Keep your eyes open!...


December 22, 2011 



(Luk 2:15)  And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.

FATHER GERRY KANE: "Christmas is not just for children, far from it (look at the number of parents at the Nativity play – think of parish carol services, the multiplication of Messiahs , even Christmas Mass). But in a time of confusion such as ours, children are guardians of the simplicity and the truth at the heart of the story".

"That is why the Christmas story is so important. And so hopeful. And visiting schools is such a privilege for me. Because the wonder of this Christmas story is eternally fresh. I have my take on it this year directly from children: God is being born. Simple. True".

: The Manger and the Cross - Calvary Begins in Bethlehem

POPE BENEDICT XVI: "Both Christmas and Easter are feasts of redemption. Easter celebrates redemption as a victory over sin and death. It marks the culminating moment when the glory of the Man-God shines like the light of day. Christmas celebrates redemption as the entry of God into history, when He became man in order to bring man to God. It marks, so to speak, the starting point when the first light of dawn begins to appear".

"Even the seasons of the year in which these two great feasts fall, at least in some areas of the world, can help us understand this aspect. Easter coincides with the beginning of spring when the sun triumphs over the cold and the fog and renews the face of the earth. Christmas comes at the very beginning of winter when the light and heat of the sun are unable to awaken nature, covered in a shroud of cold under which, nonetheless, life is pulsating".


: Christmas Traditions Around the World- How "Merry Christmas" is said .....

DIVINE MERCY: St Faustina’s Christmas

St. Faustina truly loved Christmas. For her, Christmas was about the birth of Jesus, the promised Messiah. As a poor nun, living far from her home, she probably didn’t receive many gifts. If you read the Christmas passages in the Diary, on every occasion, Jesus told her that her heart was His delight and His resting place. These words of love from Jesus must have been the greatest gift St. Faustina could have ever received.

Like many great saints, she also had beautiful visions of Jesus as a small child during Christmas. On Christmas Day, 1934 during Midnight Mass, the child Jesus appeared on the Altar dressed in a white pinafore. She described Him as “incomparably beautiful” and said “the whole time the Infant kept looking at everyone, stretching out His little hands”. (Diary 347) St. Faustina also saw Mary holding her child during this Mass, which she told St. Faustina was the “secret of her happiness”. (Diary 346) If you’ve ever held a new born baby, you will understand the powerful feelings this can stir. It must have been truly amazing for Joseph & Mary to know they were holding the Messiah in their arms that glorious night.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

27. There is nothing sweeter and milder, and at the same time stronger and more efficacious than the gentle unction of the burning charity of this lovable Heart, to convert the most hardened souls and to penetrate the most unfeeling hearts.

December 20, 2011

(Luk 1:34-38) And Mary said to the angel: How shall this be done, because I know not man? And the angel answering, said to her: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And behold thy cousin Elizabeth, she also hath conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her that is called barren. Because no word shall be impossible with God. And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.


The Pope introduced the Marian prayer with a reflection on the importance of Mary's virginity. Recalling the words of the Prophet Isaiah: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel", he explained how "this ancient promise was abundantly fulfilled in the incarnation of the Son of God. Not only did the Virgin Mary conceive, but she did so by the Holy Spirit; that is, by God Himself. The human being Who began life in her womb took Mary's flesh, but His existence derived entirely from God".

"The fact that Mary conceived while remaining a virgin is, then, essential for an understanding of Jesus and of our faith. It is a testament to the fact that the initiative was God's and, above all, it reveals Who the person conceived is. As the Gospel says, 'the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the son of God'. In this perspective, Mary's virginity and Jesus' divinity are warranties of one another".

The Holy Father continued: "God awaited the 'yes' of this young girl in order to achieve His plan. He respected her dignity and her freedom. ... Mary's virginity is unique and unrepeatable, but its spiritual significance concerns all Christians, ... because those who have profound trust in the love of God welcome Jesus and His divine life into their own lives, by the action of the Holy Spirit. This is the mystery of Christmas".

Following the Angelus, Benedict XVI expressed his concern for people in the southern Philippines where a tropical storm has caused great loss of human life and material damage. "I pray for the victims, of whom so many are children, for the homeless and the missing", he said.

: THE VIRGINITY OF OUR LADY IN PARTU: The Painless, Miraculous Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ

NCR: An Augustine Christmas: 10 Comments on the Incarnation of Christ

: What You Believe Makes a Difference

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

26. I seem to be as a little drop of water in the ocean of the Sacred Heart, Which is a deep of every kind of blessing, an inexhaustible fount of delight; the more one draws from this source, the more abundantly It flows.

December 15, 2011


(Luk 2:6-7) And it came to pass that when they were there, her days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn.

: Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation

BISHOP MICHAEL PFEIFER: Important Questions for the Advent Season

- How am I offering my humanity to Jesus during this Advent season?
- How is Jesus growing in my life each day, especially as I try to share Christ's love with others?
- How am I carrying Christ in my heart to where he wants to be and go each day through me?
- How is the work of my hands, as I go about my daily tasks and endeavors, becoming the word made flesh?
- How am I practicing patience during this time of waiting for our Savior?

DR. KREEFT: On the Topic of Heaven

: Reflection by Father Ted - December 12, 2011

My dearest Lord Jesus, on this glorious feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, You have much to teach me – and others.

First of all, You remind me that Mary, your Mother, is also my mother, who cares for me very much.

Although She has never appeared to me, through her apparitions to others, You teach me that She, like You, are very concerned for me and for my true happiness.

I too, am her beloved little son – just like Juan Diego.

And like Juan Diego, I too have a mission in life or should I say – missions.

And like Juan Diego, I may and often do, find difficulties in accomplishing some of these missions.

But if I persevere and follow Your directions – which You give to me through her or through others, the missions that You have for me will be accomplished.

Like Juan Diego, I may experience some extraordinary occurrences – like he did when he found the Castilian roses in bloom on Tepayac. But many times I will not.

Juan Diego obeyed our Lady. He went to the bishop with the roses – which had been arranged by our Lady. He did not allow others to see the flowers – as She had insisted.

And when he did show them to the bishop You provided a greater miracle than the roses to take place when You placed the image of our Lady upon his tilma – with all of its magnificent details.

Although that was a great miracle – which we can enjoy viewing even today, there was a greater miracle that would take place – the conversion of six million Aztecs within the next six years.

The Aztecs had resisted the evangelical efforts of the holy Franciscans in Mexico up to the miracle of the image of Our Lady on the tilma of Juan Diego.

But as a result of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe the Aztecs became open to Your graces.

What also ended was their practice of human sacrifices.

Dearest Jesus, through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe and of Saint Juan Diego, help us today, not only in America, but also throughout the entire world, to become open to Your call to holiness and to the end of our horrendous practice of abortion.

We need her intercessory help. We need Your graces to stop our immoral practices and to become the saints You desire us to be.

Our Lady of Guadalupe help us! Saint Juan Diego pray for us!

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

25. My divine Master has taught me to look upon myself only as the sport of the good pleasure of His adorable Heart, my sole treasure, and in this it is that I must glory.

December 14, 2011

(Job 23:15-17) And therefore I am troubled at his presence, and when I consider him I am made pensive with fear. God hath softened my heart, and the Almighty hath troubled me. For I have not perished because of the darkness that hangs over me, neither hath the mist covered my face.

REFLECTION: John of the Cross: An Advent Saint

MEDITATION: ‘The pain now is part of the happiness then.’ That’s the deal

UNIVERSALIS.COM: The Ascent of Mount Carmel, by St John of the Cross In Christ, God has spoken to us

The principal reason why the Old Law permitted us to ask questions of God, and why prophets and priests had to seek visions and revelations of God, was because at that time faith had no firm foundation and the law of the Gospel was not yet established; and thus it was necessary that men should enquire of God and that he should speak, whether by words or by visions and revelations or whether by figures and images or by many other ways of expressing His meaning. For all that he answered and revealed belonged to the mysteries of our faith and things touching it or leading to it.

  But now that the faith is founded in Christ, now that in this era of grace the law of the Gospel has been made manifest, there is no reason to enquire of God in that manner nor for him to speak to us or answer us as he did then. For, in giving us, as he did, his Son, who is his one and only Word, he spoke to us once and for all, in this single Word, and he has no occasion to speak further.

  And this is the meaning of that passage with which the Letter to the Hebrews begins, trying to persuade the Hebrews that they should abandon those first ways of dealing and communicating with God which are in the law of Moses, and should set their eyes on Christ alone: At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, in the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son. That is, God has said so much about so many things through his Word that nothing more is needed, since that which he revealed partially in the past through the prophets, he has now revealed completely by giving us the All, which is his Son.

  Therefore if someone were now to ask questions of God or seek any vision or revelation, he would not only be acting foolishly but would be committing an offence against God – for he should set his eyes altogether upon Christ and seek nothing beyond Christ.

  God might answer him after this manner, saying: This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. I have spoken all things to you in my Word. Set your eyes on him alone, for in him I have spoken and revealed to thee all things, and in him you shall find more than you ask for, even more than you want.

  I descended upon him with my Spirit on Mount Tabor and said This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him. You have no reason to ask for new teaching or new answers from me because if I spoke to you in the past then it was to promise Christ. If people asked questions of me in the past then their questions were really a desire of Christ and a hope for his coming. For in him they were to find all good things, as has now been revealed in the teaching of the Evangelists and the Apostles.

MOUNT SAINT MARY HOUSE OF PRAYERAdvent Poem by St. John of the Cross

If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy, and say,
"I need shelter for the night,
please take me inside your heart, my time is so close."
Then, under the roof of your soul,
you will witness the sublime intimacy,
the divine, the Christ, taking birth forever,
as she grasps your hand for help,
for each of us is the midwife of God, each of us.
Yes there, under the dome of your being
does creation come into existence eternally,
through your womb, dear pilgrim - the sacred womb of your soul,
as God grasps our arms for help:
for each of us is his beloved servant, never far.
If you want, the Virgin will come walking down the street
pregnant with Light and sing...

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

26. I seem to be as a little drop of water in the ocean of the Sacred Heart, Which is a deep of every kind of blessing, an inexhaustible fount of delight; the more one draws from this source, the more abundantly It flows.

December 12, 2011
(Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe)

(Rev 12:1-2) And a great sign appeared in heaven: A woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. And being with child, she cried travailing in birth: and was in pain to be delivered.

DEVOTEE: “You don't have to go to a priest, a monk, a deacon or preacher.  She is everywhere you want her to be, in your living room, in your moments of struggles, like when you call your mother.”

CATHOLIC HERALD: Our Lady of Guadalupe is the essence of what evangelisation should be about

TRACT: Our Lady of Guadalupe

VIDEO: The Mysterious Eyes Of Our Lady of Guadalupe

MORE: According to many scientists who have inspected the image, it seems that in her eyes, in both of them and in the precise location as reflected by a live human eye, could be seen many figures that have been extensively analyzed and seem to correspond to the shape and size of human figures located in front of the image. In 1929, Alfonso Marcue, who was the official photographer of the old Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, found what seemed to him to be a clear image of a bearded man reflected in the right eye of the Virgin.  Initially he did not believe what was before his eyes.  How could it be?  A bearded man inside of the eyes of the Virgin?.  After many inspections of many of his black and white photographs he had no doubts and decided to inform the authorities of the Basilica.  He was told that time to keep complete silence about the discovery, which he did. More than 20 years later, on May 29, 1951, Jose Carlos Salinas Chavez, examining a good photograph of the face, rediscovers the image of what clearly appears to be a bearded man reflected in the right eye of the Virgin, and locates it on the left eye too.

Since then, many people had the opportunity to inspect closely the eyes of the Virgin on the tilma, including more than 20 physicians, ophthalmologists. The first one, on March 27, 1956, was Dr.  Javier Torroella Bueno, MDS, a prestigious ophthalmologist.  In what is the first report on the eyes of the image issued by a physician, he certifies what seems to be the presence of the triple reflection (Samson-Purkinje effect) characteristic of all live human eyes and states that the resulting images are located exactly where they are supossed to be according to such effect, and also that the distortion of the images agree with the curvature of the cornea.

The same year another ophthalmologist, Dr. Rafael Torrija Lavoignet, examined the eyes of the image with an ophthalmoscope in great detail.  He observed the apparent human figure in the corneas of both eyes, with the location and distortion of a normal human eye and specially noted a unique appearance of the eyes: they look strangely "alive" when examined. Many other examinations by ophthalmologists have been done of the eyes of the image on the tilma after these first ones.  With more or less details all agree with the conclusions of the ones mentioned above.

According to Dr.  Tonsmann, from left to right we can see "the Indian", "bishop Zumarraga", the "translator", "Juan Diego showing the tilma" and below "the family". A new and interesting kind of analysis of the eyes started in 1979, when Dr.  Jose Aste Tonsmann, Ph D, graduated from Cornell University, while working in IBM scanned at very high resolutions a very good photograph, taken from the original, of the face on the tilma.  After filtering and processing the digitized images of the eyes to eliminate "noise" and enhance them, he reports he made some astonishing discoveries: not only the "human bust" was clearly present in both eyes, but another human figures were seen as reflected in the eyes too. Dr.  Aste Tonsmann published his last studies on the eyes on the tilma in the book "El Secreto de sus Ojos", with complete details and photographs of his work .  Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the studies is his conclusion that Our Lady of Guadalupe not only left us her miraculous image as proof of her apparition but some important messages too.  These messages were hidden in the eyes on the image until our times, when new technologies would allow them to be discovered, when they are most necessary. That would be the case with the image of a family in the center of the Virgin's eye, in times when families are under serious attack in our modern world.  The image of various human figures that seem to constitute a family, including various children and a baby carried in the woman's back as used in the 16th century, appears in the center of the pupil, as shown in this great image of the right eye highlighting the family, generously provided by Dr. Tonsmann.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

25. My divine Master has taught me to look upon myself only as the sport of the good pleasure of His adorable Heart, my sole treasure, and in this it is that I must glory.

December 6, 2011


(Gen 3:15) I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall cursh thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

ROME REPORTS: Vatican's Secret Archives to show documents of the Immaculate Conception and of St. Bernadette

ST. LOUIS REVIEW: Feast of Immaculate Conception celebrates Mary's sinless nature

The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holy day of obligation, will be observed Thursday, Dec.  8.

The feast celebrates the truth, declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was conceived without original sin.  Because Mary was free from inheriting the guilt of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve, only she was worthy and freely disposed to be the mother of the savior, the Mother of God.

Popularly, it is one of the oldest Marian feasts, dating back to the seventh century.  In 1846, Mary was proclaimed patroness of the United States under this title.  By her faith, obedience and holiness, she teaches what it means to be a bearer of Christ to the world.

MORE:  Few doctrines of the Catholic Church are as misunderstood as the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Many people, including many Catholics, think that it refers to the conception of Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. That event, though, is celebrated at the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord (March 25, nine months before Christmas). What is the Immaculate Conception?”

“The Immaculate Conception refers to the condition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was free from Original Sin from the very moment of her conception in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne,” the Catholic dogma states.

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated on September 8 which is exactly nine months before December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr. John Hardon, S.J., in his Modern Catholic Dictionary, said that: "Neither the Greek nor Latin Fathers explicitly taught the Immaculate Conception, but they professed it implicitly."

Many centuries had passed before the Catholic Church recognized the Immaculate Conception as a doctrine. It was during the papacy of Pope Pius IX that the Immaculate Conception was declared as a dogma on December 8, 1854.

In the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX wrote that "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

Father Hardon said that the Blessed Virgin's "freedom from sin was an unmerited gift of God or special grace, and an exception to the law, or privilege, which no other created person has received."

Another misconception people have is that Mary's Immaculate Conception was necessary to ensure that Original Sin would not be passed on to Christ. This has never been a part of the teaching on the Immaculate Conception; rather, the Immaculate Conception represents Christ's saving grace operating in Mary in anticipation of His redemption of man and in God's foreknowledge of Mary's acceptance of His Will for her,” the Catholic Dogma says.

“In other words, the Immaculate Conception was not a precondition for Christ's act of redemption but the result of it. It is the concrete expression of God's love for Mary, who gave herself fully, completely, and without hesitation to His service,” it added.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

23. He has so fashioned and destined me for His all-lovable Heart, that He alone is all my joy, my consolation, my treasure and my happiness; and apart from Him all else is as nothing to me.

December 6, 2011

(Isa 40:3-5) The voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness the paths of our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough ways plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh together shall see, that the mouth of the Lord hath spoken.

PRAYING ADVENT 2011: The Second Week of Advent

ONLINE RESOURCE: Full text of "Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent and Christmas : including the famous treatise on the Incarnation called "Missus est""

PHILIPPINES DAILY INQUIRER: Advent is about waiting that is joyful, other-centered by Fr. Tito Caluag

The two great feasts of the Catholic Church are preceded by a period of preparation. Christmas, which celebrates the humanity of Christ, is ushered in by the Advent season, and Easter, which celebrates the divinity of Christ, has the Lenten season as its preparatory period. Both periods of preparation is a time to reflect and pray, a time for repentance and reconnecting with God.

The dictionary defines advent as the coming of an important person or event, and Advent, as a religious term, as “the birth of Christ, the second coming of Christ, the season including the four Sundays before Christmas.” For our purpose, i.e., for reflection and prayer, we will look at Advent as the coming of Christ into our life or a renewal of our relationship with Christ, especially the Christ who is Word Incarnate, the God-with-us, the Emmanuel.

Advent is always associated with the concept of waiting, a waiting characterized by joyful expectation. The late Fr. Jim Donelan, S.J., our Juniorate professor in the seminary, has a homily entitled “The Sacrament of Waiting.” He opens with these lines:

“The English poet John Milton once wrote that those who serve stand and wait. I think I would go further and say that those who wait render the highest form of service. Waiting requires more discipline, more self-control and emotional maturity, more unshakeable faith in our cause, more unwavering hope in the future, more sustaining love in our hearts than all the great deeds of derring-do that go by the name of action.”


Discipline, self-control and emotional maturity are qualities we would not normally associate with a seemingly mundane task such as waiting. These, though, are the qualities of waiting that Advent exhorts us to develop. But allow me to give these qualities one focus, which is the discipline, self-control and emotional maturity that makes one grow from being self-centered to other-centered.

I recall Fr. Donelan’s example in class when we discussed his homily on waiting. He differentiated between the person who impatiently waits, complaining how the delay has inconvenienced him/her, and the person who patiently waits, trusting that the other who is late has a good reason, or even waiting with concern for the other hoping that nothing unfortunate has happened to the other.

Much more than we imagine, waiting does require tremendous other-centeredness—and thus great discipline, self-control and emotional maturity. For us adults, we call such patiently waiting, but for an innocent child, it is waiting with joyful expectation, childlike awe and wonder as he/she waits for the “surprise” to reveal itself.

Last year, I bought a Christmas decoration for my five-year old ward. It was a stuffed toy Christmas tree that danced to a Christmas carol when you pressed it. I had it wrapped, since the little boy enjoyed opening gifts.

You could see the childlike awe and wonder in his face when he saw the wrapped gift. Then his eyes continued to sparkle in anticipation of seeing the gift itself. He removed the card from the gift, untied the ribbon, tore the wrapper, and opened the box. At that moment, when the gift revealed itself, he exclaimed, “Wow, a Christmas toy! Thank you, E!” The waiting that is other-centered, this still surprises us with joy and gratitude and allows us to be childlike again to welcome the child Jesus in our life. It moves us to embrace life’s giftedness.


There is a saying in Filipino, “naghihintay sa wala” (literally, waiting for nothing; waiting in vain). The opposite is the power of the Christian waiting. It is to wait in faith and hope. The “unshakable faith in our cause” and the “unwavering hope for the future” are what define the Christian spirit, and which the Advent season makes us remember and renew.

In the Nazi concentration camps of World War II, it was later on discovered that those who survived the ordeal did so because they all believed they still had something meaningful to do in their life. Whether it was to see and be reunited with family and loved ones or to fight for a cause, these were the survivors whose human spirit could not be crushed by the cruelest of human acts. This is the power of waiting in faith and hope.

The season of Advent is a time of waiting. It is a waiting that renews our hope, that things can work in our communities and things can be better in our Philippine society. It is a waiting that reconnects us with the deepest values that we hold dear as a people, our love for family and our faith in God; values which make us desire for freedom and a better life.

But perhaps there is more to believe in and to hope for. Perhaps our waiting invites us to go beyond “the great deeds of derring-do that go by the name of action” and bring to life the “more sustaining love in our hearts.”

It is a time for renewal. We look around us and hope for better things; search for people and institutions to believe in; long for meaning and a mission worth dedicating our life to with great love. There is much to hope for and work on. This Advent we can start to “be the change we want to see in our world.”

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

22. Were it but possible for me to reveal the infinite riches that are hidden in this precious treasure, with which He enriches and benefits His faithful friends! Could we but understand, we should spare no pains to procure Him the satisfaction He so ardently desires.

December 1, 2011


(Mat 7:24-27) Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock, And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock. And every one that heareth these my words and doth them not, shall be like a foolish man that built his house upon the sand, And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall thereof.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In the spirit of the commentary below, the Trib Times will be updated with less frequency during the Advent season.  Updates will concentrate less on "signs of the times" news events and instead focus on "The Reason for the Season".

MEDITATION: Advent offers reprieve from difficult news cycle by Rev. Bill Haley

Thank God November is over!  Following the news on the domestic front alone has felt like being dragged through the mud with every breaking story.   The month opened with too much about Kim Kardashian, and ended with yet another sex abuse scandal, this one at Syracuse.  In the weeks between, we were bombarded with Jerry Sandusky and Penn State, multiple scandals surrounding Herman Cain, the spectacle of the early Republican debates, the embarrassing failure of the congressional super committee to reach an agreement, the NBA also being unable to work it out, the Occupy Wall Street movement turning violent, people being pepper-sprayed at Walmart on Black Friday in California along with similar incidents in six other states, and the stock market at its worst Thanksgiving slide since 1932.  Throughout the month even Justin Bieber was fighting paternity allegations. 

Combine this with international news including Syria, the euro, Pakistan, and Silvio Berlusconi, and the impact has been to make one feel a bit depressed by the state our race.

Enduring this past month’s news cycle calls to mind the observation by Reinhold Neibuhr, that “the doctrine of original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.”

But the Christian faith does not dwell on this doctrine forever, merely pointing out sin and proclaiming hopelessness from on high. Every year, as surely as December follows November, November gives way to Advent. 

Most years, including this one, the last Sunday of November is the first Sunday of Advent, and for the next four weeks Christians will wait to celebrate Christmas and remember the birth of Jesus.  Advent comes from the Latin adventus or “coming.” It is the church’s liturgical season of waiting, hoping, and preparing for coming of  the One who will make it all right.  Christians and Jews have much in common, and this is one of them:  We wait together for the Messiah.

Speaking to an ecumenical gathering including hundreds of Christians, the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber once said, “All of us believe in the Messiah. Except you think that He has come already and will come again. We Jews believe He hasn't come yet.   So I propose to you: Let's wait together and when He does come we shall simply ask Him, ‘Have You been here before?’''   Buber went on to say he hoped to be close enough to the Messiah to whisper “Don’t answer!”

Indeed, Christians believe the Messiah has come once, and by observing Advent each year, in the words of the Catholic Catechism, the church “makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.”

Christians marking Advent through December look back to the birth of Jesus, of course, but they are also looking forward to the coming of Jesus, “a light shining in the darkness” again.    Unlike original sin, this doctrine of the Christian faith is less empirically verifiable.  It is a matter of exactly that, of faith.

This faith is a profound source of hope for its adherents, a hope that burns even more brightly in dark seasons.  Regardless of what’s going on in the news, we believe that sex scandals, selfishness, violence, and greed are not the end of the story.  For these four weeks of Advent, Christians focus our attention on Jesus who taught against such things, modeled an entirely different way of life, and calls all people in Bono’s words, “to tear a little corner off the darkness”.   During Advent we ponder Jesus once again, and wait for him, and redouble our efforts to be like him in this current season and news cycle when light is such a needed, and welcome, contrast.

Thoughts and Sayings of Saint Margaret Mary: The Holy Eucharist

21. Would that I could exhaust myself in acts of thanksgiving and gratitude towards this divine Heart, for the great favor He shows us, in deigning to accept our help to make Him known, loved and honored; He reserves infinite blessings for all those who devote themselves to this work.
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Jubilee 2000: Bringing the World to Jesus

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