Advent, Day 13 - Blessed are you who believed...

"During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” -Luke 1:39-45 NASB

The Evening of the Visitation - Thomas Merton, penned in 1947

Go, roads, to the four quarters of our quiet distance,

While you, full moon, wise queen,

Begin your evening journey to the hills of heaven,

And travel no less stately in the summer sky

Than Mary, going to the house of Zachary.


The woods are silent with the sleep of doves,

The valleys with the sleep of streams,

And all our barns are happy with peace of cattle gone to rest.

Still wakeful, in the fields, the shocks of wheat

Preach and say prayers:

You sheaves, make all your evensongs as sweet as ours,

Whose summer world, all ready for the granary and barn,

Seems to have seen, this day,

Into the secret of the Lord's Nativity.


Now at the fall of night, you shocks,

Still bend your heads like kind and humble kings

The way you did this golden morning when you saw God's

Mother passing,

While all our windows fill and sweeten

With the mild vespers of the hay and barley.


You moon and rising stars, pour on our barns and houses

Your gentle benedictions.

Remind us how our Mother, with far subtler and more holy


Blesses our rooves and eaves,

Our shutters, lattices and sills,

Our doors, and floors, and stairs, and rooms, and bedrooms,

Smiling by night upon her sleeping children:

O gentle Mary! Our lovely Mother in heaven!


Prayer on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mother of God,

today we recall your words to Juan Diego:

"Where are you going?" 

He responds to your request as you did,

with urgent haste and prompt faith

and discovers a holy ground

that transforms a place of destruction 

into a sacred place for the people of Mexico. 

When we forget the cries and the heartbreak of your people, 

ask us, Mother of God, "Where are you going?" 

so that we also go in haste to proclaim God's option

for those who have the greatest need - our poor, 

and all persons who most need God's tender healing and mercy. 


Come, Lord Jesus.



Advent, Day 12 - Peace is not merely the absence of war - a response to The Terror Report

Our response to yesterday's news on The Terror Report

78. Peace is not merely the absence of war; nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies; nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called an enterprise of justice. Peace results from that order structured into human society by its divine Founder, and actualized by men as they thirst after ever greater justice.

The common good of humanity finds its ultimate meaning in the eternal law. But since the concrete demands of this common good are constantly changing as time goes on, peace is never attained once and for all, but must be built up ceaselessly. Moreover, since the human will is unsteady and wounded by sin, the achievement of peace requires a constant mastering of passions and the vigilance of lawful authority.

But this is not enough. This peace on earth cannot be obtained unless personal well-being is safeguarded and men freely and trustingly share with one another the riches of their inner spirits and their talents. A firm determination to respect other men and peoples and their dignity, as well as the studied practice of brotherhood are absolutely necessary for the establishment of peace. Hence peace is likewise the fruit of love, which goes beyond what justice can provide.

That earthly peace which arises from love of neighbor symbolizes and results from the peace of Christ which radiates from God the Father. For by the cross the incarnate Son, the prince of peace reconciled all men with God. By thus restoring all men to the unity of one people and one body, He slew hatred in His own flesh; and, after being lifted on high by His resurrection, He poured forth the spirit of love into the hearts of men.

For this reason, all Christians are urgently summoned to do in love what the truth requires, and to join with all true peacemakers in pleading for peace and bringing it about.

Motivated by this same spirit, we cannot fail to praise those who renounce the use of violence in the vindication of their rights and who resort to methods of defense which are otherwise available to weaker parties too, provided this can be done without injury to the rights and duties of others or of the community itself.

Insofar as men are sinful, the threat of war hangs over them, and hang over them it will until the return of Christ. But insofar as men vanquish sin by a union of love, they will vanquish violence as well and make these words come true: "They shall turn their swords into plough-shares, and their spears into sickles. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).

Vatican II - The Church in the Modern World

Come, Lord Jesus


Advent, Day 10 - Thomas Merton: Take Five Minutes

On December 10, 1968, Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky died by accidental electrocution at the age of 53 in Bangkok, Thailand as he completed a six-day pilgrimage to study and to teach about prayer with leaders of oriental religions.

His voluminous writings as a formidable and radical social critic, spiritual leader and modern prophet include controversial events on war, industrialization, labor and solidarity, nuclear technology, mass media and the challenge of change.

Merton's chief concern in his writings is the transformation of every human being in relationship with God, the deep concern with the internal desire for God that exists within each person's heart. Throughout his brief but extraordinary life, Merton is the ultimate pragmatist in his approach to the hunger of the human heart for God in the moment and in every activity of daily life.  

Today, in his memory, we offer two famous quotes from the enormous library of Mertoniana. We suggest that readers who do not know the writings of Thomas Merton begin to dip their toe into the ocean of this compelling author's work, whose writing still remains fresh in today's contemporary culture. Take five minutes and sit with two writings that Merton penned. What stands out for you? Where do you find your own heart in his words? 

Thomas Merton in Louisville Square, Kentucky

 “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being human, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”

“Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts, where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are.  If only we could see each other that way all the time.” Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

Prayer of Thomas Merton

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

Thomas Merton, prophet of God, pray for us.


Today's Gospel reading, Advent, Day 10

"Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Come, Lord Jesus. 


Advent, Day 9 - "I'm hungry." 

"I'm hungry," she told me. "I haven't eaten in two days. I'm waiting to be cleared and placed in a shelter. I'm homeless." She said it without hesitation or guile, just simple honesty. Her hunger drove her. I guessed that she was in her late 'teens, early 'twenties, tops. 

I bought two sandwiches and two cups of coffee for both of us and invited her to sit at a tiny table out of the cafe's steady traffic. As she munched on her sandwich and wrapped her hands around her hot cup, she told me her story.

Later that day, an agency person came to retrieve her and bring her to a shelter. The woman asked me if I could locate the young girl: we searched and we couldn't find her anywhere. She had disappeared to sleep under a church stairwell, a bridge, an abandoned building - anywhere to get away from the pouring rain and cold. The woman from the shelter and I took a moment to mourn the missed opportunity and this young girl's certain fate. She was subject to anything out there. But for a few hours, she had been warm, fed and heard without judgment. Perhaps that's all she wanted. I'll never know. 

Later that evening, I parked my car to meet my husband and a friend for dinner. Not five seconds passed when a man approached me and asked me for money so that he could "go and get something to eat." I dug in my wallet and gave him whatever was left of the cash contents and said a few words about staying warm. He thanked me and disappeared into the night. God only knows if he spent the money on food but that wasn't my call to make. And then it struck me: why hadn't I invited him to dine with me, my husband and my friend? I still don't know the answer. 

We can give someone who has nothing something to eat or even hand them food. We can put money into the 'special' collection on a Sunday morning that will go to feed our hungry or purchase the myriad prepared baskets of foodstuffs sold at the counters of super markets, pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves that we've done our job. We've helped to feed hungry people. But sharing a meal with a person who is homeless is a much deeper, a much richer experience that offers insight into our own deep poverty and dependence on the mercy of God. We're all poor in one way or another and we all look for comfort in one way or another.

Until every belly is full and every person knows that they have a community of friends, the reign of God is a long way off. We have our mandate in today's reading from Isaiah: "Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God." (Isaiah 40: 1, 3-5) 

"We cannot love God unless we love each other and to love we must know each other. We know Him in the breaking of bread, and we know each other in the breaking of bread, and we are not alone anymore. Heaven is a banquet and life is a banquet, too, even with a crust, where there is companionship."  from The Long Loneliness, Dorothy Day

Come, Lord Jesus. 


Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Advent, Day 8 

Image of Ann, Mary and Jesus by Leonardo da VinciMary,

White Dawn, 

you were created and nurtured for nine months

within the womb of a holy woman, Ann

who was unware that she and her husband, Zachary

seeded and raised 

the purest womb that would host

the Child

who brings heaven to earth,

as a gift.

Holy Mary, blessed among all women,

pray for us now,

and at the hour of our death.




Page 1 ... 2 3 4 5 6 ... 21 Next 5 Entries »