Archives for December 2012
Newtown CT: We pray with you and mourn with you. (Here’s my latest on Patheos on turning to the God who saves.)
Newtown CT: we pray for you and we mourn with you.
Like so many of you, I’ve been disturbed about the carnage that took place in the sanctuary of an elementary school in Connecticut. Here’s a few thoughts on what I learned by recalling that the liturgical calendar places the Feast of the Holy Innocents squarely in the midst of our Christmas season, so we do not forget what we have been, and are being saved from.
Of course, may we pray never to be put to the test, but if we are, may we cling to Jesus as we cling to one another.
Here’s the opening of my article:
One night there was inexplicable, explosive joy. The kind of joy that sends its ripple effects not only around the world but the news of which transforms the hearts of generations to come.
The Savior was born. A heavenly host of angels announced his arrival, echoing the message of the prophets of old and the longing of humanity for centuries.
Yet several nights later, there was terror and excruciating heartache… Herod had arranged for a systematic killing of innocent Hebrew boys under the age of two. Only God knows how many little ones were massacred at the royal command, at the whim of a king who would not abide a future rival.
Generations later, we remember the heartaches of those parents whose children were taken from them so violently. For Catholics, in our liturgical calendar, we remember both… our Christmas season exults the Savior’s coming, and solemnizes his human peers that were lost because selfishness considered their lives expendable. The slaughter of the innocents – little ones who were martyred on behalf of the God-man who was in their very midst – are memorialized annually on Dec 28th, the Feast of the Holy Innocents. In their deaths, we recall that even though the Christ was born into their land, his presence was not yet born into the hearts of all those for whom he had come.
It is the same for us today. Unless Jesus is embraced by us we cannot dissuade the sin that is born from the free will of those hell-bent on rejecting the Savior’s way, truth, and life.
We have a hard lesson in that this week.
In this third week of Advent — the one that begins with the call of Gaudate!… to rejoice, for the Lord is near! — it is hard to reconcile the mourning and weeping of a nation in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, with the joys of Advent and the coming of Christmas.
And yet… that very coming of the God who saves… Jesus… is the very heart of the hope of all who mourn with a magnitude of grief that, for most of us, is beyond our ability to fathom.
This week, many Americans came against something from which we need saving.
We cannot face the gruesome depravity that is in our midst. We want to look away. We want to go back to what we knew before what we know now. And for the bravest among us, we want one more chance to go back in time, to turn the tide, to do the one thing that may have stopped this evil from befalling us, and others.
The slaughter of innocents will always have that effect on us.
It is the same for Jesus.
In the fullness of time, it was Jesus who looked down from heaven at our depravity and destitution, our evils and ills, and turned to the Father and said, in effect, “No more. Send me.”
Creche: from the Gohn home
Churches in Newtown, CT
A Second Death
Hell is a second death. This is what the Book of Revelation says (Revelation 21:8). Just as there is an eternal life, there is an eternal death. Eternal life is a second life; eternal death is a second death. Our first death can be a passage not only to eternal life but also to eternal death.
Looking at hell as a second death takes away the images of eternal suffering and torture that are so prevalent in medieval art and literature. It defines hell more as the refusal to choose life than as a punishment for wrongdoing. In fact, the sins that the Book of Revelation mentions as leading to eternal death are choices for death: murdering, worshipping obscenities, sexual immorality, lying, and so on (see Revelation 21:8). When we sow death we will reap death. But when we sow life we will reap life. It is we who do the sowing!
~Henri J.M. Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (from the blog that remembers Henri Nouwen’s writings)
This week’s episode is a special edition of Among Women, where we depart from our normal format and take time to consider a subject more in depth, with input from our listening audience. In this episode I spend some time sharing on the subject of joy, and how J.O.Y. is an acronym for a Christian life that puts Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. I also share from Psalm 37 and spend a little bit of time unpacking what that psalm means to me.
I’m grateful that several listeners and former guests of Among Women phoned in and wrote to me about the subject of joy, and its a pleasure to add their voices to the podcast. There’s also a giveaway of the new book from Cheryl Dickow and Teresa Tomeo, Wrapped Up: God’s Ten Gifts for Women, and Cheryl Dickow’s novel, Elizabeth.
This is the last podcast for 2012, and I plan to return the week of January 7, 2013 with a new show.
Listen to the show here.
And now my final point: be yourself. If you are going to have a personal Twitter account or a FaceBook page that is listed as yours, make it yours. Don’t have others post for you. Don’t just post aphorisms, quotes from Scripture, Church teaching or the lives of the saints. While they are good to read and remember, as posts in themselves they do nothing to connect us persons to our brothers and sisters. People want to know what we really think and what we really believe. We speak best about the Incarnation, God made man in Jesus Christ, when we make that message incarnate in ourselves. This means we need to be vulnerable to others – as He was, we need to be present to others – as He was, we need to authentic in our dealings with others – as He was, and we need to be passionate about what we know to be the Truth – as He was. If we can do so by our personal presence in the digital culture, then that is where we need to be.
~Bishop Christopher Coyne, who tweets at @BishopCoyne and blogs here.
So, my latest column at Patheos is the requisite nod to the liturgical calendar, but its more about ALL the comings of Christ in my experience… that the season of Advent really lights up an awareness of the sacred found in every day.
Here’s a excerpt:
Advent is not just a liturgical season, it’s a spiritual reality that has been touching, moving, and changing me all my life. In Advent, we prepare ourselves to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming. In this season, I reflect not only on the coming of Christ in history, but Christ’s coming to my own personal history. His presence is tangible in all the advents of my life.
Advent means “coming,” “arrival,” or “appearance.” These all makes sense when I relate “advent” to the coming of Christ. By the miracle of the Incarnation, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and became man. Through that same incarnation, I can understand the Lord’s coming in all the “advents” of my own life.
Let’s start with my conception and being alive in my mother’s womb—my “coming.” My mother was, and is, an active Catholic. During her pregnancy with me, she received communion during Mass. As she “received” the Lord, in some way, so did I. As the Lord touched my mother through those frequent communions, he also touched me. For as a mother is fed, so is her unborn child. All nutrition passes from mother to child. The body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist pumped through my veins even as a tiny baby hidden from the world but known to God and my parents.
The next advent or appearance of Christ was at my baptism. Even if I was not fully aware of my being baptized as an infant, I didn’t need to be. I was baptized into the faith of the Church. Christ’s presence permeated the process of my “becoming.” “In him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28 RSV).”
In this week’s episode of Among Women we look at the faith and testimony of St Catherine of Genoa, one of the Christian mystics from the Middle Ages who, despite heartaches and depression in her life, went on to live a life of heroic love of God and service to others. Today I’m also joined by Catholic author and EWTN TV host, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle who shares her wisdom about holy struggles as well, as she talks about some of the themes of her latest book, Rooted in Love, Our Calling as Catholic Women.
I also spend a few moments recapping where I’ve been, and what’s to come in the next few weeks on Among Women.