Second Friday of Advent

Posted on December 9, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 48:17-19, Psalm 1, MT 11:16-19

Daily Advent Challenge 12-09We are past the halfway mark of Advent, and encouraged by today’s readings, let’s take a moment to assess our Advent stewardship journey and see if “wisdom has been vindicated” by your works. Wise choices now will make for a more joyous Christmas and that joy will continue into the New Year.

Have you…

  • Kept your spending for Christmas presents within your budget?
  • Found time for increased reflection and prayer?
  • Shared your gifts more with those around you?
  • Tried to be more mindful of the call of God each day?
  • Participated more fully in the liturgical life of the Church?
Daily Advent Challenge

Journeys are rarely as good when taken alone. If you are not in parish group using this booklet or are not currently sharing your Advent journey with someone, ask a spouse, family member, or friend about their Advent journey. Share with them some of your thoughts about the season. Just sharing a little about your spiritual journey is the first step in accountability, another characteristic of an Everyday Stewardship.

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Posted on December 8, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

GN 3:9-15, 20, Psalm 98, EPH 1:3-6, 11-12, LK 1:26-38

From Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response:

“After Jesus, it is the Blessed Virgin Mary who by her example most perfectly teaches the meaning of discipleship and stewardship in their fullest sense. All of their essential elements are found in her life: she was called and gifted by God; she responded generously, creatively, and prudently; she understood her divinely assigned role as “handmaid” in terms of service and fidelity.”

Daily Advent Challenge 12-08You can’t go wrong choosing Our Lady as your role model for living a stewardship way of life. She exhibited all of the characteristics of an Everyday Steward in a profound manner. If we draw closer to her and mold ourselves to be like her, than we will find ourselves closer to Jesus and will more closely resemble Him as well.

During this Advent season, pray for her attributes of patience, obedience, graciousness, and generosity to be your attributes. Do not let the pace of the season take control of you. Do not let your generosity be misguided and spend more than you have. May the grace that fills her touch you and enter into your being.

Daily Advent Challenge

Pray a decade of the rosary for intention of becoming more like Our Lady. Also, pray that many hearts may be turned toward her son, Jesus, during this time of Advent preparation.

Memorial of St, Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Posted on December 7, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 40:25-31, Psalm 103, MT 11:28-30

Daily Advent Challenge 12-07Today is the feast of St. Ambrose, an Archbishop and Doctor of the Church. He lived in the 4th century and was instrumental in the conversion of another prominent Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine.

St. Ambrose was a great defender of Church doctrine and integrity. At a time when the Roman Empire and the Church were closely aligned, he stood up to the Emperor Theodosius, excommunicating him after he ordered the slaughter of over 7,000 in retaliation for the death of a Roman governor in a riot. But Theodosius then spent many months doing penance for his sins, was reconciled with the Church, and remained a lifelong friend of St. Ambrose.

I think this story is one of the ultimate examples of one calling another to accountability. Theodosius could have responded in an immature manner and refused to take responsibility for his actions. Ambrose could have chosen to not take a stand out of fear for his own life. But in the end, both men understood the importance of being not only accountable to one another, but also to God.

We are responsible to one another. The Body of Christ is only as strong as the sum of its parts working together. We should never fear being held accountable. It is a way that our stewardship way of life stays on the right path.

Daily Advent Challenge

What brother or sister in the Faith holds you accountable? Do you have a spiritual director or a regular confessor? Make sure you have at least one person in your life that can talk to you frankly and remind you of the importance of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Determine a time to talk to them about your need and desire for accountability.

A Song of Revolution

Posted on December 6, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

bob-dylan-times-they-are-a-changinThe line it is drawn, the curse it is cast
The slowest now, will later be fast
As the present now will later be past
The order is rapidly fading
And the first one now will later be last
Cause the times they are a-changin (Bob Dylan)

Revolutions often begin in song.

In the Civil Rights era there were many songs that were anthems of that movement: “We Shall Overcome” – “We Shall Not Be Moved” – “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

In the American Revolution there was “Chester” and in the French Revolution “La Marseillaise.”

Back around AD Year One another, far more important revolution began in song. It was sung by a humble young girl who said yes to news that she would conceive the Son of God. She then hurriedly went to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant. And when the infant in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy, Mary began to sing:

MagnificatHe has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty, (Luke 1:51-53).”

It is tempting to sentimentalize the Christmas story, but this song is no lullaby. It is a song of revolution, a tune of liberation, and not likely to make it in a Hallmark Christmas card.

Amidst the scramble and stress to get our shopping done in time and prepare our homes for the big day, it is important to keep before us that Advent is the beginning of a world-changing and soul-shaking movement. God has come to earth to show us what love is and how to pull it off. This love is at times a threat to power for it gives preference to those who are oppressed by it – the hungry and thirsty, the stranger, those without shelter, the sick and imprisoned.

So let us sing the Song of Mary, the original version of “The Times They Are A-Changin,” and live the revolution of Advent!

Chuck Frost is Pastoral Associate at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, Virginia. Chuck was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2000 after spending ten years as a United Methodist Pastor in Mississippi and Alaska. After becoming Catholic, Chuck served for nine years as Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Savannah, GA. Chuck has a MDiv from Duke Divinity School.

Follow Chuck’s blog at: chuckfrost.wordpress.com

Rejoicing and Repentance

Posted on December 6, 2016 by - Connect! Sunday Reflection

For Sunday, December 11, 2016, 3rd Sunday of Advent

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice.
Indeed, the Lord is near.
Philippians 4:4-5 (Entrance antiphon for the Third Sunday of Advent)

On this Third Sunday of Advent, the Church gives us a very specific mandate: rejoice! And, during these pre-Christmas days, it seems that there is joy all around us. Actually, there has been for a while. Businesses, public spaces, and homes are filled with the sights and sounds of Christmas and the dark hues and somber tones of Advent seem to be largely confined to our churches and chapels. (more…)

Second Tuesday of Advent

Posted on December 6, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 40:1-11, Psalm 96, MT 18:12-14

Daily Advent Challenge 12-06In today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the joy of the shepherd that leaves his ninety-nine sheep to find the one that had strayed. God rejoices more for the one that is lost and then found than all those who have remained faithful. This theme is found several more times in Sacred Scripture, most prominently in the Parable of the Two Sons (also known as the Prodigal Son.)

At some time in our life, we are the one and not the ninety-nine. During this season, I guarantee there are people you know or come into contact with that are not in the ninety-nine. We become the hands, eyes, ears, and heart of Jesus when we seek to live this stewardship way of life. Perhaps, God is working through you to bring that one back to the fold. Maybe the witness of your generosity is what it will take. Maybe holding them in the intentions of your daily prayers will help to move them. An invitation to an Advent event or service at your church or another area church might remind them of to whom they belong. What a great gift to give Jesus the Christmas: a soul.

Daily Advent Challenge

Try to identify one person you know that needs help finding their way back to God. Make a decision to help God lead them home.

Second Monday of Advent

Posted on December 5, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 35:1-10, Psalm 85, LK 5:17-26

Daily Advent Challenge 12-05Today’s reading from Isaiah is so rich with the imagery of what God can and will do in the world. Deserts bloom with flowers, beasts of prey are led away, and people are healed. I like to think of this reading when the news of the world seems to paint a picture of darkness and despair. The reality is that God’s world is never so dark that the Light of Christ cannot pierce it.

The more grateful we are for all God has given us, the less likely we are to fall into a state of sadness or despair. At times it will seem like life deals us a body blow every few days. Perhaps, what we sought from God did not come: a healing, a relationship, or a concrete answer. But our blessings are always greater than our lacking.

Being grateful, a characteristic of an Everyday Steward, is something we need to work on for it does not come naturally. If you find yourself in the desert this Advent, it is time to reflect on the simple blessings of life, and eventually, a spring of water will burst forth and water the land.

Daily Advent Challenge

Make a list of three things for which you are grateful. Spend a few minutes reflecting on each and the role each can play in bringing you joy when you are feeling down.

The Best Gift Giver

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Everyday Stewardship

An Everyday Stewardship Reflection for Second Sunday of Advent

second-sunday-of-adventMy youngest child is going through Confirmation preparation this year. It is always quite a challenge to get through to a teenager about the importance of the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. You can’t see and touch these things, but they are more valuable that most tangible gifts we can receive.

Isaiah 11 features the list of the traditional gifts of the Spirit that we speak about in the context of the sacrament: wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts are freely given to us to assist us in our daily walk with God. Discipleship and stewardship are hard enough in this world without the help from God’s Spirit.

During this Advent season, we think quite a bit about gifts and gift giving. What is the perfect gift for that special someone? What can you give them that will have an impact and they will remember for years to come? Over two thousand years ago, a gift was given to us in a manger that really made a lasting impact. That gift remains with us in a profound way through the sacraments. While we are busy trying to get gifts for others, let us be mindful of the gifts we have already received by the best gift giver the world has ever seen.

Second Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 11:1-10, Psalm 72, ROM 15:4-9, MT 3:1-12

Daily Advent Challenge 12-04The first week of Advent has come and gone! How was it for you? Did you use this booklet each day and take seriously the daily challenges? Did you spend more time in prayer than usual? Have you put out an Advent wreath or a Jesse tree? Have you attended any seasonal devotions or events at church or in the community?

Well, here is the good news! There are still 3 weeks left! But 3 weeks isn’t long. Just don’t panic. Your Advent devotion is supposed to help you focus on what is the main thing: Jesus. Everything about this season is supposed to point to Him: all the shopping, all the presents, and all the decorating. When we started this devotional booklet, you made a promise to make Advent this year about the main thing and work on strengthening your stewardship way of life. If you have had trouble fulfilling that promise, or you failed to even make the promise, then today is the day to begin again. If you have been doing well so far, today is your day of recommitment. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist is calling all of us to, “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Use your time and treasure wisely in these coming days. Regardless of all the secular signs around you in the world, it truly is all about Jesus.

Daily Advent Challenge

Place on your calendar a date to go to confession before Christmas. A person can be a much better steward of God’s gifts if the burden of sin is lifted through the sacramental life of the Church.

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

Posted on December 2, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 30:19-21, 23-26, Psalm 147, MT 9:35b-10:1, 5a, 6-8

Daily Advent Challenge 12-03Today is the feast of Saint Francis Xavier, the patron saint of missionaries and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) with Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Not since Saint Paul had a person brought that many people to Jesus Christ. In hospitals he would preach and minster to the sick, ring a bell in the streets as an invitation to the poor to come and study catechism, and he established many churches, including 40 along the coast of India. His ministry would take him all over Asia.

We are called to be missionaries also. We may not be called to travel to Asia or some other far off land, but there are always those in our midst that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Being a good steward means using our gifts and talents to lead others to Christ. Perhaps our gifts are more typical like singing or speaking. We may need more reflection and the help of others to uncover more subtle gifts like empathy, leadership, and relationship building. But we all are created with unique gifts that can be used to lead others to Jesus Christ. Remember, sometimes it is how we act and what we do that speaks more profoundly than what we say.

Daily Advent Challenge

Who do you know that needs to feel the love of God through your actions? Identify that person and make a plan to show them the power of God’s love by the end of this week. It doesn’t have to be overly complex or profound. A little love can make a big difference.