Christmas Eve Prayer
"Give us, O God, the vision which can see Your love in the world in spite of human failure.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace." ~ Frank Borman, Apollo 8 space mission, 1968
Challenge: Don't judge others, spread peace and love. Smile at everyone you meet.
“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy
Our journey. Our growth. On this path of faith, we are all looking to "work on our stuff", "to grow and learn and find oneself". Whatever you may call it, it is all the same. We are on this journey together.
A pattern we can easily fall into without realizing it, is to judge others because they are not in the same place. They aren't going to church, they aren't praying the rosary, they aren't saying nice things and the list can go on! When we are seeking to change ourselves and grow, we tend to comment and seek change in others. We think we know what is right for the other person. When the truth is we are trying to figure out what is right for us.
This criticizing behavior for the most part is keeping us from discerning our own behavior. It is a distraction from what we need to hear and learn for our own growth.
We need to be aware of these thoughts, become more knowledgeable about our internal criticizers and pray. Hopefully our judgments will diminish. We must keep control of our tongue and our thoughts. Once you stop worrying about and judging everyone else, your mind and your body will have this extra space and energy it needs to allow further growth.
We also will realize that those criticizing thoughts were not only about others but are a constant stream of internal dialogue that is critical of ourselves. Pay attention, be kind to others and be kind to yourself! "Your outer world is a reflection of the inner world".
When we judge others it is an extension of self-judgment. Sometimes we don't even recognize what we are doing. So pull back the curtain and look within. Look deep, sit and listen. Start the path of being nonjudgmental today. Smile at everyone you meet and hold your tongue and ask God to change those thoughts.
A priest once told me in confession, "when you think of that person, think of their best quality, this will take the place of the negative thought or feeling you are feeling"
Change is difficult but with the help of God we can do this. Say your prayers and ask for the strength to change the patterns of your thoughts and give praise to others and to yourselves.
Memory Awakens Hope
"Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man. Advent’s intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Church’s year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heart’s memory so that it can discern the star of hope.…
It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope." ~ Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Seek That Which Is Above, 1988
Challenge: Pray for healing among your family, friends and the world!
As the doors of hope open this advent, let us pray for our own healing and healing for our family, friends and for the world. May people who walk in darkness hope for a healing light.
"We find that healing hope also expressed at the heart of Psalm 121: "I lift up my eyes unto the hills; from where will my help come?" We sit with the people of the Psalm in the valleys of our hurt and despair, and we look for the help that will come over the hill. We affirm -- again and again -- until we know it to be true: "Our help comes from God, who made heaven and earth... God will keep you from all evil; God will keep your life. God will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time on and forevermore." ~ Rev. Scott Clark
During this advent season, what is your healing hope?
St. Augustine wrote, “Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.” Its not easy to live by these words, but it is what is needed if we want to move on with our lives.
Let us pray for the healing of memories and the healing of our family trees. Psalm 22 is a great prayer for healing of memories. You may pray this for yourself, your family tree or others.
This Psalm unites us to Jesus on the cross. As we pray this we need to be honest with the hurt we feel within us. Then at the end our prayer is praising God for his goodness to us.
Pray it slowly, inviting God into your memories and asking him to place his healing hand upon your head and heart.
"Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset." ~ St, Francis de Sales
Challenge: Keep today Holy. Slow down, unplug and be present
To help make Sunday holy, you need to delegate time to focus on what you have instead of searching for something new. Make Sunday, your day to disconnect from work and technology so you can reconnect with family and friends and even time to reconnect with oneself. Listen to your internal voice instead of the external noise.
Turn off and tune in. Be present in the moment. Engage with others. Do things you love. On this day:
"One of the most challenging parts of observing the Sabbath in today’s day and age is overcoming a dependence on instant gratification and distraction. The Internet makes it possible for us to feed most of our wants and needs now—whether looking for a recipe, buying a new swimsuit, or checking the weather. Technology has also made it easier than ever to numb our emotions and distract us from anxieties. Social media—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest—television, 24 hours “news” coverage, and blogs all give us an easy outlet for distraction so we don’t have to endure discomfort, whether within ourselves or amongst others." ~Christine Organ
So on this day, let us unplug. Let us remove all distractions one day a week. Let us find comfort within ourselves, gain self awareness and figure out how to work through, not around our problems. By disconnecting, we are able to slow down, disconnect from the frenetic pace of technology to reconnect with the sacredly simple. This will allow us to see and savor the goodness in the present moment. When we are present, in that moment, this is where we will find the calm and a mild exhilaration in the stillness and the quiet and the waiting.
The season of Advent reminds us to be bearers of God, to be people that allow God’s work and word to be present in the world.
We stop, as the days get shorter and shorter, to pause and remember that God chooses us, just like he chose that homeless unmarried teenage mom, to be bearers of God’s peace and love in a frantic and painful world. To choose to be Christian is to choose to make room to rejoice, reflect, and relate to people as incarnations of God.
To choose to be Christian is to try to become a Godbearer too, to make space for God to do God’s work through us.
Especially in the middle of the holidays, we make room for Advent worship–to remember why we do this, to remember that we are a faith of incarnation, to prepare the space in ourselves that helps us remember God in all the stuff we have to do.
Challenge: Go to Church, be reverent and ready
"Lord, open our eyes, that we may see you in our brothers and sisters. Lord, open our ears, that we may hear the cries of the hungry, the cold, the frightened, the oppressed. Lord, open our hearts, that we may love each other as you love us. Renew in us your spirit. Lord, free us and make us one."
Called to be Witnesses
"We are called to be witnesses of God’s by the love we extend to others; precursors of his justice by our unfailing commitment to what is right and good; lamps reflecting the light of God’s Christ in our forgiveness, mercy and compassion; harvesters of souls through our humble and dedicated servant hood." ~ CONNECTIONS, 12-11-94
Challenge: Show Mercy, Be extra kind no matter what happens today!
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matt. 5:7)
An old man was walking the beach early one morning, bending down to pick up starfish and throwing them out into the ocean. A teenager came by and asked, "Old man, what are you doing?"
How can we implement Mercy into our everyday life?
First, you must see the one who needs mercy. Pray that God will give you eyes to see the person who needs your help. Slow down and pay attention to everyone you meet.
Second, if you desire to show mercy, you must let your feelings play a significant role. Let the emotion of compassion influence your behavior and not what you think you know.
Third, a person of compassion doesn't just think about doing something—he or she takes action. The merciful person moves outside of his or her own hurt to alleviate the hurt in another. The merciful person spends his resources to make someone else's life better.
Sometimes we may justify our failure to show mercy by saying, "Well, I just can't help everybody." That's true. But God has put people in your life whom you can help. Do you see them? Do you feel for them? Are you doing anything on their behalf? Those who give mercy will also receive it ... from God.