Tuesday, December 5, 2017
A Christmas Gift:
Betty was born on Christmas Day, her grandfather’s premonition would become so clear to a newly ordained Deacon the day of her wake some ninety-one years later.
As we journeyed through Advent and the busy pre-Christmas season, we were called to travel through the spiritual desert, a place to empty ourselves and let Christ in. These days it’s not so easy to get beyond the busyness of life and look to reach the inner place where God dwells in us.
Christmas has taken-on so many different meanings, and has reached a point where we forget the joy of our salvation. To some it’s just the celebration of Jesus’ birthday, but that is too simple for the gift of the Incarnation.
God’s rescue plan to conquer sin and restore us to right relationship began at the dawn of creation and was realized as His Son entered history, born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our spiritual understanding of Christmas may have begun with the image of Santa Claus, or the Nativity scene or has grown to a better understanding of how the Person of Jesus conquered sin and death. Jesus brought us the gift of life eternal through his Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Betty’s passing on November 30th helped me dig just a little bit deeper into the mystery of the Incarnation. In preparation for her funeral I had the blessing to meet with Betty’s siblings, family and friends to get better acquainted with a woman, I knew simply as my friend’s Mom. Each person spoke of that special light with which she conducted her life; not an unkind word was spoken. She always looked to the good of the other which exemplified the Spirit within.
Betty saw a better life for her brothers and sisters and sacrificed to deliver them from poverty.
A true servant, she stepped up to support her five siblings. You see, her Dad died at a young age as her mom struggled to support six children at the height of the Depression. Stories surfaced of her self-sacrifice to establish a better life for her brothers and sisters. Whether it was turning over the few dimes she earned for twelve hours of babysitting so her siblings could go to the movies or her ability to scrape up money so they could buy stale day-old scraps from the grocer to feed the family. They said Betty was a faith-filled woman who wasn’t “preachy”, but her example as “Christ in action” made her the best preacher in my eyes.
Faith in action, coupled with a humble presence would set in motion a foundation to build a loving family. As her brother Bill exclaimed, “We had nothin, but we had everything.” Grandfather’s foresight into her holiness became more evident with each testimony. Born into humble circumstances and suffering, Betty followed God’s Will and relied on His Grace.
In her last years, Betty would find solace at Dominican Village as she shared in Christ’s suffering as she battled the onset of dementia. No one has an answer to suffering, as it is a part of everyone’s life journey. Betty knew how to empathize with the poor and suffering, because she lived It. I believe she now knows the joy of Christ’s presence as she experienced the presence of Christ with each visit and prayer from family and friends. You see they brought Jesus to Betty, especially as they shared the suffering of a mind less clear and forgetful.
Jesus calls each of us his brother and sister. He looks to deliver us out of our poverty of spirit, and to have a life fulfilled, and life eternal. He became poor, came to serve, became the sacrifice for our sins and showed us the way.
This Christmas as we exchange gifts, let us not lose sight of God’s greatest gift. May we decrease and may He increase. For when we “have nothing, we can have everything”!
May the gift of Christ’s light grow within us as we recognize the Light of Christ in others, and set the world on fire!
Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Statues with Limitations
One Sunday morning this October, I entered through the sacristy door and was quickly greeted with: “have you seen what happened to
?” St. Joseph
To my surprise the statue of
had been knocked over and his head decapitated. My thoughts rushed to the suspicion of vandalism, until I heard about the car accident, the injured pedestrians and the intoxicated driver. St. Joseph
Statues can be replaced, or even repaired, but what about people at the center of the situation? How were they doing? As Church, did we reach out to them? Did our prayers go toward the victim, what about the driver?Catholics are often accused of worshiping statues, which is a misnomer. Centuries ago the veneration of statues, even pictures of Jesus, Mary and the saints has helped us keep their presence and example foremost in our minds. The veneration of relics, icons and statues should not be confused with idol worship. There is the potential for us to loose sight of the person behind these images, the flesh and blood that walked this earth faced with the many challenges we experience, yet through the grace of God, whose lives have become a model for us to emulate as a
. pilgrim Church
Behind the old convent building near the chapel, stands a statue of Jesus whose hands have been broken off. One might see this as a statue which should be repaired. I see it as a reminder of the prayer of St. Theresa of Avlia:
“Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.”
-Prayer of Saint Teresa of
With all the controversies in today’s society about removing statues in the public square, and erasing the past, we might view statues as an aid to prayer and to be mindful of our own path and the corrections we need to make to follow “The Way” .
Reflecting upon a statue, may our stony hearts be called to change, as we continue to become new creations in the Spirit to improve our world.
Through God’s grace may we answer the call to be the body, hands, feet of Christ here and now. – Deacon Steve