40 Days with St. Paul of the Cross: “I remember that I asked my Jesus to teach me what degree of humility is most pleasing to him, and I heard this answer in my heart: “When you cast yourself in spirit under the feet of all creatures, even beneath the feet of devils, that is what pleases me most.”” (St. Paul of the Cross – November 30, 1720 – Retreat Reflections)
Today’s Thoughts: Today we celebrate the last day of November and the Feast of St. Andrew an apostle and the brother of St. Peter. A line in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans caught my attention this morning – “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” Being a preacher, my hope always is to bring the good news and I think I have been successful most of the time during my years of ministry.
However, it is not just preachers who bring the good news it is all of us. A few years ago, around at this time a picture appeared of a NYPD officer in Times Square stopping to give a homeless man a new pair of shoes. It is a picture that millions saw on the Internet, that evening news programs showed it. The officer brought the good news not only to the homeless man but to all of us.
Perhaps as we live life today let us do so by bringing the good news to the world any way we can, with our voices, our actions, our lives. Let us believe in God's love with our heart and live it today and always!
Blessings to all with the name Andrew on this feast of St. Andrew, Advent blessings to all and may we all have a great last day of November and a blessed and holy Monday!
40 Days with St. Paul of the Cross: “Occasionally I say to my understanding which tries to wander here and there: ‘Go where you please as long as you always go with God.” (St. Paul of the Cross – November 29, 1720 – Retreat Reflections)
Today’s Thoughts: Our readings today present us with a few interesting images and thoughts to consider as we begin this journey of Advent.
Our Gospel today from St. Mark is from a section that is a lead-up to Christ’s Passion. Chapter 13 in Mark deals with the ending of things. There are many images of coming disasters possible, so, Jesus is urging his followers to be in a state of readiness. “Be watchful. Be alert.” “Watch!” Jesus tells all who will listen today. These are strong words which catch the ear of the disciples. They are also words by which Jesus lives his life. They are words that give focus to his mission of redeeming this world.
Alertness, awareness and watchfulness can be functions of fear, but they can also be functions of love. If being welcomed into God’s Eternal Kingdom is our final end and if Jesus’ mission was to redeem us and bring us all back to the loving hands of the “Potter” - the Creator - then we should not fear Jesus’ coming or look upon it as the final disaster, but we need to have faith that Jesus’ coming will be the final revelation of God’s creative love.
I truly love that image in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah of God as the “Potter.” I had a chance many years ago to watch a potter sit at his wheel and create. It was a fascinating and beautiful experience. So much gentleness, tenderness, care and love goes into a potter’s creation. So much gentleness, tenderness, care and love has gone into God’s creation of us. What image to focus on as we begin our Advent journey!
In the Gospel Jesus uses an image which I think is important, but it can easily be overlooked. Jesus’ image is that of a land owner who goes on a journey, but leaves his servants, “each with his own work” to do. The landowner is God, we are the servants. The challenge is not just to stay awake, but awake so that we can do the work of bringing God’s light and life to the world. Waiting and watching, being attentive out of fear is passive and paralyzing. Waiting, watching and being attentive in faith means being enthusiastic and excited. We can wait expecting to be caught, or expecting to be caught up in our part in Jesus’ coming into this world.
Would you rather live in fear or live in the excitement of Christ? The choice is yours!
Have a holy and blessed First Sunday of Advent everyone and remember to give God a little time today!
40 Days with St. Paul of the Cross: “During thanksgiving and prayer, I was very tenderly affected even to tears, especially in praying to the Sovereign Good for the happy issue of the holy inspiration which, by his infinite goodness, he has given me and continues to give me.” (Words from St. Paul of the Cross – During his 40 Day Retreat)
Today’s Thoughts: We wait today for the starting of a new liturgical year tomorrow, but we also wait for that perfect world described in our first reading from the Book of Revelations today, the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel from Luke reminds us to wait focus on what is important not what will instantly gratify us. We must be ready because when this perfect world will arrive is hidden in our hearts, it is mystery. What is clear for us today though is that we are not simply supposed to wait but also to act, to live. Because if we are living our relationship with God, we will be ready to enter the Kingdom of God!
Have a holy and blessed Saturday everyone!
Forty Days with St. Paul of the Cross: “Then I remembered hearing that people that people had said I would never endure this utter deprivation. At that very moment, so great was my joy and my desire to suffer that the cold, the snow and ice, seemed sweet to me and I longed for them with great fervour, saying to my beloved Jesus: ‘Your pains, dear God, are pledges of your love!’” (Wednesday November 27, 1720 – St. Paul of the Cross – Retreat Reflections)
Today’s Thoughts: Our first reading today from the Book of Revelations gifts us some rather strange images, yet as always, we have to understand them in the context of what was going on in the world at that time. The Roman persecution was in full swing and the Church was feeling hounded on all sides. St. John is announcing the collapse of Rome the cruel tyrant and an extraordinary peace for the Church. While the mystic John uses strange, if not weird images to explain the presence of God in the life of the early Church our Gospel today, Jesus is a bit more straight forward about how to know the presence of God in life at any moment.
In the Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that the Kingdom of God is near and there are signs wherever we choose to look, even in the effortless process of the seasonal cycle of growing trees. No weird or strange sign to interpret the presence of God, the Kingdom of God is all around us. It is in nature, people, experiences, and the living of life. Our challenge is one of maintaining attention and an intentional response. As we journey through this Friday there will be more than enough moments to occupy our prayerful moments, to point to the presence of God until the beginning of a new journey through Advent on Sunday.
Have a blessed and holy Friday everyone!
40 Days with St. Paul of the Cross: “I know that I told my Jesus that his crosses are the joys of my heart.” (St. Paul of the Cross – November 26, 1720 – Thoughts during his 40 Day Retreat.)
Today’s Thoughts: Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I am offering you two reflections for today. The first based on the readings for the day, Thursday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time and the second based on the readings for Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy!
Reflection 1: Our readings today are rather difficult ones and after I read them, I just wanted to close the book and reflect on something else. I am not always sure how to take these apocalyptic readings but here is my take at least on the Gospel.
The "time of the Gentiles" as Jesus puts it in the Gospel today. The time between the destruction of Jerusalem and the second coming of Jesus. It is our time, we live within this "time of the Gentiles" and we see the signs, disasters, wars, violence, struggles, difficulties of all kinds. We see the signs in culture, society, church, family and the individual. We experience trials and tribulations that are personal and communal however, it doesn't mean the end is around the corner the "time of the Gentiles" has been going on for 2,000 plus years.
We are just in the midst of a point on the continuum of time. It is a part of the mystery of God that challenges us to not give up, to continue to walk by faith. Jesus remains us to always stand up straight because we don't know when this time will end, and we need to always be ready. We remain ready with a faith that reminds us that we do not stand or walk alone. Jesus stands and walks among us. We encourage and strengthen one another because God is always with us!
Reflection Two: If you use the readings for the Mass of Thanksgiving Day in the Gospel you hear the story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) once again. We had the same story about two weeks ago. It is a rich and challenging story especially as we come together across our nation to celebrate this special day in our history.
The story of the one returning person who had been cured reminds us that in the midst of the busyness of life we have got to pause and be thankful. Life is not always about "me!" It is about being grateful, being thankful and going to the Source of our Life with that gratitude! Shopping can wait, partying can wait – God, prayer, family and friends are in need of our attention! It is a matter of faith and that can make all the difference.
St. Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians says – "I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace, [the gifts] of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus…." As we journey through life on this Thanksgiving Day let us be aware of God's grace and God’s many gifts and then think first about who makes this grace and these gifts possible and not just about ourselves and then be grateful even when it might be difficult.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...