Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent--coming right up!

"It is our tradition to believe that when we 'remember' we make present once again."
Sr. Kathleen Wood, On-Going Formation Advent reflection
OK, I admit that I wasn't excited about Advent this year. For one thing, it is coming around too fast anymore (didn't I just put the Christmas decorations away?) And another thing, I had a hard time getting psyched up for the waiting, longing, the here-we-go-again of another attempt to grow spiritually. And then I read this. Sr. Kathleen was my spiritual director when I last went on retreat and she is a wise woman! And she puts new perspective on this Advent for me. It's not about going through the usual Advent motions another time. When we remember, we make present. This Advent offers a new Presence, a new Incarnation of the Christ Child for us, unlike any other year! Our remembering the first birth of Jesus allows us to "re-birth" him in our hearts, all fresh and new. It's not the same ol', same ol' at all! This Advent is unique and new, unlike anything we have ever experienced or will ever experience again. The opportunities are endless! So, thankful for this fresh perspective, I will delve into Advent, anew, this Sunday! Love, heidi

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feasting is prayer!

"Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb."
Revelation 19:9

This reading, today, coincides perfectly with my chapter on feasting in Fr. Ed Hays' "Pray All Ways!" Feasting has been part of the spiritual experience of humans ever since Adam and Eve feasted on the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Fr. Ed points out that, throughout Jesus' life, he feasted, fed the multitudes, and, finally, during his last meal with his disciples, he gave his very self for their nourishment. Fr. Ed also points out that we are losing the art of feasting, with our drive-thru windows and our hurry-up lifestyles. Meals should be shared and enjoyed and not necessarily with the evening news. Feasting is prayer when people are gathered, lovingly-prepared food is shared, and stories are told, and the prayer continues when the dishes are washed and dried together, as the conversation continues. The next time we gather for a meal with others, let's be aware of the prayer that it certainly can be! Praying a mindful grace before the meal, enjoying community during the meal, and joining hands together in the clean-up are all part of prayerful feasting! Love, heidi

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Perfectly seasoned...

"The real saint proclaims the taste of God in all of life and not the taste of the saint."
Fr. Ed Hays, "Pray All Ways"
In this chapter on feasting and fasting as prayer, Fr. Ed Hays talks about how the salt on our food should enhance the taste of the food; you shouldn't actually taste the salt itself. Similarly, our spiritual actions or disciplines should emphasize God and not us. It makes so much sense to me, but still is such a radical concept. When I was in college, I would come home at holidays and visit one of my teachers, Irish Sister of Mercy, Sr. Evangelist. She was the one who first called me "Heididear," remember? One Christmas holiday I had my visitation with Sr. E and she asked, "What are you doing for Advent, Heididear?" "Advent?" I exclaimed, "You mean I have to do something for Advent AND Lent?" I was aghast at the thought of any type of self-sacrifice or spiritual discipline twice a year! But, as we ponder any special Advent activities (Advent begins Sunday!) let us remember Fr. Ed wisely telling us that our activities must not be about us. Any spiritual discipline should enhance God and not enhance ourselves. You shouldn't taste the should only enjoy the well-seasoned food. Love, heidi

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Simple Monday," not Cyber Monday!

"Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?"
Isaiah 55:2

Well, here we are! In the midst of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. The Christmas consumer machine is in full gear. So fittingly, the chapter I am reading today in "Pray All Ways" is the chapter on living simply. Fr. Ed Hays uses this scripture from Isaiah to point out that all of our consumerism will not bring us any more satisfaction than in Isaiah's time. We can buy into the consumer machine and then sit there, on the first of January, and wonder where the happiness is. Fr. Ed suggests pulling out an old photo album and thumbing through the pages of it. There, is what is truly important to us. In most cases, we won't see pictures of stuff (although I remember taking pictures of a new-to-us car once). We will see pictures of people. It is the people in our lives that are important to us, not the stuff we accumulate at an alarming rate. The stuff we gather as we buy into the signs of the season will not bring us happiness. In fact, just the opposite is true. Unnecessary stuff is a pulls us down and swallows us up. It does not bring us closer to God. Today, let's really ask ourselves, as Fr. Ed suggests, "Do I really need this? Am I a robber baron if I store away what another might be able to use?" Let's strive to live more simply! (Just as I was typing this I got an email..."Your Amazon Order has Shipped!") Lord, help me! Love, heidi