Two things

“[Christmas] speaks of tenderness and hope.  When God meets us he tells us two things.  The first thing he says is: have hope.  God always opens doors, he never closes them.  He is the father who opens doors for us.  The second thing he says is: don’t be afraid of tenderness.”  (Pope Francis)

 

No longer alone

“How is it possible to believe that God, who is considered by religions to be infinite and all-powerful, can make Himself so small?”

“The Greek Fathers called it syncatabasis, divine condescension, that is: God coming down to be with us.  It is one of God’s mysteries.  Back in 2000, in Bethlehem, John Paul II said God became a child who was entirely dependent on the care of a father and mother.  This is why Christmas gives us so much joy.  We don’t feel alone anymore; God has come down to be with us.”  (Pope Francis)

Advent anxiety?

Are you dealing with Advent anxiety?  Fr. John Bartunek over at Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction has some very helpful and practical things to say.  Here’s a snippet.  If you want to read the whole article, go here.

There is a beautiful, true story about one woman who re-discovered this active Christian spirit not during the four weeks of Advent, but two days after Christmas. The heroine of our story lived decades ago in the Midwest. She was the owner of a news-stand and novelty shop in small town. One year, shortly before Christmas, she fell sick and spent the whole holiday confined to bed. She felt rather gloomy and even somewhat bitter about missing Midnight Mass and the other Christmas celebrations. But when she re-opened her store two days after Christmas she had an idea: “Why not make today my lost Christmas?” She carried out her plan by putting the spirit of Christmas into the whole day. She smiled more frequently and more warmly than usual. She tried to be extra accommodating and friendly with her clients. She even gave spontaneous discounts to customers who were low on cash. After closing the store for the day, she took some small presents to several home-bound neighbors. And she also visited some poor families to give candy to the children. By the time she came home, she was so full of joy and the spirit of Christmas that she had never felt happier in her life. She decided from then on to keep the spirit of Christmas as long as she possibly could.

Discontent

A lot to reflect on in this passage by Maria Boulding.  Hope you can make the time to read it slowly . . . and to find hope for yourselves and others in it:

There is a discontent in us that can be partly stifled by material satisfactions, but some experiences tend to awaken it.  It may be roused by beauty, or by love, by great pain or by the nearness of death.  It can surface easily in times  of silence when we try to confront the mystery of ourselves and wonder about God.

If you have ever known this discontent and pondered the mysteries and contradictions of the human condition, it is of consequence to both yourself and others that you hope, expect and listen in silence to the word of God who is himself attuning you to hear.  Your silent listening through prayer, through people and through events will be very personal; it may seem very solitary, but it is not.  You are the answering readiness, the receptivity, without which even today God cannot give as he longs to give.  Our noisy, busy world has little time to listen and wait; and–what is worse–it is starved of hope.  So many hopes disappoint, and people are afraid of being disappointed yet again.  It is when we reach the brink of despair that hope grounded in God has a chance, because there is nothing else left.  The modern world can surely not be far from the brink.

The King shall come

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light triumphant breaks;
When beauty gilds the eastern hills,
And life to joy awakes.

O brighter than that glorious morn
Shall this fair morning be,
When Christ, our King, in beauty comes,
And we his face shall see.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And earth’s dark nigh is past;
O haste the rising of that morn,
The day that aye shall past.

The King shall come when morning dawns,
And light and beauty brings:
Hail, Christ the Lord!  Thy people pray,
Come quickly, King of kings.

Advent visitation

A beautiful Advent Sunday-poem from Luci Shaw:

Advent visitation

Even from the cabin window I sensed the wind’s
contagion begin to infect the rags of leaves.
Then the alders gilded to it, obeisant, the way

angels are said to bow, covering their faces with
their wings, not solemn, as we suppose, but
possessed of a sudden, surreptitious hilarity.

When the little satin wind arrived,
I felt it slide through the cracked-open door
(A wisp of prescience? A change in the weather?),

and after the small push of breath–You
entering with your sir of radiant surprise,
I the astonished one.

These still December mornings
I fancy I live in a clear envelope of angels
like a cellophane womb.  Or a soap bubble,

the colors drifting, curling.  Outside
everything’s tinted rose, grape, turquoise,
silver–the stones by the path, the skin of sun

on the pond ice, at night the aureola of
a pregnant moon, like me, irridescent,
almost full-term with light.