Living a New Life into Eternity

On our recent trip to visit our daughter in Nevada, I attended Mass at the St Thomas Aquinas Cathedral in Reno, Nevada one Sunday morning in April.  I always enjoy visiting other churches to hear Mass and see how they are celebrated.  Most churches are in the process of opening up as the pandemic recedes, so I was especially interested in seeing how they were doing this at St. Thomas’s.  I noticed that they had pews taped off as usual, but they were taped about 2 feet in which was curious.  The cantor came up to the lectern and began giving some directions for the Gloria and then began the opening Easter Hymn “the strife is over“.  Tears began to well up in my eyes from a flood of emotions. 

I had recently been talking with other friends about the seeming lack of joy in the Easter season following Easter Sunday especially when compared with Christmas season following Christmas Day.  One hears a variety of beautiful Christmas hymns before and after Christmas day:  O Holy Night, Adeste Fideles, Silent Night and so on.  There are many Easter hymns as well but not nearly sung as often.  And here I was, over 2000 miles from home hearing the cantor and a congregation singing: “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia…..the strife is over …….”  A beautiful hymn exclaiming that Christ’s suffering on the cross is over and now also the suffering from the pandemic on the way out.  Bittersweet joy of Easter, the pandemic and the joy of singing for the first time in 10 months.  I could barely sing along with all the feelings going on inside. 

The priest started the Mass by asking everyone to greet each other which everyone did.  He was especially reverent throughout the Mass and everyone participated in kind.  This parish was keeping that Easter joy and what a joy it was to be there.  We all need to remember that Christmas happened so that Easter could happen!  The Resurrection is Jesus’ triumph over death and makes possible the joy of eternal life with Him.  That is certainly a reason to keep that joyous feeling before us!  I am still listening to those beautiful Easter hymns.  And the warmth and love of that parish surely is boosting my soul all the way to Pentecost! 

By the way, this parish brought Communion down to the people in the pews!  That is why they left space in the taped off pews.  I learn something new every day.

He is Risen, Alleluia, Alleluia…..

@StThomasAquinasCathedral

#Easter

@Eastertide

@StPeterdanb

Lectio Divina-Like Rain That Waters The Earth

A Spring Rain

Isaiah is consistently beautiful in his writings whether it be in the Advent/Christmas seasons, or Lent/Easter times. I always love them. The Mass reading this past Tuesday, Is 55:10-11, captures a beautiful reality.

My daily prayer life involves Lectio Divina which is a practice of reading the daily scripture readings and then pondering and being open to listening for what God wants to impart to you. A passage like this is ideal. The meditation for this day (Feb 23) from Word Among Us gives an excellent description of Lectio Divina and commentary on Isaiah’s passage.

Just as from the heavens

the rain and snow come

And do not return there

till they have watered the earth

making it fertile and fruitful,…

So shall my word be

that goes forth from my mouth;

It shall not return to me void,

but shall do my will,..

DAILY MEDITATION: ISAIAH 55:10-11

My word . . . shall not return to me void. (Isaiah 55:11)

Have you ever been inside a greenhouse? Its transparent walls trap heat and humidity, creating a tropical atmosphere—even in the wintertime. The walls also keep out hungry herbivores. It’s no wonder a greenhouse is such a fertile environment!

This may be a good metaphor for the practice of lectio divina, an ancient, prayerful way of reading Scripture. In today’s first reading, we hear about the life-giving power of God’s word. It’s like rain that waters the earth and causes crops to grow and bear fruit. You could say that lectio divina is an especially fertile environment for growth. 

In order to experience God’s written word through lectio divina, you need to “wall yourself off” from distractions for a time. This creates space for the four traditional stages of this practice: reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation. 

Reading. Just as fertile soil helps plants grow, the words of Scripture are a rich medium in which we can experience God’s grace. So unhurried reading of a short passage is the first step of lectio divina. This stage usually ends as you pause at a phrase—even a word—that catches your attention.

Meditation. Remember the greenhouse’s clear walls that let in so much light? Similarly, you can invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the truths in that phrase or word as you ponder it and turn it over in your mind.

Prayer. Next, bring your reflections before the Lord in the form of a prayerful conversation. Maybe you could thank him for a truth he has revealed. Or ask him whatever questions come into your heart. Then give him room to respond. At this point, the Lord may already be irrigating your soul with peace or joy.

Contemplation. Now be still and open. Allow anything God has said or done to soak in. Let his word take root within you—even if you don’t immediately “feel” anything happening.

And that’s it. But don’t be fooled. Even though it’s structured and simple, lectio divina contains living surprises, like any good greenhouse. You never know at which stage you may encounter the Lord walking through the garden.

“Lord, make your word come alive in my heart!”

Psalm 34:4-7, 16-19
Matthew 6:7-15

@stpeterdanb1 @Lent

Feeling Unworthy to Be Part of God’s Plan? – You’re Right, You Are!

I have always enjoyed reading the Scriptures during the Advent season as they are so uplifting and a delight to the soul. Last week in one of the daily readings was the genealogy of Jesus in Mt 1: 1-17. It is one of those readings which is a bit long and has a lot of information but seems pretty boring. Boring if you don’t know the back story behind it all. Once you find that out, a whole new perspective comes into view! Which is why it is so important read the Scriptures and other religious writings outside of what you see and hear at Sunday Mass once a week. There are a wealth of resources in our Church of 2,000 years including the Word Among Us publication, the National Catholic Register newspaper and the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) just to name a few.

Getting back to the genealogy of Jesus, one discovers a big mix of bad apples in the family tree! For example, Jacob, a deceiver and thief; Rahab, a prostitute; King David, a murderer and adulterer; King Manasseh, an idolater and King Ahaz who did everything God had told him not to do!

So, what does this have to do with the title of this blog post (which is a bit edgy)? The inspiration comes from the meditation in Word Among Us for December 17th which is included below.

DAILY MEDITATION: MATTHEW 1:1-17

The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1)

A family of liars, adulterers, murderers, fornicators, connivers, and blasphemers. What a miserable lot! And yet the most famous member of this family tree isn’t known for some gross sin or heinous crime. Quite the opposite, in fact. He is God become man, Jesus Christ, our Savior.

Why do you think God chose such a rogues’ gallery of ancestors for his Son? Is this the best he could come up with? Well, in a sense, yes! No matter how good any family may look on paper, they are still fallen, imperfect human beings. 

Centuries of biblical history have shown us that God doesn’t usually choose the bravest or the strongest or even the holiest people to fulfill his plan. He chooses ordinary, sinful people. And so Jesus was born into an imperfect line—but a line that was made holy by God’s grace. That wasn’t a problem for God though. He can work with anything. In fact, it delights him to fill us, cracked and leaky vessels though we are, with his love.

Do you feel unworthy of being part of God’s plan? You’re right, you are! We all are. But however spotty our personal history or family tree may be, it doesn’t keep the Lord from offering us a new identity as his sons and daughters. All who are baptized into Christ are grafted into a spotless lineage and given the grace to grow into their new inheritance.

God redeemed a line of misfits and miscreants with his power. And he used this family as an important part of his plan. He is ready to do the same for you. You are more than able to bring Christ into the world, just as David, Solomon, Moses, and all the others did.

So come to the Lord and ask him to show you his plans for you. Does he want you to bring Christ to someone in your life? Will you let him renew your zeal for sharing the good news? Always remember that you are part of a royal line, and nothing is impossible for God!

“Father, help me to take up my role in your plan. Unworthy though I am, let me be your light to the world!”

Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Psalm 72:1-4, 7-8, 17

@StPeterdanb #StPeterdanb #Christmas #Advent

See What Awaits You.

The new liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent which was November 29th this year. Advent is always one of my favorite times of the year as it is the time to prepare for the birth of the Christ Child at Christmas which begins the Christmas season. The joy and anticipation is readily apparent in the daily Mass readings and the passages from Isaiah and others are especially beautiful. Now is a perfect time to begin a new season for your heart and soul after a very stressful and difficult year.

If you have been away from Mass and Reconciliation, you can return now. Or spend some time in Adoration. Many churches are still having Lessons & Carols in-person (with the usual health precautions) and online. Perhaps creating a new daily prayer habit. Start slow with 15 minutes a day with our Lord, or reading scripture. If something strikes your interest, follow that lead.

The Word Among Us (WAU) is an excellent publication of the daily Mass readings, meditations and spiritual resources. The beautiful meditation today tied the three readings together and follows below:

DAILY MEDITATION: PSALM 23:1-6

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. (Psalm Response)

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” This popular song shows just how much we associate the holidays with the comforts of home. Even if we can’t be home this Christmas, we probably recall times of anticipation from the past—of stringing lights, wrapping presents, decorating the tree, and gathering around the table. But have you ever thought about how Advent is also a time to anticipate how wonderful it will be to gather in God’s eternal home?

Many of the readings we hear during the Advent season focus on just this theme. Why? Because just as we look forward to Jesus’ coming at Christmas, so the Church invites us to reflect on the day when the Lord will come again in glory and welcome us into heaven. Let’s see how today’s first reading stirs this longing. 

Like any good host, Jesus is eager to welcome his guests and feed them. Isaiah envisions a great feast “for all peoples” (25:6). Everything we could possibly desire—Isaiah uses the image of “rich food and choice wines” (25:6)—will be ours because we will be face-to-face with what we have always desired the most, God himself.

On that day, all the guests will gather as one family around this table because God will have removed the “web that is woven over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7). Just imagine—all the strife, conflict, and arguments that we witness today, even in our own families, will no longer exist. 

There will be great rejoicing in heaven. God will “wipe away the tears from all faces” and “destroy death forever” (Isaiah 25:8). The disappointments, losses, and pain we have experienced during our lives on earth—all will be healed. Reunited with our loved ones, we will never have to fear being separated from them again.

Who wouldn’t want to be welcomed into this kind of home? This is what awaits you as you prepare to live in the house of Christ, your Lord. So rejoice! This Advent, as you prepare your home for Christmas, remember that Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is preparing a place in his home for you. 

“Heavenly Father, thank you for inviting me into your home.” 

Isaiah 25:6-10
Matthew 15:29-37

@Advent

@Stpeterdanb1

The Joy of Discovering New Polyphony

I have always been very taken with music as part of the liturgy. I grew up in Queens, NY and attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church and school. Vatican II came along when I was in eighth grade so I was very familiar with the Latin Mass and the many beautiful Latin hymns. I always enjoyed singing at Mass and greatly appreciate what music and singing bring to the Liturgy in creating that sacred space for worship. Later in life, I rediscovered Gregorian Chant and Polyphony both of which are a feast for the ears! This music will quickly take you to the ethereal realms.

This music brings an special awareness to the transcendent during Mass. The sound and sight of a choir of men and women from all backgrounds singing in harmony to God is a vocal manifestation of Jesus’ prayer to the Father that we all be one (John 17:21so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us..).

I was browsing for some chant music recently when a picture of Josquin Des Prez wearing a red hat caught my eye. I had not heard of him before so I began looking at videos of his music and came across the group The Brookline Consort.

I played the YouTube video of their performance of his Ave Maria – virgo serena on Catholic TV. I am at a loss for words but I can only say that their singing was so beautiful that it hurt! The prayer itself is very moving and is below in both Latin and English. The video is at the end.

I never thought that I would write something about music but sometimes things happen and I’m glad that they did. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I do. Or, maybe it will open up a new interest in liturgical music for you. The peace of Christ to you!

@liturgicalpolyphony @liturgicalmusic @catholicmass @gregorianchant @avemaria @blessedmother @liturgicalchant

Kamala on LIFE — BeautyBeyondBones

I’ve gone back and forth, and back and forth about publishing this post. Because, let’s be honest, a lady’s not supposed to talk about politics, religion or money. But then, when have I ever followed the rules when it comes to that. But my final push to publish this post came when I was having…

Kamala on LIFE — BeautyBeyondBones

Caralyn is a blogger I respect and follow. This is a piece that she courageously composed and posted. I fully support her. Her blog is BeautyBeyondBones.

“Good Person” Christianity — BeautyBeyondBones

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently. About a lot of things: life, family, relationships, the state of the world. Frankly, for an overthinker like me, there’s… 1,213 more words

“Good Person” Christianity — BeautyBeyondBones

I am a follower of Caralyn’s blog BeautyBeyondBones and her thoughts here are very much worth sharing.

#StPeterDanbury1

Happy Independence Day!

Remember: Our rights come from God!

#StPeterdanb

#IndependenceDay