Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  May God bless you and those you love with the joy which can only come from Him, the One who knows our name and whose mercy is without end.

For a child is born to us, a son given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.  They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.   (Isaiah 9:5)


Happy New Year

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2019.

O God, we praise
You and acknowledge You
to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships You.
All the angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the cherubim and seraphim, continually cry to you:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Your glory.
The glorious choir of the apostles,
The wonderful company of prophets,
The white-robed army of martyrs, praise You.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges You:
The Father of infinite majesty;
Your adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, You are the King of glory!
You are the everlasting Son of the Father.
When You took it upon Yourself to deliver humanity,
You did not disdain the Virgin’s womb.
Having overcome the sting of death,
You opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
You sit at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father
We believe that You will come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg You to help Your servants
whom You have redeemed with Your Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Your saints in everlasting glory.

Save Your
people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance!
Govern them, and raise them up forever.
Every day we thank You.
And we praise Your name forever; yes, forever and ever.
O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.
Let your mercy, O lord be upon us, for we have hoped in You.
O Lord, in you I have put my trust; never let me be put to shame.


Gaudate Sunday

In the Catholic Tradition, this third Sunday in Advent is known as Gaudate (Rejoice) Sunday. The name is drawn from the Second Reading at Mass, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians:

“Rejoice in the Lord always.  I shall say it again: rejoice!  Your kindness should be known by all.  The Lord is near.  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” (4:4-7).

I have recently been taking an online course in Positive Psychology.  It’s been enlightening, to say the least, and it’s really helped me see how easy it is to fall into the sea of negativity many find themselves in at the present time.  While there certainly are  negative events going on, our call, I believe, is to acknowledge them, but don’t get stuck in them, consuming much of our energy on them.  Let’s face it, there is much in our lives worthy of rejoicing about, and to be grateful for.  It’s time to get unstuck from that useless anxiety that takes away our joy.  It’s time to be better known for our kindness to others rather than the unnecessary burdens we place on them.

For these remaining days of Advent, let’s begin and end our day with a mini reflection on something/someone in our lives we should rejoice about.  We are so blessed, and we have much to be grateful for.  Let’s end our Advent with a glorious bang, celebrating with joy the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  That day will soon be upon us!


The Greatest Generation

Like many Americans, I was deeply touched by the way our country honored President George H.W. Bush, who was buried next to his wife and daughter yesterday in College Station, Texas.  At the funeral held at his hometown church, his closest friend James Baker noted, “George Bush was a charter member of the Greatest Generation.”  My parents were part of that generation, and my father fought in the Pacific in World War II.  Many of this great generation, including President Bush and my parents, have died, and their passing, leaves a void that does not appear to be filled anytime soon. Many of the adjectives used to describe President Bush: Integrity. Kindness. Dignity. Humor. Empathy. Loyalty. Generosity. Truth, could also be used to describe many others from this Greatest Generation.  As more than a few TV pundits have noted, the same cannot be said of many of those who have come after them.  We have a lot to do if we want to catch up, and I believe we have it in us to do just that.

Actually, we can start today.  If you spend just one week working on one of those adjectives describing President Bush, you would make a difference.  Slowly, over time, working on developing a life of Integrity, Kindness, Dignity, Humor, Empathy, Loyalty, Generosity, Truth, and I would add Faith, will change your life and might just change the world.  The road will not be easy, but it will be worth it in the end.

Americans of President Bush’s generation were shaped by the Great Depression and World War II.  During those two events, many lost everything, including their lives.  Those who survived had a different perspective of life than most of us today, who seem to take everything for granted, driven more by a sense of entitlement than service.

I think this quote, coming from a friend of the late president, noted that many in the Greatest Generation seemed to live life from this perspective: “Every new day is going to be a gift I will not squander.”   As we quickly move towards a New Year, I think it would be powerful and helpful if more of us could adopt this perspective as a New Year’s Resolution.  Friends, there is a God-given greatness in each and every one of us.  It’s time for us to activate that greatness and live each day as a gift, honoring God in all that we do.


Our Advent Journey

I led my last retreat for 2018  yesterday, and it was a great day. About twenty of us spent our time together reflecting on our desire to not only look for Emmanuel, but also find Him in the everyday rhythm of our busy lives. Of course, this isn’t always easy, but each of us can use the days of Advent (there are plenty of days left) to be a bit more reflective, a bit more sensitive to God’s presence.  Let’s face it, for most people, the season of Advent is taken up with shopping, decorating, parties and lots (too much?) of food and drink, with many disconnected from the singular event of Christ’s birth.  Sadly, these special days are mistakenly focused on US, rather than HIM.  By prayerfully changing our focus, we can continue our Advent journey with a desire for holiness.

In the past, most people did not think they were called to be holy.  That was for special people, not those of us with day jobs.  Now, the Church teaches that there is a “universal call to holiness,” that each person should be striving to be holy as they go about their daily living.  Just think of the positive impact that would be made if everyone were trying to be holy, not just at church, but also at work, at home, in their neighborhoods, with every person they  encounter each day.  That would not just be a life changer, but a world changer.

As I brought up on yesterday’s retreat, St. Ignatius’s Daily Examen is a great spiritual practice to help us review our day, discerning how our desire for holiness was played out that particular day.  Were we successful, or did we completely miss the mark? It  takes about twenty minutes to do an Examen, and some choose to do the prayer at the end of the day before going to bed.  Others use the quiet of early morning, praying while sipping their cup of coffee. No matter what time of day/night you pray the Examen, just do it.  It’s a habit worth forming, and your life will be better because if it.

Over the span of 2018, I was blessed to lead quite a few retreats, and each one was rooted in Ignatian Spirituality, which I’ve adopted as my own.  I think it is the perfect spirituality for our time, right now.  Recently, I finalized my retreat schedule through 2021.  Can you believe it?  There’s nothing else in my life which is planned that far out, but the Maryland Retreat Center I use is a busy place, and being able to offer multiple retreats each year, properly spread out and with various topics, makes a lot of sense.  I’m grateful that these retreats are popular and now, some people are even flying in to make them!  God is so good.

My retreats in 2019 include weekend and day retreats, and I hope you’ll click on the link above and see if there might be something which would work for you.  I hope to see you in the New Year, but in the meantime, let’s use this Advent season to strive for holiness, look for God in all things, develop the habit of praying the Daily Examen,  and to pray for our country and world, both of which are so greatly in need of prayer.