Saturday, December 31, 2011

The year is closed...


The year is closed, the record made;
The last deed is done, the last word said.
The memory alone remains
Of all its joys, its griefs, its gains;
And with purpose full and clear
I turn to meet another year.

Robert Browning

Friday, December 30, 2011

Reborn each moment...


Celebrate the feast of Christmas every day,
even every moment
in the interior temple of your spirit,
remaining like a baby
in the bosom of the heavenly Father,
where you will be reborn each moment
in the Divine Word, Jesus Christ.

~ St. Paul of the Cross

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Three Trees



Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.

The first little tree looked up at the stars and said:  "I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones.  I'll be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"

The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on it's way to the ocean.  "I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I'll be the strongest ship in the world!"

The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town.  "I don't want to leave the mountain top at all.  I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they'll raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world."

Years passed.  The rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall.  One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain.  The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me."  With a swoop of his ax, the first tree fell.  "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest, I shall hold wonderful treasure!"  The first tree said.

The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me."  With a swoop of his ax, the second tree fell.  "Now I shall sail mighty waters!" thought the second tree.  "I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!"

The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way.  She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven.  But the woodcutter never even looked up.  "Any kind of tree will do for me," he muttered.  With a swoop of his ax, the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter's shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals.  The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure.  She was coated with saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.

The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day.  Instead the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat.  She was too small and too weak to sail to an ocean, or even a river. Instead she was taken to a little lake.

The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard.  "What happened?"  The once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God..."

Many, many days and night passed.  The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feedbox.  "I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered.

The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and the sturdy wood.  "This manger is beautiful," she said.  And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat.  The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose.  The little tree shuddered.  She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain.

The tired man awakened.  He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace."  The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun.  And suddenly the second tree knew she was carrying the king of heaven and earth.

One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile.  She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd.  She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her.  She felt ugly and harsh and cruel.  But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything.

It had made the third tree strong.  And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God.  That was better than being the tallest tree in the world.

The next time you feel down because you didn't get what you want, sit tight and be happy because God is thinking of something better to give you.

~ Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Legend of the Poinsettia


It once was the custome in Mexico
For the villagers to leave
A gift for the Baby Jesus
In their church on Christmas Eve.

In one small village, a little boy,
Who had no gift to bring,
Prayed to God for a way to show
His love for the Infant King.

God, in His mercy, looked down on the boy
And answered his earnest prayer
By causing a flower to bloom where he knelt --
A flower so brilliant and fair.

The miraculous flower was formed like a star
With leaves tht were red and so bright,
And the boy's precious gift has come to be known
As the "Flower of the Holy Night."

Published in Christmas Blessings
by Hallmark

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What we have looked upon and touched with our hands...


St. John, whose feast we celebrate today, is an amazing person to look to when discerning a vocation.  Why?  It wasn't seeing the Babe in the manger at Bethlehem.  But John's own words in his Gospel when he arrived at the tomb on that first Easter morning:  he "saw and believed."  Not swaddling clothes, but the burials cloths are what cemented his faith.

Belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, as John so eloquently expresses in the opening lines of his first letter: 

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life --
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us --
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

(1 John 1:1-4)

As you sit and ponder these words today, ask yourself a few simple questions:  how do I see Christ today?  how do I touch Him?  how do I proclaim His presence to those around me?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Nativity Nunning


The creche in our chapel, while containing the same basic elements (i.e. same figurines and stable) always seems to ends up with a new "effect."  This year is no different -- in fact you could say this year it grew. 

Grew?  Well, this year we added a starry sky.  Our plain white walls needed some color and light.  So consulting with one of our ever loyal volunteers, several engineering discussions having occurred, a check on what might be in house and a trip to the lumber store, Sears and JoAnne Fabric brought about the elements needed to achieve our goal.

First two of our guys hauled in the three sheets of 4' x 8' particle board and stood them in place.  Next 4' x 6' nets of LED lights were strategically stapled to the boards followed by dark blue fabric being draped loosely over them to create the twinkling night sky.  Then we stapled some beige-tone fabric to the base of the particle board to create the "horizon" and then we went for it with more fabric, boxes, dried grasses, and, yes, even more lights!  We think the effect is quite dramatic -- and even better experienced in person. 

Stop by the Cor Jesu Chapel to pay Jesus a visit!

Here's a sneak preview of the Creche before
we placed the figurine of the Christ Child.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Prayer


Christ Eternal, hear our prayer,
Bless our friends everywhere,
Bless each home and fireside hearth,
Bless the children's fun and mirth,
Bless the carols that are sung
As the holly greens are hung;
May all earth this Christmastide
In Thy joy and peace abide.

Christ Eternal, shed Thy love
From Thy throne in Heav'n above,
Fill with peace the hearts of men
As Thou didst at Bethlehem;
May Thy glory fill this day
'Til all men shall know the way
to Thy great salvation free,
Blood-bought Gift of Calvary.

Christ Eternal, may all men
Look anew to Bethlehem,
May they see the guiding star,
May they hear the angel choir,
May their faith grow deep and strong,
Trusting Thee, God's only Son;
May all earth its homage pay,
Christ, to Thee this Christmas Day.

Kathryn Thorne Bowsher

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ero Cras


Our O Antiphons have taken us on a journey.  We have traveled a great deal with Isaiah these past days and now our O Antiphons have spelled out a message for us.  By taking the first letter from each of the Latin titles of the antiphons, we arrive at the words ero cras, which translated means "Tomorrow, I will come." 

This message brings both our Advent and our O Antiphons to their promised fulfillment:  the feast of the Nativity of Our Lord. 

Admist the business of the day, try to take even a few moments to sit and quietly reflect on this great mystery:  God who created the world and all that it holds took on the flesh of our humanity in order to redeem us.  Yes, Christmas is an awesome time.  Not because of the tinsel and the presents, but because God became a tiny, helpless baby because He loved us so much!

Friday, December 23, 2011

O Emmanuel

O Antiphon text:

O Emmanuel,
God with us,
our King and lawgiver,
the expected of the nations
and their Savior:
come to save us,
O Lord our God.


 
Reflection:

O Emmanuel!
God with us!
Your birth gave rise to a new Kingdom
And a Law of love!
O long-desired,
And yearned for by your Chosen People,
Your birth changed all understanding
Of what it was they should be seeking.
You fulfilled all the prophecies of old
And brought all peoples together
to seek you anew.
Come, O Emmanuel!
And save us from ourselves!

 
Additional texts for reflection:

Isaiah 7:14
Matthew 1:23
1 Timothy 4:9

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Rex Gentium (O King of Nations)

O Antiphon text:

O King of the gentiles
and their desired One,
the cornerstone that makes both one:
come, and deliver man,
whom you formed out
of the dust of the earth.


Reflection:

O King of Nations,
Whom all desire
You were both a stumbling stone
and a cornerstone
to those whom you encountered.
When man had sinned
And turned from You,
You assumed what You were not,
Yet your divinity retained,
So that sinful Adam
May once again
Undivided communion with You attain.
Come, O King of Nations,
And deliver the man
You made.


Additional texts for reflection:


Isaiah 2:4; 11:10; 28:16 
Psalm 47:8;
Psalm 118:22
Jeremiah 10:7
Daniel 7:14;
Haggai 2:8
Matthew 21:42
Mark 12:10
Luke 20:17
Acts 4:11
Romans 15:12
Ephesians 2:14, 20

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

O Oriens (O Dayspring)

O Antiphon text:

O Dayspring,
Brightness of the everlasting light,
Sun of justice,
come to give light to them
that sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Reflection:

O Dawn of Eternal Day,
Who most desire
To drive darkness and sin away.
In Thy radiance,
of Lord of Light,
Give to your people your gift of sight.
By Your wondrous birth may we,
evermore be made like unto Thee.
Come, O Dawn of Eternal Day,
and shine on all
in darkness and in death's dread thrall.

Additional texts for reflection:

Isaiah 9:1; 58:8; 60:18-20
Malachi 4:2
Luke 1:78-79
John 8:12
Revelation 22:16

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Clavis David (O Key of David)


O Antiphon text:

O Key of David,
and scepter of the house of Israel,
who opens and no man shuts,
who shuts and no man opens:
come, and lead forth the captive
who sits in the shadows from his prison.


Reflection:

O Key of David,
Who through your gift of the priesthood
Reigns today and is the only key.
In the gift of your priesthood,
We experience your mercy and forgiveness.
As we celebrate the wondrous Sacrament of Reconciliation.
We know that it is You who opens and no man may shut
And who shuts that no man may open:
Come, Lord,
And loosen the shackles,
With which we bind ourselves
And lead us through
Your open door.


Additional texts for reflection:

Isaiah 3:7
Jeremiah 13:13, 51:19
Matthew 4:15; 16:19
Luke 1:79
Revelation 3:7

Monday, December 19, 2011

O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)

O Antiphon text:

O Root of Jesse,
that stands for an ensign of the people,
before whom the kings keep silence
and unto whom the Gentiles
shall make supplication:
come, to deliver us,
and tarry not.


Reflection:

O Root of Jesse,
A small beginning,
And yet the anchor of a mighty tree!
From such a tiny beginning,
You reigned majestically from the Cross!
Whom the Magi worshiped
Simply bowing low and presenting their gifts
And from whom today
Many nations and peoples
Find their joy and salvation
And present their needs and necessities.
Come, Lord,
and do not delay...


Additional texts for reflection:

Isaiah 11:1, 10
Romans 15:12

Sunday, December 18, 2011

O Adonai (O Sacred Lord)

O Antiphon text:

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourselft to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand
to set us free.


Reflection:

O Sacred Lord,
Who appeared as a flaming bush to Moses,
and as a flame we see symbolized
In your Sacred Heart
And in the Tongues of Fire.
You who gave Moses the Law,
And who gave us a New Law of Love,
to Love You and our neighbor equally.
Come, Sacred Lord,
And set us free,
Break the bonds of sin that bind us.


Additional texts for reflection:

Exodus 3:2
Isaiah 33:22; 63:11-12
Micah 6:4
Acts 7:30-31

Saturday, December 17, 2011

O Sapientia (O Wisdom)


O Antiphon text:

O Wisdom,
who came from the mouth of the Most High,
reaching from end to end
and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: 
come, and teach us prudence.


Reflection:

O Wisdom,
Who took on human flesh
And was born in time,
Yet the ever timeless Word.
You, the sinless One,
Took our sins upon You,
And nailed them to your Cross.
Restoring humanity to its original image,
And making it once more
Sons and daughters of God.
Teach us to live
That we may reflect
Your Spirit
Shining forth from within our hearts.


Scripture texts for further reflection:

Wisdom 8:1,
Isaiah 11:2-3 and 28:29
Proverbs 8:1-36
John 1:1-5

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Golden Nights



Just as we have Holy Week that leads up to the great feast of the Resurrection, so in Advent we have what some have referred to as the golden nights, which creates an octave leading up to the feast of the Incarnation of our Lord.

During these days, which begin on December 17, the Magnificat antiphon at Vespers recalls titles given to Christ in the Book of of the Prophet Isaiah.  Those titles are: 
Sapientia
Adonai
Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Oriens
Rex Gentium
Emmanuel
Over the next days we will reflect on these titles of Christ to further ready our hearts for Christmas.  If you would like to do some extra research on these antiphons on your own, simply google "O Antiphons" or a website that we discovered that offers a lot of detail is http://fisheaters.com/customsadvent10.html.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tannenbaum Nunning


The erection and decoration of the various Christmas trees throughout the monastery and its environs calls forth various gifts and talents.  This year has been no different thus far, and it all started with the placement of the star...
This beautiful 12' tree pictured above was given to us this year.  One of our volunteers assisted a Sister in assembling it.  It was known (though not widely), that the bottom of the pole was "somewhat" bent, but it assembled well and looked really terrific -- and most importantly, stood erect! 

A few days later, one of us began to decorate the tree by putting the star on the top, with the necessity of tilting the top slightly in order to reach it from the 10' ladder.  All went well until Sister was down ladder and moved it to a better location to begin decorating.   You guessed it, the tree began to fall...

Three of us and two of our strong-armed male volunteers then began the nearly hour long task of making the tree stand erect on its own.  When shoring up the base didn't help, we switched the tree to a different style holder, and adding stronger shoring up material, i.e. rocks.  When that didn't work, the engineering mind said we needed to wire it.  Thankfully, the recessed area in the ceiling had four screws placed in the architecture that were in the exact places needed to attach the wires, and now our tree is standing wonderfully erect! 

And as you probably have already guessed, our minds are already thinking of what needs done to make this task to erecting and decorating this particular tree easier next year...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Prayer for Guidance


Dear Lord,
give me the truths which are veiled
by the doctirnes and articles of faith,
which are masked by the pious words
of sermons and books.
Let my eyes penetrate the veil,
and tear off the mask,
that I can see your truth face to face.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part X


Christ Child

Worship the child in the manger with special love.  All that you do, do in the name of Jesus.  Give Him your heart.  While at work, pray also again and again to God.

Ask God for his grace and pray with devotion the Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part IX


Mother of God - Purity

Honor in a special manner this Advent the most Blessed Virgin Mary.  Sacrifice all your activities to the service of her.  Carefully make sure the stable to Bethlehem is entirely pure, or whether somehow dust and spider webs dirty the manger.  For example, you must search your conscience search to see that your heart does not hang on temporal or earthly things. 

Ask God for the grace of purity of heart and pray the Litany of Loreto. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part VIII


St. Joseph

Awake in your heart a pious devotion after the example of Saint Joseph.  Remember with what love he served the Christ Child, with what constant love he guarded the holy Virgin, with constant holiness he administered his house and fulfilled all duties, with what deep devotion he worshiped God and revered his holy, virginal bride.  Follow him and imitate him with God’s grace.

Pray with devotion the Litany of St.  Joseph.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part VII


The Angel

Take care that the angel, the peace of the heart, is in the stable at Bethlehem.   When you perceive in your heart an aversion to a person or feel displeasure, for example hatred or envy, resentful self-love, or whatever it would be, you must remove it from your heart.  You must forgive all from your heart.

Ask God for His grace, peace, and peacefulness and pray with devotion five Our Fathers and Hail Marys. 


Friday, December 9, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jeus - Part VI


Shepherd

Good will is the shepherd by the manger of your heart.  Sacrifice and offer to God your will with all its inclinations and wishes.  Offer God gladly and willingly all your freedom.  Unite your will entirely with the will of God and desire nothing that does not please Him. 

Ask God for His grace and conform your will to the will of God and reverently pray five Our Fathers and Hail Marys.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part V


Little Donkey

Retrieve the donkey in the stable of Bethlehem through faithful service of God.  Carry readily and diligently the load which the Lord enjoins on you.  Be constant in the observation of the regulations, as well as in the fulfillment of your duties.  Offer everything that you do, as well as your sufferings and joys to the Lord, so that your whole life will be a service to God.

Ask God for his grace and pray the Litany of the Saints.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part IV


Little Ox

Retain reverent silence in the stable at Bethlehem.  You must remember that we must give an account over all our words.  A Church Father says:  "Often I have regrets over words I have spoken; never, however, over having been silent." 

Ask God for the grace of silence and pray with devotion three Our Fathers and the Salve Regina. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part III


Lamb

Today, o God-loving soul, you must also be the lamb at the manger, this is meekness of the heart,  never flying into a rage, never being cross,  never retaliates, lovingly apologizes, forgives all and rather suffers the largest wrongs than commits the smallest ones.

Ask God for his grace and help and pray with devotion three Our Fathers and the Salve Regina. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part II


Fence

Place your fence around the manger through preservation of your senses.  Hold yourself back, speak less and consider how Mary has never spoken a useless word, as well as how chaste she was.  Offer your silence and speech with hers to God. 

Ask God for his grace and help and pray with devotion three Hail Marys and the Memore.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Readying Our Hearts to Receive Jesus - Part I

Today's reading from the beginning of St. Mark's Gospel gives a familiar image:  St. John the Baptist by the Jordan River baptizing the people as they confessed their sins.  He was helping to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah. 

Over the next days, we invite you to join in an older custom that we have begun anew several years ago:  the spiritual nativity.  Each Advent, each Sister draws a slip from a basket and then uses that "lense" so to speak as a means to help prepare her heart.  We would like to share some of these with you, so that you, may have a thought each day to think and pray about in order to ready your heart for Christ in a special way this Christmas:

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem


The Stable

Awaken a loving desire in your heart for the Christ Child and prepare with all care the stable through the practice of the humility.  Offer all that you have, in particular offer up your self will and self love to the Lord.  Prune your pride and your vanity. 

Ask God for His grace and His help and pray with devotion three Our Fathers and the Salve Regina.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Patience is a diamond...



Arm yourselves with that patience which works such wonders in the saints and renders a frail girl capable of ovecoming the entire world.  Moreover, the triumph is assured even before the contest is begun, for patiences lives iwth the sorrows of the world and finds its delights in vexations...

Let us reflect, and we will see that our sufferings in this life are not at all in proportion to the greatness of Christ's sufferings, the gravity of our sins, the horror of the torments of hell, and the celestial reward...

Patience is a diamond which enables the soul to resist all adversity; a remedy which heals all wounds; and a buckler which protects against every attack... 

~ Blessed Humbert of Romans

Friday, December 2, 2011

Stir up your power, we pray, O Lord, and come...



Stir up your power, we pray, O Lord, and come,
that with you to protect us,
we may find rescue
from the pressing dangers of our sins,
and with you to set us free,
we may be found worthy of salvation.
Who live and reign with God the Father
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Amen.

From  The Roman Missal, Third Edition
Friday of the First Week of Advent

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI's Intentions for December

Photo:  Pressestelle Erzbisch√∂fliches Ordinariat M√ľnchen

December's Intentions:

Peace Among All Peoples:  That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect.

Children and Youth:  That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation.

For more information about the Apostleship of Prayer, visit:  http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/.