Third Thursday of Advent

Posted on December 15, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 54:1-10; Psalm 30; LK 7:24-30

Daily Advent Challenge 12-15What do you own and what owns you? Do you seek to be judged by your wealth, your style of dress, the size of your house, or your status in the community?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the crowds that there is no one greater than John the Baptist among them. This man who lived a hermit lifestyle in the desert did not seek to impress anyone with material wealth and fine dress. His life and how he lived that life was for God alone. He belonged to God and was tied to nothing here on earth.

At times when all is quiet and I am at home alone, I look around and question if I could leave it all behind tomorrow. I think I could, but I also thank God that I have never been asked for such a sacrifice. If the call came today, to leave it all behind and live like John the Baptist, could you?

Like me, you will probably answer in the affirmative quickly, but after more introspection and reflection, you may realize that the choice is not so easy. After all, there is a reason why the entire world knows the name of St. Teresa of Kolkata. Like John the Baptist before her, it didn’t take the bigger house or the most expensive car to get people to notice.

Daily Advent Challenge

Find one material item that means something to you and give it away. It shouldn’t be something you need, but instead something you want but has no significant bearing on your life.

Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor of the Church

Posted on December 14, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

IS 45;6c-8, 18, 21c-25; Psalm 85; LK 7:18B-23

Daily Advent Challenge 12-14When the private letters of St. Teresa of Kolkata were released, many people could not grasp why she attested to going through periods of time where she felt alone and abandoned by God. But for those familiar with the writings of St. John of the Cross, the experience of the “dark night of the soul” was very familiar. Some describe the experience as God working in our souls to draw us ever closer to his heart.

The dark night of the soul is not to be confused with depression, that which is brought on by a chemical imbalance in the brain or a traumatic life event. This Advent, many are suffering through profound sadness and depression. This may even be your reality. Christmastime is so very hard, for so many, for so many reasons. But know this: there is a God who loves you and a community here on earth that cares, named the Body of Christ.

So either you have been given gifts by God that can help someone in their darkness, or by being open to the reception of someone’s gifts you might be able to see some light. Either way, God has placed on call on all our lives today. No one should be alone.

Daily Advent Challenge

Find a person you know that is having a particularly hard time this season and resolve to help them in some way. If you do not know someone, turn to your church or civic community. At this time of year, there are outreach programs to help make life easier or brighter for others, even if it is caroling at a nursing home or homeless shelter.

Memorial of St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr

Posted on December 12, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

ZEP 3:1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34; MT 21:28-32

Daily Advent Challenge 12-12If you have ever seen Catholic School students dress up as their favorite saints for All Saints Day, St. Lucy is always a big hit. It is her frequent depiction holding her eyeballs on a plate that seems to make her a popular choice.

Tradition tells us that her eyes where removed with swords after repeated attempts to defile or kill her by the Roman Governor, Paschasius. Her bravery and resolve was no match for her persecutors, and even when she was to be buried, witnesses saw that her eyes had been miraculously restored. Because of this, she is the patron saint of the blind.

The commitment St. Lucy had to her faith was amazing. It was that commitment that allowed her to see the truth and not be swayed. We all suffer from bouts of blindness during our lives as stewards. But we need to stay committed to our decision to follow Jesus and live this life. Commitment is another key characteristic of an Everyday Steward. The example of St. Lucy and other saints help us to be strong when it seems life is hard. But almost more importantly, reflecting on their lives can help us truly see the ways God moves in our lives and the gifts he has given us to use for his glory.

Daily Advent Challenge

Reflect on how courageous you are in your faith. Could you stand up for Jesus in the face of hate? Would you be willing to lose everything for God? Try to identify a time when you took the easy road and were not courageous. What could help you be brave the next time around?

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Posted on December 9, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

ZEC 2:14-17 or REV 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10; Judith 13; LK 1:26-38

Daily Advent Challenge 12-11On December 9, 1531, Our Lady appeared to a simple Aztec Indian who had converted to the Catholic faith, Juan Diego. Three days later, at Juan Diego’s request, Mary provided a sign so the local Bishop would believe that she actually had appeared. Roses grew out of the cold winter soil, and when Juan Diego opened his cloak to show the Bishop what he had found, an image of Our Lady appeared on the fabric. These occurrences led to the conversion of most of Mexico and remain today a strong sign of Our Lady’s concern and love for us.

Church-approved Marian apparitions always point to her son, Jesus. For many of us with a strong Marian devotion, Mary is a pathway into a stronger relationship with our Lord. Her generosity shown to Juan Diego is the same generosity shown to each of us that choose to ask her intercession. Families pray for one another and she is a very prominent member of our family. May the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe be a sign of warmth for you in the cold of winter and of Advent hope for a Christ-child that has redeemed the world.

Daily Advent Challenge

If you do not already do so, begin to carry a rosary with you daily. It serves as a reminder that miracles continue to happen all around us. We are never alone.

Second Saturday of Advent

Posted on December 9, 2016 by - Advent Reflections

Readings

SIR 48:1-4, 9-11, Psalm 80, MT 17:9a, 10-13

Daily Advent Challenge 12-10Psalm 80, from today’s Lectionary, has a great refrain: “Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.” First, the use of the word “make” admits that we cannot fully turn to God on our own. Without God’s help, we destined to wander this earth, trying to make our way alone. Secondly, the psalmist implies that simply seeing the face of God is enough for our salvation. If we truly see God for whom God is, how could we ever turn away.

During these weeks of Advent, there are many images everywhere: Santa Claus, reindeer, Christmas trees, etc. There is no doubt that they help increase our expectation for the coming feast. But, it is a feast, and one that truly is all about Jesus Christ. Make sure that your Advent journey is filled with images of the reason for the season: Jesus. It will enrich your journey and help you focus on the main thing. For who could look upon the Savior’s face and not be changed?

Daily Advent Challenge

Do you have a crucifix hung in your house that can easily be seen? If not, find one that speaks to you and hang it where you can readily see it. Spend 5 minutes looking at it and reflecting on the reality that the baby born in a manger is the same one who was crucified. God became man to die for you. He rose from the dead so you would believe. He lives now and calls to you so that you may come to know him more each day.

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.

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.