiritually during the Christmas season to grow closer to Jesus? How do you approach the Christmas season differently than all the other seasons? I pretty much just restrain myself from some secular things during Advent, like eggnog. I try really hard to hold off on the nog till Christmas day. Please comment below to help me grow. Thanks!
The third week of Advent the Church lights up the Rose candle.^1
Also, during this Gaudete, or Rejoice, Sunday we have readings that are meant to have us feel and be full of Joy. This years readings, year C, start with Zephaniah who was a "prophet of doom." However, in the reading chosen for this Sunday, Zephaniah 3:14-18 we read him saying, "Shout for Joy!" So, even a doomy guy can tell us to shout for Joy. Therefore, we should all be able to at least look for some silver lining in doomy situations. Go read Zephaniah. It's a really short read.
^1 It's not a pink candle. As one priest pointed out to me a few years ago. Men don't wear pink, liturgically it's rose.
Hope and Peace!
During the first two weeks of Advent the Church calls us to Hope and Peace. During the readings of the first week we are called to remember that our Hope is in God and that in a short while, Christmas, our Hope will become actualized, fully alive in the person of Jesus. He is the answer to all things we Hope for. During the Bible study last week the homework assignment was simple: Smile more, because it's contagious and also makes one feel better about oneself, and the second assignment was to to do more by doing less. By doing less during this season of Advent, we can do more spiritual activity. We can allow ourselves to Hope in Christ, give Him our fears and look to him for Hope.
This coming weeks readings the Church has us, with Hope in our pocket, turn to Peace.
St. John the Baptist is brought up and his call to repent and that his voice is calling out in the desert to bring the mountains down, fill in the valleys, and make the crocked ways straight. When we examine what the Baptist preached through the eye of Peace that the Church is having us view these reading through, then we see that the way to peace is by turning from sin. Send our bad habits on an exile, or out to the desert. Bring down the mountains of materialism that has such a grip on us in our country and especially during this Advent season. Materialism has stolen Advent from us, taken what should be a time of reflection filled with Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love; and turned it into a stressful time of "getting everything up" or "going to all the parties" or "buying all the toys" ..........etc., etc., etc.
So, how do we get OUR season back from the World?
We need to slow ourselves down.; try not to keep up with those around us. Focus on our Family more. Ask ourselves questions like: What do our kids really need? Why do I feel like I need to go to this party? Do I need to be at this party for a long time or a short time? Is it better for our family to slowly set up decorations to build up the excitement of Jesus' coming? What do I need to repent from that will bring me Peace? How has materialism crept into my family and how can I let Jesus in to kick materialism out?
These are just a few questions we can ask ourselves. We can ask ourselves more. Also, each is a loaded question. I strongly advise you to not try and tackle all these questions during one Advent. It can seem overwhelming if you do. Remember that each of us are unique and Jesus is meeting us on the path wherever we are and will walk with us. He will make the way straight. His way is filled with Peace.
Allow Peace in.
Our Lady of Guadalupe was our final class in the Marian series. A very nice parishioner that wishes to remain nameless lead the class. She did a wonderful job. She brought in the classic Our Lady of Guadalupe film that can also be found on Formed.org. She also graced us with some great handouts and even some pins of our Mother. But, the best thing by far that she shared was the picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe and her zeal for Our Lady.
We have such a blessing in Our Lady, she shows us so much about Jesus that I wouldn't be able to type all of it. But, what we can see that she shows us through her coming to St. Juan Diego is that she loves all of Jesus' people and wants us all to join together in worshiping Him. She reminds us that we are not alone, the Holy Spirit was very active with the Aztec people and the missionaries at the time just need a little course correction to see that Fact. Our Lady provided that nudge, as most good mother do.
As the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe approaches on December 12 and as Advent comes nearer and nearer may we allow ourselves to be nudged closer to Jesus.
"Ahhh man they need to keep Christ in Christmas." Some people will say with such anger sometimes. Themselves, by their anger, pushing Christ out of the season.
Here is a glory of the Catholic Church. We are a "Both, And" religion. Some examples, Jesus is Both human And Divine, God is Both merciful And justice, and finally, the Holy Spirit is Both the Giver and the Gift. Therefore, I want to add that we can have Both the Holiday season and the Christmas season. I used to be a ba humbugie person concerning the Christ in Christmas part until I was talking with some of my students and asking them about it. One student said that he believed the Holiday season started at Halloween. I was floored, because I was thinking that commercialization has totally gotten to these students. I schooled my students on Advent season and Christmas season. But, then I went home and prayed about it as I have for a few years after before I come to a conclusion. It's a case of "Both, And!!!" Let me explain some of my thought process. Please, and I really beg of you, forgive my possible scatter brainedness.
What is a Holiday? Really, it's a Holy Day. Therefore, Halloween is a Holiday because it is in fact All Hallows Eve. So, the start of a Holiday season because what follows is a number of Church Holy Days. All Souls, All Saints, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and that's just to name a few off the top of my head. Comment below if you can think of some more.
The Christmas season is a Church defined season, but that doesn't mean that the "Holiday season" is not a trueness that is happening during these months. God wants us to use this season in a special way and the Church points to that by having these Holy Days present. So next time you hear someone say, Happy Holidays." Say it right back at them. Or if it is a particular Holy day say, "Happy Souls Day" etc. Happy Advent, Merry Christmas for those twelve days.
Don't be like past Dave Heinert, such a scrooge. Be Merry to your brothers and sisters as Jesus wants us to especially during this time of year when we see less of the Sun.
When the Sun is hiding behind the clouds people get gloomy; so bring the Son out from within by being cheerful!
The Apparition that we will cover next week will the Church approved Apparition in Knock, Ireland. It was a silent Apparition and did not only include Mary, but also St. Joseph, St. John the Evangelist, and a Lamb on an altar with a Cross behind the altar.
The Apparition took place after the parish priest had done 100 days of masses for the souls of those people that weren't able to receive their last rights, or what we call now Anointing of the Sick. The vision is seen as a way of God telling those in Knock that the prayers have been heard. It is important to note that the Church teaches that, "God is bound to the Sacraments, but not by them." Meaning He is bound to them because He has said that He will do what He says He will do and God ALWAYS keeps up His end of the covenant, it's part of Who God IS to keep His Word.
He is not bound by them means that God can save people even if they do not receive the Sacraments, because again, He is God and can do anything He wishes to do.
Another way of stating the above would be, "God's Mercy flows through the Sacraments, but not only through the Sacraments but through all of His redemptive Creation."
After not writing here for a couple weeks I'm probably a little over due. I've been doing my first teaching series and since I'm so green in the parish and the job I need to give myself some time to adjust.
The series is about Marian Apparitions. The first series was about how a reported sitting becomes and approved apparition. Out of the around 1,500 reported only less than 20 have become approved! There is a three step process: 1) Examine the content of the message, 2) the means by which the message was transmitted, and 3) the character of the spiritual fruit displayed in the life of those influenced by the message.
I will leave you the same as my oldest son has been ending his nightly prayers.
If you have any questions, comment below.