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Advent begins Sunday, December 1! Advent is always a time for waiting…unfortunately, all too often we are waiting for Christmas in the commercial sense!  How often do we think about Mary’s waiting for the birth of her Son?  How often do we think about the beautiful opportunity we have to wait with Mary and Joseph?  How often do we remember that Jesus asks to be born again in our hearts, in our lives?  How can we make this Advent different?  We would be unrealistic to say we are going to ignore the commercialism: Christmas songs on the radio, in stores; Christmas movies on TV; shopping for our loved ones and decorating the tree—all of these are part of Christmas preparation, and thus part of Advent.  But what can we add so that the real meaning of Advent is not forgotten?  Can we carve out some time to pray more, read more, share more with our loved ones about what Advent and Christmas mean to us?

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

One day a religion teacher began a class on Jesus by saying to the young children: “Today I am going to tell you about someone whom you all must meet. He’s a person who loves you and cares for you, even more than your own family and friends. He’s a person who’s kinder than the kindest person you know. He’s a person who forgives you, no matter how often you do wrong. No matter what you do wrong, he is always ready to accept you, to love you and to understand.” The teacher noticed a little boy getting more and more excited as he talked. Suddenly the little boy could not hold back any longer. He blurted out, “I know the man you’re talking about. He lives on our street!”

To be a follower of Jesus is to be someone who shows others, in practice, some of what Jesus is like.

During this time of giving thanks, let us be grateful for those in our lives who have shown us what it means to be Jesus…

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech S.N.D

 

 

Sunday is the liturgical feast of Christ the King—a feast that I think many Americans might have trouble “connecting with” in the light of our democratic philosophy.  One of the prayers said daily by the sisters in my community celebrates this kingship of Jesus: “Heart of Jesus, King and Center of all hearts, rule thou supreme in our community and in every soul.  Thine we are, O Lord, and thine we will be.”  Archaic language?  Perhaps.  But as a former English teacher, I know that the old English “Thy/Thine” is the familiar form of the pronoun YOU, just like TU is the familiar form of USTED in Spanish.  In this prayer, we recognize that Jesus is the Center of our lives, the one who directs us, the one who takes precedence over every other influence.  As King, Jesus sits at the Father’s right hand and takes on his role as intercessor….a powerful intercessor indeed!

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

An old native in New Guinea used to read Gospel stories to outpatients while they waited to be treated at the missionary clinic.  One day he experienced trouble reading.  The doctor checked his eyes and found that the man was rapidly going blind.  The next day the old man didn’t show up at the hospital.  Someone said he had gone off to the hills alone.  A week later a boy led the doctor to the old man’s hideout.  “What are you doing here?” asked the doctor.  The old man replied, “While I still have my sight, I wanted to spend all my time memorizing stories and passages from the Bible.  When I lose my sight completely, I’ll be back at the hospital again, telling outpatients about Jesus.”

 

What can I do this week to share my faith in Jesus?  Do I use the opportunities I have to really live the Good News?

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

Feast of All Saints

 

This month gives us many reasons to think about “how we live.”—Today we celebrate the feast of All Saints…and this focuses on those whose lives on earth were lived in such a way that they are now spending eternity with our good and gracious God.  Our saints, whether Saints or saints, known to us or only a name on a page, teach us that living a life centered in God makes all the difference.  The celebration of All Souls tomorrow is so very similar as we continue to pray for those who have died that they too may enjoy the eternal life promised by our God.

We are called to deepen our faith, enhance our understanding of the things of God, and be in relationship with the God who creates us and calls us!  This month we are called to live in a spirit of gratitude…we have nothing that has not come to us from the hands of our generous God!  Our very life, our families, our friends, our gifts and talents, our possessions—everything that we have, we have because our God has blessed us.  It is our job to give thanks, to live gratefully!  How will we celebrate Thanksgiving?  With food, family, football—yes, of course!  And hopefully, also with faith and at least a little time set aside for expressing gratitude to God and to those around us!  Our Eucharist (the word means “thanksgiving”) is a wonderful way to make that gratitude tangible…

May this month be lived in a spirit of openness to all that the good God calls you to be!

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

A rabbi and a soapmaker went for a walk together.  The soapmaker said, “What good is religion?  Look at all the troubles and misery in the world after thousands of years of teaching about goodness, truth and peace—after all the prayers, sermons and teachings.  If religion is good and true, why should this be?”

 

The rabbi said nothing.  They continued walking until he noticed a child playing in the gutter.  Then the rabbi said, “Look at that child.  You say that soap make people clean, but see the dirt on that youngster.  Of what good is soap?  With all the soap in the world, the child is still filthy.  I wonder how effective soap is after all.”

 

The soapmaker protested and said, “But, Rabbi, soap can’t do any good unless it is used.”

“Exactly,” replied the rabbi.  “So it is with Judaism, or any other religion.  Faith is ineffective unless it is applied and used.”

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND

 

 

 

“ Most of us have probably shared lots of stories about everyday life, but [what about] sharing stories of faith with and for others—to pass on to children, to possibly inspire others or be inspired by others?  Maybe not, but NOW is the time.”  It would be wonderful if families, couples, faith sharing groups, and so on, would take the time to share stories of faith.  Hearing someone else’s story might remind us of our own journey in faith and might help us appreciate the gift of faith that has been given to us!

 

Some questions to inspire sharing faith stories:

  • How has the way you saw God as a child changed and/or remained the same through the years?
  • Did a particular person in your childhood have any impact on your own faith?
  • How has success, failure, illness or death played a role in your life of faith?
  • When have you felt closest to God in your life?

 

Prayer:  Dear Lord, something as simple as sharing a faith story with others may not change the world, but help us to know when and where to tell our stories so that others may be encouraged or inspired.

 

Written by: Sr. Marie Paul Grech SND