10 Dec 2016

Robin Redbreast

A wonderful Christmas story
to share by the Christmas tree
with family and friends.

A story you will never forget.

Tides and Our Moon’s Origin

Scientists have been wondering how our moon formed, and why its orbit isn't over Earth's equator.

It looks like our moon formed after something about the size of Mars hit Earth, roughly 4,500,000,000 years back.

But the giant-impact hypothesis didn't explain why our moon orbits Earth only five degrees away from Earth's orbital plane. The math had said that our moon would be orbiting pretty much over Earth's equator....

...God is Large and In Charge

I occasionally wonder if I should keep explaining why reality doesn't offend me, and why facts don’t threaten my faith....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

As the Morning Rising: Beloved of all the Nations

As the Morning Rising: Beloved of all the Nations: We are a waiting people, whose prayerful ushering airs the rooms of home and heart, as we prepare for the coming of the One who is belove...

9 Dec 2016

The God Who Comes

God always comes to be born anew in our hearts.

I can trust that He will come.
For He comes even on a  frosty whisper,
Lighting the darkness with pinpoints of hope
Just as the stars appear each dark night.
He will come, in spite of myself;
His arrival does not depend on my preparations.
Only that I wait expectantly in the dark.
If I open my inner stable door, He will come like a tiny child
Silently slipping into the open spaces in my heart.   continue reading

8 Dec 2016

‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: . . . the deaf hear . . .' Sunday Reflections, 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A

St John the Baptist in Prison Juan Fernández de Navarrete
Gospel Matthew 3:1-12 (NRSV, Anglicised Catholic Ed.)

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.’
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Father Joseph Coyle was a Columban priest from Derry, Northern Ireland. He died in the Philippines on 18 December 1991, aged 54, and is buried in a Catholic cemetery here in Bacolod City where I live. Father Joe and I weren't related - my Coyle ancestors moved centuries ago from the north-west of Ireland, where the surname originated, to Rush, a fishing village north of Dublin city - but we felt a sense of kinship. He was ordained on 21 December 1961 during my first year in the Columban seminary in Ireland.
Fr Joseph Coyle
(28 February 1937 - 18 December 1991)    Continue here.

An Immaculate Son needs an Immaculate Mother - Preparing for Christmas 2016

In his book A Yankee at the Court of King Arthur, Mark Twain imagines the old and ailing King becoming a commoner, visiting his people, hoping to improve their lot. This idea was an afterthought, but with God it was his first thought. Nor did he visit his people merely to improve their lot, but to transform it by bringing back all who so chose, to enjoy the rapturous joy without ending that he enjoyed.  Because it was his first thought, not just to dress like a human being, but to become one through his Son Jesus, then that decision inevitably entailed another -  a human mother. Now it stands to reason that if she was to give birth to a perfect human being, then she too must be perfect or her imperfections would be transmitted to her son.  read on....

7 Dec 2016

The Immaculate Conception:Inspiring Images and Quotes

Christians in the first centuries of the Church believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary.
In fact, all Christians, until 500 years ago, up until and including Martin Luther, believed in the Immaculate Conception. Luther was the founder of Protestant Reformation.

8 Notes to a Nobody, by Cynthia T. Toney - Book Review

8 Notes to a Nobody, by Cynthia T. Toney, is a heartwarming, yet truthful, depiction of what it is like to be a teenage girl, coming of age. In Cynthia Toney’s tale, Wendy Robichaud, an eighth grader, comes face-to-face with some of the struggles that teens unfortunately face: eating disorders and teen suicide; feelings of inferiority and loneliness.


As the Morning Rising: Immaculate Conception Prayer/ Poem

As the Morning Rising: Immaculate Conception Prayer/ Poem: Immaculate Conception  O Mary conceived without sin Chosen to bear God’s only Son You are more beautiful Than our imagini...

Advent: The Mystery of Jesus Coming Now, Today

Advent readings at Mass focus us on the coming of Jesus in Majesty at the end of time, while Christmas decorations recall his coming in History in Bethlehem, but his third coming that we commemorate during Advent is his coming in Mystery. This coming gets pushed aside. Let’s think about it, for it is the coming that most personally impacts us. Jesus comes to us mysteriously through the kindness of strangers. On Thanksgiving a newspaper appeared on lawns all down my street, but I didn’t get one. I even went out and checked behind the large maple on my tree lawn. I called the publisher and a recording informed me that I hadn’t ordered this special edition. Later, when I went out to Mass, there was a newspaper propped against my back door. When I returned from Mass, there was another paper at my front door. I can only guess that neighbors saw me looking for paper and generously gave me theirs. This thought made me feel warm and cozy all day long. That afternoon I prepared and shared a Thanksgiving meal with a woman down the street who I knew would be alone that day. So Jesus came to her through me. Now isn’t this the point of Tolstoy’s story “Martin the Cobbler”? Click to continue

In Defence Of Divorce,

6 Dec 2016

An Interview on Christian Prayer With Our David Torkington

There is a wonderful blog written by a man of prayer, David Torkington, who considers it his life’s work to share the joy of true Christian prayer and to teach people how to pray.  He has also published countless books.
In his own words, David says,” All my writings try to promote the Christian way of prayer, and I consider it my life’s work.”

read an interview with David on true Christian prayer

As the Morning Rising: Dublin in the Half-Light of December

As the Morning Rising: Dublin in the Half-Light of December

Pray for us, who have recourse to thee

I wish that when I was 28 and taking classes for the RCIA program at our local Catholic church, that someone had come up to me and said this: "In five or six more years, you are going to love this. You are going to love being Catholic. You are going to find the rosary beads and the Church calendar so beautiful. All the things that seem so foreign to you now will be deep with rich, meaty meaning. You will look around and your faith will make you so deeply happy."

5 Dec 2016

#MusicThatMoves - Faith Sharing Series

God does 'Impossible Things' 

Spend just a few minutes learning my story and you'll know without a doubt that God truly does impossible things.  He mends the broken so they are able to forgive the seemingly unforgiveable. Prepares the unqualified and anxious to be soldiers in his army.  Jesus worked miracles to allow the blind to see and lame to walk; today he continues to give sight, but now perhaps moreso to those who are spiritually blind.  Offering strength to walk in His ways to those stumbling due more to circumstance than physical ailment.  He raised Lazarus from death to life; and awakens our hearts to new life in him.
Close your eyes (after you hit play of course) and allow Sarah Kroger's beautiful voice to transport us in this moment to a place in our hearts where we believe - that God can truly do Impossible Things.      
CONTINUE HERE for the Seeking Scripture and Reflection ... All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

4 Dec 2016

Human rights globally recognized but not respected! Why? ( Spanish) DERECHOS HUMANOS ULTRAJADOS TODAVIA HOY: EL FONDO YACE EN LOS DEBERES HUMANOS OLVIDADOS

La promoción de los derechos humanos ha sido, desde el siglo pasado, uno de los grandes labores de los grandes organismos internacionales y de muchos gobiernos alrededor del mundo. Su importancia es central para construir una cultura de paz y progreso. Pero la realidad de los informes sobre su implementación y seguimiento son desalentadores: estos derechos se transgreden continuamente alrededor del mundo.(1)
Pero ¿Por qué? ¿Cuáles son las razones de fondo que minan el respeto a lo más elemental del ser humano? La respuesta está más cerca de lo que pensamos y, además, la solución germina dentro de cada uno de nosotros.
En este sentido el escritor Eduardo Carrasco nos presenta una guía al cuestionamiento escribiendo en un artículo:
“Pero los derechos existen únicamente en la medida en que sean reconocidos por quienes deben respetarlos. Por lo tanto, nuestros derechos dependen de que los demás los reconozcan… Lo único que nos cabe a nosotros en cuanto a ellos, es respetar los de los demás. Ese es el primer paso para que se respeten los nuestros.” (2)

Murder and Mystery - Preparing for Christmas 2016

I want to tell you about a criminal who escaped from justice even though he had committed terrible atrocities, including murder. He avoided punishment because the authorities who should have condemned him, were delighted that he was doing their dirty work for them. When he caught his victims, he had them flogged and thrown into prison before putting them to death. Who was this devil incarnate and what finally happened to him? He was a Jew called Saul who finally became a saint called Paul. He confessed his crimes to Jesus himself, as you can see if you read the Acts of the Apostles (22:17-21). Jesus not only forgave him but told him a great mystery, a secret that he had not told anyone whilst he was alive on earth, at least not the whole of it. We are preparing to celebrate the beginning of this secret, this mystery, in only a few weeks’ time, so I want to do for you what St Paul did for the very first Christians.          read on....

As the Morning Rising: St John the Baptist

As the Morning Rising: St John the Baptist: A voice cries in the wilderness: Prepare a way for the Lord! Isaiah 40:3

The Advent Window

My 'Advent Window' opened when I was twenty years old. I was in what I call my 'God doesn't bother me and I don't bother Him' phase. There was so much to do... friends to hang out with, boys to date, parties to go to. I took no time to think about God; in fact, I was ignoring Him altogether.

God, however, was 'thinking' of me, and began reminding me of Himself through a series of little seasonal things. A song heard on the radio, a nativity scene featured on the courthouse steps, Christmas songs piped into stores to draw customers...(click to continue..)

Sin, Awareness, Repentance

Today's reading from the Gospels, Matthew 3:1-12, doesn't seem particularly Christmassy. Not in the 'presents wrapped under the tree' sense.
"1 2 In those days John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea. "(and) saying, 'Repent, 3 for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!' ...

"...When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees 7 coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
"Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance....."
(Matthew 3:1-2, 7-8)
More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

As the Morning Rising: Advent Prayer

As the Morning Rising: Advent Prayer: Lord, may my actions this day be as the twinkling of light so that someone somewhere will say. 'There goes a Christian.'

Advent 30 Day Retreat: Second Sunday

Read the Word of God with a prayerful heart.
John the Baptist appeared in the desert, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins he baptized them in the Jordan River. (Mark 1:4-6)

This painting gives us a glimpse of the type of crowd that gathered around John the Baptist. He must have been a compelling speaker for people to have come from 'all of Judea' and 'Jerusalem' to see and hear him. 

I listened to a toastmaster recently who described the competitions speech makers enter. They are judged on presentation as much as content.
I suspect John was provided with a natural talent for drawing a crowd. If he was all doom and gloom I wonder how many people would have bothered to travel out to meet him. 
Surely his message was an exciting and challenging one? 'Get ready, something...someone...is coming who is going to turn your world upside down.'
His was a call to action. 'This is what you must do.' People had to leave the safety of the crowd and go out on a limb in order to be baptised.
Are there aspects of my life that crowd out God's call to me? Are there ways I can support others to come and see and hear what Christmas is truly about?

2 Dec 2016

10 Minute Daily Retreat First Week: Day 6 'Holy is His Name'

30 Day Advent Retreat

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
 (Luke 1:39-41)
Photo by Jaimie Trueblood
used with permission

Everything we have reflected on so far, in this 30 Day Retreat, is impossible! Yet anything is impossible with God. 

Listen to this beautiful reflection by John Michael Talbot, singing and sharing how all things are possible, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Advent Plans and Looking to Christmas

Here's a chatty little look at our Advent plans.  They may not be elaborate but they are helping to point us to Christmas and the sweet celebration of the Christ Child's birth.

Read more at Veils and Vocations.

KIC 8462852 and Strange Stars

KIC 8462852, Tabby's Star, has been in the news recently. Scientists are pretty sure that something very large orbits the star, but haven't worked out what it is.

A few scientists, looking at the data, say that it's probably a really odd natural phenomenon: but that it might something built by folks who aren't human.

SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is still a science in search of a subject. But quite a few scientists are taking it seriously, which is why Berkeley SETI Research Center added few stars to the Automated Planet Finder's observing queue....

...What I say about SETI and science in general may take some explaining, if you're new to this blog. Basically, I think God is large and in charge; and that part of my job is appreciating God's work — not telling the Almighty how it should have been made...."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

More Reflections for the soul

1 Dec 2016

‘¡Adios, Manuel!’

'Uno, dos, tres'

Andrew Sachs in 2004
7 April 1930 - 23 November 2016 [Wikipedia]

The death of Andrew Sachs was announced today. He had been suffering from dementia for the last four years. He played Manuel, a Spanish waiter from Barcelona, in the twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers, six made in 1975 and six in 1979. 'Manuel' is one of the funniest characters ever to appear on TV and, I would venture, in the whole of literature. He was put-upon by his employer, Basil Fawlty, but everyone was on his side.

The Uno, dos, tres clip above is one of my favourites, as I have a smattering of Spanish. And, as an Irishman, I really enjoyed the episode below involving the 'Orally men', men working for a cheap, corner-cutting Irish builder named O'Reilly, doing some 'repairs' to Fawlty Towers, a small hotel located in Torquay in the south-west of England.

I remember watching the first series of Fawlty Towers with my late Dad in 1976 while at home in Dublin from the Philippines for the first time. That must have been the first of countless re-runs as it came out in 1975.

'Orally men'

¡Adios, Manuel/Andrew! You brought, and continue to bring, joy into the lives of so many people. ¡Adios! - 'To God!' - in the very fullest meaning of that beautiful greeting. May the joy of heaven be yours.

'Manuel' [Wikipedia]

Waugh on Campion

Today is the feast of St. Edmund Campion, Jesuit priest and English Elizabethan martyr. His story was told in 1935 by Evelyn Waugh, better known for his fiction, chief of which in my estimation is Brideshead Revisited.  Waugh wrote in the Preface to Saint Edmund Campion that he was not attempting a scholar’s approach to his subject.
All I have sought to do is to select incidents which strike a novelist as important and to put them into a narrative which I hope may prove readable. The facts are not in dispute so I have left the text unencumbered by notes or bibliography. It should  be read as a simple, perfectly true story of heroism and holiness.
I’m marking the saint’s feast by re-reading Waugh’s book about him. When we think of English Catholic martyrs nowadays, I think most thoughts turn to St. Thomas More – a man worth remembering, to be sure. Campion more than holds in own in such company. His apologia to the Queen’s Privy Council as he was undergoing persecution is provided by Waugh as a final chapter, too important to be designated an appendix. These are Campion’s own words, written as he knew his execution by the anti-Catholic government was a foregone conclusion:
And touching our Societie, be it known to you that we have made a league – all the Jesuits in the world, whose succession and multitude must overreach all the practices of England – cheerfully to carry the cross you shall lay, and never to despair your recovery, while we have a man left to enjoy your Tyburn, or to be racked with your torments, or consumed with your prisons. The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it is of God, it cannot be withstood. So the Faith was planted; so it must be restored.
…I have no more to say but to recommend your case and mine to Almightie God, the Searcher of Hearts, who send us His grace, and set us at accord before the day of payment, to the end we may at last be friends in Heaven, when all injuries shall be forgotten.
Read the rest of the post at ellenkolb.com.

Christmas Eve in the Psychiatric Unit

By Brother Henry Arruda OMI

I was not just in the hospital but in the “Psychiatric Unit” of the hospital. This is what happened to me on Christmas Eve, 2003. I was granted a pass to go home either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It wasn’t much of a choice but I chose the second option. 

This meant staying in the Psychiatric Unit on Christmas Eve. While expecting “the blues”, depression, gloom, loneliness, self-pity because of this first Christmas Eve without parties, presents, decorations, “normal ?” people, lots of food, I was visited, instead, by a “Silent Night” full of peace, joy, contentment, hope. 
I felt a “Spiritual” presence unparalleled by any other that I had had before. I was more than satisfied to bask in that contemplative mood, which, by comparison, beat any of my other moods.

continue reading

St Francis of Assisi - Part 5 - The Poverello

After Pope Innocent III had approved the rule of life that St Francis had presented to him, the little band of Brothers set out for home. They rejoiced all the way back to Assisi with unalloyed joy, but Pope Innocent’s hopes for the new foundation were not unalloyed. One question still troubled him as it had already troubled Guido, the bishop of Assisi before him. For Francis had also asked permission to live in absolute poverty. How can anyone follow Christ in absolute poverty, owning nothing whatsoever, either personally or in common? And was it correct to say that this was the poverty as lived by Jesus himself and his followers? There is certainly evidence to suggest that the first disciples  pooled their resources and lived a life in common after the Resurrection, but no evidence to suggest that this became a universal norm in the early church, and that is a very long way from living without any personal possessions whatsoever. These are questions that have exercised the minds of Franciscan scholars for centuries.

30 Nov 2016

Complaint Department

Why does it seem to be human nature that our first instinct is to complain?
Take, for example, my husband’s gripe that the Swiss cheese I bought didn’t have enough holes in it. That’s right: he complained that it didn’t have enough nothing.





Find a Real Friend in Jesus, by Gary Zimak - Book Review

What a joy it was to read Gary Zimak’s new book, Find a Real Friend in Jesus. I had the opportunity to hear Gary speak at this past summer’s Catholic Writers Guild conference in Chicago. IL. He spoke of his journey and his decision to give his life to Christ. He did not make that decision lightly; it came through much prayer and conversation with Jesus. You may wonder, “How do you have a conversation with Jesus?” Well, in Gary Zimak’s book, Find a Real Friend in Jesus, you learn just how easy it can be to see Jesus become your best friend through conversation!

Gary Zimak tackles all of the potential obstacles that stand between you and your ability to develop a strong relationship with Jesus. He breaks down the walls and walks you through ten steps to building a better relationship with Jesus; a relationship better than the one you have today. Read more...

Ideas for Observing Advent

We are in the first week of Advent. Already! The word advent means “coming,” and during Advent we reflect on and prepare for the three comings of Christ: in history in Bethlehem, in mystery every day in the Eucharist and in others, and in majesty at the end of time. While engaged in the flurry and excitement of buying gifts, decorating the tree, and visiting Santa, Catholic families also focus on the real meaning of Christmas, namely, the celebration of the incarnation, God loving us to the extent of becoming a human being to save us. I've collected ways to live a meaningful Advent, in hopes of someday producing a book of family traditions. One or two might appeal to you . . . Click to continue

29 Nov 2016

The O Antiphons: Names for Christmas/Advent babies

I wrote this article for Nameberry last year, and thought it might be helpful to post it here in case you know anyone expecting a baby in the next six weeks!

I recently went back through the Nameberry archives to see what posts have been done about Christmas names and found articles listing names relating to Christmas movies (Ralphie, Zuzu) and TV specials (Linus, Virginia), seasonal foliage (Holly, Ivy), colors (Crimson, Scarlet), Elf on the Shelf names (Buddy, Nick), and, of course, the major players (Mary, Joseph, Emmanuel). What can be said about names relating to Christmas that hasn’t yet been said?

I uncovered an untapped source of inspiration in what’s known as the O Antiphons, the short verses recited, sung, or chanted before the part of Evening Prayer called the Magnificat in the Catholic Church in the week before Christmas Eve(December 17—23); a different one is sung on each of the seven nights. They’re called the O Antiphons because each one begins with the exclamation “O,” and “antiphon” refers to the fact that it’s recited before a psalm or canticle (in this case, they’re recited before the Magnificat, which is a canticle, or song of praise. It comes from the book of Luke in the New Testament, chapter 1, verses 46-55).

Read the rest of the article here.

Only Say The Word

Today’s Gospel: Matthew 8, 5-11
In today’s Gospel reading, a Roman centurion comes to Jesus to beg the Lord to heal his sick servant. However, when Jesus responds that he will come and cure his servant, the centurion responds, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Every day at the height of the every Mass, just before Communion, throughout the entire world, Catholics call to mind the words of this Gentile, a Roman soldier hated by the Jews:
“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
We are asking the Lord to heal not our servant, but our inmost being. Catholics repeat the words of this soldier from 2,000 years ago words to prepare us for an incredibly intimate Divine encounter.        continue reading

28 Nov 2016

Hate, Justice, Forgiveness

Islamic centers in California got hate mail recently. At least one of the letters was addressed "To the Children of Satan," and started with "You muslims [!] are a vile and filthy people...."1 Details are new, but the attitude is all too familiar.

Hating Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, or other 'outsiders' may be easier than coming to terms with personal issues. I don't know why those letters were sent.

I also don't know why a Somali refugee drove into a crowd at Ohio State University and hurt some folks with a knife this morning.2 He had been a student there, and now he's dead. I'm not happy about that, but I think he shouldn't have attacked those folks.

I do not think we should deport all Somalis, lock up college students, or ban knives and automobiles. I'll talk about what I think would make sense, after explaining why I'm not upset about Americans who don't look and act exactly like me.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Advent - A Time for Preparation: Repent & Wait with Joy

Yesterday, we began the season of Advent, a time of preparation, repentance, waiting and joy. Sunday’s second reading from Romans 13:11-14 tells us to clothe ourselves in virtue:

Brothers and sisters: You know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and lust, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.
When we put on the armor of light, we embrace virtue to... Read more...

As the Morning Rising: Advent Poem

As the Morning Rising: Advent Poem: Advent Poem Bless my soul, Lord, At this time of waiting And anticipation. May your word be as benediction As I prepare the way for T...

27 Nov 2016

Advent Prayers and Marian Art From the Heart

God of power and mercy, 
open our hearts in welcome. 
Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, 
so that we may share his wisdom 
and become one with him when he comes in glory, 
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.  Amen