Keep your eyes open!...


Christmas Week, 2014  



(Luk 1:31-33) Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb and shalt bring forth a son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father: and he shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever. And of his kingdom there shall be no end.


POPE FRANCIS (2013): The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom, he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst.


ALETEIA: The Best Christmas Music You've Never Heard: Goosebumps Guaranteed , You've Never Heard "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" Like This Before

: Creighton University's Online Ministries

Some of us, might be really looking forward to Christmas, and not be aware of these struggles with Christmas, yet feel that, in spite of our best efforts to make Advent different this year, there is still something missing, and we still feel unready for Christmas.

For all of us, the story behind these days can draw us in, and invite us to bring our lives to the mystery of how Jesus came into this world and why. Our best preparation for the Holy Night ahead and the Joyful Morning to follow is for us to reflect upon how he came. He came in the midst of scandal and conflict. He came in poverty. He was rejected before he was born. He was born in a feed trough. He was hunted down. And he grew up in obscurity.

He did not shun our world and its poverty and conflict. He embraced it. And he desires to embrace us today, in this day. Right where we are. Right where we are feeling most distant. Right were we are feeling least “religious” or “ready.” If we let him come into our hearts to be our Savior these challenging days, we will find ourselves entering the sacred night and morning of Christmas “joyful and triumphant” as never before.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come and visit your people.
We await your coming. Come, O Lord.

MEDITATION RON ROLHEISER,OMI:  Keeping Watch With the Shepherds in Bethlehem

: Take the attitude of our Blessed Lady, not to be looking for anything, not to seek anything for herself. Here she is the highest creature that God ever made and she put herself as the lowliest of all, not in any kind of false humility, but in true humility. She literally and truly saw herself as being less than everyone else. That is what we have to do. We need to see ourselves in the light of Jesus Christ. If we see ourselves in the light of Christ then we will recognize that we are quite lowly, and then we can actually do His Will.
That is what we need more than ever. The Church has always needed people who would do the Will of God–they are called saints. Whether they are the ordinary saints who are going to be the mothers and fathers and just the average person grunting out his daily work, or whether that is going to be the saints that we all know who do extraordinary and heroic things, it does not matter. All that matters is that we do God’s Will. That is all that matters. We are not going to be judged in the end by how much money we made, or by how many heroic things we did; we are going to be judged by how well we did the Will of God. That is all.

And so God is going to ask each one of us to do something that will seem impossible for us to do, but we have the assurance that God will strengthen us according to the Gospel. We have the assurance of His grace. And we have the assurance of the angel that nothing is impossible for God, even to make us saints. Nothing is impossible for God. The only question is our disposition, and we learn from our Blessed Lady what it needs to be: Behold the humble handmaiden of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living 

5. Allois said, 'Until you can say in your heart, "only I and God are in the world," you will not be at peace.

Week of December 14, 2014  

(Isa 61:10-11) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation: and with the robe of justice he hath covered me, as a bridegroom decked with a crown, and as a bride adorned with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth her seed to shoot forth: so shall the Lord God make justice to spring forth, and praise before all the nations.

Advent Calendar 2014

POPE FRANCIS: “I am thinking about those who are oppressed by suffering, injustice and oppression, about those who are slaves to money, power, success, and worldliness. We are all called to console our brothers, testifying that only God can eliminate the causes of existential and spiritual dramas."

CATHOLIC REVIEW: Advent: the perfect spiritual wake-up call by Archbishop William E. Lori

ST. LOUIS REVIEW: BEFORE THE CROSS | Gaudete Sunday reminds us that Advent is a season of joy by Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

: Don't Let the Real Meaning of Christmas Be Overwhelmed by a Misspent Advent

EXCERPT DFW CATHOLIC: Advent = War is Coming!

When we view a nativity scene, we generally think of a peaceful scene. Many think of the baby born to a virgin in a manger and the star which rests above. There are peaceful animals, a humble St. Joseph, and scared shepherds.

But, something is missing.

It is the drumbeat of war. Can’t you hear it? It is the spiritual battle that rages in places we cannot see with our eyes or hear with our ears. It rages in our hearts.

Even in the peaceful image of Jesus being born, we need to see God warning His people to prepare for battle. The victorious king has entered the fray and he calls us to take up our weapons of prayer, righteousness, chastity, faith, hope, love….

The Army General, Satan, knows he will lose the final battle, yet he fights to ruin as many as he can. He will tempt, deceive, and push you to sin.

Notice how the manger scene cries out WAR IS COMING!
Now it is our turn. If we fail to pick a side in the war, it means we have already chosen: “he who is not with me is against me.

The drumbeat of war is pounding. Pick up your cross – it is your weapon against the enemy – and follow The King of Kings into battle. He is about to be born as a poor babe to a virgin.

EXCERPT HOMILY FR. ESPER: Hope, patience, and repentance are three essential road markers or landmarks as we journey through these weeks of Advent, and through life itself; if we’re lacking in any of these things, it will be very easy for us to become spiritually lost or stranded.

Hope means that we don’t lose heart, even if we’re passing through a period of grief, poor health, financial difficulties, relationship problems, religious doubts, or anything else. The Lord wants us to persevere in doing what’s right, even when it’s hard, and to continue in our prayers, even when they’re unsatisfying, for His Kingdom will certainly come. Rather than giving up, we must constantly be looking up, keeping our eyes on the goal of heaven.

The road marker of patience is also vitally important. In a car journey it’s quite common for children to ask, “Are we there yet?” and for parents to respond, “Not yet—a little while longer.” Jesus says the same thing to us: “Be patient; look around you as you travel, notice the other travelers, and enjoy the journey— you’ll be here with Me before you know it.” Patience allows us to make good progress by keeping things in perspective and by continuing to grow spiritually even when things are difficult.

The third road marker of repentance is an essential one, for our sinfulness can prevent or delay the successful completion of our spiritual journey. Our lesser sins are like stretches of rough, potholed, uneven road that force us to slow down, and our serious sins are like road closings and detours that actually take us in the wrong direction away from God. We overcome these faults by honestly admitting our sins and humbly seeking God’s forgiveness for them; the regular examination our conscience and reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, our use of divine grace to overcome our faults, and our humble apologies to those we’ve hurt by our sins, help smooth out the way before us and keep us on the right path.

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living 

4. At first Ammoi said to Aesius, 'What do you think of me?' He said, 'You are like an angel, abba.' Later on he said, 'Now what do you think of me?' Her replied, 'You are like Satan, for even if you speak a good word, it is like a sword to me.

Week of December 8, 2014  

(Mat 13:16-17) But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. For, amen, I say to you, many prophets and just men have desired to see the things that you see, and have not seen them: and to hear the things that you hear and have not heard them.

Advent Calendar 2014

FR. LIOI: The season of Advent and its many meanings

PATHEOS: How to Have a Marian Advent by Sr. Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP 

EXCERPT CATHOLIC SAN FRANCISCO: Valiant in battle by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone

Make no mistake about it. Priests and all Catholics are in combat. It has now become unfashionable to speak of the “culture war,” or at least, there are some who would like to make it so. They want us to believe that this is a passé concept, or that this war has been fought and won by the … well, however you want to label them – the secularists, the postmodernists, the social anarchists, the deconstructionists. Of course, they try to force us into believing that, because they want us to back off from our position.

Some say the language of “culture war” is not helpful to us, and they have a point. After all, the church is all about peace and reconciliation. But in another sense, we Catholic priests are, and always have been, at war. The church has always understood the reality of spiritual warfare.

The worst soldier is the one who does not realize he is in a war. He fulfills his normal duties on the army base, while the enemy kills, takes prisoners, and occupies territory. While he guards the base, the enemy has occupied vast territory surrounding the base.

In the church, both priests and laypeople are soldiers. Advent is a time when soldiers of Christ prepare to welcome the Child who by lowering himself to be among human beings raised us up to participate in his divinity. Following him in Advent moves us away from the lure of sin and from giving primacy to mundane pursuits which, even if not illegitimate in and of themselves (such as sports, shopping, or partying with friends and coworkers), would result in us dethroning Christ in our hearts. Embracing the true spirit of Advent instead moves us toward purity and wholeness. It’s a time for prayer, confession, fasting, penance and works of charity.

MORE: Advent and the Drama of Light and Darkness by: Msgr. Charles Pope


“The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre -
To be redeemed from fire by fire.
Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame.
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire Consumed by either fire or fire.”

T.S. Eliot, whose genius for being succinct remains unrivalled, wrote those remarkable words in his poem, The Four Quartets. Brief though they are, they capture an entire anthropology, a spirituality of longing, and a theology of Advent.

What do they say in terms of anthropology? They tell us that we are born congenitally dis-eased, incurably erotic, restless, consumed by a thirst that cannot be quenched and a fire that will not be stilled. To be human is to be on fire for a consummation, a love, a restfulness, an embrace, and a symphony that, in this life, forever escapes us. In every cell of our bodies and in the very DNA of our souls we ache for someone or something that we have not yet known, ache in a way that leaves us too dissatisfied and restless to live fully inside our own skins. Our lives always seem too small for us. Moreover, and this is the key, this is God’s doing. God is the hand behind this “intolerable shirt of flame”.

Hence the fire inside us is not necessarily a sign that we are doing anything wrong, that we have missed the boat somewhere, are sinful, are over-sexed, or are too-greedy for our own good. What Eliot suggests is that this is the normal order of things, God’s doing. The fire inside us comes from the way God made us, namely, to crave the infinite and to be dissatisfied with everything else until that wide embrace is consummated. Thus, the fire inside us will never be extinguished simply by attaining the right partner, the right job, the right city, the right set of friends, and the right recognition. We will always be on fire.

The choice, as Eliot puts it, is not between being restless or being restful, between being tense of heart or calm of soul. No. The choice is between two kinds of fire, two kinds of restlessness, two kinds of inner thirsts – “pyre or pyre”: With what kind of fire do we want our hearts to burn? We are destined to be consumed by one kind of restlessness or another, but the flames are very different. Do we want God’s flames or those of our own choosing?

Eliot suggests that we choose God’s fire because the solution to our deep-seated restlessness will not be found in some long sought-after experience which will finally soothe the last ache within us (“At last, the thing that has forever eluded me!”). Rather the solution lies in letting our thirsts be consumed by another kind of restlessness, a higher fire, a deeper eros, God’s eros. What this means is that the answer to our longing is to extend our longing, the answer to our eros is to deepen our eros, and the answer to our aching is to widen our aching. We can stew in our own fires or we can use those fires to enter the fire of God. more

ALETEIA: The Silent Grace of Advent

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Sober Living 

1. A brother asked Arsenius to give him advice. He said to him, 'As far as possible, try hard to make your inner progress as God would have it, and by this overcome the passions of the body.' He also said, 'If we seek God, he will appear to us; if we grasp Him, He will stay with us.

Week of December 1, 2014  

(Mar 13:33-37) Take ye heed, watch and pray. For ye know not when the time is. Even as a man who, going into a far country, left his house and gave authority to his servants over every work and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore (for you know not when the lord of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning): Lest coming on a sudden, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.

Father Ted: May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you.

On Monday, December 1st I will be admitted to UCSF medical center for surgery on my heart. I have a damaged valve which needs to be replaced. The surgery will take place about 1:00 PM.

Please remember me in your prayers. Your brother in Christ, Father Ted Shipp.

p.s. Last October 1st I have a stint placed in my aorta successfully - also at UCSF in San Francisco

VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE: Indulgences for the Year of Consecrated Life

ICN: Ireland: Archbishop Eamon Martin launches online Advent Calendar

Archbishop Eamon Martin has launched a specially commissioned 2014 Advent calendar on the homepage of the Irish Catholic bishops' website: to coincide with the beginning of Advent on Sunday 30 November. Archbishop Eamon said: "I am delighted to launch this year's Advent calendar which each day will reveal Advent information and prayer resources by clicking on a virtual numerical door... For many years we have provided online resources to assist with our Advent preparations, and this year we once again offer the faithful our novel online calendar for this purpose.

"The season of Advent is a time of spiritual preparation for the Lord's coming at Christmas. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time. As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord 'You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect' [Mt 24:37-44]. Why is the Advent calendar useful? Preparation does not happen at once but over time. Each day of Advent amounts to a period of time which allows us to journey and reflect on 'the joy of the Gospel'.

Archbishop Eamon continued: "As we begin our Catholic new year, I invite everyone during the Advent season to visit and to enjoy the information provided on our online calendar."

A new feature on this year's Advent Calendar will be an audio 'Thought for Today' which will be voiced by a different contributor each of the days of Advent and will reflect themes of the Advent season. Contributors include Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin; Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin; Father Michael Drumm, Chair of the Catholic Schools Partnership, as well as seasonal reflections by staff from the councils, agencies and offices of the Bishops' Conference for example ACCORD and Trócaire and by individual students from Catholic primary and secondary schools. These audio recordings will be available on the pages of the Advent Calendar on as well as on


Five Strategies for Keeping Advent in Advent
Reclaiming Advent
Ad­vent a time for preparing, not for Christmas, but for eternity

The Desert Fathers: sayings of the Early Christian Monks: Discretion

118. A hermit said, 'The cowl we use is the symbol of innocence, the scapular which covers neck and shoulders is the symbol of a cross, the girdle, the symbol of courage. Let us live our lives in the virtues symbolized by our habit. If we do everything sincerely, we shall not fail.'
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