Spirituality Matters 2016: December 1st - December 7th

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(December 1, 2016: Thursday of the First Week of Advent)
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Is 26:1-6 Ps 118:1, 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a Mt 7:21, 24-27

“A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.

On this new day on our Advent journey, we listen to these words from Blessed Louis Brisson:

“Father Chevalier, my moral theology professor, used to say to us, ‘Do you believe that Our Lord became human merely to redeem the world? He became human that we might partake of His life, of His body, of His soul, of His divinity and of His happiness.’ And who is this Model, this life and this Happiness - The Word-Made-Flesh Himself!”

“The Savior, Jesus Christ – the One Whom we attempt to reproduce in ourselves and Who is living in us – accomplishes this divine redemption in us. He gives us the grace to do this. He is our Exemplar, our Model. He walks before us. We have only to put our feet in His footprints. Thus, we will bring about our complete redemption.” (Cor ad Cor, pp. 18, 19)

We have a strong city in the person of Jesus Christ! In Christ we find walls and ramparts in which we find not only protection, but also experience “His life, His body, His soul, His divinity and His happiness”.

How might Jesus be inviting us to be a “strong city” in the lives of others? How might we become a source of support and protection for others today and help them to experience the life and happiness rooted in a life in and with Jesus?

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(December 2, 2016: Friday of the First Week of Advent)
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Is 29: 17-24 Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14 Mt 9:27-31

“Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction.

In his Introduction to the Devout Life, Francis de Sales wrote:

“When some people see the defects of others they feel a certain satisfaction; they preen themselves more with the hope of getting others to admire the contrary good qualities that they mistakenly believe that they possess. Such self-satisfaction may be so secret and imperceptible that a person must have sharp eyes to discover it. And even those infected by it do not recognize it when it is shown to them. To flatter and excuse themselves and soften their own remorse of conscience, others are quite willing to judge their fellow men and women to be guilty of the very vices to which they themselves are addicted or to vices equally great. They think that pointing out the faults of others will somehow make their own less noteworthy. Still other people make a habit of rash judgment because they like to play the philosopher and probe into the moods and morals of others as a means of displaying their presumed intelligence. Sad to say, even if they happen to occasionally be right their rashness and desire so far exceed their insight that they have difficulty turning away from them. To conclude, fear, ambition and other similar mental weaknesses often contribute to the birth of suspicion and rash judgment.” (IDL, Part III, Chapter 28, pp. 197-198)

As we prepare once again to celebrate the birth of the Messiah, the season of Advent invites us to turn away from our erring ways and to refrain from the temptation to find faults in others. In addition, what better way is there to celebrate the birth of the Messiah than by changing the ways that we think about ourselves and others than by recognizing – and naming – what is good in ourselves and what is good in others?

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(December 3, 2016: Saturday of the First Week of Advent)
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Is 30:19-21, 23-26 Ps 147:1-6 Mt 9:35 – 10:1, 5a, 6-8

“The Kingdom of heaven is at hand…”

One of the signs that Jesus associates with the Kingdom of heaven being at hand is the driving out demons.

The season of Advent provides each of us with a great opportunity to drive out from our own minds and hearts any number of demons with which we might be plagued. These demons – while they are not necessarily limited to this list – could include:

  • Anxieties
  • Grudges
  • Bitterness
  • Resentment
  • Old Hurts
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Unbridled anger
  • Perfectionism
  • Scrupulosity
  • Negativity
  • Ingratitude
  • Presumption

The Kingdom of heaven is at hand! Why not make more room in your life for the Word-Made-Flesh by driving out our demons through some heavy duty spiritual house-cleaning between now and Christmas?

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(December 4, 2016: Second Sunday of Advent)
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Is 11:1-10 Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17 Rom 15:4-9 Mt3:1-12

“John went throughout the whole region…proclaiming a baptism of repentance...”

In a sermon given on the Second Sunday of Advent, Blessed Louis Brisson observed:

“The Gospel speaks to us of St. John the Baptist. He was baptizing in the Jordan and when the multitudes came to him and surrounded him, he cried out, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only his messenger. I come to prepare the way. It is He who will give you the baptism that comes from heaven.’ Hearing of the wonders of Our Lord, John sent to Him his disciples who asked Jesus, “Are you He who is to come or shall we look for another?’ Our Lord answered, ‘Report to John what you have seen: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and blessed are those who are not scandalized in Me.’”

“When the disciples had departed, Jesus said to those around Him, ‘What did you go out into the desert to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Those who dress in this manner are in the palaces of kings. A prophet? Yes, I declare to you, a prophet and more than a prophet, for it is written of him, ‘I send before you my angel who will prepare the way for you.’ Thus the people understood then that the words of John the Baptist and the words of Our Lord were in agreement.’”

“My children, we are in Advent. Jesus is going to come into our hearts. Let us cry out to Him in all truth every day, as St. John called out to Him by his desires, ‘Come Lord. Be our strength. Come not only into our hearts but also into the hearts of all whom we love and for whom we pray.” (Cor ad Cor, p. 21)


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(December 5, 2016: Monday, Second Week of Advent)
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Is 35:1-10 Ps 85:9-14 Lk 5:17-26

“Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak. Say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong, fear not!”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus fulfills the prophet Isaiah’s words by prophetic action. First, Jesus forgives the sins of the paralyzed man; second, he heals the man’s paralysis.

The Season of Advent provides us with a wonderful opportunity to consider the ways – any ways – in which we might be suffering from any form of paralysis: spiritual, emotional, social - and perhaps - even physical. In what ways might our minds be feeble? In what ways might our resolve be weak? In what ways might our hearts be frightened?

Whether on our own – or with the help of others – let us approach the Lord in our neediness. Let us ask for His forgiveness. Let us ask for His strength. May He open our eyes, ears and hearts to the wonders of His power! May our tongues – and lives – give witness to His love!

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(December 6, 2016: Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent)
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Is 40:1-11 Ps 96:1-3, 10-13 Mt 18:12-14

“Comfort; give comfort to my people, says your God.”

In a commentary on the necessity to “reprint the Gospel”, Blessed Louis Brisson observed:

“The third evangelical task about which I want to speak is the evangelization of the nations - the preaching of Our Lord. Our Lord has come to earth to give us an example, to instruct us and to redeem us by His sufferings. The preaching of the Gospel was one of the principal reasons for His coming. We, therefore, should reprint the Gospel also by our preaching.”

“All of us should preach. Those who work with their hands as well as those who are occupied with exterior works, those who conduct classes as well as those who teach by example, those who direct souls as well as those who are assigned to the ministry of the pulpit - all of us should preach. We should preach in a practical way. We should teach our neighbor, if not by our words, at least by our actions. If you do so, do you think that you will have no influence on those who see you?” (Cor ad Cor, p. 30)

Today are you looking for a way to “reprint the Gospel”? Are you interested in doing your part to continue “the evangelization of the nations, the preaching of Our Lord”? Then here is one suggestion that comes directly from our God Himself.

“Comfort; give comfort to my people.”


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(December 7, 2016: Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent)
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Is 40:25-31 Ps 103:1-4, 8, 10 Mt 11:28-30

“They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar as with eagles’ wings…”

Don’t bother looking around the room at other people’s hands or knees for weakness. We need to look no further than our own hands and knees or, for that matter, our own minds or hearts, our own spirits or psyches, to see the weakness to which the Prophet Isaiah refers in our first reading today.

These weaknesses are not bad news. In fact, they are very good news! The promise is that God will never “grow faint or weary” when it comes – as Jesus says in today’s Gospel – to giving us rest. Put another way, our weaknesses are not an obstacle to God’s transforming, empowering and inspiring love. In fact, our weaknesses are an entrée to that transforming, empowering and inspiring love. As the Preface for the Eucharistic Prayer for Martyrs from the former Sacramentary reminds us, “God chooses the weak and makes them strong in bearing witness to him…”

Our ongoing need for divine comfort, healing and strength reminds us of Francis de Sales’ teaching on whom should approach, celebrate and receive the Eucharist. In his Introduction to the Devout Life, he wrote:

“Two classes of people should communicate frequently: the strong lest they become weak, and the weak that they may become strong; the sick that they may be restored to health, and the healthy lest they fall sick. Tell them that for your part you are imperfect, weak and sick and need to communicate frequently with him who is your perfection and strength…” (Part II, Chapter 21)

Seen with the eyes of faith, all that may wear us down or make us weary should not be cause for shame. In fact, seen with the eyes of God, all that may wear us down and make us weary perfectly prepares us to be sustained, renewed and invigorated by the God who is always with us!

Today, let us learn from our meek and humble Jesus in whom as we find comfort and rest, let us offer that same comfort and rest as needed to one another.