Friday, January 23, 2015

transformed by the love of God

back window, Carmel de Lisieux, France

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

~From the treatise On Spiritual Perfection 
by Diadochus of Photice

Monday, January 12, 2015

first heard in a TV show

Have you ever experienced that serendipitous synchronicity that happens when you finally identify one idea or insight that has been trying to break through to you--and then you suddenly see it/hear it/recognize it everywhere you go?

That’s how I feel about this certain line that jumped out at me when I heard a song played as background during my favorite TV show (Parenthood).  The song, “Lady Adelaide,” seems to describe what I picture to be a young woman and her struggle with intimacy and relationship (my interpretation). The line that stood out to me declares:

“she likes the ideas of things
more than what they are bound to bring”

“The idea of things” all of a sudden has become a recurring theme for me... in a discussion with my daughter, in my pastor’s weekday homily, and today, in a quote by Mother Teresa:

Jesus wants me to tell you again… how much love he has for each one of you—beyond all you can imagine. I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus—one to one—you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel—but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how he looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus—not from books but from being with him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words he speaks to you? As for the grace; he is longing to give it. Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able to hear him saying, ‘I thirst’ in the hearts of the poor. Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living personnot just the idea (emphasis mine!).

As Mother Teresa’s 1993 letter goes on to emphasize, How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say, ‘I love you’—impossible. Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air. If not, prayer is dead—meditation only thinking. Jesus wants you each to hear him—speaking in the silence of your heart…

My children, you don’t have to be different for Jesus to love you. Only believe—you are precious to him. Bring all you are suffering to his feet—only open your heart to be loved by him as you are. He will do the rest.
~Blessed Teresa of Calcutta,
as quoted in Magnificat,
January 8, 2015.

photos of street art in Valparaiso and Santiago de Chile

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Profiles in Discipleship--Chris Scaperlanda

What a phenomenal video series by #ArchOKC  -- and of course I'm biased to this interview of my son, Christopher! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

the Journey of the Magi, a poem

The Journey of the Magi, 
a poem by T. S. Eliot  
'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly. 
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kiking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory. 
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

T.S. Eliot reading his poem, "Journey of the Magi"--a 
rare recording taken from a live BBC interview broadcasted during World War II.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, el año viejo

As 2014 comes to an end... my prayer for each of you...

 The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!

~from 1st reading for today’s vigil,
Mary Mother of God
Numbers 6:22-27

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

keep your eyes on the Baby

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.
For every boot that tramped in battle,
every cloak rolled in blood,
will be burned as fuel for flames.
For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David’s throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
~Isaiah 9:1-6, 
first reading at Christmas Midnight Mass

As Advent 2014 comes to a close, our family will gather to celebrate the birth of the Child -- the Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace!

But this year, we will not do this together

Some of our family members are in London, some in Tulsa, some in Oklahoma City. So when my brother and Mami arrive, five of us will gather at our table for a Nochebuena dinner here in Norman.
As Michael pointed out to me today, this will be our smallest Christmas setting in our (almost) 33 years of marriage!

Honestly, I am not complaining. I know just how spoiled I am every time we fill up a pew at church with just our family! And I know and truly believe that everyone is where they should be this Christmas. I feel deeply grateful for the meal we're about to share, the family that will be here at this table, and for the Midnight Mass that will follow.

I am also conscious that change continues to define my "new normal." Shoot. It's my only "normal"!

All I know to do is to go back to the basics, and today that means to go to the manger, keep my eyes on the Baby, sit with the newborn King of Kings. 

May we make our hearts a pesebre, a manger, for the Prince of Peace.

I have three new Nativities this year... and two of them are gifts
 from my generous father in law--this one from Haiti. And the one below,
a hipped Joseph! Isn't he great?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

celebrating la Morenita

photo credits here
Even before the sun breaks through the horizon on December 12, the burst of firecrackers ring throughout Mexico to announce the greatest national fiesta of the year—the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

At la Villa de Guadalupe, the National Sanctuary near Tepeyac Hill, pilgrims begin to arrive days earlier to camp out on the Plaza surrounding the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Many travel for days to get there, entering la Villa on their knees as a sign of their devotion and gratitude for la Virgen Morenita’s protection. By nighttime on December 11, millions have already gathered and the monumental atrium leading to the Basilica is standing room only. Much like a family member holding a beloved’s picture close to the heart, the pilgrims carry images of their Mother Guadalupe on their backs, banners and bodies.

For these faithful pilgrims, the chants, ballads and traditional dances that are part of Guadalupe’s liturgical celebrations are well known, having been passed down from generation to generation. 

During the annual dance at Guadalupe Plaza, detailed ballads chanted by elder Indians have chronicled for hundreds of years every aspect of the Guadalupe story: the miracle of the roses; Juan Diego’s account; and the progression and care for the sacred image. Initially communicated only orally, the story of Guadalupe was first recorded through Aztec pictographic chronicles called mapas. The first authored document, “el Nican Mopohua,” was written in 1556 in the official language of the Aztec empire, Náhuatl.

Celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe always culminates with the reenactment of the familiar story. In 1531, just a few decades after Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World, the Mother of God appeared three times to a humble Chichimeca Aztec baptized as Juan Diego. Our Lady asked him to be her special messenger and provided proof of their encounters for a skeptical bishop in the form of two signs: a cloak full of fresh roses in December and a miraculous image of herself on Juan Diego’s tilma, or shawl.

Yet the 483-year-old Guadalupe apparition is not only one of earliest Marian apparitions. It is also the only time in history that Our Lady has shared her portrait.

[from my article -- "Our Lady of Guadalupe" -- published