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What are the key steps to enter into Advent?

We can all slow down. We can all breathe more deeply. We can all begin to trust that this will be a blessed time. Then, when we let ourselves be who we are, and hear the Scriptures, we can begin to quietly pray, “Come, Lord, Jesus.” We might expand that prayer, in quiet moments of our days ahead, “Come into my life. I trust you don’t mind if it is still messy. I believe you love me because I need your love. I don’t fear you can’t find the way to my heart. Come and fill me with peace and the love only you can give.” Some of us will want to open our hands on our laps or hold up our arms in the privacy of our rooms and say out loud, “Come, Lord, Jesus, come into this house, into my family, into our struggles. Come and heal us, and give us join again. Come and unite us and let us experience, each in our own way, a bit of the joy you are offering me now.” And, before a single decoration goes up, we have prepared for Christmas’ message with the foundation of faith, with the mystery of Advent’s gift. God wants to be with us. Advent is letting God’s will be done in our hearts and in our everyday lives.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

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“God sent a present into the world, the gift of a loving presence, named Jesus… This loving presence lives on in us and is the central focus of Christmas gift-giving….Sharing presence is hard to do in a culture that keeps promoting material things as a sign of how much we love others.  Sharing presence is difficult in an environment that encourages us to be as busy as possible so that we will be rich, successful, and important—and able to buy more things” (Joyce Rupp).

 

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent.  Can we take a new approach this Advent….?  Can we try to remember a little more the real “reason for the season”? During this time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, we are reminded that we are called to prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming in our day.  Perhaps we can shift our emphasis from present to presence!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

I pray that your Thanksgiving celebration was filled with much joy, peace, and gratitude for all that you have received from the hands of our good and provident God!

ONE OF THE SIGNS that we’ve found our way to a core desire, something that God desires for us, is that in following it, we feed not only our own hunger but that of others as well. When we pursue God’s longing for our life, it never serves only ourselves.   Vocations a word that gets at this idea. … Vocation isn’t merely about what job we have but about who God has created us to be in this world. Vocationconveys the notion that God has designs on us and has placed us within this world to work for its flourishing in concert with our own. In writing about vocation, Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” –Jan Richardson

“God has a longing for our life”….isn’t that amazing!  And VOCATION is not limited to priests and nuns…each of us has a vocation! And sometimes even a vocation within a vocation…I might be a mother and wife, and be called to use my gifts of wisdom, or understanding or mercy!   God “has placed us within this world to work for its flourishing…”—we are meant to serve! Many times, I hear people say disparagingly of themselves, “Oh, but what can Ido?”—and the Lord answers, “Plenty!  Come and see!”  Jan Richardson ends the passage quoted above with a BLESSING—which I extend to you today…

Where the hunger of the world beyond you
meets the hunger of the world within you:
may you find yourself in this place.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

 

HOW DO YOU THINK OF GOD?

BIKE TRIP  ((Author Unknown—-A parable)

“I used to see God as my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong.  He was out there.  I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

“But later on when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life were rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.  I don’t know just when it was He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since I took the back seat to Jesus, my Lord.  Christ makes life exciting.  When I had control, I knew the way.  It was rather boring, but predictable.  It was the shortest distance between two points.

“But when Jesus took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at breakneck speeds; it was all I could do to hang on!!!  Even though it looked like madness, He said “Pedal!” I was worried and was anxious and asked, “Where are You taking me?” He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust.  And when I’d say, “I’m scared,” He’d lean back and touch my hand.

“He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord’s and mine.  And we were off again.  He said: “Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight!” So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and so our burden became light.

“I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life.  I thought He’d wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high rocks, fly to shorten scary passages.  And I am learning to simply pedal in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I’m sure I just can’t do anymore, He just smiles and says . . . “Pedal!”

Am I “brave” enough to let Jesus take over the handlebars of my life?  Why do I try so hard to stay ‘in control’ when I know well and good I cannot do it alone? What will it take for me to ‘let go’?

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catholic circles are talking a lot these days about evangelization and the new evangelization. Much of this is because of the writings of Pope Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XV and now Pope Francis.  Our Church leaders have called us to be aware of how we “preach” the good news of Jesus, in word and action.  It is our example of living a life “worthy of the Lord” and our willingness to share our faith that evangelizes others….

“A man had a dream, in which he was looking at his son walking along a road.  The boy was strolling, skipping, and running along the road, without a care in the world. Suddenly, without warning, the boy turned off into a narrow dark lane to the left, and as he moved further away, he turned to his dad and said, ‘you never did show me the right path to follow.’ The father woke with a shock, and it was some seconds before he realized that it was just a dream.  However, it had a profound effect on him.  Showing the correct path to his children and giving an example of right living now became priorities for him.”

Someone once said that Jesus did not just point out the way and say “Follow.”  He went the way and said, “Come!”  This is evangelization, walking with those who need to find God—and it is never too late to begin the journey; evangelization is the call to “pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received.”

What have we received?  For what are we grateful?  Do I appreciate how a relationship with God makes a difference in my life?  Am I willing to be a disciple (following Jesus) and also an apostle (being sent forth to others)?  When we talk about evangelization, we are just using a big word to describe our commitment to telling the story of Jesus…. This is especially important in our world; many people might know ABOUT Jesus, but have they MET him? We can easily “do the right thing” without necessarily having a deep relationship with our God. Jesus calls us to evangelize and be re-evangelized as a normal part of Catholic life.  We are being called to discover God anew as the God who loves us and wants to be in a relationship with us.  We are called to share his love and hope in a world that is in desperate need of a spiritual identity—this is what it means to evangelize!

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

 

Today is the Feast of All Souls and we remember our loved ones who have passed away; while we sometimes fear death and don’t want to think about it, there are many who can feel better about it when we consider it from different perspectives.  Two such perspectives given here might give us reason to pause:

“A woman requested that she be buried with a fork in her hand because she wanted to remind others of her favorite part of a meal.  She loved it when someone said, ‘Keep your fork for dessert.’  She knew that the best part of the meal was coming!  So the next time you reach for your fork, let it remind you, oh so gently, that at the end of a meal or at the end of a life…the best is yet to come.”

This also reminds me of something the Victorian poet Robert Browning once wrote in Rabbi Ben Ezra:“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made. Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!’

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

In the Gospel of Matthew 19:26 we read that “with God all things are possible”.  This reminder is especially meaningful this month as we celebrate the feast of Apostles Simon and Jude (October 28).  Many Catholics have a strong devotion to St. Jude, often called the saint of the impossible.  St. Jude intercedes for us to God in our many needs…because his faith, like ours, trusts that God can do what we cannot do!  Scripture reminds us also that if our faith is the size of a mustard seed (the smallest of all seeds!) we can move mountains….I like to think of the “we” as God and I, working together in a “faith-filled” relationship. Having faith in one another is also important.  We need to believe in the people we meet each day, the people with whom we share our lives. A story is told of a ten-year-old boy who was working in a factory in Naples before present laws on child labor were put in place.  His mother was convinced he had a good singing voice, and by working in the factory he could earn enough to pay for music lessons.  His first music teacher, however, told him he did not have what it takes and that it would be a waste of money to pursue the idea.  His mother, a peasant woman, was not so easily discouraged. She encouraged her son, told him she believed in him and sacrificed to save money for his music lessons.  Her efforts bore fruit, and her son, Enrico Caruso, became one of the world’s greatest tenors.  Miracles happen for those who show God that they are serious about what they seek.  This week, believe in a miracle, trust in our good God, pray seriously for what some might think is so impossible…and then keep trusting!

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paull Grech SND