Monday, December 31, 2007

Almost the new year...

Courtesy of

I've never been a big "new year" person. For me, the best way to mark the new year is at home with family, not out at a party or event. The approach of a new calendar year can be a source of anxiety for some, wondering what the new year will bring, putting into perspective or giving closure to the happenings (challenges) of the past year. Even as people of faith and trust, we, too, can find ourselves wondering (worrying) about the year to come.

This year, I've found myself thinking about the new year more directly but in a new way. In my ponderings, I found (I think) a consoling thought for those who dread the arrival of a new year. The arrival of the new year is not in and of itself a catastrophic world event, rather it is, like the many small personal opportunities of daily life, an opportunity for a fresh start. The grandeur and magnificence of it is in the fact that the entire world approaches the new beginning (somewhat) together. Yet, in fact, each of us is provided countless opportunities for a fresh start, numerous opportunities to begin again each day. Each and every breath is an opportunity for a new beginning. What an amazing thought! What an amazing reality!! How much more even than the breaths we take are the opportunities for fresh starts that God gifts to us? Each day we are invited to start a new and revisit our relationship to God, God's people, God's creation, and ourselves.

This is a promising realization so as the year 2007 draws to a close and 2008 approaches in all its newness I thank God for the blessings and challenges of the past year and pray that I may accept the grace of new beginnings and fresh starts as opportunities to live an even deeper love of God on a daily basis. Only God knows what in fact this entails, but the thought at the present moment seems so full of promise and life.

As we prepare to welcome 2008, I wish you peace, health, serenity, and your heart's deepest desires and dreams come true. And to the world, I wish peace and a deeper awareness that we are all one family of the same Creator.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Keeping the Light Alive!

This light came to me via e-mail. It says that the lit candle has been circulating continuously via e-mail since 1998. What better way to keep its flame going and sharing its light than by posting it here? Pass on the light of Jesus through the brightness of your life. Remember that your life may be the only Gospel some people ever read... what an awesome responsibility!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Has God been tugging at your heart?

Or gently inviting you to enter into a deeper relationship with Him? Or simply calling you to get to know Him more deeply through the Word and the Eucharist? Does religious life as a Sister seem like a life worth living to you? Have you thought about the possibility (or "impossibility") that God is calling you to life as a religious sister in the Catholic Church? Have you dared to dream a future as a Sister serving God's people through education, health care, social ministry, pastoral ministry, or Church ministry? Can you imagine emptying yourself of superficialities to be filled beyond your wildest dreams by the love of God?

If you have answered "yes" (or almost yes) to any of these questions, then consider the invitation to "come and see" religious life as a Sister of Christian Charity during the annual discernment retreat in Mendham, NJ. No, it's not the only vocation event of the year, but it is a great way to start off the new year. The weekend promises to be enriching, enlightening, and enjoyable. Click here for more information on the retreat or here and here and here to find out a bit more about the Sisters of Christian Charity around the world and here in the two U.S. provinces. I assure you that it will be time well-spent.

So, think about it, will you? Consider the invitation that God extends and contemplate what this retreat experience has to offer you. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Image courtesy of the Mission San Jose Dominicans

Today we join the world in celebrating the feast of the Incarnation, "The Word Made Flesh" who continues "to dwell among us," the gift of Emmanuel, God-With-Us. Yes, we celebrate Christmas and the love of God so deep, so unconditional, so timeless, that God sent Jesus to us. A baby born surrounded by the wrappings of physical poverty in a borrowed stable in the cold of winter. His birth witnessed by his young mother and foster father and the native creatures. His birth heralded by angels to a group of shepherds keeping watch over their flocks that night. The shepherds drawn to the place of his birth to adore on bended knee. And the three kings of the East who would later come to find Him, too.

God loves each and everyone of us so deeply and wholly that Jesus came to earth taking on the human flesh of a baby to be one with us and to save us so that we might have life eternal in and with Him.

It is true that for Christians Easter is the feast of feasts, but actually the redemption story has its roots here on this day, the feast of the Incarnation of Christ. Yet our celebration of Jesus coming to us is not limited to today. We have the opportunity to re-celebrate it in each Eucharistic encounter with God where the Word re-takes His dwelling within us and we experience in all trueness the living gift of Emmanuel, God-with-us.

Merry Christmas, my friends! Whether or not you are fully in the Spirit of the day, may the Christ Child whose birth on earth we celebrate gift you with a special reminder of God's love for you and God's abiding presence within you.

Merry and Blessed Christmas!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Advent 2007: We Wait in Joyful Hope

As the season of Advent began, the liturgy of the first Sunday, our Catholic liturgical new year, set forth "hope" as the theme, the focus, for my 2007 Advent. Timely and relevant, I saw the focus on hope as an invitation from our God to enter into the mystery of Advent by conversing with the idea of hope, Christian hope.

The first thought that came to my mind is that the first Sunday of Advent is, indeed, the festival or the feast of hope. It is the beginning of a new year in the liturgical life of the Church and the first day of the season of joyful waiting for the coming feast of the Incarnation (Christmas).

"Hope" is a word that is probably very common to our daily vocabulary. "I hope there isn't a lot of traffic" or "I hope it's a quiet day at [the office]" or "I hope that the [meeting/seminar/workshop] will go well." Maybe even "I hope [I] win the lottery" or "I hope that I get picked for this or that activity or opportunity." "Hope" in each of these expressions seems to mean the same thing basically, but with the word "hope" there is more. "Hope" is not only a verb that expresses our desiring or wishing but it is also a noun that stands for a virtue that is characteristic of our Christian beliefs and our Christ-life.

One could call this virture "Christian hope," but in some ways I believe the adjective is redundant. "Hope" for the believer is not just a wish, a desire, or dream; "hope" for the believer (and perhaps truly for non-believers as well) in something, someone, bigger in whom we place our trust, our confidence, and in whom we seek to find our peace and our serenity. As I have continued to contemplate "hope" throughout this Advent season, I have been strengthened by a few guiding lights in particular:
  • Hope requires trust.

  • Hope is built on faith.

  • Hope expresses itself out of love.

  • Hope keeps possibilities opens rather closing doors.

  • Hope invites us to surrender to God's will.

  • Hope calls us to be present to one another, accompanying each other as tangible witnesses to
  • The second week of Advent brought us the celebration of Mary's Immaculate Conception. In calling Mary forth to life in the womb of Ann, God also breathed into her soul the endowment of hope which later in life enabled her in faith to offer her "fiat" at the Annunciation.

    The third week enabled us to examine hope from the perspective of the call to "Rejoice unceasingly," a challenge in particular when we are faced with sorrows, struggles, and sadnesses. Yet, as with hope, we are called to understand the virtue more deeply so that from the soul we are able to have hope even when the world around us seems to be crumbling and life as we know it is shaken (challenges) or perhaps even shattered (losses). Now, on the fourth Sunday of Advent, we have before us a reminder of Mary's fiat in which with all the faith of her human being she expressed the fullness of hope, "I am the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to Your Word."

    And now, we are on the brink of the feast of the Incarnation, the birth of Emmanuel, God-is-with-us! While I do not claim to have this relationship with hope perfected, I realize that my Advent gift has been a new understanding of hope, a recognition of hope as a tangible and dynamic dimension of Christian life and the journey to holiness. I have not yet read Pope Benedict's Spe Salvi , but I am looking forward to engaging with and coming to understand and live more deeply the recognition that we are "saved by hope" and the call "to live in joyful hope."