You Too Are Full of His Grace

It has been a difficult winter with two life changing events occurring in the family. One family member losing a battle with cancer and another spending a week in ICU. And then the rise of the coronavirus in America causing much suffering, fear and anxiety.

Now in the fourth week of our Lenten season of fasting and penance a ray of light and hope suddenly appears in the midst of it all with the Solemnity of the Annunciation on March 25th! A sudden reminder of how God came to be with us as foretold in Isaiah 7:14 “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son: and his name will be called Emmanuel (God with us)”. Jesus Christ true God and true man. The one that we truly need now.

The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner (American)

God assured Mary of His grace that night as He does for us now. Read the beautiful Meditation by Word Among Us for March 25th below.

TODAY’S MEDITATION: LUKE 1:26-38

Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you. (Luke 1:28)

Why do you think the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with these words? Perhaps because he wanted Mary to know that God had already filled her with all the grace she would need to say yes to bearing God’s Son into the world. Maybe he also wanted to reassure her: she could count on God always being with her, not just in that blessed moment.

Mary might not have had much time to reflect on the angel’s greetings until later, after she had said yes to God’s plan. But as the baby grew in her womb, she probably thought about it often. She knew that what God was asking of her wasn’t going to be easy. No doubt this was a special child. How was she going to raise Jesus to be a king and sit on the throne of David, as the angel had said? (Luke 1:32-33). When such questions swirled in her mind, she could always go back and recall the angel’s words: God was with her, and so was his grace.

When has the Lord asked you to do something difficult? Maybe you were given a special needs child to raise or you are caring for an ailing spouse or parent or you’re trying to work through tensions in your marriage. We all are faced with situations in which God is asking us to do what seems beyond us. We may have to say yes to the Lord not once but many times as we struggle to be obedient to his plan for our lives.

But what the angel said to Mary is also true of us. Mary was born without original sin, but because of our baptism, we are also filled with God’s grace. He dwells in us. That means he is always with us and that his grace is always available to us.

When Mary said yes to the angel, Jesus came into the world to save us and share his divine life with us. Now we can move forward, day by day and one step at a time, to do what God is asking of us—because we too are “full of grace” (Luke 1:28)!

“Lord, thank you for giving me the grace to say yes to whatever is your will for me.”

Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10

Psalm 40:7-11

Hebrews 10:4-1

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Don’t Go It Alone

The past few months have been very busy for the family so it is great to get back to do some blogging. I hope you all had a Holy and Joyous Christmas season!

The daily readings leading up to Ash Wednesday and since then have been very beautiful and meaningful. Today’s readings from Psalms 51: 3-4, 12-13 and 18-19 expresses what kind of fasting is really desired by God. “My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit; a heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn.” And the reading from JON 3:1-10 concerning Jonah’s message to the people of Nineveh to repent. A message which was well received by the people and the king who put repentance into action. Not the usual case, where the messenger is usually rejected and killed!

The Word Among Us today had a fine meditation on Nineveh which follows below. It talks about the importance of a community in living out the faith. Enjoy!

Meditation: Jonah 3:1-10

The people of Nineveh . . . proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth. (Jonah 3:5)

It’s estimated that only about 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually stick with them. There are several reasons for this. People tend to make goals that are too general, like “lose weight,” or too hard, like “run ten miles a day.” Another reason may be that they don’t feel connected to other people who share similar goals. They may feel that in the end, it’s a lonely struggle that doesn’t seem worth the effort.

In today’s first reading, notice how quickly the people of Nineveh responded to Jonah’s message. Obviously, they were serious about fulfilling their goal of repentance. But what do you suppose motivated them? It’s apparent that the Ninevites were in this together. All of them fasted and all of them did penance. This is surely what helped them keep their resolve.

That’s something we should consider as well. We may have only recently made Lenten resolutions. We do these things so that we can leave our sinful behaviors behind and grow closer to God. But we may already be struggling with keeping some of them.

If that’s the case, you may need to shift your strategy a bit. Find someone who wants to join you in your Lenten practices. Perhaps you’ve decided that you want to pray the Rosary every day. Maybe your spouse could join you in prayer each evening before bed. You may have decided to fast from lunch once a week. You may be able to find a coworker who is also willing to fast and take a walk with you instead.

Here’s another strategy that may help: ask a friend to encourage you and keep you accountable. That person might be able to give you a phone call—and a pep talk—each week to see how you’re doing. You could do the same for them.

You are not alone; you are part of the body of Christ. There is so much more incentive to stay the course when you have other people running the race with you.

“Lord, give me the humility to reach out to my brothers and sisters for help and encouragement!”

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 18-19

Luke 11:29-32

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The Authority of Love

The readings of Advent are a great source of inspiration and comfort and I always enjoy them and the season as well. The readings on Monday of this week (Dec. 16th) about the chief priests and elders confronting Jesus after He overturned the tables of the money changers in the Temple area were a bit of a surprise! A writer at Word Among Us helped me to understand better and the article is included here.

Meditation: Matthew 21:23-27

3rd Week of Advent

By what authority are you doing these things? (Matthew 21:23)

The chief priests and elders were challenging Jesus’ right to teach in the Temple. And in one sense, their opposition was understandable. Jesus had just walked into the Temple acting like he owned the place, overturning the money changers’ tables, and driving them out. Then he began healing and teaching the crowd that gathered around him. It must have been an unsettling scene: a stranger from Galilee assuming a mantle of authority that belonged only to the priests who governed this holy place. Who did he think he was?

Jesus knew exactly who he was—the Messiah! But he also knew that these elders would never believe him if he told them that he was the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies and that his authority came from God himself. So instead, he turned the situation around and confronted them by bringing up John the Baptist, whom they had rejected.

That was then, but this is now. Unlike the elders in Jerusalem, we already know who Jesus is. What could this passage have to say to us?

Plenty, it seems. This story of Jesus’ confrontation with the chief priests and elders gives us an opportunity to consider what Jesus’ authority means for our lives. Of course, we proclaim that he is Lord, but our faith tells us that he is not a cruel dictator demanding unquestioning obedience from his subjects and ready to punish mercilessly every transgression we commit. No, his authority exists within the context of love. We obey his teachings because we know that he has only good in mind for us. We follow him because he is showing us the way to live in his own love.

Ultimately, Jesus’ authority is a gift, not a burden. It’s the gift of his protection from evil. It’s the gift of his grace to form us after his own image.

Jesus will never force his will on you. He is inviting you into a relationship with him—a relationship marked by trust and love, by humility and surrender. So don’t hesitate to take every concern, every difficult relationship, and every temptation to him. Place every area of your life under his rule, and let him fill you with his peace.

“Jesus, let my actions reflect your loving authority in my life!”

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17

Psalm 25:4-9

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December 12th – The Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe: Beautiful Symbolism

I was watching a fascinating presentation on EWTN earlier this week about Our Lady of Guadalupe. The symbolism of the life-size image found in Juan Diego’s cloak is amazing and some of which is shown here in an Instagram posting by EWTN. Some of the connections between the Aztec and Christian cultures are indicated below.

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