"Sing praise, play music; proclaim all his wondrous deeds." - 1 Chronicles 16:9
Can you imagine what it's like to listen to the billowing, sweet-sounding tones from a 7000 pipe, majestic Casavant Frères organ? Imagine no longer. Although this fine organ at Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal (Canada) is not one of the largest in its class, it is magnificent nonetheless. Against a backdrop of the Basilica's glorious altarpiece, you can hear a snippet of this splendid musical instrument above.
Sing praise, play music, give glory. Amen.
We all have our periods of dismay and discouragement. But the image in this reflection gave me food for thought ... and comfort.
“Okay, Lord,” I said aloud amidst my weeping. “It’s you and me now.” The loosening of my stiff grasp on life’s steering wheel was underway, although it’s an ongoing process in continuation to this day. I cried myself to sleep and woke up several hours later in the quiet stillness to a strange but tangibly soothing peacefulness. My eyes roamed the room and fell upon the chair that was usually tucked beneath a desk, now turned and facing the bed. It was as if Jesus had been sitting there throughout the whole ordeal, watching me sob and then drift to sleep.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he told me. “Just wait till you see what’s in store for us.”
The chair that Jesus would sit in when he appeared to Rhoda Wise.
New Year's resolutions: have you made yours yet? Or have you already abandoned them? Here's a list of resolutions that was given to Vatican employees by Pope Francis last year. They are still worth considering in this new year.
1. “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”
2. “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”
3. “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”
4. “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”
5. “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”
6. “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”
7. “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”
8. “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”
9. “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”
10. “Make sure your Christmas is about Jesus and not about shopping.”
Photo by MicroStockHub, Getty Images/iStockphoto
As we are still in the Christmas season and beginning this month dedicated to pro-life causes, take a moment to contemplate this quote from G.K. Chesterton's book, The Everlasting Man, and the significance of two persons "too near together".
“When I was a boy, a more Puritan generation objected to a statue upon my parish church representing the Virgin and Child. After much controversy, they compromised by taking away the Child. One would think that this was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the newborn child in mid-air; indeed, you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother; you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother. If we are to think of Christ in this aspect at all, the other idea follows it as it is followed in history. We must either leave Christ out of Christmas, or Christmas out of Christ, or we must admit, if only as we admit it in an old picture, that those holy heads are too near together for the haloes not to mingle and cross.”
"The one who gives this testimony says, 'Yes, I am coming soon.' Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!" - Revelation 22:20
The dreaded driveway markers are back, standing erect, waiting to direct the snow plows. It's time to prepare for Winter.
We've been preparing for Christmas, too. With these four weeks of Advent, we've been readying ourselves for the coming of the Christ Child. Hopefully, we've made it a "dreaded" experience as well, pushing ourselves to make this Christmas the best Christmas by letting Jesus enter the darkest, deepest recesses of our heart.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! I've emptied myself to make room for you. Amen.
Week 1, Hope:
Dear Jesus, you are the hope in our messy world. This Advent, help us slow down, listen to your voice, and focus on what’s really important. We place our hope in you as we prepare our hearts to celebrate your birth on Christmas. Amen.
Week 2, Peace:
Dear Jesus, you entered our world on Christmas as the Prince of Peace. This Advent, as we strive to become the-best-version-of-ourselves, fill us with a deep and abiding peace. Help us share that peace with everyone we encounter, especially those who need it most. Amen.
Week 3, Joy:
Dear Jesus, help us focus on you during this busy season. May we stay aware of the joy you bring into our lives. We want to find you in the everyday moments and come with hearts of gratitude to your manger on Christmas. Amen.
Week 4, Love:
Dear Jesus, may the light of your love always shine in our hearts. As Christmas draws closer, we marvel at your great love for us. Let your love transform every aspect of our lives and touch everyone we encounter. Our hearts are open to you, Jesus. Amen.
Lord Jesus, we give you thanks, not only with the lips and heart, which often comes to little, but with the spirit, with which we speak to you, question you, love you, and recognize you. You are our all, and everything is in you. In you we live, and move, and have our being. You are our father, our brother, our all; and to those who love you, you have promised such things as no one has ever seen or thought of, no one ever enjoyed. Make the gift of these things to your humble faithful; you who are God, true and good, and there is no other besides you. You are the true God, the true Son of God, to whom be honor and glory and majesty in eternity and for all ages to come. Amen.
(Gallican Formularies, Hymns to Christ)
"I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need." - Philippians 4:12
I saw an article boasting about the improvements in customer satisfaction at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. According to the survey of medium-sized airports in North America, our airport showed an improvement. I couldn't wait to get to the end of the article to see the results. Finally, I saw it. They improved to "third from the bottom". Oh. Well, I thought, maybe there were only four airports in the study!
Such optimism. Such pride. Seeing life as half-full instead of half-empty.
What's your view? How do you see life? What's your ranking?
PHOTO: 2014 by Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer.
"Fools give vent to all their anger; but the wise, biding their time, control it." - Proverbs 29:11
Do you ever get so angry and upset that you bubble up inside until you finally spill over? Your wrath has no mercy as it spews out to anyone and everyone in your way.
Pleading forgiveness from your God and your neighbors is the only way to reverse your actions.
Lord Jesus, thank you for your Divine Mercy. Stop me in my tracks when my tendency is to bubble up and spill anger unto those around me. May all who incur my wrath be as forgiving to me as You are. Amen.
Grass ... what a concept. Who came up with that? It's either too dry or too wet, with attacks from insects, grubs, Red Thread, Brown Patch, "the biggest mushrooms ever seen" or some other killer fungus constantly posing challenges. The colored flowers on the clover and dandelions are pretty but frowned upon by the neighbors. A lot of work, time, frustration and money are spent trying to grow "perfect" grass.
Jesus said, "So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). Did He really mean that? Or we often hear, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Really?
I like my grass just as it is. With all of its weeds and bugs and fungus, like me, it's perfect!
How is your "grass"?
"Looking at little life moments with a spiritual eye."