Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No Time For Compromises...

Someone who encounters the Ultimate, who knows about the end, must let go of every compromise. In the presence of the Ultimate the only thing that survives is what is authentic. All compromise shatters there. All cheap negotiating shatters there. All half-truths, and all double meanings, and all masks, and all poses shatter there. The only thing that stands the test is what is authentic.
-Father Delp

Rejoice always! The third week of Advent is a reminder to look forward with great joy to the promise of the Lord coming into our lives. Take a moment this week to truly rejoice in where the Lord has brought you in your life - whether there have been baby steps, leaps and bounds, or gradual movements to the Lord and His will for you, rejoice today in His love and purpose in our lives. He came to save, born of a Woman, to set us free from sin and lead us to turn to Him in this life to live with Him fully in the next. Rejoice always!

Two weeks ago we reflected upon being like children, who are humble and trusting. Last week we talked about being ready like Mary to receive the Lord in our lives. This week we talk about letting go.

Thinking about this topic brings a smile to my face because I know how hard it is to do for most of us young people. We live day to day holding onto certain things and desires that we never want to give up. We compromise with ourselves, making us feel better about the sin in our lives or certain weaknesses that we have. We negotiate with God, our parents, and anyone we feel cheated or slighted by. We embrace half truths in our lives when we are scared by the real truth or when the full truth might put a cramp in our style. We wear masks that protect us from revealing our true selves and keep us from loving or being loved as we truly are. If you find yourself in one of these boats, don’t feel alone because all of us are there at one point or another.

The great news about Advent, is that if we humble ourselves like children striving to be ready to meet our Lord, then we let go of all the compromises, negotiating, half truths and masks in our lives. When we encounter our Lord Jesus as a child in the manger, we can’t help but encounter our authentic selves at the same time. What a time this is! We encounter the living God who became man, and in that very instant the veil is lifted and all the things shatter that keep us from our true authentic selves.

My friends, for this to happen we must let go. If we truly desire to meet Jesus in a new way this Christmas and if we truly desire to respond to the promises he made four our lives and future, we must no longer settle for the cheap imitations that we all have become accustomed to. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of living inauthentically at times. I am tired for settling or negotiating with myself about my desires for my life or what my future my hold. And it has been my experience that when we meet the Lord and are able to let go, then our Lord reveals to us our true selves. It is in those moments that we feel most complete and whole. The Lord in His great mercy and love has given us permission to be our authentic selves, exactly as he made us.

This week, get rid of anything in your life that is inauthentic. Look at your words and actions and see the places where you are not being the true self that Jesus wants you to be. Let go of everything that keeps you from the baby in the manger.

It feels good to be authentic! You know what I mean? Let it all go…

God Bless You,


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ready or Not...

The Angel’s message found her heart ready, and the Word became flesh, and in the holy room of her motherly heart, the earth grew far beyond its limitations into the human-divine sphere. There are the holiest comforts of Advent.
-Father Delp

In a world that was dark and suffering, an angel spoke words that forever changed history. A lowly handmaid who was younger than most of us, said yes to God who wanted to become man. God prepared her and at the perfect moment sent his messenger to reveal her destiny. How was it that she was able to say yes so willingly? How was it that she didn’t ask tons of questions, or even take time to think about it? A simple “let it be done” was all she had and in an instant she became the Mother of God.

This might be a good time to wish you all a happy Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This is truly a joyous day and one of my favorites of the Church year. What we celebrate today is why Mary was so willing and trusting when the angel appeared to her. God formed her in her mother’s womb free from all sin. How perfect and beautiful was Mary in the womb of St. Anne! It only makes sense that if she was going to be the Mother of God, that she be spared the stain of sin and death. God prepared her to say yes to Him, and her heart was so overwhelmed with grace and beauty that she responded with her whole self.

I don’t think this is breaking news to anyone, but we are not perfect. Even though some of our moms think we are, it is not the case. So if we are not perfect and were not immaculately conceived they how do we play this game? I thought you would never ask. Believe it or not, God has also prepared us to say yes to Him as well. Through grace and the sacraments, the Lord’s works to convert our hearts and open us to respond in our own lives as Mary did. But the other important notion we must all remember is how Mary was READY.

“Those who wait for you will not be disappointed” -Psalm 25:3

My friends, Advent is about waiting, and this is not a waiting because we are bored and have nothing else to do. This is a waiting that prepares and becomes ready for the Lord who is coming to meet us. Mary was found ready because she was hungering and longing for her God to come. She was very aware of the Old Testament prophecies that foretold the Messiah coming to save the Jewish people. Believing with her whole heart, purifying herself from sin, and living rightly among her family and community, Mary was ready to receive Him. Little did she know she would be His mother and bear Him in her womb, but she was ready when becoming the Savior’s mother was God’s plan for her.

If God came today would you be found ready? A true waiting is a true longing, and a true longing is doing everything necessary to be ready when the time comes. For us, let us start this Advent by not only putting down the weapons that separate ourselves from Jesus and others, but challenging ourselves to get ready for the Lord. This begins with realizing that at every moment the Lord wants to come into our lives.

This Advent we must also make a good examination of conscience and look at the areas of our lives where we need to purify ourselves from sin, removing that darkness that keeps us from being prepared to receive the Lord. Lastly, let us reflect upon our family relationships and other friendships and ask ourselves if the people close to us are helping us become truly ready for the coming of Jesus.

What an amazing day to reflect about Mary’s life. She was conceived to bear Jesus and help give life to the world. All this because she was found ready. Imagine what the Lord wants to do in your life if you are found ready when he comes to reveal himself once again.
Surely we will not be disappointed.

God Bless,

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Surrender your weapons!

How would our own lives, and life in general, be different if we remembered that life’s greatest hour was when God became a man, a child? We would not approach one another, stand before on another so demandingly, and violently, and greedily. Children do not inflict such wounds. We want to be so great and mighty, so grown up and competent. We ourselves, and the heap of ruble that is left to us, are the outcome of this attitude.
-Father Alfred Delp, Priest & Martyr

Happy Advent! It is the time a year when the pace of life picks up: the shoppers are out, the men of the house plot to “one up” their neighbors with Christmas lights, lists are being made, trips are being planned and most students are preparing for the end of the semester. What a crazy time!

It is interesting to reflect on what this time of year brings out in us. For most, life really does get busier. It is a race against the clock to complete last minute school work, to make plans for break and to spend time with family and friends. In addition, no one can argue that shopping consumes the holidays. The evidence we have of that is that a man was actually killed over the weekend while shopping at a New York Wal Mart. That point probably stands on its own. More so, the decorations are going up, Santa is the star of the show, and everyone is looking forward to the season’s culmination with a quick trip to church, the opening of presents and more excessively large meals to share. That perhaps sums up the time before Christmas for most people. So here is the striking question. How will Advent be different for you this year than last year? Or will it just be more of the same?

Each column over the next four weeks will be a part of an Advent series titled, “Life’s Greatest Hour.” I will prayerfully propose how this year, Advent can be different for all of us. With open hearts, let us gaze upon the Lord in the manager and learn about ourselves and the journey we are on.

Someone I know told me a story that truly opened my eyes. She is a Catholic psychologist and on one of her first assignments, she went with a priest to the home of a family who needed assistance. She arrived, met with the family and calmed everyone down. Before she left, she jokingly said under her breath, “now no one is going to kill anyone are they?” The wife immediately answered, “the minute you leave I am going to go up stairs and get my gun and shoot him,” referring to her husband. The psychologist then asked the wife to give her the gun. As she handed it to the psychologist, the wife demanded that if she had to give away her gun, her husband should have to hand over his gun. The husband then announced that if he had to give away his gun, the son and daughter each had to give up their guns. All of them had guns! The counselor took all the guns and left. She later reflected how they all were protecting themselves and keeping themselves from truly being close to one another.

Advent is a time to put down our weapons. It is a time to humble ourselves and take away all that keeps us from others and the Lord.

How true is Father Delp’s quote when he says that we stand before one another with so much baggage. We stand before people with great judgment, great pride, while demanding respect. We position ourselves to be dominant, to be popular, to be liked, and to be wanted. Oh the weapons that keep us from others! For example, in those times when it’s easier to make fun of someone than actually get to know him or her. It is those times when we have to win the argument or have the last word. It is those times when we must have our own way at all costs. Even more, this way of living leads us to not accept compliments very well or believe anything noble or good about ourselves.

We have all been there.

Maybe the first step in moving forward this Advent is to put down the weapons that have kept us away from our families, entering into fruitful friendships or relationships, and lead us to be lonely and unfulfilled.

My friends, the great news is that if we put down our weapons that have shielded us from the love of Jesus, we will come to truly be like a child. A child that gives love and is able to receive it. A child that is taken care of, and wants everyone else to be taken care of as well. A child that can meet others without comparing or judging, that allows everyone to be loved and accepted. To be childlike is not permission to be childish, but a freedom to live simply, trust and love without limits or questions.

What are the weapons you need to put down? What are the barriers or walls that keep you from letting yourself be loved by our Lord or others? This week let us strive to be childlike in opening our hearts to the child in the manger - the child who loves us and came to save us.

Make the choice this moment to make this Advent different. Putting down our weapons and walls will be a good start…Happy surrendering

God Bless You,