Shadow and light at the border

1531_Nuestra_Señora_de_Guadalupe_anagoriaToday there was a bit of  row in the Oval Office. Apparently if the wall is not built, terrible people will be streaming over the southern borders and making America worse by the minute.

The timing of this conversation and the impending (read: horrible) government shutdown has been on my mind. I just finished a book that took my breath away at every turn, a book that had me crying as I read its last words on its final page, a book about the border.

Add to all of this, today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas. Of the many apparitions of Mary, the Mother of God, she may just be my favorite. Entire volumes have been written about her, so this short blog post won’t go into all of her details. If you need to know more about her, she is easily found.

For the sake of our post today, let it suffice to say that Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is a universally present and beloved presence Continue reading

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Waiting in hope

EDIT Meseta hopeBe full of hope today, be as full of hope as you possibly can be.  Times are tough, they are very hard everywhere for so many of us. Even in the times of greatest joy, things can be challenging and hope is the fuel that propels us onward.

Motivational sayings often steer us towards optimism – conflating or confusing it with hope. Hope is not the same as optimism, just as joy is not the same as happiness. Hope is the warmth of a flame that is in all of our hearts, sometimes a roaring fire, other times an ember that we fear may go cold.

Optimism is not a bad thing – it is necessary, but it should not be confused with, or worse yet, replace hope. Optimism is something in our head, something that we can think and conjure with a mindset.  Hope lives within each one of us and radiates something essential to ourselves and to our world. Optimism can help us with develop endurance, but it is hope that strengthens our soul for the trying times when we must wait.

Hope is strengthened in silence and stillness, nurtured in its dynamism and grace through quiet, meditation, creativity, and prayer. This is how we approach the dark days of December, with this inner posture illuminating the world around each one of us, illuminating the world within us, as we await in hope the dawning light of Christ.

Stay, wait in hope

(Please be aware that this post contains one image that might be challenging for some.)

rosesToday is the First Sunday of Advent. It is also the 38th anniversary of the martyrdom of Maura Clarke M.M., Jean Donovan, Ita Ford M.M., and Dorothy Kazel O.S.U. in El Salvador.  Known as the Four Churchwomen of El Salvador, they gave their lives to the Gospel, even unto their last breath. Jean Donovan, the one lay missioner among the sisters wrote to someone right before her death. Her words remind us of the challenge of watching and waiting in the name of Christ in a violent and war-torn land.

“The Peace Corps left today and my heart sank low. The danger is extreme and they were right to leave…. Now I must assess my own position, because I am not up for suicide. Several times I have decided to leave. I almost could, except for the children, the poor bruised victims of adult lunacy. Who would care for them? Whose heart would be so staunch as to favor the reasonable thing in a sea of their tears and helplessness? Not mine, dear friend, not mine.” Continue reading

Prepare to be surprised

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A few thoughts for the Second Sunday of Advent…

We have expectations, which is pretty normal and human, of who or what Jesus Christ is or will be. Therefore we may miss many of the cues that he is right before us or within us. An example of this is found in today’s Gospel when we hear about John the Baptist preparing the way. In addition to our expectations of Jesus, we have them about John. He is speaking to us always and we are pretty just not seeing or hearing him, or ignoring him if we do notice. Maybe it is time to prepare the way of the Lord by preparing to be surprised, delighted, astonished, challenged, and comforted.

We hate waiting and we hate to change. These are two of the biggest things that are asked of us by God. Most of us respond with resistance. Sometimes waiting is the best thing we can do, no matter how hard. At other times, when those of us who have power tell those of us who do not have power to just be patient and wait, it becomes an abuse of power. It is pretty sick and cruel, but we do it all the time, it becomes second nature. I am reminded of Rigoberta Menchú who received the Nobel Peace Prize on this day in 1992. She once said, “My people are hungry. Don’t speak to us of buildings and police forces, we need food and respect.” (I have this on a Pax Christi daily calendar, but I must say, I cannot find the quote elsewhere, but I’m going with it.) If you are hungry, cold, sick, naked, or subject to injustice, imposed waiting can be a weapon. And if change comes, whether we seek it or resist it, when it does come, it impacts all of us. Everyone needs to prepare for that because sometimes the change we seek, that meaning the justice and mercy of Christ, might not look or feel exactly how we imagined it. Surprise!

We love to make things complicated. The “no pain, no gain” model of life has taken root in many forms. We know that the way to the Cross involves Continue reading

There WILL be bread

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Today’s readings are among the most beautiful to me. Just yesterday I thought of the Isaiah reading, and then boom – earlier today, as I sat in the dim lamp light aided by one flickering Advent candle, I opened Give Us This Day and there it was.

The imagery in Isaiah is so powerful:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.

God is not fooling around. The is for ALL peoples, a feast, not some little energy bar type snack that tastes like cardboard, one that is meant only for a certain few who have somehow “earned” it, and includes Continue reading

Say yes

I’m not going to lie people… I did not have time to write a post for today. As a result, I am turning to last year’s edition. The Jubilee of Mercy has concluded, but our mercy never should, and we should say yes to giving and receiving mercy always. Blessings on this feast day.

There Will Be Bread

say-yes1Say yes to the difficult.

Say yes to the challenging.

Say yes to the improbable.

Say yes to the absurd.

Say yes to love.

Say yes to peace.

Say yes to hope.

Say yes to mercy.

Say yes to God.

Buck the trend, upend the world as God’s radical partner, God’s unlikely choice, God’s mysterious candidate, unknown to the world, but made for great things.

Be the gateway to promises kept. Be the portal to astonishment. Be the opening to wonderment. Be the way to passage to love. Be the door through which mercy flows.

On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, look from one side to the other, by saying yes to sin and death, by saying yes to a clean heart and eternal life.

On this opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, say yes, even if it means an almost imperceptible shift of your inner…

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