KAIROS TIME

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We are about to enter one of the most important election years this nation has ever experienced.  And while our participation is critical, it is also vital to remember that the strength of this nation does not reside in the halls of any capital. It will continue to flow from the same sources that built America as long as we preserve them.  So on this eve of a new year, let us take a moment to recognize those sources, and resolve together to hold and strengthen them in the days ahead. 

 HARRISBURG, PA. (Catholic Online) – We are about to enter one of the most important election years this nation has ever experienced.  And while our participation is critical, it is also vital to remember that the strength of this nation does not reside in the halls of any capital.

It will continue to flow from the same sources that built America as long as we preserve them.  So on this eve of a new year, let us take a moment to recognize those sources, and resolve together to hold and strengthen them in the days ahead.

This is a nation built on faith, on a collective acknowledgement that the government is answerable for its conduct to a higher authority, that legal is not always synonymous with right, and that right is the standard which we must always seek to follow.

This is a nation built on family, on the knowledge that the love, courage, commitment and fortitude to honor marriage vows, raise children, and care for each other at every stage of life create the very backbone of our country.

This is a nation built on opportunity, on a recognition that success can belong to those who are willing to work for it no matter what their backgrounds may be, that it is possible to actually turn the dream of achievement in its reality.

This is a nation built on personal responsibility, on facing the fact that our behavior does have consequences that we must face, that freedom means we face our failures as well as our successes.

This is a nation built on community, on developing the ties that bind us to each other so we can work together to solve the problems and meet the needs that would conquer any one of us alone.

This is a nation built on generosity, on reaching out to those in need with the help and support necessary to help them meet the challenge of the moment and move past it.

This is a nation built on thrift, on the certain knowledge that living within one’s means is the safest path to security, and that there is a value in saving for tomorrow.

This is a nation built on education, on the reality that we can only preserve our heritage if we know and understand it, and that climbing the ladder of opportunity begins with knowledge.

This is a nation built on law, where each individual is judged according to conduct instead of status, and no one is outside the boundaries of the law’s standards.

These sources built this nation.  Like all nations, we have not always perfectly upheld them. But our history has been one of coming closer than any other – ever.

As we read them, we notice that not one of them depends on the government.  The government’s role is simply to create an environment in which we can practice them freely.

So as we move into this election year, we have two tasks before us.  The first is to evaluate each candidate to see if he or she understands, appreciates, and adheres to the qualities that built this nation.

And second, which is simultaneously more important and more difficult, is to look at ourselves with the same evaluative eye, with a willingness to change the areas of our own shortcomings.

America was built by her people, and her future rests in our hands.  Let’s work to make it a future we can all be proud of.

Peg Luksik is the Chairman of the Center for American Heritage. Learn more about the heritage of this exceptional nation at www.centerforamericanheritage.com

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Why Jesus is Better Than Santa Claus – Thoughts about God

Santa lives at the North Pole…
     JESUS is everywhere.


Santa rides in a sleigh…
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year…
JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies…
JESUS supplies
all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited…
JESUS stands at your door and knocks, and then enters your heart when invited.

You have to wait in line to see Santa…
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap…
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn’t know your name, all he can say is “Hi little boy or girl, what’s your name?”…
JESUS knew our name before we were born.  Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly…
JESUS has a heart full of love

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO…
JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says “You better not cry”…
JESUS says “Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.”

Santa’s little helpers make toys…
JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but…
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree…
JESUS became our gift and died on a tree…the cross.

We need to put Christ back in CHRISTmas, Jesus is still the reason for the season.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
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Would you like to know Jesus?
You can have peace and find hope and know forgiveness through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to You and ask You to come in as my Saviour and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Bring peace to my world this Christmas. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.

If this prayer expresses the desire of your heart, pray it right now and Christ will come into your life as He promised. If you invited Jesus Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life.

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WHERE OH WHERE HAS CHRISTMAS GONE

As we go around from store to store or mall to mall, surf our internet, or listen to ads and music, we may wonder where CHRISTmas has gone.  Our secularized world is trying by every means available to erase the CHRIST from His own BIRTHDAY!  Christ is not to be seen or heard in public.  Time honored traditions of displaying Nativity scenes, erecting Christmas trees (not holiday trees), carolling, holding Christmas pageants are all being forced out of the public domain.  As Christians we cannot stand by and allow this to happen.  We can do something.  In fact, we can do many things.

This may all sound farfetched but take a good look around you.  The acceptable, politically correct greeting at this time seems now to be Happy Holiday.  Well that’s all well and good but there is only one reason for the holiday at all.  We are celebrating the birthday of Jesus.  This is where it all began and this is still its meaning.

I just want to share some tips on what each of us can do to keep this holy time centered on the Person who is responsible for it.  These are just ordinary every day things that anyone with good will can do.

           Let us begin with CHRISTMAS cards.  There are lovely ones out there.  Let us choose those that portray or in some way relate to the   BIRTH OF CHRIST.

          There are even stamps that portray a truly Christmas scene and seals as well.

          When we decorate our homes or our lawns, let us always include a nativity scene, angels, shepherds, whatever brings to mind the Holy Night.

           If we go into a store and are greeted with ‘Happy Holiday’, let’s respond with ‘MERRY CHRISTMAS’ and even perhaps talk to those in charge  to let them know of our displeasure at this hollow greeting. 

         It would be even more effective if we walked out without buying anything, explaining why we are leaving and not patronizing the store.

          In our homes, let the Nativity Scene hold a special place of honor.

          We can have a reading of the Bible passage recounting this wondrous event with family and friends gathered ‘round.

          We can form or join a carolling group and spread Christ in song.

          We can live Advent as a preparation for Christ and have an Advent wreathe or an Advent calendar in our home.

          We can think of the poor and needy and give up some of our gifts to share with them.

          We can go to midnight Mass or Christmas day Mass as a family.

           We can write to others on Facebook or with email, etc.  and share thoughts of a true Christmas or share videos we have seen that are seasonally meaningful.

I am sure that there are many other ways not listed here to keep Christ at the center of this beautiful time of year.  Pick and choose, but do something.  The world needs Our Lord in the private and public sector.  Let us never be ashamed to proclaim Him to others.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

GOD BLESS US EVERYONE!

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GOD’S LAUGHTER

The story of Jonah tickles my funny bone.  He was indignant because God would not destroyNineveh.  After all, they had been sinning a long time and now God was going to forgive them, just like that!  I used to feel like Jonah in regard to the Prodigal Son.  How well I identified with the older brother…too well.  I even felt in sync with the grumbling workers who received the same wages as the late comers.

Then, God invaded my heart and upset all my comfy perceptions.  He brought a new mentality and a new attitude into play.  What counts is His mercy and saving people, not any petty indignation over my reckoning of justice and injustice.  All my categories were turned upside down and inside out and somehow I can see God smiling and even laughing at all the calisthenics I go through to adjust myself to His thoughts!

As I go on in life, I am more and more convinced that God smiles and has a wonderful sense of humor and perhaps we don’t think of that often enough.  His Word tells us that He made the little plant grow and then wither.  Poor Jonah…he was so happy with it and the shade it afforded him.  Alas, the next day it was gone and his head was burning to a crisp by the sun.  Nice touch, Lord!  Your paradoxes are always very entertaining as with the two sons and the mad workers.

We get too somber and serious about life and we fail to see the humor, the irony, the fun.  Sour saints are not in vogue in Heaven!  We need to keep things in perspective, God’s perspective.  Just a look at nature can be a real help.  That’s what I did and I came up with this little poem.

DIVINE SENSE OF HUMOR

Why do we neglect

This aspect of Your being?

Do we deem it irreverent

To picture a God who smiles?

Why do we overlook

The humor in our Holy Book

You so often used

To leave us bemused?

Why are we so reluctant

To hear Your hearty laugh,

To know that You enjoyed

The irony You employed?

You played a joke on Jonah,

Got money for Your taxes

From a fish,

And paradoxically stunned

Pharisee and Sadducee!

You drew friends to Yourself

With Your winning way.

Surely laughter must have rung

During many a day.

Dearest, smiling Love

Grant us to share that humor,

Seeing life with happy heart,

Grasping its lighter part.

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AUTUMN WISDOM

The lushness of summer is passed in all her vibrant array.  The air flows crisp and cool as though defying the sun’s lingering rays.  Leisurely days hunker down in dormant expectancy.  This is the quieting time of loss and letting go, a lesson trees so deftly teach as they gracefully accept the spoliation gloriously divesting themselves.  Their ultimate display comes in drops of gold, amber, ruby, and amethyst gently falling to carpet the earth, enriching the soil.

Each season has its lesson, wisdom to enrich the heart and lift the spirit.  Autumn comes to speak to us in our hurried busy life so often lived amid concrete and granite.  She whispers, ‘everything passes…is already passing.’  The reality check is all around us.  Where are the worries we fretted about yesterday?  Where are the joys to which we clung?  What happened to the anger we held inside?  When did our youth take flight?  All our fears and anxieties, our passions and our longings have been transformed, transmuted in the ebb and flow of life.  And all of it is life.

Autumns chants ‘Stand tall and abide.  Sink deep roots into the eternal.’  The temporary, the cyclic is part of the adventure to be lived fully in all its color and music.  Suffering does end.  Joys come and go.  We are transients on this lovely earth.  Join in the cosmic dance of life, stepping to the harmony God plays.

This is precisely what Jesus did.  “Being in the form of God, He did not count equality with God something to be grasped.  But He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are.”  (Philippians 2: 7)  How often have we heard or read these words?  Do they really speak to us?  What impact do they have in our daily life, in our choices, in our demands, in our giving, and in our taking? 

Each life calls for emptying if it is to be filled with new life.  Courageously, like Jesus, we live the times of bareness, of seeming dormancy, of apparent death.  Each life passes through the Paschal Mystery of suffering and death and resurrection.  We can live the tomb-like moments in misery and rejection or we can embrace them as part of the dance, the dance we do with Jesus, our Partner!

Thus autumn wisdom translates into hope, into trust, into joy.  We walk ever deeper into the Mystery that is Life and into the Life that is Mystery.  We have no fear; it is Christ who leads us, walks with us every glorious step of the Way.

 What is emptying after all,

But making space

Like the hollow of a reed,

Like the curve of a nest.

Like a tree all bleak and bear,

Majestically standing there.

Like the God

Who emptied Self,

Uncaring for His bright Heaven.

Come to us

To fill our space,

To play His tune

Through our reed,

To be enfleshed

In the nest

Of our heart.

 

 

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I HAVE NO ARMS BUT YOURS

At our House of Prayer here in Subiaco, we have a tiny Chapel in which there is a wooden representation of Jesus crucified.  The uniqueness of this lies in the fact that Jesus has no arms.  We have named this the Chapel of Commitment, because we are to be His arms.

In these times when catastrophic tragedies seem to strike with frightening frequency in every part of the globe and those who bear the brunt of them cry out for help, it seems most appropriate to see ourselves as those arms lovingly reaching out to our sisters and brothers in need.

   No arms but yours to raise up

            those crushed by tragedy.

No arms but yours to bring hope

            to the despairing.

No arms but yours to heal

            the broken bodies.

No arms but yours to shelter

            those who are homeless.

No arms but yours to give dignity

            to the downtrodden.

No arms but yours to feed

the starving children.

No arms but yours to slake

the maddening thirst.

No arms but yours to clothe

the naked bodies.

No arms but yours to bring medicine

to the sick and wounded.

No arms but yours to comfort

            those grieving for lost loved ones.

No arms but yours to hug

            the frightened orphans.

No arms but yours to revive

            those who have lost everything.

No arms but yours to rebuild

broken lives.

No arms but yours.

Lend Me your arms

that I may work through you

the wonders of My Love

for humankind.

Lend Me your arms

that I may continue to come

with healing in My hands.

Give Me your heart

that I may fill it

with My Compassion!

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GAINING WISDOM OF HEART!

 Through all your days, keep the Lord in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments.  Perform good works all the days of your life…   (Tobit, 4:  5, 7b)

 Desire to sin?  Not me!  I lead a good life.  I don’t steal or kill or cheat.  I even go to Mass on Sunday.  What is all this talk of sin?  I’m a good person and right with God….

Have we ever heard these words or even said or thought them ourselves?  Is this enough for our God?  Listening to Jesus in His Word, it would seem otherwise.  Our Good Teacher always prods us to go beyond, to look to broader horizons and deeper depths.  He doesn’t stop at what we don’t do or at the religious rituals we may perform.  This just doesn’t seem to cut it with Him, to be sufficient.  You see, He wants us fully alive to the possibilities of each moment, to each other, to Him, and nothing less.

So here we are, in the Lenten season.  Just what is Lent, we may ask?  Ashes, the color purple, a couple of days of fast and abstinence, concentration on sin?  Or is it a time to slake our thirst as the daylight hours lengthen with the approach of Spring.  We too thirst, as Jesus on the Cross.  How often we say on a hot dry day, ‘I am thirsty’ and reach for a cooling lemonade?  Have we ever noticed an inner thirst that is not so easily quenched?  For refreshment that goes beyond what this earth can offer?  Are we not thirsty for more, for intimacy, for understanding, for peace of heart, for love?  Who of us does not feel unsatisfied in some way in all these areas?  Who of us does not long for more?

So what does Lent have to do with this?  A lot!   Lent is an opportunity to beam in on our thirst; what we thirst for, where we go to drink, what satisfies us.  Lent draws us to intimacy with the One who knew all our thirsts. He proclaimed Himself the Living Water to the Samaritan Woman at the well. She was so happy at the thought of never having to draw water again and carry it home.  We have this opportunity to travel inward, to take more time to nourish our spirit with wholesome reading, to converse more with Our Lord, to share our faith with others.  It is a time to zero in on what love really means by looking at how Jesus loved and loves us, using His love as the paradigm for our love.  Just as the seasons go through their transitions, so too our existence follows a rhythm of transformation that is not just physical.  This is what the Lenten season offers us; a transition from mediocrity to ardour; a transformation from egocentricity to thoughtfulness toward others.

Yes, the Cross is ever present and we give it special attention in Lent as the instrument of our redemption.  It is the same Cross that is present in our lives and which Jesus asks us to carry with Him along the only road to victory over the evil, within us and outside of us.  Jesus tells us to carry it and not drag it, perhaps to have us understand that it too slakes our thirst for meaning, for courage, for strength.  It is not a misfortune, but the good fortune to be one with Him.

When the priest places the ashes on our forehead, he reminds us that we are dust and will return to dust.  Well, Jesus too knows of what we are made, He remembers that we are dust, so He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.  He has compassion on us! (Cf. Psalm 103)  This too, is Lent.  To reflect on the consolation that even our thirst for pardon and forgiveness finds its satisfaction in our God.  He casts all our sins into the sea and erects a sign that says, ‘No fishing allowed’.  We have but to acknowledge them with humility and trust.  What more do we want?

Waste not this precious time of Lent, of renewal, of conversion!  It is one more invitation from the Lord to be all that we are meant to be in that marvellous dream He has for each of us.  Live Lent well and be well prepared for Resurrection!

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DO NOT FEAR!

The sky is falling…the sky is falling!   Thus said Chicken Little one balmy day when her world seemed to be coming to an end.  I don’t mean to be irreverent, but this can aptly describe what the apostles must have felt after the catastrophe of Good Friday, when all their dreams and hopes for a king and a place in a kingdom had been violently shattered.  Saturday hung like a middle without a beginning or an end; just there, empty.  Truly, their sky had fallen and all they could do was hide in fear behind locked doors.  They had certainly not understood Jesus’ prophesy about His rising and most certainly they had forgotten them in the crush of their immense grief.

Only some women were courageous enough to go to that sad tomb out of love.  Somehow for them the sky had not fallen, just become darkened.  Deep in their hearts, the embers lit by the Teacher still burned in fidelity and even with a nameless hope.  They could not let Him go so abruptly, so definitively.  Their reward was to see Him first and to be the bearers of the glad tidings to the others.

In our times of economic and political tempests, it may well seem to us that the sky is indeed falling and we are helpless to do anything about it.  Powers beyond our control wreak havoc with our lives and our dreams and we are left in the emptiness of a Holy Saturday.  But remember that what came after went far beyond anyone’s expectations or wildest imaginings.  That tortured, beaten, despised, crucified Man came back to life!  His closest friends could not believe it.  Only the women who first saw Him believed.  Yet there He was with nail and spear scars radiant as jewels.  ‘Touch Me’, He said.  ‘I’m not a ghost!  Give me something to eat.’

resurrection 2

Well now, Good Friday did not have the last word.  Saturday was the lull before the magnificent miracle.  The sky had not fallen after all.

Jesus’ victory has a lot to say to us today.  We often may feel like the apostles; disoriented, alone, frightened, hopeless.  No answers are forthcoming and we don’t know what to do.  Along comes Jesus to tell us ‘Don’t be afraid’.  That phrase is recorded 366 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year, including leap year.  ‘Don’t be afraid.  I am with you.’  Through every suffering, every joy, every question, every challenge Jesus tells us, ‘I am with you.  Don’t be afraid’.  This Jesus, this God-with-us has been through it all.  He understands.  He not only experienced our suffering and our death, He gave us reason to HOPE, to hang on…to Him of course.

The wonder of it all is that God can use even the most awful events and times of history to create a perfect end, whether it is in our personal lives or in the world.  The socio-economic stress of today can lead us to a simpler, healthier, happier lifestyle that opens us to appreciate the little everyday wonders like a blossoming flower, a child’s smile, family meals with real conversation.  There is so much we may have taken for granted in our rushed and harried days that a simpler life may reveal forgotten treasures of being that afford us true delight.  Utopia you say?  Or is it rather a deeper reality, a more human way to live, more in tune with God’s original plan?  Maybe these times are a call to rid ourselves of superfluous things, empty desires for more, yearning for what does not satisfy.  Perhaps we need to learn that we can do very well with a lot less, that it is possible to extend a helping hand to others.  We are living a resurrection time, a new way to be, just as Jesus came back with a new body, the same yet different.  Perhaps we are being called to ‘live simply so that others may simply live’.

Just as the apostles and first Christians and others throughout the ages became daring witnesses to the Christ, to His resurrection, so we too are invited by Him to tell the Good News of His Victory, to tell others with our lives and words that the sky is not falling.  Rather, the seeds of a new beginning are sprouting if we but cling to the Christ and listen to Him telling us, “Do not fear!”

JOY!  FEAR! 

A gamut of emotions

charged through them

in undulating waves

Of HOPE fulfilled,

Of FAITH revived.

Jesus is alive;

t_Just_Jesus026

To be held once again,

to be adored anew!

Once more to hear His voice,

to behold His face!

Go tell the Good News

of an empty tomb,

of the Risen Savior!

‘Do not fear’.

The comforting words

spoken once again.

Jesus is alive and well;

our Joy serenely smiling!

Jesus is alive,

Walking among us!

We have seen Him!

We have touched Him!

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GAINING WISDOM OF HEART! 

 

Through all your days, keep the Lord in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments.  Perform good works all the days of your life…  

 (Tobit, 4:  5, 7b)

 

Desire to sin?  Not me!  I lead a good life.  I don’t steal or kill or cheat.  I even go to Mass on Sunday.  What is all this talk of sin?  I’m a good person and right with God….

Have we ever heard these words or even said or thought them ourselves?  Is this enough for our God?  Listening to Jesus in His Word, it would seem otherwise.  Our Good Teacher always prods us to go beyond, to look to broader horizons and deeper depths.  He doesn’t stop at what we don’t do or at the religious rituals we may perform.  This just doesn’t seem to cut it with Him, to be sufficient.  You see, He wants us fully alive to the possibilities of each moment, to each other, to Him, and nothing less.051508_lead_new12

So here we are, about to begin the Lenten season.  Just what is Lent, we may ask?  Ashes, the color purple, a couple of days of fast and abstinence, concentration on sin?  Or is it a time to slake our thirst as the daylight hours lengthen with the approach of Spring.  We too thirst, as Jesus on the Cross.  How often we say on a hot dry day, ‘I am thirsty’ and reach for a cooling lemonade?  Have we ever noticed an inner thirst that is not so easily quenched?  For a refreshment that goes beyond what this earth can offer?  Are we not thirsty for more, for intimacy, for understanding, for peace of heart, for love?  Who of us does not feel unsatisfied in some way in all these areas?  Who of us does not long for more?

 So what does Lent have to do with this?  A lot!   Lent is an opportunity to beam in on our thirst; what we thirst for, where we go to drink, what satisfies us.  Lent draws us to intimacy with the One who knew all our thirsts. He proclaimed Himself the Living Water to the Samaritan Woman at the well. She was so happy at the thought of never having to draw water again and carry it home.  We have this opportunity to travel inward, to take more time to nourish our spirit with wholesome reading, to converse more with Our Lord, to share our faith with others.  It is a time to zero in on what love really means by looking at how Jesus loved and loves us, using His love as the paradigm for our love.  Just as the seasons go through their transitions, so too our existence follows a rhythm of transformation that is not just physical.  This is what the Lenten season offers us; a transition from mediocrity to ardour; a transformation from egocentricity to thoughtfulness toward others. 

Yes, the Cross is ever present and we give it special attention in Lent as the instrument of our redemption.  It is the same Cross that is present in our lives and which Jesus asks us to carry with Him along the only road to victory over the evil, within us and outside of us.  Jesus tells us to carry it and not drag it, perhaps to have us understand that it too slakes our thirst for meaning, for courage, for strength.  It is not a misfortune, but the good fortune to be one with Him.

When the priest places the ashes on our forehead, he reminds us that we are dust and will return to dust.  Well, Jesus too knows of what we are made, He remembers that we are dust, so He does not treat us according to our sins nor repay us according to our faults.  He has compassion on us! (Cf. Psalm 103)  This too, is Lent.  To reflect on the consolation that even our thirst for pardon and forgiveness finds its satisfaction in our God.  He casts all our sins into the sea and erects a sign that says, ‘No fishing allowed’.  We have but to acknowledge them with humility and trust.  What more do we want? 

Waste not this precious time of Lent, of renewal, of conversion!  It is one more invitation from the Lord to be all that we are meant to be in that marvellous dream He has for each of us.  Live Lent well and be well prepared for Resurrection! 

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        WAITING…

 WAITING…       WAITING…

This may seem like an odd topic, but the action of waiting is one that often fills our lives.  We wait in traffic, often impatiently.  We wait at the doctor’s or dentist’s office, often with trepidation.  We wait in line at the supermarket, as our minds run rampant with the million things still left on our ‘to do’ list.  We wait for the weather to improve, for the seasons to change, for a much needed vacation, for a sale, for more time to do what we really like to do.  With all this waiting for what comes next, it can happen that we lose sight of the preciousness of the present moment, of living it intensely, being fully present to what we are doing and what is happening around us.

 A wise person once said to me, “Do what you are doing.”  I must confess, it took me a while to figure out just what she meant.  But gradually it sunk in.  I noticed that  often I was ‘absent’ from the moment, thinking of the future, waiting for what was coming next or mulling over the past, so that the present was being lived almost mechanically.  Gradually, I learned to be present to the present, to do what I was doing here and now.  It might be writing an article without thinking of whatever else I had to do after.  Or translating the Word of the Day, a Biblical reflection that we send out each day via email based on one of the reading of the Liturgy of the day.  100_02491

It may be walking down to the main house and being present to the growing grass, or the blossoming shrubs, or the clouds drifting by, or the raindrops reviving the thirsty vegetation.  It may be spending quality time with the sisters of my community or talking with some of our guests who relish a listening heart.  It may be just immersing myself in the eloquent silence of our House of Prayer.  It might be praising God with the Psalms and prayers of the Divine Office, spread throughout our day, fully intent on what my lips are pronouncing and letting the words sink into me and mould me.

I must say that life takes a quality leap when the present moment is lived in fullness.  I have come to believe that this is what contemplation is all about, presence to the here and now.  It is definitely not waiting.   Jesus praised Martha’s sister Mary for sitting with Him and listening to Him, fully grasped by that moment.  He revealed the reality of who He was to the Samaritan woman, who paused at the well with Him, carefully following His words.  Jesus tells us to look at the wild flowers of the field, to contemplate their beauty, to notice the birds who ‘neither spin nor reap’, to read the signs of the times.  Yes, He also tells us to be watchful, to be expectant but not at the cost of losing the treasure of the present moment.

gesu-eucharistico

There is another aspect to this ‘presence’, to this full awareness and it was well articulated by one of our early sisters.  The story goes that she was kneeling before the tabernacle in the chapel when she distinctly heard these words.  “Live the present moment and live it in love.”  At first she thought there was someone else in the chapel but looking around, she saw no one.  Since the tabernacle was free standing and one could go behind it, she got up and went to see if someone was there.  But, no, there was no one.  She knelt down again and again the words were repeated.  She knew they came from Jesus.      

Perhaps, in our frenzied and confused times, Jesus is whispering these words to us, drawing us away from anxiety, desperation, restlessness.  He is telling us that the only thing we have is the present moment.  The past is gone and the future does not exist yet.  He gifts us with this moment, here and now.  He asks us to live it ‘in love’, to treasure it, to fill it with our attention.  It is love that gives value to everything, even the waiting that can become gifted moments of prayer, of communion with Him and with ourselves.

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