Sunday, November 30, 2008
"The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the 'feminine genius' and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the 'handmaid of the Lord' (Luke 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also puts herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic 'reign'. It is not by chance that she is invoked as "Queen of heaven and earth." The entire community of believers thus invokes her, many nations and peoples call upon her as their 'Queen'. For her, 'to reign' is to serve! Her service is 'to reign'!" (Letter to Women 10)
The world has a misconstrued view of service. More often than not, it doesn't have a positive spin, since the world tells us to "do whatever we want", encouraging selfishness and irresponsibility. The Church has an entirely different view of service, raising it to great heights, finding deep meaning in giving of ourselves to others. And according to Pope John Paul II, Mary is our model and guide. It was she who gave her fiat, her yes to God. It was she who was the perfect model of love and service to others. Did she not hasten off to see her cousin Elizabeth as soon as the angel left her? She helps us yet today; we are her children. She is our Mother! We should let her intercede for us. How can Jesus refuse what His Mother asks of Him?
Each of us should imitate Mary's virtue and example. We are called to serve, as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, grandparents, sons and daughters, neighbors, brothers and sisters. It is in giving of ourselves that we fulfill our vocation, whatever it may be. And God has given us gifts and filled us with His grace so that we can serve with strength, joy, and in the spirit of love.
Today do a random act of kindness. Make the world brighter, more human!
(Reflection by Mary Patten)
Mary, Our Sweet Queen and Our Mother, pray for us!
"Progress usually tends to be measured according to the criteria of science and technology. Nor from this point of view has the contribution of women been negligible. Even so, this is not the only measure of progress, nor in fact is it the principal one. Much more important is the social and ethical dimension, which deals with human relations and spiritual values. In this area, which often develops in an inconspicuous way beginning with the daily relationships between people, especially within the family, society certainly owes much to the 'genius of women'" (Letter to Women 9).
Often, things that are of great importance are also small and not easily noted. For example, one of the beautiful realities of Sacred Scripture is what it does not say. Most of the lives of Mary and Jesus are left un-related, unspoken, hidden in petals of obscurity. The beauty here is the sound of the Lord's voice as He calls us to unpetal the rose of Scripture in intimate prayer and allow the Spirit to work through our imaginations and show us what Jesus looked like as He began to walk, how Mary and Joseph's faces lit up as they spoke with one another, what Mary talked about with her neighbors, how many times Jesus ran out of the house to look up at the birds flying in the sky, whether Mary borrowed more flour from her neighbors or vice versa...the list goes on.
These things are important because, as John Paul II says above, world changes have their roots in "daily relationships with people, especially within the family" (Letter to Women 9). How much attention do we pay to the small aspects of relationships that are easy to miss? Eye contact, the tone of our voice, gestures, the phrasing of our questions; all of these things contribute to forming the people around us, whether into persons that trust in the love that God has for them, or into persons who begin to expect that no one will respond to them with anything but sarcasm and pessimism, or inattention. The most powerful way that this can be seen is in the image of a woman who is with child. All of her actions profoundly affect the new person within her. All of us, whether we are male or female, contribute to the spiritual growth of those around us (and many of us are still spiritual fetuses, newborns, and toddlers!!). Although John Paul II points out that it is the genius - the essence - of women to receive others with love and foster their growth, all of us are called to do this for others.
Today, take an image from Scripture to unpetal in which someone is exhibiting a nurturing attitude: Mary, pregnant with Jesus; Anne, pregnant with Mary; God the Father leading Israel through dangers to the Promised Land; Jesus teaching His disciples; Paul encouraging the new Christian churches at the beginning of his letters. Ask the Lord how He is calling you to measure the progress of your day according to the inconspicuous details of your daily relationships, and nurture His love in those around you.
(Reflection by Heidi Essay)
Wife and mother in the family of Nazareth, pray for us!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Can we make a sincere gift of ourselves? We can only if we first give ourselves to God who delights in our gifts and always wants to receive us again and again. He dreams of our holiness and longs for our company in Heaven forever. He calls us all day long to receive His love and grace. He wants us to trust Him, and not in ourselves; for it is He who perfects our gifts and gives us the grace to be gifts to others.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Eucharist means thanksgiving
A heart set on Jesus is a Eucharistic Heart. It is a heart filled with gratitude. The word “Eucharist” comes from the Greek meaning “thanksgiving”. Regardless of whether the blessings from God are great or small, I am one with the Eucharistic Heart of +Jesus. I live with a grateful heart.
A Eucharistic Heart is also a Sacrificial Heart. I am willing to be broken poured out as Jesus was for me. A sacrificial heart never cries out in times of trial or tribulation: “Why me, Lord?” In gratitude, it prays: “Why am I so loved?” Why am I so loved to be worthy to unite myself to the sufferings of +Jesus? (Fr. Mike Murphy, Retreat 2007)
Let us pause and give thanks for the Love we have received! Happy Thanksgiving!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
A reflection by Franca Salvo
“God chose us... to be holy... to be full of love.” I have meditated on and contemplated these words of St. Paul over the years, savoring them with great delight.
As I was reflecting on the deep effect that they continue to have in my heart, it became clearer and clearer to me that the word of God is alive. “It is not just ‘informative’ but ‘performative’; it can change our lives”. Therefore the more I let the word of God abide in me, remain with me, the more God changes me and I become what I meditate and love: I am the chosen one! He makes me holy! He fills me with His love!
Yes, God chose us! God chose us to be holy! God chose us to be full of love!
He chose me, you, and you! Our Heavenly Father manifested His will and empowered us in His Son, Jesus the Lord, to be holy, to be full of love, to go about throughout the day, every day of our life, enveloped by His love, sowing love, singing for joy, until we see Him face to face!
Let us sing with the Psalmist:
Shout joyfully to God...
sing praise to the glory of His name;
proclaim His glorious praise.
Filled with gratitude for the sacramental and liturgical life of Mother Church that empowers us to live rooted in faith-hope-love, let us continue our journey under the gaze of Mary, our Mother,
“eager in purpose
dutiful in conscience
hastening for joy.”
Then we will be ready to celebrate November 1st, All Saints Day, aware of God’s great love for all people, filled with zest for a world of All Saints, All Brothers and Sisters.
 Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, Nov. 30, 2007, #4
 Psalm 66:1-3
 St. Ambrose