Stories Seldom Heard
– December 2016
to Stories Seldom Heard. I would like especially to welcome the
Holy Trinity Seminary, Dallas, Texas. There are three parts to this
issue of “Stories Seldom Heard.” Part III is an Advent poem
by John of the Cross. I thought you might like to use it as part of
your Advent/Christmas meditations.
Dear Stories Seldom Heard Community,
It is a pleasure each month to serve you
by sending you "Stories Seldom Heard." These scriptural reflections
are offered to you, our international Christian community, as an
on-going adult education resource for your personal and spiritual
enrichment. The articles can also be used for group prayer and
reflection services. If you would like "Stories Seldom Heard" sent
to a friend, please send a note to "email@example.com." If you
would like to support this ministry, please send your contributions
to Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, c/o Sister Patricia Bruno, O.P.,
638 36th Street, Richmond, CA 94805. Special prayers
during this full and blessed Advent season. Thank you.
Over the last couple of months we have
been focusing on the Fourth Gospel.
It is this Gospel that we will proclaim at Eucharist on Christmas
Day. We know the Gospel well. “In the beginning was the Word, and
the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We remember, too,
that the fourth Gospel says nothing about crèches or shepherds.
Rather, this Gospel carries with it the mystery of creation and
celebrates the joy and wonder to which the Advent readings have been
During Advent the first readings of our Sunday liturgies have been
from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. These readings capture the
spirit of Advent well. Filled with hope, joy and wonder Isaiah’s
poetic style lifts our spirits and raises our eye to “God’s holy
mountain” where God instructs us. They “shall beat their swords into
plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; our nations shall
not raise the sword against another” (Is. 2:5). These words deepen
our trust in the One who guides us. “The spirit of the Lord will
rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of
counsel and of strength, his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.”
(Is. 11:2). We are encouraged to keep on keeping on. God will
“strengthen the hands of the feeble, make firm the knees of the
weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong, fear
not.” The fourth Sunday continues to fill us with a sense of the
immediacy of the fulfillment of God’s promises. “I will give you
this sign…” (Is 7:14).
The Isaiah readings prepare us to receive the mystery of the Word
who was with God from the beginning -- a light to all people, a
light that darkness can never overpower. The prologue to the Fourth
Gospel helps us imagine the breadth and depth of God’s wisdom and
care for us. The creation story in Genesis is not filled
with hopes, wishes and dreams, but with the creative Word of God.
Creation is an expression of God’s love for the world. As we listen
to the prologue we are drawn more deeply into the unfolding
mysteries of creation that continue to astonish us. We need to hear
and ponder the words of hope and wonderment that scripture offers us
especially these days because we know the destructive power of evil
in our world. Many of us know it close up. Its face has appeared
at different periods of our lives. We hear of evil’s insidious ways
taking over hearts, minds and cultures.
Our Advent/Christmas readings are not blind to the negative aspects
of the world. Rather they encourage us to hold hope and promise as
well as indifference and sin in perspective. We believe and trust
in the deepest parts of our being that a light has come – a light
that darkness can never extinguish.
“The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” so that we
would grow in our understanding of the One who is beyond all
understanding and trust the One who loves us more than we love
ourselves. Perhaps that’s why Advent and our Christmas Day Gospel
are filled with images of wonder, attentiveness and longing. These
are the qualities of the children of God of whom the Christmas
Gospel speaks. As adults we often experience the necessity of
compromise. Perhaps that’s the price we pay for growing up. We
become more serious, less amazed with the mysteries of life. It is
easy to lose our sharpness and allow our childlike amazement to
Our Advent readings invite us to be attentive to the wonders that
are already present in our lives and to give thanks. These are the
present gifts of the more complex and fuller promise to come. Many
of these gifts are in plain sight: the surprise we experience when
we see sweet alyssums pushing through the cold sidewalk cracks; the
peace we feel as we listen to the quiet lapping of the waves against
the sand on Christmas Day; the joy of a group of retired men
initiating a parish food pantry; the sunrise over snowcapped
mountains; the wisdom that comes in conversation with young people
who have suffered much; the pleasure we feel as a three year old
grandson gently caresses a newborn kitten.
Paying “attention to this and ignoring that - is to the inner life
what choice of action is to the outer” (1). We
are lucky to have many choices. We need wise people to lean on and
a community of faith to guide us. The Christmas Day Gospel reminds
us that we, like John the Baptist, are to be trustworthy witnesses.
Our testimony will ring true as we express God-like qualities in our
lives, the qualities of mercy and justice. It is through our lives
that others will come to know the God in whom we believe. It
reminds us that we who believe in Christ have become adult children
of God, people who have a child-like sense of wonder, a mature trust
in God’s providence and a desire to tell others the Good News we
If You Want
the Virgin will come walking down the road
pregnant with the holy,
“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,
my time is so close.”
under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime
intimacy, the divine, the Christ
as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us
is the midwife of God, each of us.
there, under the dome of your being does creation
come into existence eternally, through your womb, dear pilgrim—
the sacred womb in your soul,
as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is
God’s beloved servant
want, the Virgin will come walking
down the street pregnant
with Light and sing...
of the Cross, “If You Want” in Daniel Ladinsky
Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West,
New York: Penguin
Group, 2002, 306-307.
How might you become a
midwife for God?
Special thanks to Mary Ellen Green and Maria Hetherton who have
helped in editing this article.
"Stories Seldom Heard" is a monthly article written by Sister
Patricia Bruno, O.P. Sister is a Dominican Sister of San
Rafael, California. This service is offered to the Christian
community to enrich one's personal and spiritual life. The
articles can be used for individual or group reflection. If
you would like "Stories Seldom Heard" sent to a friend,
please send a note to "firstname.lastname@example.org."
If you would like to support this ministry, please send your
contributions to Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, c/o Sister
Patricia Bruno, O.P., 638 36th Street, Richmond, CA
94805. Thank you.