AN END OF THE YEAR
It is that time of the year again when we reach out to you for
help. Our weekly emailings now go to almost 9,000 recipients. Our
webpage, "Preacher Exchange," has had 390,000 "hits" since last
Advent. We have kept these Spanish and English resources free so
those in poorer parishes and the developing world can have access to
them. Judging from the emails I get, that is exactly what is
happening. We can’t continue this service without your help – so
Every day our community prays for our benefactors. And so you and
your loved ones will be remembered at our daily Eucharist and prayer
during these special days of Advent and Christmas.
Send tax deductible checks to:
(Make payable to: Dominican Friars )
Vince Hagan Dr.
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
For an online donation go to:
Advent is most often described as a season of waiting. We, of
the developed world, find waiting a waste of time and we get
jumpy and fidgety if we have nothing to do but wait. While we
wait our fears rise to the surface. Maybe that is why we try to
keep busy, so those fears can stay down below the surface, and
we can go about our daily lives oblivious.
We just went through a tumultuous election time, which reminded
us just how divided our nation is. We are also in a risky
international environment. Plus, we may have personal anxieties
about our health, economic stability, family issues, assault on the
environment, etc. These might be suppressed if we stay busy. If we
find ourselves paused, or waiting, out of our usual routine, then we
feel a loss of control and our fears become the subject of the
But suppose we embraced our waiting – focused instead on a
spirituality of waiting? Advent gives us time to do just that and we
have help in the Advent Scriptures and liturgical celebrations so
that our fears do not get the upper hand and diminish our hope. Here
we will be reflecting on the Scriptures during Advent. They will
help us develop a different attitude towards our waiting and direct
our prayers away from fear and towards hope.
Jeremiah wrote during another anxious time, to a divided nation:
the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah (v.
14). The people hoped for a unified nation – as we do. The prophet
promises that a descendent of David, the ideal king, will lead them
towards fulfilling their dreams. What they cannot do on their own,
God will accomplish through the one God sends them.
A divided nation needs strong, committed and just leadership for
stability and harmony. Advent begins with a brief, pointed message
from the prophet Jeremiah. He doesn’t need a lot of words to get his
message across; he offers the hope that God will provide the
urgently-needed leadership. He does not say when this will happen;
nor who this "just shoot" will be. The promise is given and the
people are invited to put their trust in God’s fidelity to them.
In light of the delinquent behavior of so many world and national
leaders we will have to look elsewhere for the "just shoot" who will
bring a new and fulfilling reign to our lives. Jeremiah is very
certain God will accomplish that hope as he begins his prophecy in
no uncertain terms: "‘The days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘when I
will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.’"
While the prophet speaks about the future works of God, he is
addressing the present situation of the people. Can we trust that
God has not forgotten us and left us on our own with our fears and
dread? When we experience the seeming-helplessness of the present
moment, can we trust that God sees as well, is strengthening us and
giving us reason to hope, not despair?
The cares and fears mentioned above, can cloud and distract our
waiting. Besides the hope Jeremiah offered us, Advent begins with a
Lucan the passage about the importance of prayer. This has been a
theme throughout his gospel. Luke shows Jesus praying frequently,
especially when he is about to make a big decision: choosing his
disciples (6:12); at his baptism before he enters into conflict with
the Pharisees (3:21). He also prayed at his transfiguration (9:29)
and as he was dying on the cross (23:46). In Luke’s gospel Jesus
encourages the disciples to "Pray constantly," and "Watch." Which is
what he advises in today’s gospel passage. "Be vigilant at all
times," and "Beware, that your hearts do not become drowsy."
The coming of Jesus is a twofold event in Advent. Later this
month we will focus on Jesus’ birth; now we look to his second
coming. Today’s gospel passage is in jarring apocalyptic language,
as it describes the ending of the cosmos. The apocalyptic style
depicts collapse of all that seems so fixed – sun, moon and the
stars. "The powers of the heavens will be shaken." A once-thought
secure world is not as secure as we thought. And so we are
challenged to ask ourselves: What and on whom have we relied? How
reliable are the humans and powers on which we have invested our
energy and hopes?
While others "die of fright" before such catastrophes, Jesus
advises us not to collapse in fear, but to see his presence coming
amid the turmoil. Apocalyptic language, in its dramatic way,
describes our world coming apart. At such times our tendency is to
flee and find refuge: will it be with distracting overwork, drugs,
alcohol, and computer gaming etc.? Instead of looking elsewhere,
Luke is encouraging us to hope. Rather than turning away and hiding
from the fearful events around us, we are encouraged, "Stand erect
and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand."
It feels like the Church is going through an apocalyptic crisis:
the foundations are shaken and the walls are trembling. It is a
fearful and doubting time for many. The confidence we may have had
in our seeming-secure leadership has cracked. Luke’s Jesus assumes
that, with his coming, there will be new life – a birthing again of
God in our world. When he does come, the "just shoot" will guide us
to God’s ways.
Advent is pregnant with a promise of new beginnings. We have an
opportunity to grow, or develop from scratch, a spirituality of
waiting – a time of hope – as we pray constantly for ourselves, our
world and our Church in the ancient prayer of Advent – "Maranatha,
Come Lord Jesus, Come!"
for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
We have posted an essay by Lyle May (a inmate on North Carolina’s
death row) on our webpage. It is a response to John Grisham’s
newspaper article against the death penalty. Go to:http://www.preacherexchange.com/jp_responding.htm
Lord make you increase and abound in love
another and for all.
As we enter the Advent season, we begin this week in active
waiting and anticipation. Paul, not surprisingly, says that in
preparation for what is coming, love is the rule. We are called to
grow in love for everyone and thereby have the ability to stand
blameless before God when Christ returns.
Loving others should be an easy thing for us to do. After all,
God is love and we are made in God’s image. Yet, loving people who
are not like us, who are "other," is a challenge. Perhaps, this
little exercise by an American spiritual teacher named Richard
Alpert (aka Ram Dass, "servant of God") might give us a way to
reflect on the walls we create to prevent us from loving the other.
"When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see
all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of
them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them
are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why
it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get
enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all
emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are
constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment
mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which
means appreciating them just the way they are."
Let us begin this exercise by examining our views of migrants and
refugees. After all, Jesus began his earthly life in flight from
persecution. Pope Francis states in one of his addresses (5/24/13):
"They are human people, I stress this, who are appealing for
solidarity and assistance, who need urgent action but also and above
all understanding and kindness. God is good, let us imitate God.
Their condition cannot leave us indifferent. Moreover, as Church we
should remember that in tending the wounds of refugees, evacuees and
the victims of trafficking, we are putting into practice the
commandment of love that Jesus bequeathed to us when he identified
with the foreigner, with those who are suffering, with all the
innocent victims of violence and exploitation."
In this first week of active waiting, increase your love and
appreciate these "others" just the way they are.
---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
Director of Social Justice Ministries
Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
said to his disciples:
powers of the heavens will be shaken."
The apocalyptic language of today’s gospel depicts the collapse
of all that seems so fixed – sun, moon and the stars. A once-thought
secure world is not as secure as we thought.
So we ask ourselves:
- What and on whom have we relied for security and hope in
times of crisis?
- Have these been supportive and sustaining?
POSTCARDS TO DEATH
has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an
inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form
it is carried out."
Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison
system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and
addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them
to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them
you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith
Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might
consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
- Eric Glenn Lane #0667195 (On death row since 7/11/05)
- Eddie Lamar Taylor #0762634 (8/24/05)
- William H. Raines #0526698 (9/9/05)
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC
For more information on the Catholic position on the death
penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the
"First Impressions" is a service to
preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is
sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First
Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John
Boll, OP at email@example.com.
If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax
deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736
Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage
to make an online donation:
1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:
- Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
- One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."
If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group,
or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in
your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use
these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to our webpage:
and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.
2. "Homilías Dominicales"
—These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are
written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would
like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P.
3. Our webpage:
Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First
Impressions" and "Homilías
Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and
other material pertinent to preaching.
4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those
wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the
Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent
weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above
you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert the
Great Priory of Texas
Vince Hagan Drive
First Impressions Archive
Click on a link button below to view the reflection indicated.
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