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.
There are times when even I wonder why seminary is so expensive. I mean really look at how much it costs to educate our future priests and you will get a sticker shock. But, then there are moments like today that remind me that the cost is totally worth it. I'll briefly explain below.
I was in the parish Bible study and we were talking about Heaven, hell, and Purgatory when someone asked about limbo. So in a very kind and pastoral way I explained what I believed to be the Church teaching. I was in seminary for three years and have a masters in theology, but by NOOO means claim to know all of the depth of the Church's teaching. And believe it or not even though the Church is 2,000 plus years old it still hasn't gotten around to answering every question. Probably having to do with being guided by the Holy Spirit. Anyway, so after the class I went over to chat with Fr. Dave about what I said during class for some clarification. He quickly went to the Catechism, which duh, would have been a great place to go. But, the answers there weren't crystal clear. Then, Father was able to crystallize an answer for me to be able to take back to the group that is consoling. Having educated priests really helps us as parishioners because not only do they remind us of the sources that the Church has at it's disposal, like the Catechism, but they are also able to crystallize or explain in simpler terms than the sometimes heady wording of the Church's writing. I can only hope that I am able to relay that crystallization in an understandable way. Please pray for me, but more importantly pray for those in seminary. God bless you.
In beautiful Spring Lake we can see that the season is changing. As we visibly see that God is getting the Earth ready for a new season it is God's way of reminding us that we need to make some changes in our life. For He says in His 1965 hit song "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season)*" that there is a season for everything. Fall is a season for us to slooooow down and get ready for the Holy days season. Maybe take some time this week to start thinking about what you will start or stop during Advent**.
Also, you could think about which Saint you would like to dress as for All Hallows Eve, or study about.
OR this just came to me! We could think of a virtue that we want to work on for Advent and find a Saint that emulates that virtue and study how that Saint imitated Christ by emulating that particular virtue super awesomely.
* The Byrds actually wrote Turn!Turn!Turn!, but it is evident they borrowed from God in
**Fun fact. Advent is like a little Lent where the Church also recommends we give something up or start something virtues. I'm a cradle Catholic and just learned this a few years ago, after grad school no less. Anyway, I've found that what works for me is working on something during Advent and as my New Years resolution makes it much easier to fulfill during Lent. Therefore, something birthed during the Advent and Christmas Season comes to fruition right around Easter! Wow, the Church is truly awesome sometime.
RCIA has had their first formal "class" last night. All is well with them. Please continue to pray for them.
Tuesday morning Bible study went over this coming weekends readings so be sure to pop quiz them! We learned or re-learned that we need to totally depend on God like little children. Man that action can be so difficult some time, for me anyway it seems like the older I get the less feel like I should need God. I mean come on I know how to drive and do all these ADULT things. But yet, I have all these other responsibilities that I really NEED to totally abandon myself to HIM.
Holy Spirit guide us to a deeper trust in Jesus.
St. Faustina...Pray for us.
We have started our Tuesday morning Bible studies this week. Visit the Bible study link to learn more about that. We have also started our RCIA inquiry sessions you may view those links as well. We will be starting a Catechism session in the near future along with Wednesday night sessions on Marian apparitions . Please pray that these ministries go well and that we all learn and grow close to our Lord. God bless, -dave
Monday evenings from 7:00-8:30 PM, September 11-November 20 in Meeting Room B/C. This is a guided study of Cardinal Donald Wuerl's commentary on the Catechism of the Catholic Church titled The Catholic Way: Faith for Living Today. Advance registration is required, as there is a cost of $17 for the book, and there will be a reading assignment for the first session. The first quarter of the book will be covered in the fall, and the study will resume with Part 2 in January.
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