The time has come again. The day where we re-evaluate our lives. We examine how we lived in the past year and make resolutions about how this next year can be better or different! The top of the list is usually, weight loss, eating healthier, going to a gym and so on... This year lets make some spiritual resolutions as well.
Examine your spiritual life this past year and lets make a spiritual resolution for this coming year. Just make a few, baby steps. Don't put too much on your plate. One step at a time. If you fall, don't get discouraged. Remember, "it doesn't matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you let God pick you up" Don't be hard on yourself. Everyday is a new day, every moment is a new moment. So just be present in the moment and just be.
Here are a few ideas:
Pick a Patron Saint for the New Year
There are so many other ways to ignite your spiritual life. So many little things we can add to our life to help us on this prayerful path.
Trust where God is leading you and have faith. Remember when Peter stepped out into the water from the fishing boat and then took his focus off of Jesus? He saw the wind and cried out: “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" We all struggle with having the stamina to step out in faith.
Let us have the stamina to ignite our spiritual life, let us have the stamina to say "Yes" to God, and let us have the stamina to strive to love the Lord more each day this year by putting Jesus at the center of our life.
Let us grow in holiness this year!
THE OTHER WISE MAN
By: Kathleen Aparo
On that sacred night of nights
A barn owl watched it all
He saw the woman bending there
Then heard the angels call
He watched the shepherds bow their heads
The sheep in wonder stare
And when the star moved over all
He saw the baby there
He wondered at the scene below
As he whispered in the night
Whoo whoo whoo
And the Babe smiled with delight
He did not know just how he knew
Perhaps it was the star
Or the wisemen on their camels
Who had come so very far
But the owl knew this little child
Would change men through the years
And that the love within his words
Would comfort all their fears.
Then an angel looked upon the owl
And spoke as in a prayer
“your wisdom is a special joy
To the blest child laying there
And so dear owl through out the years
You shall be known as wise
And in the darkness of the night
You’ll see with special eyes
And every time you whisper soft
Your gentle whoo, whoo, whoo
A soul will find his way to God
Through the Babe who smiled on you.”
Christmas reflection: Make room for Jesus in your inn
By Fr. Erik Esparza
Each Christmas we are offered so many opportunities to reflect on the meaning of Christmas. What helps you to reflect on Christmas? Is it when you put up your Christmas lights or tree? Is it through your gift giving for family, friends, or for those most in need?
Is it in your kitchen where you take the time to bake surprises for others to feast? Is it while you volunteer at a local soup kitchen to ensure all have a warm meal to eat? Is it at the celebration of Christmas Mass where God’s family comes together?
Wherever you are and in whatever you do, take the time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
One way to more deeply reflect on Christmas is to gather around a nativity. In fact, I encourage you to spend some time during the Christmas Season with your own nativity scene at home. Take a moment to read chapter two from both the Gospel of St. Matthew and the Gospel of St. Luke to hear once more the story of Christmas. This can be done in private devotion or gathered in prayer with your family. The time to read scripture and for prayerful reflection gives you a quiet moment in the midst of the hustle and bustle of these days to reflect on the great gift of love, the Incarnation.
One part of the Christmas story that comes to mind for me can be found in the Gospel of St. Luke (2:7) when Joseph and Mary upon arrival into Bethlehem were unable to find any room for them in the inn. In response to this lack of room for the Holy Family, Jesus is born and laid in a manger. There is a deeper meaning to this part of the story besides there simply being no room in the inn. You see, there is an invitation to consider this question: is there a part of your life where there is no room for Christ? We can easily look at this scene from the Christmas story and comment on how horrible it was that no one offered a room for the arrival of the newborn King. The true meaning of Christmas includes making room in our own hearts and lives to receive the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is a temptation to love Jesus, yet deny his presence in certain aspects of our lives. We celebrate Jesus’ love yet we deny that love to others. We are grateful for the blessings from God yet do not share those blessings with others. We bask in the mercy of God yet do not offer the same mercy to others.
This Christmas use the time to reflect on where you might not have room in your inn for Jesus. What door needs to be opened or what space needs to welcome the newborn King? Jesus comes into the messiness of our lives just like that first Christmas to bring his presence of light and love. Do not miss out on this presence, for we are all in need of more light and love in our lives.
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director in the Office of Priest Personnel for the Diocese of San Bernardino.
Advent Reflection: Resting in the Womb of Mary
By: LILLA MARIE LOTTINGER AND SR. MARY CLARE WAX
Recently I found myself longing to hold baby Jesus as I was contemplating this Advent/Christmas Season; but in discipline I chose to wait till Christmas Eve to “unwrap” this great gift. And in doing so I immediately found myself turning to Mary and placing my hand on her womb, opening myself to connect with baby Jesus there.
Since then I have found myself uniting with Jesus in the womb of Mary… first from outside; but then, while spending time with Jesus in adoration I found myself imagining that the chapel I was in was Mary’s womb; and I began spending time in the womb with Jesus, opening myself to being still in His presence, resting in the love of a perfect Mother and Father (Mary and our Heavenly Father), as Jesus did… soaking in the truths of my own dignity and identity as a “child of God”.
For this is why Jesus came… to open the gates of Heaven to us, and invite us back into communion with our Heavenly Father. By His Blood we have been redeemed and drawn back into the dignity and identity that we had before the fall, if we but choose to receive.
My prayer this Advent/Christmas Season, is that we will all have the grace to rest with baby Jesus, to become one with Him in opening ourselves to the “marvel [we] were made” the truth of who we were created to be. May we enter deeply into the graces of this Advent/Christmas Season, that we may come to know the love of God, the love of Mary, in a deeply intimate and profound way.
Our God longs to bond with us as His Children. He wants us to rest in the womb of His love for us, as Jesus did throughout His life here on earth; that we may know the infinite, unconditional love and acceptance of our perfect Heavenly Father.
He wants us also to rest in the womb of Mary’s love for us as Jesus did throughout His earthly life; that we may know the love of a perfect Mother as He did; that we may experience our Heavenly Father’s unconditional love and acceptance for us also through the Maternal Heart of Mary.
Mother and father wounds are the deepest wounds we can have, because our mothers and fathers are the first to reflect and draw us into God’s love. Their ultimate purpose in loving us is meant to incline us toward receptivity to the Love of our Heavenly Father and Mother, that we may know God’s perfect, unconditional love and acceptance of us.
But our parents fall short in life to varying degrees, due to their own wounds, passed down from their own parents, tracing all the way back to Adam and Eve. And so, we can remain depleted, not realizing how deeply, unconditionally and infinitely we are loved.
May this Advent/Christmas Season be a time for all of us to go to the source from which all love and truth flows, by becoming one with Baby Jesus, in opening ourselves to receive and reclaim our true dignity and identity as “children of God.
As I shared with Sr. Mary Clare my reflection of entering into the womb of Mary with Jesus, she felt drawn to enter in as well and later shared a little taste of her own experience:
“I meditated on the utter silence of all Creation as It waited upon Mary’s ‘Yes’, when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that She would conceive and bear a Son and His name shall be Jesus. When Mary gave her ‘Yes’, light entered into her womb and into this world! As I meditated on entering the womb of Mary, I saw a bright light and realized that I was with Jesus, the Light of the World! I then invited Mary to form me as she was forming Jesus, in her womb. In Her womb was Love personified, joy and peace. I found myself resting in this Love, Peace and Joy! I was also aware that Jesus and Mary were asking me and all of us, to make reparation for the darkness in some mother’s wombs, caused by the sin of abortion. Too many mother’s say ‘No’ to life in their wombs, and their wombs become a place of darkness, void of love, peace and joy.”
Challenge: Rest in the womb of Mary
Lilla Marie Lottinger and Sr. Mary Clare Wax are Missionaries of Our Mother of the Eucharist, stationed in Houma, LA. There website is: www.ourmotheroftheeucharist.org. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pic: (l to r) Sr. Mary Clare and Lilla Marie
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lords’ feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!
“Martha, Martha “ the Lord answered, “ you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." ~ Luke 10:38-41
Challenge: Simplify, are you Martha or Mary?
When we think about how Jesus came into the world that first Christmas, we must remember he was born in a stable, in poverty and simplicity. He came to us in a simple way and He lived simply. He has asked us to choose the better way. Let us remember the words he spoke to Martha, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Lord make us smaller and more humble, help us choose the better way so that You may be glorified!
“Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace. Give me, amidst the day's confusion, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magical, restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking "minute vacations"...slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me of the fable of the hare and the tortoise; that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than measuring its speed. Let me look up at the branches of the towering oak and know that it grew slowly and well. Inspire me to send my own roots down deep into the soil of life's endearing values...that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny. Slow me down, Lord.” (~ Wilfred Arlan Peterson)
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox