Reflections

Resolved to Live the Gospel

It seems like there has been a dearth of genuine Christian witness out in our cities. I’m not talking about street corner Bible thumpers condemning the “unsaved” or even other less bullying evangelization tactics.  I’m looking for the Jesus of the Bible showing up on the streets, in the offices, warehouses, docks, alleys, and byways of my daily life.  My heart seeks the breathing gospel that our beloved St. Francis speaks of; the unspoken one preached by loving action and kindness. As a man on the other side of middle age, I can’t say that I have always been a beacon of God’s grace and mercy.  I have faltered and been enticed by the glitter and shimmer of this world’s empty promises. I pray that God may take the ignoble parts of me, and in his perfect economy, allow me to preach His gospel quietly, with humor, kindness and humble wisdom.

by Andrew

Making A List

I have never been one to make a lot of New Year’s Resolutions. I learned long ago that the fewer you make, the more chance you have of keeping them. I try to choose only two or three and it’s never more than five. This year I’ve added a couple that I found in an article called “8 New Year’s Resolutions for Catholics.” I’d gladly add all eight at once but I know that, coupled to my two or three secular ones, would violate my own numbers rule and could doom me to failure. Instead, I’ve decided to choose one each month and try to achieve that goal in addition to my “regular” resolutions. I am hoping to continue the previous month’s so that by the eighth month I will actually be following all of them! If you’d care to join me, visit http://www.stedwardoutlet.com/8-new-years-resolutions-for-catholics.html and choose all or follow my plan and take on only one at a time.

by JAM

Happy Epiphany!

The Christmas season is officially ending today but my meditation on the Incarnation goes on through the many epiphany moments that grace my life. The word “epiphany” means the sudden manifestation of the divine within the ordinary, a  flash of insight, a sudden, certain encounter with the felt presence of God. The strange story of the Magi abounds in symbolism. Epiphany doesn’t happen without an impossible quest. I must choose to follow the light streaming through the darkness, even if it makes no sense to anyone else. If I stay the course,  I will find what I seek in the most unlikely places. Patience will be required because sometimes the epiphany happens later when situations that I could never have orchestrated on my own converge. As we resume writing for the rest of January about resolutions, may one of them include a greater awareness of these epiphany moments that illuminate and fill our lives with starlight.

by DC

Celebrating on the Twelfth Day of Christmas

Today, the sixth of January is known as “Twelfth Night,” the vigil of the Feast of the Epiphany. In many homes throughout the world, including mine,  a lavish, twenty-four-hour celebration begins. People don crowns, exchange gifts, and have big parties with special food.  Traditionally,  a “king’s cake,” baked with coins or a small baby doll hidden inside, is ceremoniously shared. Blessing prayers are offered over gold, frankincense, and myrrh to honor the first gifts given to the Christ Child. The initials of the three kings and the date are chalked over doorways to bless all who will enter the home throughout the year. I am celebrating in a big way this year by hosting a dinner party for two close friends who have come to visit from out of state just for the occasion. We will sing, eat Middle Eastern food, talk about revelations on starry nights, and bask in wondrous gratitude for the many gifts that continue to pour into our lives.

by DC

Listening on the Eleventh Day of Christmas

Time spent in meditation these past ten days has been like one long, wonderful listening session.  I have particularly enjoyed hearing bird calls and squirrel chatterings, the sound of the wind through the trees. Slowing down has also allowed me time to pray, to pay attention to my own thoughts, and heightened my awareness of how conflicted I feel about the lure of technology. While I am endlessly fascinated with my electronic devices, I am simultaneously disgusted with how much I allow them to control me. I know I am not alone. More people go to spiritual direction today because it is an hour with someone who will listen in rapt attention, without distractions, the way we picture Jesus listening to a child. Perhaps we can start a new trend and bring back active listening in 2018, intentionally putting people first and using technology as a tool for teaching and promoting compassion.

by DC

Editing on the Tenth Day of Christmas

“Edit” has been my focus word for several years now. While I am a good editor of writing, the word took on a different definition when applied to my personal life. The idea was to edit out what superfluous actions, thoughts, and activities I was holding onto, keeping only the essential. From the get-go, this has not been easy. First, I have a really hard time saying “no” to any new challenge. As soon as I edit out one activity, another takes its place. Second, the time it takes to edit is daunting when one is consumed with busyness, like I am. So, today, on the Tenth Day of Christmas, I am deliberately being quiet and taking a red pen to my to-do list, even the spiritual commitments that I have previously prioritized. A wise friend told me to be realistic, eliminate one activity a month, replacing it only with stillness. Twelve months, twelve edits. I am taking a deep breath, lighting a candle, and praying that I will keep the promises made on this beautiful new day.

by DC

 

Reading on the Ninth Day of Christmas

My mother once remarked, “Donna will read anything,” when visitors observed me engrossed in reading cereal boxes over breakfast. She was certainly right. Even now, I fall asleep reading at night, the perfect remedy for insomnia. Each January, during the 12 Days, I take stock of what I read the previous year. According to my Kindle account, (the greatest invention of the century in my mind),  I read forty digital and fifteen printed novels and spiritual writings. I wish it were more. I recently heard an interview with a very busy woman who reads 200 books in a year. How astounding! I am well aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for I was frequently ridiculed. But I don’t care. I still have so much to learn and at this point in my life, have no plans for more degrees. Reading allows me to enter into the “inner monastery” whenever and wherever I want. Following the Divine Master, I am forever a student, filled with joyful anticipation for yet another chance to be created anew.

by DC

Making Music on the Eighth Day of Christmas

On this eighth day of Christmas, I am making music, something I have been doing since I was a young child. Unbeknownst to many, I studied flute and piano for many years, played in the school band and sang in the choir.  As a teen, inspired by my favorite folk singers, Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan, I took up the mandolin, ukulele, and guitar. I was also enthralled with musicals and majored in theatre in college. After performing in numerous plays and a USO tour to the Mediterranean, these artistic pursuits gave way to other ventures. Yet music remains. I have a baby grand piano, flutes, guitars, drums, autoharps, and other instruments and I especially love allowing my grandchildren to create family concerts. For Christmas, I asked “Santa” for a tenor ukulele. Even though my fingertips need toughening up, I am reveling again in how much music elevates the soul. I resolve to spend the rest of my life playing and listening, filled gratitude for one of the greatest gifts God has implanted in the human heart.

by DC