Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Meaning of Christmas

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.  

 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.  

 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.  

 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, ‘This was he of whom I said, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.” ’) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. (John 1:1-18)
At Christmas we pray that the blessings of the Christ Child will be with all we meet. We gather to celebrate the birth of Christ our Savior. He is the Eternal Word Who entered into our world and took to Himself our humanity.  In the stillness of the night the shepherds heard the angels proclaim the birth of the Light of the World Who came into the world to free those who were in bondage and darkness. Christmas is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad because God has come to dwell among us. On Christmas we are invited to lay our burdens down at the foot of the manger and take into our arms the Lord Who came to us as a helpless infant so we could love Him. 

The Prologue to the Gospel of Saint John does not recount the birth scene in Bethlehem. Unlike the other Christmas Gospels, this passage seldom makes it into music. There is no mention of herald angels singing, no shepherds watching, no cattle lowing, no stars brightly shining, no little town of Bethlehem, no swaddling clothes, and no Mary and Joseph. Despite the lack of these customary details, the text tells us the reason for the season. On Christmas, we are celebrating the mystery of the Eternal Word becoming a wordless infant so that we might learn the language of love. No longer speaking through emissaries, God utters His ultimate word. The heavens have been thrown open and the Light of the Nations has manifested the salvation of our God. The innocence of the newborn Savior has touched the hearts of men and women throughout the world and shown them how to love. 

Even though many did not and do not accept Him, the light of Christ shines out as a beacon of hope for all who find themselves trapped in darkness and sin. On Christmas, the Lord whom heaven and earth cannot contain, came forth from Mary’s virginal womb. His birth was proclaimed by the angelic hosts and the stars of heaven. The announcement was too great to be contained or silenced. Christ is born to us and all creation declares the presence of the Word made Flesh in our midst. The birth of the Prince of Peace makes known to all people of good will the path to peace and reconciliation. God became man so that the children of Adam and Eve might be remade in the image of God. 

The people who lived in darkness have learned to walk in the Light. The Word that first called creation into existence today calls all of the children of Adam and Eve to newness of life. The birth of the Light of the World has scattered the darkness that shrouded the world and has given us reason to rejoice and be glad. Overcome by the joy of this day, our whole being becomes a proclamation of the Good News. One who rejoices cannot contain the gladness he encounters. Rejoicing gives evidence of our integral relationships with God and all the members of the human race. 

We have reason to rejoice because Christ has brought the light of glory into our world. The Light of Christ shines upon us and enables us to overcome our own darkness. The Light of Christ floods the darkness of our livesit shines on the margins and places that seem totally devoid of joy and happiness. The birth of Christ has broken down all barriers that separate the human race from God. In times past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets. In our time, the Word He spoke took flesh and was incarnate by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. Let us raise our voices and sing the hymn of the new creation. We sing this hymn so that the world may believe in Christ and lay claim to their birthright as heirs of the Kingdom. God loves us so much that He chose to become one of us and by so doing made possible our eternal happiness. Let us dance and sing and announce the birth of Our King. 

My brothers and sisters, the Son of God has been given to us. Let the holy infant capture your heart. AllowHim to draw you nearer to the Father's heart. Today we rejoice for the One who is among us now, enabling us to live his life of compassion and kindness towards the least. He has commanded us to love one another, has made it possible for us because, “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace….” Let us live the newness of life He has brought us and not only sing the Good News that has appeared for us but become living gospels for all we meet.  

Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

Dealing with Spiritual Barrenness

Sometimes in life we experience barrenness. But do we look for the new life that can spring from it? In Scripture, Hannah was barren, but she begged the Lord for a son and Samuel was conceived. The wife of Manoah was barren when an angel appeared to her to tell her that she would become the mother of Samson.  And so it was. Elizabeth was barren. An angel appeared to her husband, Zechariah, telling him that Elizabeth would become the mother of John the Baptist. And so it happened.

Consider now barrenness of the spirit. More often than we would like to admit, we go through life in a trance-like state. At those times, we neither think about nor relate to life. We become incapable of loving, of acknowledging and of conforming ourselves to God-With-Us. Even as we wander in this arid waste, the grace of God is at work in us. We have only to recall the comment of Jacob after he had the dream of the ladder. “Surely the Lord is in the place and I was not aware of it” (Gen. 28:16). Since we live by faith and not by sight, we need to be content with our barrenness. God can and does work in us when we feel most useless. It is only when we admit that we are weak, that we can realize our need for God to manifest His strength and glory. May Christ, the shoot of the barren root of Jesse come and save us. Merton sums it up well in this often quoted prayer.

When The Road Ahead Is In Darkness
By Thomas Merton
Dear God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my troubles all alone.

--Father Jerome Machar, OSCO

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December 23 over Two Thousand Years Ago

We do not know the exact day on which Jesus was born. But let us say that it was December 25 over two thousand years ago. Let's imagine the Holy Family on that day.

Nazareth. Mary is sweeping the house. Joseph is at work in the carpenter shop. She has prepared swaddling clothes for the baby very soon to be born. He has carved a cradle. They await each day with excitement and a little trepidation. A son whose birth is announced by an angel. Whatever will this child be? Do they have the grace and wisdom to parent him?

That day a centurion rides into town. The emperor has declared a census. Everyone must leave at once for his ancestral home to be be counted. Mary and Joseph hear the news. Leave? Today? This is a great burden. Mary is about to give birth. They had their home ready to welcome the child. Now they must leave. Right now. Today. Of course, many other people are in the same situation, having to pack up and leave, now.

Joseph stops working on the table he is making for a neighbor and begins to ready the donkey. Mary begins to pack. She wads up the swaddling clothes and puts them into a pouch. She finds changes of clothing for her and Joseph. This should not take too many days. But the baby could be born before they come back so she must be ready just in case. There is hustle and bustle, much hurried preparation. Mary and Joseph secure their house and leave.

Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem

Joseph is heading to Bethlehem because he is of the house of David and Bethlehem is the city of David's birth. He imagines that the place could be crowded. He hopes they can find a place to stay. But there is no way to reserve a room--no cell phones, internet, carrier pigeons. So the Holy Family goes out, a long walk on foot with a donkey, having no idea what lies ahead except that Joseph will register for the census and then they will return to Nazareth.

December 23, over two thousand years ago. Why is this happening?

Caesar Augustus has no idea that he is being an agent of God. Joseph is not thinking about the fact that Bethlehem means "house of bread." Mary has no inkling that Jesus will call Himself "the Bread of Life." Did Anna and Joachim go with Joseph and Mary or did they stay behind in Nazareth? Did Joseph and Mary bid them good bye, thinking they would see them within a few days or a week? Did anyone think that the root of Jesse was about to blossom again?

The Holy Family had no thought that this baby would be born in a cave or that they would soon thereafter flee to Egypt, a country they never intended to visit. They had no idea that they would not return to Nazareth after their trek to Bethlehem. Anna and Joachim would never dream that they would not see their grandchild until he was seven years old.

December 23, over 2000 years ago. The humility of God to be born an infant. The power of God to work out where and when. The wisdom of God to have the birth happen amid this confusing and unanticipated way.

Where are you now, December 23 of this year? What lies ahead? You know not, but do you have to know since God does know? Can you draw up your trust today as did Mary and Joseph and go forward, without having your questions answered but in surrender to the will of God?

Lord, give us the grace to do so.

(Adapted from a homily by Father David Engo, FBM)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mary's Yes at the Annunciation/Our Yes to God

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1: 26-38)
Mary at the Annunciation
In today’s Luke's Gospel, a divine messenger(Gabriel) brings Mary the awesome news of the forthcoming Incarnation ofthe Messiah, and we hear the Blessed Virgin Mary’s assent. Other than
“rejoicing” at the memory of this long-awaited Good News, where can mymeditation take me?
Mary’s response to God can lead us in many directions, but today let’s focus onjust two points. The context, of course, is Mary’s humble submission of her will to God’s will in all things, and the fact that the “birthing process” began at that verymoment of her “Yes.”
There is a Dominican mystic from the 14th century that is often quoted,because his words capture so well our own participation in this birthing process.Meister Eckhart asks the questions that we all ought to consider. First he asks:“What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture?” Mary’s “Yes” that brought Christ to the world is not just a “memory event,” such as recalling that Babe Ruth or Tiger Woods set records to remember. Instead, it ought to lead us to ponder how to imitate her: how can I bring Christ to the daily world that I live and participate in? Do I reflect Christ in what I say and do? Am I a true disciple, like Mary the model disciple?
A second question that Meister Eckhart asks: “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son . . . does not take place within myself?” When God comes to dwell within us at our Baptism, we are empowered to live the Christ-life, one oriented to loving God and Neighbor. Do I see that orientation in my own heart, or am I still oriented to selfishness? Do I humbly submit to all of the Spirit inspired teachings of the Magisterium of the Church, without exception, so that its wisdom can grow in my heart?
In summary, in a sense your personal meditation can parallel Mary’s journey: have I truly given an unqualified “Yes” to Jesus in my own life, and what is the best way for me to bring this Good News to my own little world? Mary and all the Saints have one thing in common: they “will His will alone.”
This is our life, our desire and our destiny: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to Your word.” Mary is the perfect model of the “obedience of faith” that we disciples are all called to imitate. 

Your servant in Christ,                                                                 
Deacon Joseph Pasquella
Diocese of Buffalo

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

William Thomas Eddy (br. Anthony), CFP - May He Rest in God's Peace

The Confraternity of Penitents is so grateful for having known our dear brother William Thomas Eddy, known in the Confraternity by his privately vowed name br. Anthony, selected no doubt because Bill was born on St. Anthony of Padua's birthday in 1941. As a convert to Catholicism after being a minister in the Church of the Nazarenes, Bill lived his faith in gentle and unobtrusive ways. He suffered long with tremors and diabetes but was not heard by any in the CFP to complain.

Bill (br. Anthony) entered the August postulancy in 2004. His reason: "I am living in an environment that God has lead (sic) me to, that is perfect for the rest of my journey with the Confraternity of Penitents." Indeed, our dear brother stayed the rest of his journey with us, up to his death on December 6, 2014. We in the CFP saw his fragile health deteriorate over the years and kept in touch with him by email and phone call and personal visits, although he did not live near any other CFP member. Since Bill (br. Anthony) had no family, the Confraternity has claimed his remains for burial in a Catholic Cemetery only a few miles from the Confraternity of Penitents International Office in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He fought the good fight. He maintained the faith. May our dear brother rest in peace.

We miss you, br. Anthony. Please pray for us as we pray for you.
Bill as a postulant at CFP Retreat 2005

William Thomas Eddy pledges to live the CFP Rule for life on July 26, 2008 and then followed that with a private vow to live the Rule for Life, taking the privately vowed name br. Anthony. The pledge and private vow  were made to Fr. Michael Corriveau, CPM

Close up of Patricia Murray's (sr. Ann Line), Bill Eddy's (br. Anthony), Karen Hopersburger's  (sr Mary Faustina's) pledging cake at CFP Retreat 2008. All three took a life pledge and then a private vow to live the CFP Rule for life.

Life Pledged CFP members cutting their cake at CFP Retreat, July 2008. Patricia Murray (sr. Anne), Bill, Karen Hopersburger (sr. Mary Faustina)

Life Pledged Chapter of the Confraternity of Penitents, April 2010. Bill (br. Anthony) in front with Sue Brady (sr. Margaret Therese). beside him.
Left to Right: Patricia Murray (sr. Ann), sr. Lou Samuels, Madeline Pecora Nugent (sr. Margaret of Cortona), Bob Boczek (br. Mathew), Rita Farnsworth (sr. Mary Rose), Karen Hopersburger (sr. Mary Faustina), Sieglinde McGuinness (sr. Peter Thecla), Patricia Boynton (sr. Veronica Therese). Standing in rear: br. James Nugent, Larry Dusek (br. Paul Mychal), Karen Sadock (sr. Naaman)

Bill (br. Anthony) in his apartment prior to being moved to a nursing home. 2011

All life pledged members of the Confraternity of Penitents: Elizabeth Hill (sr. Bridget Clare), br. Jim Nugent, Madeline Pecora Nugent (sr. Margaret of Cortona), Bill (br. Anthony), May 2011

Bill (br. Anthony) and Karen Hopersburger (sr. Mary Faustina), July 2014

Madeline Pecora Nugent (sr. Margaret of Cortona) with Bill (br. Anthony), October 2014. This is the last photo we have of our dear brother.

Go with God, dear brother.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

How a Catholic Family Can Prepare for Christmas

Families start to prepare for Christmas at Thanksgiving. Maybe before Thanksgiving. This year I went home for Thanksgiving. And priests do this kind of musical chairs thing. We all kind of move around and take care of each other’s parishes so we can get home and see each our families on the holidays. So I was saying Mass at the parish where my parents live when I went home for Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving night I got an emergency call. This is not uncommon.

We get these calls where we have to go to the hospital and give someone the last rites. No big deal. I am used to going out at 3 o’clock in the morning to do this. A lot of people think that we would be tired, but we’re not tired. The Lord is really good. He gives us the grace, we get the call, and off we go. When He calls, we’re ready. Normally, this is not an issue in the middle the night. So I’m in my car at 3 AM on the way to the hospital and I am saying to myself, “Where did all this traffic come from? This is the day after Thanks . . . OOOH!” There were literally lines at all the lights and all of them heading to the mall. And I was feeling so profoundly grateful that I was not among them. I was so thankful to the Lord because I was on a hospital run. I was absolutely flabbergasted that there were this many people out at this time of the morning to go shopping. And I was very profoundly thankful because, while the world moves in a certain motion, my life is so different.

It takes the radio, it takes TV, it takes getting up at 3 AM on Black Friday morning to make me recognize the pattern the world undertakes. And I am so thankful for that because all of us Christians are called to live lives radically different from the world, to set our priorities different. Now I am not saying that all those people who got up at some ungodly hour to go shopping were sinning. I can say I think you are nuts, but you were not necessarily sinning. Necessarily. 

In Advent we are all called to set ourselves apart. The world is in the commercial Christmas mode during Advent. Christmas music is playing. Everything is starting. Shopping is ramped up. Everything is going into Christmas mania. But the Church, and God through the Church, is asking you to draw back. To draw back before we go and get sucked into the culture and sucked into all of the things that are, in a sense, good things. Before that happens, the Lord wants us to remember first the ultimate thing. When Christ came thousands of years ago to save us, he came as a little child. But there is an equal reality that he will indeed come again. And when he comes again, he will not come as a little child. He will come as Lord and Savior and judge.

One of the readings in Advent says this.

I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, to thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff. When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off and the storm shall scatter them. But you shall rejoice in the LORD, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.

The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, that all may see and know,
observe and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Isaiah 41: 13-20)

Did you hear this? "O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel." That is quite a shocker, isn’t it? Man! Harsh words from the Lord! That is gross. Yuck. What is the Lord trying to say? Doesn't the Lord like Israel anymore? No! It's not that the Lord doesn't like Israel anymore. What he is saying is, “Wake up, Israel! You are nothing without me. Without me, you are not the chosen people. Without me, you will have no good things in your life. Without me, you can do nothing. You are as helpless as a maggot. You are as weak as a worm.” 

And that is a message for us today, that without God we can do nothing, but with God everything is possible. You hear that in this passage. "The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them." They can't  get water themselves. God will give it to them.

Now in this reading, God does not stop there. He goes on to talk about all these different kinds of trees. And what is the deal with all of those trees? Listen again. " I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, that all may see and know, observe and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it." He was saying that he is going to plant those trees in places where they ought not to be able to to grow, but he is going to grow them because he is the Lord God and anything is possible. That is the number one thing we need to remember from this passage. Without God we are nothing. Without God, I am just Jacob Meyer. Poor little Jacob Meyer. I am nothing. Without God, where is my hope? Without God, where is where is my strength? Without God, where is my best friend who is always there for me? Without God, we are all no better than maggots. 

But we all sometimes live our lives as if God does not matter. We live our lives as if God is not a part of them. There are days when we wake up and we live our day and we go to bed and we never even think of God and how he loves us, how he sustains us in our day. What the Lord is saying is that is the greatest tragedy--to go a single day without thinking about God and about how much he loves you. For you to go a single day without asking him for help--that is a tragedy. Because he is there and is waiting to hear from you. We have to love him. We have to ask him. 

Whoever has ears ought to hear, says the Gospel. The Gospel says that John the Baptist is Elijah, the one coming into the world who will prepare the way for the Lord. Everyone who has ears ought to hear. Does anyone not have ears here? No one is earless this morning. Which means you want to hear. Which means you want to listen and pay attention.  John the Baptist came into this world and he said to prepare the way of the Lord. The ultimate thing is that the Lord came and we need him because without him, we are nothing.

When Christ came thousands of years ago to save us, he came as a little child. But there is an equal reality that he will indeed come again. And when he comes again, he will not come as a little child. He will come as Lord and Savior and judge. And we need to prepare for him.
So what are you doing to prepare the way of the Lord? What are you doing? Hopefully you are praying more. Hopefully you are going to go to confession. Clean up the soul. Make ready the path for God. Ultimately how about being an instrument of peace. Is this is a stressful time right now? Kids have tests before Christmas break. Teachers are trying to get caught up on school work. Kids have their mothers at them for cleaning the house because company is coming over. You got Christmas parties. You gotta get ready for Christmas. You got all these different things to do. You got to bake or help bake Christmas cookies but you are not allowed to eat them yet, Oh, the injustice!

All these things you have to do. But do not forget that in the midst of doing all these things, there are more important things. What is the state of your soul right now? What is the state of your heart right now? In all of that stress, are you going to be an instrument of peace? Or you going to be an instrument of consternation? You have a choice, don't you? If you are a kid, you can be the kid who is trying to be peaceable with your siblings, who is trying to be kind and generous and faithful and good. Or you can be a hellion. "No, that is my Xbox! No, it's mine!" And then what? Your parents have to get involved. Kids, think about your parents. Will you do this for me because I have all these other things going on? Will you do the dishes and take out the trash? Kids, are you going to say yes enthusiastically and go do it or you going to give mom a hard time? These are your choices. 

Prepare the way of the Lord. Do not put obstacles in the Lord’s path. Try kindness, generosity, charity. Try to bring calm and peace among the siblings. Try to be that wonder kid toward your parents. It will go well for you. Because the happier your parents are, the better Christmas will be. And you know that that is true. You have a vested interest in this, my friends. A vested interest and ultimately, it is your choice. Because without God we are not nothing. But with him we are the most blessed of all peoples.

We are called to think about this reality during Advent. We have work to do. God became a little baby at Christmas to start the work, and it is only finished through each of us. For each of us, our salvation began at the Incarnation, but for each of us it will not end until we become clay in the hands of the Potter, until we make ourselves moldable so that the Lord can make us into what He wants us to be. Just think about it right now. Parents, you are all transforming all of your worlds and your homes to look like little Christmas Wonderland’s. There are utterly insane lights going up at all angles on every building. You are climbing on ladders to transform the present landscape into something that is magnificent. The Lord wishes is to do the very same thing in our lives. He wishes to mold us. He wishes to enlighten our lives to change so that we might be the creation that He calls us to be.

We need to be a watchful people, be ready for when He comes again. How do we get ready? How do we become watchful? Many of you have had times in your life when you are trying to stay awake. Little kids, maybe it is when you are waiting for Santa. For us older people, it might be many different things. Maybe it is waiting for the ball to drop on New Year’s Eve. Whatever it is, we were trying to stay awake. If you are trying to stay awake, you gotta have a game plan. You need coffee. Mountain Dew. You need an uncomfortable chair. You need anything but your bed because if you go about the things that you normally would, you become comfortable and the natural things of the world take over and you fall asleep. 

Similarly if we are to watch for Christ, we must do things out of the ordinary to keep ourselves awake. What are those things that are out of the ordinary? Fasting. Prayer. Now this is going to make teenagers very nervous. I think the one thing you need to do to be watchful and ready is to have a blackout on TV and your phones. There is nothing that will change the regular pattern of your life like that. These things have become surgically attached to us so that we do not know ourselves without them. They are like our new puppy that we take everywhere with us. How many times do you check CNN? 14 a day at least. There should be a blackout on this. Your family can decide what the blackout time is. Mom, collect the phones, turn off the TV. I don’t particularly care what you do at that point. I would love it if you spent that time in prayer, but you are probably not going to spend all the time in prayer. But even if you have a short prayer to begin it and then you just go about your time with a greater sense of contemplation, with just a sense of silence, you will have created moments when you can be clay in the Potter’s hands. We need to give God a chance to work on us, to show us where to go. 

We pray the Our Father often, at Mass every Sunday at least but, hopefully, every day. And we pray “Thy Kingdom come.” We are anticipating the second coming of Christ. We are praying for the second coming. Or do we say, “Thy Kingdom come but not today?” Or “Thy Kingdom come but just not yet. I’m having too much fun.”

Do you mean “Thy Kingdom come?” Are you alert? Are you awake? Does your heart know that someday you will meet your Savior and your judge? So here is what to do. Blackout your TV and phones and schedule your confession time. Today. Today schedule it. You are going to go to confession to make your heart ready to receive the Lord. And from now until Christmas, set aside a time every single day when you can have personal prayer. Maybe a set blackout time. Maybe not. This does not have to be long. From now until Christmas, set a specific time each day when you can pray, “Lord help me get ready. Lord, help me to be more faithful. Lord, help me be vigilant.” Then as the world continues around you, as the world becomes like 3 AM on Black Friday morning, you can have that understanding that this world is not what I was made for. I have a Savior who loves me so much that, not only does He love me, but He will come to take me with Him, and when that happens I want to be ready. 

--Father Jacob Meyer, Visitor, Confraternity of Penitents