Monday, December 30, 2013

Throw Off the Works of Darkness

On the first Sunday of December we're in Buffalo NY, visiting, and by chance I attended mass at Blessed Sacrament. First Sunday of Advent, days getting shorter, the city naturally rainy and often dark. Due to nearby Niagara Falls though, it was one of the first major cities to have hydroelectric power and a well developed grid and called itself the City of Light and it plugs on with resilience even as it deals with many ills of being in the Rust Belt. I did have many "moments of light" as we enjoyed the hip Elmwood District, distinctive architecture, a wedding and being with family.

Though the decision to walk to Mass was last minute, the sermon written was not and the priest had an inspired cadence that led me to pull out my pen and take notes, herewith:

The first reading from Isaiah 2 is one of my favorites:
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raised their sword against another, nor shall they train for war again"

The second reading, from Romans 13: 11-14
"It is the hour for you to awake from sleep. Our  salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day... Put on the Lord Jesus Christ"

Take off the clothing of darkness...
...of lying
...of criticism
...of labels
each is a form of taking up a weapon, be they of the tongue rather than tangible.

Put off the need to earn God's love which is freely given.

Put on the armor of light (Hanukah started on Thanksgiving this year and it's lighting each year is a symbol of light, openness, pride of doing right)

Put on the white robes of baptism, we will will be hearing the story of John the Baptist in the weeks to come and should be preparing ourselves for the cleansing of the Saviour to be born.

What are our defenses against the darkness, our armor of light?

  • Truth
  • Readiness
  • Word of God
  • Ready prayer
  • Kindness
  • Bear with one another
  • Love
I just found these notes a couple days before the New Year but these words helped me to have a wonderful and relatively relaxing advent focused more on the people in my life rather than the acquisition of gifts, overdecorating. I even let holiday events come to me rather than trying to press my family into activities they did not want to do (for the most part!).

Thank you Lord for being with me and holding my seasonal darkness at bay. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Seeing God's Plans

Yesterday I "lost" a friend, Irene, to cancer. While not BFF, I admired and enjoyed her company, mostly in all things Girl Scouts but also when we encountered at the store or July 4 parades where she faithfully marched with both the Girl Scouts AND the Stanford Marching Band, purple hair and all. While I believe her to be a woman of faith, her church was people and their care, not an intentional faith community.  She recognized stragglers who needed "another" mother and cared for them as for her own daughter. I know she is at peace with the Lord right now.

"We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose...What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28, 31

A Prayer for Discernment

Grant me, O Lord, to see everything now with new eyes, 

to discern and test the spirits
that help me read the signs of the times,
to relish the things that are yours, and to communicate
them to others.
Give me the clarity of understanding that you gave Ignatius.

--Pedro Arrupe, SJ.