Thursday, December 13, 2018

when you find yourself standing at the edge of an ocean

With music on the harp and all stringed instruments; sing out with joy as you proclaim: the works of God are all of them good.
~Sirach 39:16

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Our holy seasons always ought to be something special. They are really holy mysteries, and they should awaken a mystery as echo, as consideration, as prayer, in our minds and in our hearts.

The theme…is that, somehow man will be confronted with the Last Things, will be placed in the final order, will face the definitive questions, and definitive answers will be expected of him.  Whenever the Church dons solemn purple vestments, it always means that serious questions are being set forth and we are facing the great connections, the principles of universal validity… This means that we think about man, about ourselves, from the perspective of the ultimate reality and, in so doing, become ready—really ready—to encounter and respond to Him, the Ultimate, in an appropriate way, as befits a creature encountering the [Absolute] Ultimate.”

~Alfred Delp, S.J. in
Advent of the Heart:
Seasonal Sermons and Prison Writings

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Advent may be my favorite of all liturgical seasons.

We are eagerly waiting for Christmas, yes. But we are also getting ready, our homes and, hopefully, our hearts.

I think life is like Advent. We are always getting ready for what comes next, praying that we learn to notice God in the every day of life, and begging that our hearts awaken to His voice within us—now.

What do you think of the quote above? I have been ingesting and chewing on Father Alfred Delp’s words on Advent for several years now—off and on.  And I am struck by the reality that the personal confrontation with “definitive questions” that Father Delp notes as intrinsic to holy seasons, is not only relevant for Advent, but it also applies rather well to significant, major life events in my life.

Major life moments—the birth of a baby, a major crisis, the death of a parentbecome our very own, personal, intimate, holy “seasons.” Much like the liturgical "purple seasons," these moments confront us in a very poignant way, challenging us to meet head-on the ultimate questions about life and its meaning.

I first thought about this four years ago, as I mourned the death of my dad. In a very real way, the months that followed his sudden death reminded me of that feeling when I’m standing in the waves at the edge of the ocean—and I begin to loose my footing. With every wave, my feet sink deeper and deeper into the wet sand as the water threatens to topple me over. It’s the epitome of the phrase, loosing my footing!

That time was most certainly a “holy season,” one that demanded that I confront deep questions and fears, even doubts, about death, and about my certainty regarding the meaning of life—both now and in the hereafter.

Whether I admitted it out loud, God already knew that along with the sadness and grieving, my spirit was swimming in questions. What do I really believe? Why are we here? Why death? How confident and certain am I about the “Absolute Ultimate”? Is it okay to acknowledge doubt?

At the end of the day, at least today, all I can do is kneel humbly before God… right in the midst of this holy mystery that is my life.

I don’t have to have it all figured out. I am waiting—and getting ready.

[all photos from our Holy Land pilgrimage!
© Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, 2018]

Monday, December 3, 2018

because God is specially in the stillness

“Amen, I say to you,
unless you turn and become like children,
 you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

~Gospel of Matthew 18: 2-3

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The reason why we are with these particular people is because it is precisely to these people that Christ wants us to give his love. This year we are his trustees for these people; he has put his love for them into our hands, into our hearts. We did not choose this place—Christ has chosen it. We did not choose these people—Christ has chosen them.

We are asked one thing: to have the humility and courage to open the secret place of our heart to Christ, conscious though we are that it is as derelict as the stable, and that his light will reveal the mouse and the spider.”

~Caryll Houselander,
from “Lift up your hearts,”
as quoted in Magnificat,
December 3, 2018

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"Lord, give me the heart of a child 
and the awesome courage to live it out"
~Catherine Doherty

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I have had more than my fair share of “still” days lately, working hard to do my part to let my body recover, heal, and regain strength after fighting off -- first strep, then Thanksgiving busyness, and now pneumonia.

So many days at home – and not running around “preparing for the holidays,” as commercial after commercial insists as necessary, is not my normal.

Yet here I am, sitting by a warm fire, listening to music, being quiet, and pondering what may be the many lessons that I am learning. And I have to be honest, I’ve got nothing!

Not one. Zip. Nada.

What I do know is that all this extra “rest” time: napping, watching Lifetime Christmas movies and basketball--with some football in between, has somehow distanced me enough from my usual point of reference to make me mellow, softer maybe.

It has shifted me enough to help me “notice,” pay attention, a little quicker than normal.

So this morning, when I read Carryl Houselander’s reflection in Magnificat, I smiled remembering an “Aha!” moment I experienced long ago, in another life.

It was the awe I felt the first time I realized that these “people in our lives who are given to us to love,” as Carryl suggests, also included -- and indeed, must include, my very own awesome foursome, my children! 

God doesn’t waste any details.

God chose each of my children to be my child. Therefore, through each of those relationships, with each struggle and stage, and in every acceptance, surrender,  and delight… precisely through it all, rests my personal path to holiness and my salvation.

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Note:  photos are of my Grands, who continue to teach me and help me grow ❤️

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

if I could always just think of Him

"What I am asking for is really very ridiculous. Oh Lord, I am saying, at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But then God can do that--make mystics out of cheeses. But why should He do it for an ingrate slothful & dirty creature like me. I can't stay in the church to say a Thanksgiving even, and as for preparing for Communion the night before--thoughts all elsewhere. The rosary is mere rote for me while I think of other and usually impious things. But I would like to be a mystic and immediately.

But dear God please give me some place, no matter how small, but let me know it and keep it. If I am the one to wash the second step everyday, let me know it and let me wash it and let my heart overflow with love washing it.

God loves us, God needs us. My soul too. So then take it dear God because it knows that You are all it should want and if it were wise You would be all it would want, and it wants more and more to want You. Its demands are absurd. It’s a moth who would be king, a stupid slothful thing, a foolish thing, who wants God, who made the earth, to be its Lover. Immediately.

If I could only hold God in my mind. If I could only always just think of Him."

Thursday, November 22, 2018

when change itself becomes your prayer!

Antigua, Guatemala

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  
~Philippians 4:6-7
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I’m sorry for the radio silence.  

There have been so many changes, all packed with much to process, emotionally, spiritually—and you know how long it takes me to do that!

Did you know that every single day we lose two minutes of sunlight. That’s a fact. I have to confess that having less sunlight messes with me.

I genuinely want to rejoice and be grateful and enjoy life and even embrace
 its many changes, especially this week as our family gathers around the table and each other. 

So perhaps it’s time I give myself a break and simply embrace the swing in my prayer from “Lord, I desire to surrender all… embrace all” to the more ornery but realistic, “Lord, I desire to desire (or even desire to desire to desire) to surrender all… embrace all"!!

Truth be told, that’s the first thing I’m grateful for, the fact that God takes me as I am, where I am, every time.  And for now, that is enough of a prayer!!

Two more things. 

First, a question. Are you interested in receiving a FREE digital version of Magnificat Magazine’s Advent Companion? If so, just drop me an email or leave a message here or on Facebook. I have a hand full of codes to give away, and you could be the one to get one!! 

Finally, my wish and prayer for each of you as we bring another liturgical year to a close this coming weekend is that you may be blown away this week by the awareness of God’s presence in your life! 

So keep an eye out for Him. He’s dying to be seen.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and weekend my friends!


Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day’s work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

~Charles Reznikoff in “The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink