Friday, December 14, 2012

God’s Greatest Gift



The greatest thing God could give us was life – not only human life but a sharing in His own life.  This mystery is called grace.  Grace affects us at the very roots of our being.  We are as new as the day we were first created.  Yet the newness is not something “added” or laid on top of what we already are.  It soaks our nature, permeates our being – if we let it.  This means that the very power whereby God loves is our power.  The very wisdom and intelligence with which God loves is ours.  The very giving and going out, the generosity and feeling is all ours, for what is in God is in us, not by some kind of distant imitation but by our participation in God’s own life.
            Jesus showed us this life of grace that is God’s love.  He won for us our new creation through His own Spirit so that we can live the life of God in human form, as Jesus did.  God did not give us Jesus “outside” of ourselves only – a man who lived two thousand years ago – of even the Risen Christ “up there” on the altar.  God gives us Himself, Jesus, His Spirit inside us as fire is inside wood without being the same as the wood.
            If we let it, and in accord with our human limitations, we experience this new creation in our very being.  No transforming power surpasses the power of love.  A man or woman in love is a new person.  So are we, if we let God’s gracious gift of His own life soak into us.

“To Live as Francis Lived,” St. Anthony Messenger Press, Pg 19.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Daddy's Poem



Her hair was up in a pony tail,
Her favorite dress tied with a bow.
Today was Daddy's Day at school,
And she couldn't wait to go.

But her mommy tried to tell her,
That she probably should stay home.
Why the kids might not understand,
If she went to school alone.

But she was not afraid;
She knew just what to say.
What to tell her classmates
Of why he wasn't there today.

But still her mother worried,
For her to face this day alone.
And that was why once again,
She tried to keep her daughter home.

But the little girl went to school
Eager to tell them all.
About a dad she never sees
A dad who never calls.

There were daddies along the wall in back,
For everyone to meet.
Children squirming impatiently,
Anxious in their seats

One by one the teacher called
A student from the class.
To introduce their daddy,
As seconds slowly passed.

At last the teacher called her name,
Every child turned to stare.
Each of them was searching,
A man who wasn't there.

'Where's her daddy at?'
She heard a boy call out.
'She probably doesn't have one,'
Another student dared to shout.

And from somewhere near the back,
She heard a daddy say,
'Looks like another deadbeat dad,
Too busy to waste his day.'

The words did not offend her,
As she smiled up at her Mom.
And looked back at her teacher,
Who told her to go on.

And with hands behind her back,
Slowly she began to speak.
And out from the mouth of a child,
Came words incredibly unique.

'My Daddy couldn't be here,
Because he lives so far away.
But I know he wishes he could be,
Since this is such a special day.

And though you cannot meet him,
I wanted you to know.
All about my daddy,
And how much he loves me so.

He loved to tell me stories
He taught me to ride my bike.
He surprised me with pink roses,
And taught me to fly a kite.

We used to share fudge sundaes,
And ice cream in a cone.
And though you cannot see him.
I'm not standing here alone.

'Cause my daddy's always with me,
Even though we are apart
I know because he told me,
He'll forever be in my heart'

With that, her little hand reached up,
And lay across her chest.
Feeling her own heartbeat,
Beneath her favorite dress.

And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads,
Her mother stood in tears.
Proudly watching her daughter,
Who was wise beyond her years!

For she stood up for the love
Of a man not in her life.
Doing what was best for her,
Doing what was right.

And when she dropped her hand back down,
Staring straight into the crowd.
She finished with a voice so soft,
But its message clear and loud.

'I love my daddy very much,
he's my shining star.
And if he could, he'd be here,
But heaven's just too far.

You see he is a soldier
And died just this past year
When a roadside bomb hit his convoy
And taught Canadians to fear.

But sometimes when I close my eyes,
it's like he never went away.'
And then she closed her eyes,
And saw him there that day.

And to her mothers amazement,
She witnessed with surprise.
A room full of daddies and children,
All starting to close their eyes.

Who knows what they saw before them,
Who knows what they felt inside?
Perhaps for merely a second,
They saw him at her side.

'I know you're with me Daddy,'
To the silence she called out.
And what happened next made believers,
Of those once filled with doubt.

Not one in that room could explain it,
For each of their eyes had been closed.
But there on the desk beside her,
Was a fragrant long-stemmed rose.

And a child was blessed, if only for a moment,
By the love of her shining star.
And given the gift of believing,
That heaven is never too far.

Angels in Indiana



In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.
Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.
It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.
When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.  I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boy’s pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.  Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.
As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

Friday, December 7, 2012

God's Christmas List



Dear children,
It has come to My attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival; although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just get along and love one another. Now, having said that let Me go on.
If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be plenty of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our rolls are. If you have forgot that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present to remember My birth, here is my wish list:

  1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to the soldiers far away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me about it all the time.
  2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
  3. Instead of writing your boss complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.
  4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
  5. Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
  6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting a local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.
  7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
  8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love & Good News to those who have never heard of Me. You may already know some like that.
  9. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect you don't) buy some food & a few gifts; give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity that believes in Me & they will make the delivery for you.
  10. If you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of Mine.
LOVE,

GOD
P.S. Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself.  Just love Me and I'll take care of the rest.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Liturgy Of The Hours

The conference's Committee on Divine Worship recommended the action in light of new liturgical texts. The vote at the general assembly of bishops' during the November 13 morning session in Baltimore passed the proposal by 189 to 41, with one abstention. The vote means the Committee on Divine Worship will begin translation and editing. It will present a full draft to the conference when its work is completed. The new edition will include:
  • Changes in light of the new edition of the Roman Missal
  • Hymns will use English translations of Latin Hymns provided by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
  • Psalms will come from the Revised Grail Psalter, translated by the Benedictines at Conception Abbey in Missouri.
  • Canticles from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospel may use the current translation, an updated translation from the New American Bible; or new translations from Conception Abbey.
  • Biblical reading will be adjusted according to approved texts.

      The current edition of the Liturgy of the Hours was published in 1975 and 1976 by Catholic Book Publishing, with a 1992 supplement. The Liturgical Commission develops the following books:
  • Franciscan Rituals
  • Guide for Franciscan Liturgical Celebration
  • Franciscan Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Franciscan Martyrology.

At this point in time there is no final publication date for the supplements. (Three to five years?). If you are in need of supplements, 2013 Guides and/or covers - contact Franciscan Media at 1-800-488-0488. They are the sole supplier at the present time.