A perspective.

Today I was remembering  a story that Fr. Timothy Gallagher tells.  He speaks about a man who was having a difficult time deciding to exercise.  He finally makes the decision.  The first day he drives to the exercise place, but doesn’t go in.  The second day, the same.  He’s having trouble deciding to continue with his decision.  As he tells this story, many people begin to laugh–probably because we all have been there.  However, Fr. Gallagher surprises us by his view of this situation.  He says, “This is holy ground.  Here is a man who is trying to do the right thing.  This is holy ground.”

A perspective that is well worth thinking about.

Bleak winters

“In the lives of those who believe and pray, there are bleak winters of the spirit.  We seem to go along well for a while in prayer and relationships and life generally, but from time to time we disintegrate.  It is very painful.  You may suspect that this will prove to be a creative disintegration, that God is re-creating you, putting you together in the likeness of his Son at a new and deeper level.  Certainly this does happen: growth is not easy; there is a probably distressing period for the caterpillar on the way to butterflyhood.  We are all participants in this experience from time to time, and a chrysalis needs sympathetic understanding, so we should be gentle and patient with ourselves, as with others.  Nevertheless, they are hard to live through, these winters of the spirit.  When you know yourself to be sterile, helpless, unable to deal creatively with your situation or change your own heart, you know your need for a Savior, and you know what Advent is.  God brings us to these winters, these dreary times of deadness and emptiness of spirit, as truly as he brings winter after autumn, as a necessary step towards next spring.  But while we are in them they feel like a real absence of God, or our absence from him. . . . .In the winters of your prayer, when there seems to be nothing but darkness and a situation of frozenness, hold on, wait for God.  He will come.”  (Maria Boulding)

I hope this provides encouragement for you.  Know that I’m praying for you . . . all of you who “know what Advent is.”

The look on His face.

During Advent, we meditate on the Second Coming of Christ as well as the first.  In the book of Revelation, it says: “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  I could not help but think of what Christ’s face will look like when we are presented to Him as His bride when I looked at these photos.  May they be a meditation for you of the pure love of your Bridegroom: 24 grooms seeing their brides for the first time.  So great is His love for you.

Listen for the footsteps

As always, Fr. Peter John Cameron gives us a gem:

Father Alfred Delp, the heroic German Jesuit who was executed in 1945 for his resistance to the Nazi regime, wrote this:

Oh, if people know nothing about the promises anymore, if they only experience the four walls and the prison windows of their gray days, and no longer perceive the quiet footsteps of the announcing angels, if the angel’s murmured word does not simultaneously shake us to the depths and lift up our souls–then it is over for us.  Then we are living wasted time, and we are dead, long before they do anything to us.

This Advent is the perfect occasion to take account of all the walls, and prison windows, and gray days that we let define our lives.  There are quiet footsteps and murmured words of announcing angles coming our way, too, to remind us of God’s awesome promises.

“Your flame is touching ours”

There is a little known Advent tradition–at least little known to me–of using an Advent log, instead of an wreath.  “It contains a candle hole for each day of Advent, plus one for the Christmas holy day itself.”  Here is a poem I came across that refers to this lovely tradition:

Prayer at the Advent log

The small lights steady
against the dark,
Your flame is touching ours.
Today is the fifth day.
It is a safe fire,
the candles still tall
above the brittle wood
of the birch, the air
damp and chill.
But the days will draw us
inexorably toward
Your celebration,
and again we’ll stand
in the crackling air,
the first days’ flames
licking the log
with their shortened lives,
the length of it
threatened by Your fire,
Your love dazzling our eyes,
and, O Christ,
Your love searing
our nakedness.
(Jean Janzen)