Saturday, December 10, 2016

December 10 - Saturday of the Second Week of Advent

The Ultimate Preparing

It seems we are always preparing for something each day; preparing for work, preparing meals, preparing for family travels, preparing Christmas lists, etc. But have we taken the time for the ultimate preparation of our hearts for Christmas?

As we are approximately half way through Advent Season 2016, let us pause a few quiet moments to take inventory and reflect on where we are in our personal Advent journey. Are we taking time away from the hustle and busy-ness of “material” Christmas to prepare our hearts for the true coming of Christ this Christmas? 

Can we, like Elijah, the holiest of prophets, do our part to turn back hearts? Maybe we cannot call down fire as Elijah did, but we can light a fire of love for the Lord that is evident and contagious in the way we treat others and live our lives.

Can we be courageous like John the Baptist to prepare the way in the places we abide? We can trust that as the Lord of Hosts cared for His vine (Israel) that He will continue to protect us as we turn to Him. With this confidence, we can bring the love of the Infant Jesus into our hearts, into our families, into our work environments and into our neighborhoods. 

Do your part to usher in the Age of the Messiah! There is still time for the ultimate preparing!

God bless you!

Ruth Ann Nguyen
Volunteer team member for RCIA at Holy Name Cathedral

Friday, December 9, 2016

December 9 - Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Paradox

In today's Gospel reading, Jesus calls out "this generation" for its quickness to criticize, especially when it criticizes two opposites for different reasons! He says:

"For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said,
‘He is possessed by a demon.’ 
The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said,
‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard,
a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’"

Jesus' words remind me of G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy. Before Chesterton converted, he was amazed at the diverse criticisms leveled at Christianity, especially when there were two groups criticizing it for opposing characteristics: 

"As I read and re-read all the non-Christian or anti-Christian accounts of the faith... a slow and awful impression grew gradually but graphically upon my mind -- the impression that Christianity must be a most extraordinary thing. For not only (as I understood) had Christianity the most flaming vices, but it had apparently a mystical talent for combining vices which seemed inconsistent with each other.... What again could this astonishing thing be like which people were so anxious to contradict, that in doing so they did not mind contradicting themselves?"

Chesterton thinks these criticisms are caused by Christianity's many apparent paradoxes---pairs of seemingly self-contradictory ideas. 

What are some examples? Here are three: the penitential seasons like Advent and the feasts like Christmas, the sacredness of both consecrated celibacy and marital fruitfulness, and, in today's Gospel, the value of withdrawing from the world in a spirit of penance and the simultaneous value of sharing in the ordinary lives of the people we encounter. Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised when the critics (and the media!) get confused. 

Here's another one: the value of meditative reflection and charitable action. As Chesterton (and we) engage in reflection, Jesus' next words in the reading point us to action: "But wisdom is vindicated by her works." Jesus reconciles the paradox: reflection is not an end in itself but, if it leads to wisdom, it will naturally yield good fruits.

Kevin Gimpel

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 8 - Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

A Letter

Dearest Joachim and Anne,

How blessed were you to bear witness to the sinless dawn of Mary's existence that helps to wipe out the sinfulness of my existence! In every moment of my life, I invoke Our Blessed Lady's intercession. Because of the Spirit-filled obedience of the both of you, we have a Blessed Lady in our lives, through whom we can give Glory and Honor and Thanks to GOD for His Grace of the past and supplicating Divine assistance for His Grace to come. Through the house and line of David, dearest Anne and dearest Joachim, you nurtured Mary, taught her, and brought her up to be a worthy Mother of GOD. Guided by your teaching, she faithfully responded to GOD's request to become His Most Holy Mother. Guided by your teaching, it was your faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed Our Blessed Lady to stand by the Cross, as Our Lord was crucified.......and still believe. 

Mary, GOD's Mother and Mine...... Please stay with me always.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7 - Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent

St. Ambrose

What a privilege to share some thoughts on these beautiful readings today. St. Ambrose was one of the original four doctors of the Church. While reflecting on today's message I applied the process of Lectio Divina, a type of holy listening. Several words "spoke" to me.

Let me start with the Gospel reading from Matthew 11: 28-30 and then I will incorporate some thoughts on the other readings. Matthew offers us a great invitation. He states "Come to me, ALL you who labor & are burdened". GOD CALLS EVERYONE! Isn't this a comfort. He knows our daily struggles, trials, tribulations & burdens. All the things that weigh us down.

It is in this calling that he invites us to bring our "heavy loads" to HIM, and then HE assures us REST!

The readings in Isaiah also invite us to ponder the Salvation promised by GOD, who is all powerful & all knowing. God pardons, renews, heals & calls us each by name. He truly comes to save all. What a blessing. It is in this "calling" that we need to prepare ourselves to meet Him. The Greek word "Metanoia" means to change ones heart or mind. This season of Advent invites us to prepare & ready ourselves to welcome Him into our hearts again. Our all knowing, all powerful GOD who abides in mercy and kindness, comes to renew & save us. He invites us to "SOAR" as on Eagles Wings. How I have come to love this beautiful hymn, which is typically sung at funerals. For many years, because it touched me so personally, I couldn't sing it without crying. Now these powerful words truly lift me. Such a profound promise. GOD calls us to acknowledge His divine plans for all of us. He loves us so completely as to "carry us" on Eagles Wings!

In closing my thoughts on today's readings, let's be sure to rest & ponder the goodness of GOD, as we wait patiently & prayerfully during this season of Advent. Then we will truly be "blessed" & prepared to meet Him. I wish you ALL, a Happy Advent of Holy Waiting!


Linda Nardone


Women of the parish are invited to join us on Saturday mornings at 8:30 am in the rectory for the women's spirituality group that reflects on the Sunday gospel using the lectio divina method. Please consider dropping by!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6 - Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent

Of Ourselves

When my sons were growing up I told them about the tradition of putting shoes by the chimney so that St. Nicholas would fill the shoes with candy on December 6th. At the same time I asked them to figure out a special gift for one of their friends so they could experience Christ’s generosity by giving to another. That person was not to know that the gift was from one of them but hidden so that the person would know it was from Christ. As they begin their families, I hope they will continue the tradition

Jesus is the pivotal point of our life in home, work, school and all of what we are. During Advent we sometimes get distracted by all the glamorous things that seek our attention. Jesus seeks that attention and wishes us to chose Him. We return to the pivot and focus our attention on Him through prayer.

St. Nicholas whose feast we celebrate today has that sense of goodness and mercy toward all. The best gift we have to give to others is the gift of ourselves enhanced by God’s graces and the joy of gifting ourselves to another. When we give the gift ourselves to another we replicate God’s generosity In the Scriptures for today, the psalmist refrain is: "Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will." We place ourselves in God's loving embrace.

Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight
Parish Pastoral Council

Monday, December 5, 2016

December 5 - Monday of the Second Week of Advent

Transformation

In today’s Gospel, we see the life of the man on the stretcher completely transformed by Jesus in two important ways: his sins are forgiven and his physical paralysis is completely healed. This transformation happened because of friends who brought this paralyzed man on a stretcher to the presence of Jesus. I often neglect to bring others to the presence of Jesus partly because I feel too small to be an instrument of such a great transformation in others’ lives. However, today’s gospel shows that the simple actions of friends can be the catalyst for great transformations. The Lord asks us: “who is the man on the stretcher in your life today? Will you carry the stretcher and bring this person to my presence?” On Thanksgiving Day I served lunch for our homeless brothers and sisters at Catholic Charities with five other women from our parish’s Women’s Spirituality Group as well as many other volunteers. This was a small step of answering the Lord’s invitation but the Lord continuously invites us to carry others to him despite our own brokenness and imperfections. Whenever I feel small in being an instrument of love to others, I will remember: “carrying the stretcher” is all it takes on my part. The Lord will do the rest, the real transformation.

Hye-Sung Kim
RCIA Sponsor

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 4 - Second Sunday of Advent

Building God's Kingdom

Our first reading presents a startling vision of what the kingdom of God will look like in it’s fulfillment:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.

It sounds quite fantastical, even absurd. How could such interactions ever take place? Can a wolf and a lamb become friends? Is a lion really going to eat hay? It seems to go against the very essence and nature of who these creatures are and what they are created to be. 

For followers of Christ today, called to be co-creators in building this kingdom, such a vision of peace is profoundly challenging. Yet, if we look closely, we can see it taking shape in our midst. I glimpsed this myself during a visit to the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation in Back of the Yards where their restorative justice ministry brings together mothers who have lost children to violence who then go visit young people currently incarcerated for violent crimes. Yes, God’s kingdom of peace is being built in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center!

All of us, in some real and concrete way, are called to be ministers of peace. Let us discern together:

How can we bring peace into our hearts, into our families, into our community, into our world?

What is God calling you to do? What is God calling us to do?

By Matthew Burkhart
RCIA Sponsor