Thursday, December 31, 2015

Prayer After Christmas

Prayer After Christmas
   
Jesus, my Incarnate Lord, in your senseless Mercy, make your home within the walls of my sin.  Bring your Presence into my Selfishness, my Arrogance, my Unforgiveness, my Fear, my Unbelief.
          Expose my sins, my needs, to your Saving Love.  Wake me from my slumber.  Fan the embers of my cold heart.  Give me a hunger for you who sustains me.  Deliver me from the cravings of Death.  May I thirst only for your Will to be done in my life.  
          Come, oh Emmanuel, my Deliverer.  Enter into the darkness of my life.  Come, my Savior, into the depths of my wretchedness.  May your Light and your Love drive me to true conversion.  Transform my soul, my heart and life into an abode pleasing to your Holy Spirit.
May it not be I who lives, but you who lives within me.  May my life glorify you, my Creator.  May my praise be worthy to join with the Shepherds and Angels.  Make me faithful.  Make me pure.  Make me true.  Make me like you.

Jesus, my Eternal Light,
Come, into the Darkness of my Night.
Lo, the Wretchedness of my Sin
Is but the Cry of Emptiness within.
Come, My Savior, deliver me.
          Only in You will I be Free.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Prayer

Christmas Prayer
   
The children are filled with Christmas Joy.  They are singing and dancing to the sights and music of Christmas.  Their Joy drives them to dream …of brightly wrapped presents, waiting for them, under the tree laden with lights and ornaments.  It is all so beautiful, so wondrous, that the wait of a few days, or even hours, is an eternity.
Lord, when did I stop singing and dancing?  What happened to my Christmas Dreams, to the thrill of the wait?  I, who know so much more than the children, about the True Gift of Christmas, should be the one who is singing and dancing, who is brimming over with Joy, unable to contain the anticipation of my Dreams.
Lord, I want of celebrate the Day of your Coming in all of its Glory, in the fullness of its Truth.  I want to praise and worship you with all my strength.  Strip me of the pretenses and worries of this world.  I too want to sing out, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”  May the truth of your Coming, make my feet dance for you, and my heart sing with Joy.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Christmas Present

Christmas Present

       “See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the Lord.” (Zach 2:14)   
       Mary knew you by touch and smell, by sound and sight.  I for now know you by faith alone.  I long for the day to know your Resurrected Presence, your Ascended Body, to hear you, to see you, smell you, touch you.  That day seems a heavenly dream, to know My Beloved in the flesh.  But even now, in my world of shadowed grays, I believe that knowing you in the flesh will be but a triviality.  For then, on that Day, I shall know you as I am known.  I shall know the very thoughts of my God.  I shall be one with you.  This is a wonderful but terrifying thought, for I am not ready to know the Mind of God –I am a sinful man.  I believe this will be, because you have promised it.  But in truth, I cannot imagine it.  And if I could, I would dare not out of fear, for you are All Holy – communion with you could only profane.  Oh, the price of Sin!  Yet your promise remains.  Save me Lord.
       On Christmas Day, you made yourself present to humanity –you became Emmanuel, God-With-Us, the Father’s Christmas Present of Love-Sent, of God-Made-Known.  Two thousand years later, we are still unwrapping you.  Every day you come anew.  Every Eucharist, you make yourself present in the Flesh.  I cannot see, hear, and touch you as our Mother so tenderly did, but in your Mysterious Way, every bit as real, you gift me with the Christmas Present of your Real Presence.
       This I know, because you have made it Reality by your Word made Flesh.  Your Word –the Truth which cannot lie- has visited us.  You have come to dwell in the faith of all who dare to believe in Christmas.  As Mary embraced your infant body on Christmas Day, may I embrace your Eucharist in mass.  May your Real Presence transcend the darkness of my senses.  I am so slow to believe and so quick to revert.  I praise you Lord, that you saw fit, for Christmas to be never ending.
       Lord, may this season of Christmas nurture and grow my infant faith.  My senses, my intellect cannot see beyond the appearances of this world.  Your gift of faith is my only path to knowing you.  Spirit of God, take me to where I cannot go on my own.  Father, make me a dwelling place for you.  Humbly, I receive your Gift, I implore the fellowship of your Son.  Jesus, I want to be alive in you.  Come, live in me.  Bend my knees to your Coming.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Prepare The Way

Prepare The Way
(Luke 3:1-6; Baruch 5:1-9)


        John the Baptist announces the coming of Jesus, the Messiah, by crying out the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.  Every valley will be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, winding ways will be straightened and rough roads made smooth.  And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.”
        The powerful imagery of this ancient prophecy is lost in the modern world.  In Isaiah’s day, when the upcoming visit of the king was made known, all of the people would stop whatever they were doing, and go to work preparing the way for their king, by sweeping the streets free of rubble, filling in any potholes, leveling any bumps, and making the path as straight as possible, all so that their king’s coming would be made easy and swift.  Nothing was more important than the coming of the king.
       After calling the people to preparedness, Isaiah proclaims that the coming of the Messiah-King will forever transform the world, that not only will the roadways and local scenery be “tidied up”, but his kingdom’s valleys and mountains will be made level, and every rough road will be made smooth -all will witness the Salvation of God, for the coming of this Messiah will usher in a New Eden –where, the prophet Baruch says, “…Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God.  And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel at the command of God; for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and integrity for escort.”
        If John the Baptist’s call, to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, is repentance, then the roadway rubble is the trash and clutter in my life; the deep gorges are the wounds of sin, the mountains are a mirror of my towering pride; and the curving paths are my twisted justifications for the tolerance of sin.   Just as I am hopeless to level mountains and fill valleys, so am I to absolving sin in my life.  
But John’s Messiah is a most Extraordinary King.  He comes, not to be served, but to serve –to reconcile the Unreconciled, to heal the Wounded, to bring hope for the Hopeless.  Mountains are thrown into the sea at his command, and the Prodigal is brought home.  He is the Valley Filler, the Mountain Leveler, the Servant Savior.
        Jesus, my Servant-King, my Savior, forgive me my sin.  May your Kingdom take reign over my failed attempts to rule.  I am ready for your Coming.  I surrender to your Holy Spirit.  Do not allow me to hide from you.  May your Mercy overwhelm my fear to let go.  Render my heart to our Love -make me hungry and thirsty for your will.  Open my eyes to the New Life you are offering me.  Make straight my path, oh Lord.  Make straight my path.  Nothing is more important than your coming into my life.   Be now, My Savior, My King.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Stump, A Child, An Advent

A Stump, A Child, An Advent
(Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 10:21-24)

As I read these readings from the first week of Advent, I gave praise to God for our “Holy Mother Church”.  In reflecting on that unusual title, Holy Mother, I realized that it is my Catholic roots which have given me the very construct for which I find myself thanking God.  That is to say, “Mother Church” is a term familiar to the Catholic perspective, where the Church is seen as giving birth to its members, in contrast to the members giving birth to their church.
My Church, my Mother, my Source of Nourishment, my Guiding Hand, is a Womb transcending time and space, weaving me into the Body of Christ, with all the saints present and past.  It is the miracle of Advent, that I find myself a living, integral piece of the Incarnation of God.
These thoughts were evoked as I was struck with the Church’s wisdom in pairing together the readings from Isaiah 11 and Luke 10.  Isaiah’s prophecy of the stump of Jesse sprouting a shoot of New Life, is paired with Luke’s account of Jesus exulting, with the Joy of the Holy Spirit, that what was hidden from the learned, is now revealed to the Childlike.  Read together, these verses shed light on each other in a manner where the sum of their parts is greater than their whole.  Our Holy Mother Church, in the pairing of this Word, opens a window into the Mind of God.
Immediately preceding the stump of Jesse vision, Isaiah writes, “See, the Lord Yahweh Sabaoth hews down the boughs with a crash. The topmost heights are cut off, the proudest are brought down.  The forest thickets fall beneath the axe. Lebanon and its splendours collapse.  All of us have found ourselves “brought down”, laid low.  Not just pruned, but cut to the stump.
Being cut to the stump yields two possibilities: One is a sense of dejection, failure, despondence.  Or, it can become an opportunity of enlightment …a chance to be humbled …to find new eyes …to understand that of ourselves we are but dead wood …that if we embrace our death, we will discover the Saving Power dwelling deep within our roots …that the Spirit of God is waiting, to burst forth with New Life …with New Life that could not take place until our Tree of Pride has been cut down …that the Hand that wielded the axe, is the same Spirit which is pushing up New Growth.
Luke sets his stage with the preceding account of how the seventy-two came back rejoicing because they saw Satan defeated whenever they called on the Name of Jesus.  Through the Name of Jesus, death now yields New Life.  But Jesus reminds his disciples, that the true cause of their joy, is their Childlike Faith …a faith which embeds them into the Lap of The Father, a Father that is ever faithful to his children.
Taken together, these two readings shed light on what Nicodemus found incomprehensible, that in being Born Again, we are indeed placed back into the Womb of the Holy Spirit, where we are reformed into a Child of God, freed to become what we were destined to be from the beginning.
And so we begin Advent with the promise of New Birth.  Where the Holy Spirit overshadows Mary, our Mother Given, whose childlike “Yes”, conceived and gave birth to our Savior, Jesus the Christ.  Out of the Root of Jesse he comes into the world, breathing his Holy Spirit upon us, giving birth to our Church that Pentecost Day, giving us a New Mother, ever birthing us with Word and Eucharist, with Water and Spirit, into New Life.
Come, Emmanuel.  Come, Word Made Flesh.  Come, Light of lights.  Pierce our Darkness.  Come, Savior of the world.  We have been cut low, oh Lord.  We surrender.  We hope only in you.  With eyes steeled on that Christmas Star, we wait …to be Born Again.  Come Lord Jesus, come!