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How’s Your Hearing?

I lectored at Mass on the recent feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.   The first reading was taken from the tenth chapter of Romans, so  appropriate since St. Andrew was sent by our Lord to preach, and preach he did.  He proclaimed the Gospel as he hung on the cross… how’s that for apostolic ardor?

In his Letter to the Romans, Paul mentions various forms of the infinitive “to hear” at least five times.  For example:

“And how can they can believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear, without someone to preach?”    -Romans 10:14

Paul proclaiming the Good News
       Paul proclaiming the Good News

And some verses later;

“But not everyone has heeded the good news… thus faith comes through what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.”                           -Romans 10:16-17

This theme of “hearing” is taken up in the first Encyclical of Pope Francis, The Light of Faith;

“Saint Paul would use a formula which became classic: fides ex auditu, “faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17). Knowledge linked to a word is always personal knowledge; it recognizes the voice of the one speaking, opens up to that person in freedom and follows him or her in obedience. Paul could thus speak of the “obedience of faith.”    – P. 29

“It recognizes the voice of the one speaking,” writes the Pope.  This links up closely with Jesus’ words;

He talks to His sheep
He talks to His sheep

“…and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls  his own sheep by name and leads them out…because they recognize his voice.”   John 10:3-4

Which leads us to one of the great themes of Advent; waiting and listening for the Lord.  I know that the best way for me to hear the voice of Jesus is to read the Word, and take time to ponder it; to really listen.  The world, and my own inner ‘noise,’ can block out His voice, if I allow it.  Maybe you can relate?

Recently, my wife and I ended our cable TV service.  It was something we carefully discussed before finally “taking the plunge.” It has been just over a week, and we don’t miss it.  Not only that, but we’re experiencing more peace, and a greater intimacy with the Lord. The fact that we did this in Advent is a blessed ‘God-incidence.’ Where our TV used to sit, now rests our Advent wreath.  Each night, we’re dedicating special prayer time as we light the appropriate candle.  We consider the daily Mass readings and let the Word open up for us in all its power and peace.  In the silence, He speaks.

Let’s be honest.  So much of TV is distraction.  In fact, the world seems designed to create all kinds of ‘noise’ so as to drown out the one thing that we really need to hear.  But we do have a choice.

My wife and I are choosing to listen to Jesus.  It’s that simple…

…and it’s that hard.

COME LORD JESUS …and help us to listen!

Finding Joy in Our Crazy World

To begin, we offer a prayer for all those killed or injured in the shooting in Las Vegas, for the grieving families, for the soul of Stephen Paddock, for the peoples of:  Puerto Rico, North Korea, Syria, the Ukraine, Myanmar, the Congo and for all those recovering from hurricanes.

The news is overwhelming.  Maybe it always has been.  I’ve often said to Glenn, “The present seems crazy but the sixties must have felt worse when JFK and other national leaders (Martin Luther King Jr &  RFK) were assassinated.

How do you find joy in your daily life?  I, (Maeve), recently started taking tap dancing lessons and am enjoying them.  I’ve been inspired by the NYC ballets that I’ve attended with my dad in recent summers and by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

For our tenth wedding anniversary last year, I bought Glenn “Bert and Ernie” dolls.   He used to do puppet shows for his younger brother.   Now, he does them for me.

Through working at a school, I’ve rediscovered the simple joys of blowing bubbles…             IMG_2281                    ….and coloring, and have learned about “slime,” water beads and the Tooty-Ta dance….

Dancing with McKenna
Dancing with McKenna
And Dad
…..And Dad

I also enjoy writing whimsical poems, playing games with family and friends, exercising, and travel.  Naturally, you have your own list of things that give you joy.   Feel free to share them in the “Comment” section of our blog!

We also find great joy in God!  He’s the Creator of all the things that give us joy.  October has special significance in the Catholic Church as it’s the month of the Rosary and Respect Life month.   What’s joyful about these, you may ask?

There are four sets of ‘mysteries’ for the Rosary: the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries.  In the first Joyful mystery, the Annunciation, Mary is frightened when the angel Gabriel appears to her and tells her that she will conceive a child.  Scripture says that she was, “deeply troubled by his words” (Lk. 1:29).  But she still said ‘yes’ to God!

Henry Tanner, a 19th century American artist captures this moment well in his painting, “The Annunciation”;

ossawa-annunciation

In the second Joyful mystery, The Visitation, Mary visits her cousin, Elizabeth.   Pregnant with John the Baptist, and “filled with the Holy Spirit,” Elizabeth tells Mary that the moment she heard her greeting..

“The baby leapt in my womb for joy.”  – Lk 1:44 

Elizabeth also affirms Mary’s trust in God…

“Blessed is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled”   – 1:45

Mary, having accepted her role as Mother of God, responds in a befitting way.   She exults…..

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior”  – 1:46-47 

Her joy is palpable.  It’s also meant for us…..that joy break into our lives.  Naturally, we’re not ‘up’ all the time.  Some days, it can even be hard to smile.  But we can let Mary’s joy and example of being open to God’s will  break into our lives and lift us up.   Ride the coattails of her joy in the Lord.

What’s joyful about Respect Life month?  When I was a kindergartener at St. Ambrose school in Latham, I had a homework assignment that I completed with my parents.   We made a little booklet about ourselves.  The word, “Celebrate” was written on the front cover.  My parents wrote things like, “Maeve was named after the Irish queen, Maeve.  She likes strawberry ice cream with sprinkles and enjoys making up words to the song, ‘On Top of Old Smokey.'”

Later, I thought this was a quaint assignment and in life’s tougher moments, I wondered where that happy little girl had gone?

Fast forward to 1999, when I taught English in Bolivia for sixteen months.  I came into a new and vibrant relationship with Jesus and started realizing how I am…

“…precious in God’s eyes…”   – Isaiah 43:4 

Eventually, I revisited that “Celebrate” booklet in my mind.  But now, I took the message in!!  God ‘celebrates’ me!   God ‘celebrates’ you!  He ‘celebrates‘ every soul that He has ever allowed to come into being.

Psalm 139 says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” 

We know that many circumstances of conception aren’t ideal, but that doesn’t change the fact that God loves us and has willed us into existence.  He asks us to respect, value, cherish and PROTECT life to the best of our ability.   At the beginning of life,  at its’ end, and especially,  in lives that are vulnerable and fragile, He has a purpose.

Glenn writes: 

October 13 is the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun that thousands witnessed in Fatima, Portugal.  This is one of those little-known miracles that nevertheless is absolutely stunning.

St. John Paul II credits Our Lady with saving him, when there was an assassination attempt on his life in St Peter’s square, in 1983.  Why?  The date was May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the bullet just missed a major organ.

“One hand pulled the trigger, but another hand guided the bullet,” the Pope said.  Later that year, in his visit to the Fatima shrine, he placed that very bullet in the crown of Mary’s statue.

As we fast approach the Centennial of the Blessed Mother’s appearance to the children of Fatima, and as we recall the joy of praying the Rosary, let us also show ourselves to be a people who respect life in all its stages…

“...the new people of the redeemed cannot but respond with songs of joy, praise and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of life…”    

“The Gospel of Life”     — St. John Paul II,  P. 83