Author Archives | Sharon O'Connell-Wilson

About Sharon O'Connell-Wilson

I am a wife to my husband Dave and mother to my children Courtney and Gabe. I have a degree in education and have worked as a teacher, in advertising, radio, retail buyer and in youth advocacy – I even rode an elephant in the circus once! Currently I work as the Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I am a “cradle” Catholic who didn’t really know my faith until my adulthood. On fire with my faith and love for God I dove into parish life at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault, Minnesota. Once I dove in, I began to realized I needed to learn how to swim! Patient priests and friends as well as the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute helped me to learn the strokes. I love talking about my faith and learning more about the great gift of being Catholic.

Pray With Us

October 23, 2013

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Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Praying Together for Our Church

Below is a letter from Jeff Cavins to the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute inviting us to pray.  Let us all join in this beautiful novena.

In times of difficulty I have learned to turn to Mary.

For those of you who do not know of the Catechetical Institute – I urge everyone to look into it.  I am an alumni. Go C.I.

Thank you Jeff.

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We would like to invite you to something very special that those associated with the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute are doing in response to recent news in our archdiocese.

 

As many of you know, the Catholic Church is going through some extremely difficult times. As graduates and current students, you know that we, at the Catechetical Institute, are not only learning “what” to believe, but we are learning how to “live out” what we believe. It is difficult times such as these that call us to live what we have learned—to truly live as disciples of Jesus Christ, as witnesses to the Gospel, as Christians. This is not an easy task.

 

As Catholics, we are blessed to follow in the great biblical tradition of the heroes of faith, men and women who responded to trials with prayer, praise and thanksgiving. As a united Catechetical Institute, we are doing just that and extending an invitation to our CI community to pray together for every member who makes up our archdiocese; for, the archdiocese is not the structure, it is the people, all of us together. We are inviting you to join us in praying for the entire body of Christ and all who are suffering right now during this arduous time.

 

We are beginning an extraordinary novena, one that happens to be a favorite of Pope Francis. The novena is called, “Mary, Undoer of Knots” and has a beautiful and rich tradition.

 

This novena will begin on Wednesday, October 23rd and conclude on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. If you do not own the small booklet that explains and walks you through the novena, you can find the daily prayers at http://www.cistudent.com.

 

As mature Catholic believers, we must always ask ourselves, “What is the responsible, charitable and right way to proceed?” No doubt, many people have asked you questions about what they are hearing in the media. Our response does not merely represent our own opinion, but it represents the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ, and as such we need to always ask, “What would Jesus do?”

 

Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to season all our words with love, mercy and compassion. This is not only our response to our fellow Catholics, but also the response to those who appear to be attacking the Church. The guilty, the innocent, the accused and the accusers should all be treated with dignity and love. This is what it means to truly live the faith. This is what it means to be a Christian.

 

Thank you for uniting your prayers with ours at the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute. Let us together turn to Mary, Undoer of Knots, invoking her to ask her Son to grant us pure, humble and trusting hearts.

 

In Christ,

 

Jeff Cavins

 

 

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Something Beautiful…

October 14, 2013

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Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful

Last week a speaker/entertainer came to speak at the Champions for Life luncheon.  Danielle Rose, a music missionary sang from her prolife CD and spoke about her missionary work in China.  Because of the one child only policy and the poverty of most of those who live there, many families abort their daughters in favor of having a son who can care for them in their old age. As she was explaining this horrible reality, she described that this country had 20 million young men who will never have a wife and family.

 

What happens in a country where you have millions of young men with no future?

 

With such hope and innocence she said.  “Maybe God will raise them up to become priests.”  I am sad to say that most of us in the audience chuckled at that statement.  Maybe we have become so cynical that we don’t believe God can really do such things. China is, after all, an atheist country where it is illegal to evangelize.  Then, Danielle caught our attention and said compellingly “No, really! God can make something beautiful.”

 

At that moment, Danielle asked the Holy Spirit to help her find the right words to say.  I wish I could remember her exact words but she went on to compare Christ’s passion to the situation in China.

 

 

She said, “God can take something ugly and sinful and horrible and make something beautiful happen from it.” Of course I know this; I just need to be reminded.

 

I don’t know about others in the audience, but I wasn’t thinking about the situation in China.  I was thinking about situations in my own heart, situations closer to home.

Her words reminded me to hope and trust that “God really can make something beautiful!”

 

Here is to something beautiful!

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Minnesota Catholic Writers

June 24, 2013

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"Writing" - Licensed under Creative Commons

“Writing” – Licensed under Creative Commons

 

As we mourn the loss of Vince Flynn, I started to reflect on a few of the Catholic writers we have in Minnesota. Whether it is fiction, nonfiction, historical or other genres; is there something about our faith and something about Minnesota that helps to feed this talent? Immediately I can think of a few Minnesota Catholic authors. F Scott Fitzgerald and  Ralph McInerny come to mind,  but others like  Timothy Drake, Elizabeth Kelly and my very own dear cousin Fr. Marvin O’Connell are those I know personally.  And then there are aspiring novelists like Kathy Schneeman who, along with raising her nine kids and wrote so eloquently of Vince Flynn’s passing in her blog, is also working on her first novel.  I know if I were to search, there are many more Minnesota Catholic authors. (If you have a favorite Minnesota Catholic author,  share who it is and why in the comments below.) Some followed their faith more closely than others, some are better or lesser known but they share two things, Minnesota heritage and the Catholic faith.

Is it the Minnesota long winters that turn us to storytelling? Is it hearty Irish or other ethnic back grounds that causes us to tell tales? Is it a rich heritage of folklore that causes us to think in terms of fantasy?  Is it a love of the outdoors that causes us to notice details in the changes of the seasons and the rhythm of the earth that bring forward observations and hone our writing skills?

 

Or is it the gift of our faith that feeds the talent?

 

In the introduction to The Catholic Imagination,  Fr. Andrew Greeley writes: “Catholics live in an enchanted world, a world of statues and holy water, stained glass and votive candles, saints and religious medals, rosary beads and holy pictures. But these Catholic paraphernalia are mere hints of a deeper and more pervasive religious sensibility which inclines Catholics to see the Holy lurking in creation.”

I wonder often about that, about how Catholics see the world. We believe that there is something more than what we see and in a deep prayer and meditative life God uses our imagination to draw us closer to him. Try saying the Rosary, it becomes and exercise in imagining the life of Christ while repeating the prayers we know by heart and it somehow brings us closer to Christ.

 

There is always something happening beyond what we see. 

 

Fr. Robert Barron uses this sacramental sensibility in many of his talks, books and through the use of the Catholocism series.  It takes our imagination to even enter into thinking about how our sacraments work. I once asked my spiritual director about a certain experience I felt in prayer,  I asked if it was just my imagination. Her response caused me to reflect even deeper, saying “Don’t you think God uses everything to draw you closer to Him, even our imagination.” It is true, God made us the way we are and we are creatures uniquely made to worship Him.

It might not then be unusual that Catholics may have a jump start on imagination, storytelling and the world that can’t be seen.

On a couple of occasions I joined a group of Catholic writers. The group called itself The Minnklings — a Minnesotan take-off on C.S. Lewis’ and J.R.R. Tolkien’s writer’s group The Inklings. The group would meet at O’Gara’s bar in St. Paul to share work and offer encouragement. Tim Drake, then Senior Writer of the National Catholic Register led the group. I think it was a special place to explore the unique way in which Catholics aproach the world and aproach writing.   I don’t believe the group has met in recent years but I have been running into aspiring Catholic writers and I am hoping we can revive the concept again.

If you are a Catholic Writer, whether you are writing overtly on Catholic themes or if your faith guides your writing in less overt ways, contact me and maybe we can get revival of the Minnklings started.

 

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Where are the Women?

April 13, 2013

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Creative Commons license by wonderline

Mary anoints Jesus’ feet.

 

During the conclave I happened across a group of protesters outside of the Archdiocesan Chancery office.  As I was leaving the Cathedral parking lot, I noticed a woman parking her car.  She paused to pull a sign out of her trunk.  I watched in amazement as this woman took advantage of the free parking in the Cathedral parking lot (Intended for visitors to the Cathedral) while she took the opportunity to stand in some sort of protest against the Catholic Church.   Talk about taking advantage of Christian hospitality.  I would have towed her car!

As I left the lot and took a look at the signs they were carrying. They said, “Hey Cardinals, where are the women?”  I almost pulled over my car, jumped out and said, “I am right here!”

 

There are so many things wrong with this scenario – I felt compelled to set it right.

  1. First off – there is no Cardinal inside of the building they were protesting.  Just our Archbishop.
  2. If they took the time to check – they would find out that Archbishop Nienstedt has more women in his Cabinet (roughly equivalent to a board of directors) than most Fortune 500 companies.  These are strong woman in decision making positions.
  3. The fact that women are not ordained  in no way diminishes the role of women in the church.  Priests have a certain role in God’ s plan for the Church just as married couples, single people, religious orders and yes – women!

If you haven’t ever read Pope John Paul’s letter to women, you can find it here.  When I first read it I was able to realize that being a Catholic Feminist (In the context of the new feminism – much like the new evangelization) is not an oxymoron.

Pope Francis even dedicated his first Wednesday audience talk on women in the church.   http://www.news.va/en/news/audience-the-fundamental-role-of-women-in-the-chur

As the Pope notes, the first witness of the resurrection were women.  In fact Jesus and the founding Fathers of the Church elevated women in a way that was unprecedented in their time,  Christ spoke to the Samarian woman, had women disciples, and the early church was supported by women. Besides the more familiar names of Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene, check out Pricilla and Lydia, the maker of purple cloth. Women have shaped the church from it’s origin.

Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. – Luke 8:3

Let’s not talk of ancient history only.  Throughout the history of the church we have many women who have served the church.  The list of saints are full of them.  Four  women are considered Doctors of the Church (This is a very special title accorded by the Church to certain saints. This title indicates that the writings and preachings of such a person are useful to Christians “in any age of the Church.” Such men and women are also particularly known for the depth of understanding and the orthodoxy of their theological teachings.) Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen.  All of these saints are models of women in the Church. These aren’t wimpy women.  They all faced hardships of their times and helped to shape the Catholic Church we know today.

Let’s move on to present day.  Women have been aiding the mission of the Church locally and in a very tangible way through the work of the Council of Catholic Women.  This year they celebrate 81 years of service to the Catholic church.  Check out the topics at their convention in May – Be the Voice of Catholic Women.

I couldn’t talk about women in the church today without mentioning one of my heroins: Helen Alvare.  Here is her Bio:  Professor of Law at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, where she teaches and writes in the areas of family law and law and religion. She is a consultor to Pope Benedict XVI’s Pontifical Council for the Laity, a consultant for ABCNews, and the Chair of the Conscience Protection Task Force at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. She co-authored and edited the book, Breaking Through: Catholic Women Speak For Themselves. Professor Alvaré received her law degree from Cornell University and her master’s in systematic theology from the Catholic University of America.

In addition to the credits above she started the movement “Women Speak for Themselves.

I was blessed to hear her talk recently for the Siena Symposium.  Instead of me trying to share her wisdom and spirit – see it for yourself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYM-FbOU5Hw&feature=share

She reminds me that women can have it all.  If we know what “all” means.

Like I said – She is my hero!

I hear there is a “Women’s Argument of the Month Club coming soon.  The idea is women getting together to learn and discuss what it means to be a Catholic woman.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Catholic Faith Formation more information can be found here.

So in answer to the question posed on the protest signs; “Where are the women?”  My answer is: “We are right here!!”

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Reflections on the Triduum – The Easter Vigil

April 1, 2013

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Easter Lily For the last 7 years or so I have helped with the liturgy for the Easter Vigil at my parish.  I love helping with this liturgy.  Their is so much going on! Baptisms, confirmations, first communions and the history of the the Church all rolled into one.  When I went to my first Vigil some 10 years ago it was the beauty and drama that caught my attention.
The church was filled with flowers and banners and the choir was singing “Horse and chariots are cast into the sea!” and the night starts outside with a fire.    Even to a secular eye their is allot going on – I remember thinking “this is like a Cecil B DeMille movie or an opera!”

The history of the world unfolds in the readings.  Present day new Catholics are welcomed into the church.  The culmination of the last three days is given its context.
But their is such paradox and depth and mystery.  Every year I try to understand it more.

Their is always something that surprises me in this liturgy, this year it is the line from the Exulet.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer! Most blessed of all nights, chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Happy fault and necessary sin?

I went on line to read Pope Francis’ homily for Easter Vigil  to look for insight.  He speaks of the surprises  too, but he speaks of the surprise of the  women as they entered to tomb.

“We can imagine their feelings as they make their way to the tomb: a certain sadness, sorrow that Jesus had left them, he had died, his life had come to an end. Life would now go on as before. Yet the women continued to feel love, the love for Jesus which now led them to his tomb. But at this point, something completely new and unexpected happens, something which upsets their hearts and their plans, something which will upset their whole life: they see the stone removed from before the tomb, they draw near and they do not find the Lord’s body. It is an event which leaves them perplexed, hesitant, full of questions: “What happened?”, “What is the meaning of all this?” (cf. Lk 24:4). Doesn’t the same thing also happen to us when something completely new occurs in our everyday life? We stop short, we don’t understand, we don’t know what to do. Newness often makes us fearful, including the newness which God brings us, the newness which God asks of us. We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises.”

I understand the fear – the fear of newness.  When I come on the unexpected I become fearful.  I want to control and if I can’t control the situation I usually lash out at those closes to me. When I left the Easter Vigil on Saturday night (well close to Sunday morning) My plans were set for the next day.  Family to church in the morning, Easter brunch at my sister’s house followed by driving my children back to their perspective colleges.

But something unexpected happened.

My husband got a call in the middle of the night.  His father was dying and he left to be at his bedside.  Suddenly, our world turned topsy turvy.

My father in law died on Easter in the afternoon.  Pope Francis words came to me.

“We are like the Apostles in the Gospel: often we would prefer to hold on to our own security, to stand in front of a tomb, to think about someone who has died, someone who ultimately lives on only as a memory, like the great historical figures from the past. We are afraid of God’s surprises.”

The Easter Vigil, like every Mass is meant to remind us,

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; but has risen” (Lk 24:5-6)

As I tried to find the words to comfort my mother-in-law and my husband, those words of the angels came to mind.

This isn’t the blog post I intended to write.  Things happened and we deal with the unexpected.

A little about my father in law.

Bob was once asked to a tryout for the Yankees baseball team, but declined the invite because of various complications. I think their were times in his life that he regretted that he didn’t try.

In the last few days of my father-in-law’s life he was asked, “Bob, if you get better what are you looking forward to doing?”

In those moments when a person is ill and the life here and our past seems to merge in our minds, Bob replied “Play Ball.”

The days and months ahead will be filled with grieving for Bob.  The thought though comes to mind that if we truly believe the Easter story, we wouldn’t be sad.

If we believe in the resurrection Bob will get to “Play ball.”

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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Reflections on the Triduum ~ Good Friday

March 29, 2013

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Good Friday always confused me.  Like many people, Catholic and non-

On The Cross Licensed under Creative Commons - Archer10

On The Cross
Licensed under Creative Commons – Archer10

Catholic alike, the question is “Why do we call it good?”

In years past one part of the liturgy has always stood out to me.  The veneration of the cross. I would sit there in awe as I watched members of our parish walk up to kiss the wood of the cross.  One woman struggled with her walker as she made her way to the cross and knelt before it.  Another woman, widowed recently , venerated the cross and wiped a tear away as she returned to her seat.  Yet another person I saw was a man suffering from Cancer and wouldn’t probably see another Good Friday.  I’ve seen these scenes over the years…. And yet we call it “Good.”

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Lk. 14:27)

“Embrace the cross!” the priest said from the pulpit, but it wasn’t his words that struck a cord with me, it was his actions.

As the priest enters into this liturgy – he lays down, prostrate on the ground in front of the altar.  It is a humbling action.  As I watched this action a phrase rung in my head.
“Bring us God!”

I pondered as to why this was my reaction to this gesture by the priest. Was it that empty tabernacle again? Or was their something more I was to understand?  I had just read Pope Frances homily from the Chrism Mass so it gave me a little insight as to why this action invoked such a strong  and strange response.  In his homily, Pope Frances instructs his priests to go out.  To go out to the people where they are suffering and to also go out of themselves.  And when they go to the outskirts:

“they [the people] feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me Father”, “Pray for me”

Bring us God through the Eucharist, bring us God through reconciliation, bring us God through the word because without God we couldn’t survive the crosses of our lives.

So that is why we call it “Good.”  With this one gesture of Christ dying on the cross for us He gives to us himself so we never have to carry our cross alone.

In fact it would be impossible to.

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Reflections on the Triduum ~ Holy Thursday

March 29, 2013

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Licensed under Creative Commons

Licensed under Creative Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the Triduum! It was 10 years ago that I attended my first Holy Thursday Mass.  It was shortly after my “re-conversion” to the faith and I was blown away.
As I watched with wonder at  the beauty of the Mass and tried to understand the depth of the liturgy, I left the church that night in a bit of a stupor. As I stumbled out of the church past the priest, I walked up to him and said “It is like coming home.  It is like being away at college for a long time and then you come back home. It feels like that!” I don’t know if anyone else can understand that sentimentality, but its impact has never left me.
Each year I enter into this sacred week with certain expectations.  What I expect never seems to be what I get, but if I approach it with my eyes and heart open I most certainly hear God’s voice.
This year my personal, family life is in a bit of a disarray.  With two children at college and their needs and schedules changing- regular family traditions are a bit off.  Easter baskets have changed from candy and bunny rabbits to gas cards and cash.  To top it all off – we are remodeling our kitchen so we have no stove, sink or refrigerator. We will not be making Easter eggs, traditional ham dinner or even a pizza!

Trying to enter into a prayerful mood – I left my home an hour early to attend the Holy Thursday Mass. The sounds of saws, screw guns and hammers were interrupting my already distracted mind. I was looking for a little peace!

As I walked into the church – the first thing I noticed was the empty tabernacle.  It immediately brought to mind the thought that Jesus was not “in the house.” Their is something sad about an empty tabernacle.

As I sat in a corner to collect my thoughts and pray when I looked up at the hustle and bustle going on around me.  From a distance I noticed the choir rehearsing – a unified choir with our Latino and English speaking community.  I noticed a young man from our Catholic high school walking the other servers through server training.  I saw the sacristan putting out candles, readers looking over their readings, volunteers arranging flowers and ushers setting out worship aids.  All this action could have put me on edge since I came to the church to get away from the bustle of my home, but then I realized something.

Jesus WAS “in the house!”

Everyone there – a community – had come together to make this happen.  They were joyfully doing their part to bring others to God through the liturgy.

Of course the Holy Thursday Liturgy speaks of service.  Service to each other.  Service to those in need.  The Holy Thursday Liturgy also speaks of the Eucharist – the body of Christ.  And He was present there  in the people and at the great offering of the Sacrament.

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The Prodigal Father

March 6, 2013

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Liscensed under Creative Commons

Liscensed under Creative Commons

We all know the story of the prodigal son.  It seems to pop up in the liturgy this time of year and I have worn a crease in my bible in that spot so that it falls open to that story often.  Every time I read it I am brought to reflect on “who am I?” in the story.

There are times when I see myself as the one who ran off and enjoyed the pleasures of life and spent my life carelessly, but this time when my bible fell open to Luke 15, the resentful son seemed to look a lot like me.   Recently I was confronted with a disappointment in my life.  We all have them.  It could be that you are passed up for a promotion, or that your friend gets a new car, or that you weren’t invited to a social gathering or it could date back to being the last one picked on the playground some 30 years ago. We may have been wronged and we may want justice, but like the resentful son I can sometimes whine and only see my point of view.

It takes looking at this from the Father’s eyes for me to see myself.  I like to call him the Prodigal Father because it is from that perspective I need to see.

1prod·i·gal

adjective \?prä-di-g?l\Definition of PRODIGAL

: characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure : lavish

The word Prodigal means to spend lavishly.  The father in the story does spend extravagantly, but not in a wasteful way.  He spent lavishly on the wayward son by hosting the big party, but he also spent lavishly on the son who stayed home and worked dutifully.

‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.~ Luke 15:31

Everything is there for me too.

God spends lavishly on us.  A small detail in the Cana wedding story opened my eyes to this.  In that story the servants fill the water jars to the brim.  Have you ever seen a container filled to overflowing?  The liquid seems to fill the space above the confines of the cup or jar. There is sort of a surface tension that holds it in the glass.  It is so full it can’t be contained but it doesn’t spill over! That is how I imagine Gods love for me and how I have to try, time after time, to remember to love others and myself.

There is another point to the story that also caught me this time around.  The Father doesn’t hesitate to point out the bad behavior of his elder son.  He does so with so much love and an invitation to join the party.  This gives me cause to reflect on how we might rightly handle the injustices we face.  By seeing it from the father’s eyes we can see clearly that a behavior or situation may be wrong or need correcting, but if we can approach it with lavish love it goes a long way.

I am, once again, resolving to be the prodigal Mother, wife, employee and friend and spend lavishly when I feel like pouting.  I invite you, even in this season of Lent and self-denial – Spend Lavishly!

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The Empty Manger

December 22, 2012

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The Empty MangerIn these last few days before Christmas, life can get hectic.  I have wrapping to do, Christmas cards to send, cookies to bake and my house to clean.  It is very easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas and remember what we really need to do to prepare for the coming of Christ.

The empty manger was set out earlier this week at our parish.  This was done for convenience, as the turn around time from the bare and purple Advent feel of the church to the bright and joyful church filled with evergreens and gold is very short for those who set up the church decorating.  I was in charge of this transformation at our church for 6 years and I know that it can add it’s own layer of hectic to the preparation for Christmas.

But it was the emptiness of the manger that struck me.

Along with scripture, I sometimes find that it is pieces of art or architecture that moves me to prayer and meditation.  This empty manger caused me to reflect on how well I am prepared to be filled by Christ’s love.  It is clean, swept out and ready for the next occupant.  Growing up on a farm I know that a stable has lots of muck to be hauled out. I am thankful that I made it to confession lately and cleaned out some of my own muck.

I also reflect on “who would I be” on the way to this manger scene? What is the Shepard doing today? He has no idea that he will be led to this manger by angels.  The wise men are traveling to see a great king.  Their expectations will be met, but not in the way they expect.  A lot of my life turns out that way.  Will I be able to see the true path to the manger and Christ child or will I get distracted by the idea of a different kind of King on a throne? What would Mary and Joseph be thinking the days before the birth of our Savior?

“Waiting in joyful hope.”

Every week we hear those words as part of the liturgy.  This season of Advent is a reflection on that joyful waiting.

I will take time in the days and hours before Christmas to do just that.  I hope to spend this time of preparation for Christmas to also prepare the empty manger in my heart for the coming of the Christ Child.

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Turning to our Mother in Times of Tragedy

December 17, 2012

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Madonna and Child

In the wake of the school shooting on Friday, I went to find solace in daily Mass on Saturday.
As I entered the church, the first thing I noticed was the Our Lady of Guadalupe picture in the sanctuary. The picture was left there as a remnant of the Wednesday night celebration. It was then that it occurred to me that the tragic killing of the 20 children and 6 adults in Connecticut is not something unique to our culture today. At the time of the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego in 1531, child sacrifice was common place. After her appearance, eight million natives were converted to the Church in the next 7 years – virtually eliminating the Aztec practice of sacrifice. Is our wonton cultural lack of seeing life as precious any different? Is this tragedy any different than the atrocities of child sacrifice?
In the wake of this recent tragedy we are left asking why, but maybe more importantly we should be asking what should we do? Stricter laws concerning guns –yes, more help for the mentally disturbed – of course, but maybe we should be turning to Mary in this year of faith to help bring about the conversion that was seen in Mexico 500 years ago.
In this Year of Faith I have made a personal commitment to get to know our Blessed Mother better. I have always been one of those people who just didn’t “get” Mary. I never had an aversion to praying for Mary’s intersession like some of my Protestant friends, but I just didn’t quite understand why I needed an intercessor – why not go directly to the ‘Big Guy?”
To get to know Mary better, I have started with memorizing some of the Marian prayers that I have never gotten around to knowing by heart.
I have been working on memorizing the “Hail Holy Queen.”
In the wake of this tragedy  it was the first prayer I turned to. Maybe it is something about telling your heart ache to your mother and if anyone knows the heart ache of the loss of a child, it is our Blessed Mother. The words are especially haunting; calling us all the “poor banished children of Eve” and the description of  “mourning and weeping in this vale of tears” is what drew me to first look to Mary in this time of tragedy.
If you read this blog post, maybe you will join with me in asking Mary’s intersession.

 

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve: to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus, O merciful, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary! Amen.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ

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