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

RCIA Inquiry

Are you an adult (18+) Catholic who has not received the Sacraments of Eucharist and/or Confirmation?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the normative way in which non-Catholics – those unbaptized as well as those baptized into other Christian denominations – enter the Church.  It is also the way baptized Catholics who never received any catechesis and did not receive Eucharist and Confirmation, can complete their Sacrament of Initiation.  The Inquiry Period is October 1, 8 and 15 when we will have weekly Thursday evening sessions for those who want to explore the process.  To express interest or to learn more, please call the rectory office of St Peter Church, Danbury, CT at 203-743-2707.  If you are not in the area, you can also contact CatholicsComeHome.org for information as well.

@StPeterdanbury1 @CatholicsComeHome

Everyone Can Be in His Family

Today’s readings are very cohesive in their message. Many times over the centuries, and in modern times as well, faith has been manipulated as a tool to divide people for political ends. This has never been the message of Jesus. The Daily Meditation by Word Among Us is a fitting description of God’s teaching spanning both the Old and New Testaments.

DAILY MEDITATION: ISAIAH 56:1, 6-7

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. (Isaiah 56:7)

All of today’s readings tell us that God’s salvation is meant for everyone. The prophet Isaiah speaks of foreigners who will join themselves to the Lord (56:6). The psalmist declares, “May the peoples praise you, O God” (Psalm 67:6). Jesus praises a Canaanite woman’s faith (Matthew 15:28). And Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, proclaims that God wants to “have mercy upon all” (Romans 11:32). 

For the Jewish people in today’s first reading, this must have been difficult to accept. They had just returned from exile to discover foreigners living in their holy city, Jerusalem. Their covenant told them that they were set apart as a holy people chosen by God. So how could “impure” Gentiles be living on their land? They forgot that God had chosen them by his grace, not just for their own sake, but to bring his light to every nation. 

This call became increasingly clear in the early Church. Initially, all of Jesus’ followers were Jewish. But as Gentiles came to believe in the Lord, the Jewish Christians began to understand that God’s plan of salvation was far bigger than they had expected. Learning to live and work and pray alongside Gentiles could not have been easy. But they, like us, had to allow God’s grace to help them love each other. The result? The diverse, beautiful, sometimes messy Church we know today. 

Jesus wants his Church to be a house of prayer for all nations so that every person can belong to his family. He sees people who are searching for hope, meaning, and a place to meet God, and he is asking us to draw them in, to be the loving, welcoming face of the Church. May we always be open to everyone who is seeking the Lord, and through us, may God’s grace flow out to the entire world!

“Jesus, help me to show everyone the love that you have given me.” 

Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
Romans 11:13-15, 29-32
Matthew 15:21-28

@StPeterDanbury1

@CatholicRites

“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

So How Am I Supposed to Be Perfect?

The daily reading on Tuesday of this week includes one of Jesus’ most astounding and difficult teachings. In Matthew 5: 43-48, He tells us it is not enough to love our neighbors. Jesus tells us that we must love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us! And not only that but that we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect! People who are perfect!? How can this be? Just read a history book or even just the news lately. Perfect? We are only human hence my question as the title of this piece. Below is the meditation from Word Among Us ( June 16th) which actually addresses this question beautifully.

DAILY MEDITATION: MATTHEW 5:43-48

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

According to the dictionary, “perfect” means “entirely without flaw or defect, meeting supreme standards of excellence, satisfying all requirements.” To which many of us would respond, “Really, Lord? I’m struggling just to hold my life together! Now you want me to be perfect? That’s impossible.”

One reason that perfection can seem so unattainable is that it sounds like an either-or proposition: you’re either perfect or you’re not. But as Scripture scholars point out, the Greek word translated as “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 carries a more dynamic meaning. It indicates something you are always growing into—a process of becoming whole and complete. From this perspective, we can imagine Jesus saying, “Don’t stop! Keep working on becoming the person I created you to be. Don’t settle for anything less than the holiness that comes from wholeness!” The more you become the unique person God made you to be, the more you will resemble Jesus, the perfect One.

So how do you grow into this perfection? Self-improvement programs won’t produce the right kind of change, and neither will piling on acts of self-denial and spiritual calisthenics. It comes as you work on using your talents and gifts in a way that glorifies the Lord and lifts up the people around you. It comes as you focus on one or two roadblocks in your life and ask for Jesus’ grace to help you resolve them: a lingering resentment, an unhealthy habit, or a skewed way of thinking about life.

Today, ask Jesus how he wants you to grow into the perfection he has set aside for you. Let him shine the light of his love on your heart. Let him show you both the person you’re meant to be and the person you are right now. Then come up with one or two things you can do to help bridge the gap between these two visions.

Blessed John Henry Newman once said, “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” As you seek to hear and follow Jesus, may you change—and often—day after blessed day!

“Jesus, I trust that you are leading me to wholeness and holiness!”

1 Kings 21:17-29

Psalm 51:3-6, 11, 16

My own comment is to remind you of the importance of receiving the graces of the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist to help you in your journey. – John

#LoveYourEnemies

@StPeterDanbury1