Advent Confession December 11, 2018

I’m actually writing this reflection waiting for anyone to come to Reconciliation or Confession. The wait is a quiet one before the Blessed Sacrament with just a few people coming to pray. Waiting can be a lonely experience if you’re expecting a particular outcome and you are focused on that outcome which never quite materializes. In our waiting we sometimes make demands in God: finding the right friend or partner; healing from illness; successful career; happiness. The list is endless.

Advent teaches us to wait simply being aware of God’s presence and offering our prayers and desires not as expectation to be fulfilled but as a way of talking with God, being open and vulnerable. But we must listen for God’s response and surrender to it. Letting go of our own will is what can possibly happen in the waiting.

The people were waiting for the messiah and He came but not as they expected. Being born in a smelly cave in obscurity, no one being aware except shepherds, the lowliest people at the time. They were actually despised as being outsiders. The people waited centuries for this??? We forget how radical the birth of Christ was and how it perplexed so many. We don’t even know the date, the year, the month, even the actual place of His birth.

And so we continue to wait for Christ to enter our lives in ways we don’t expect. Let’s be surprised and open as we wait. Speak our prayers and needs but let them go. Listen to God speaking to us answers we may not expect or want. So be it.

I’m waiting here for people. If they show… great. If not, I’ve written this reflection, which is just fine.

Peace. Fr. Frank

St. Nicholas. December 6, 2018

From St. Nicholas to Sinter Claus to Santa Claus…this wonderful man, forerunner to our Santa Claus, was a bishop in a village called Myra, in what is now Turkey. This saint has a scant biography: came from wealthy, family, loved his faith, became a priest and bishop. It is likely he actually attended the first ecumenical council of the Church: the Council of Nicaea that gave us our Nicene Creed which we pray every Sunday and Holyday. His name, “Nicholas of Myra” appears on the roster of those who attended the Council, though no record exists that he said anything during the deliberations.

The one incident in his life that cannot be verified historically is that he helped a poor couple with three daughters by secretly giving a dowry in the form of gold to each of the daughters. Hence, he became associated with secretly giving gifts. After his death, many legends of Nicholas began to be told: calming of turbulent waters, healing miracles and countless other stories clearly not historical but are testaments to the saint’s popularity. Thousands of churches are named after this beloved saint. Many cities and even countries have Nicholas as their patron.

Nicholas lived a humble life on the rock of Christ. His life was all about selfLESS giving, the heart of our devotion to Santa Claus. If we and our children are to emulate Nicholas, we best do so by giving generously giving to those in need. We teach our children by example when we ask Santa not just what gifts we can get, but what gifts we can give.

The symbols of Nicholas: boot or shoe, since children would put food and treats for Nicholas’s horse or donkey in shoes placed on roadside; candy cane, symbol of Bishop’s crozier or staff; boat or ship, since he is patron of sailors (Myra, his village, was a sea coast town); anchor, due to his ministry to sailors; three gold coins, symbolizing the three poor daughters and their dowries.

If you can have something sweet, do so to celebrate this wonderful Saint. Don’t worry about processed sugar, simply enjoy.

Peace. Fr. Frank

Self Acceptance. December 5, 2018

The eve of St. Nicholas. A joyful hint of Christmas. The first reading from today’s Mass speaks of the great mountain of the Lord, in which He will destroy the “veil that veils the people, the web woven over the nations: God will destroy death forever… wiping away the tears from our faces.” This reading gives us another hint: of our ultimate destiny to live forever in the embrace of Love.

In the Gospel, Jesus heals the many wounded people: wounds of being paralyzed, blind, mute, sick. He frees them with his breath of healing. We ALL are in need of healing but we must approach Jesus just as we ARE, not as we should be or would like to be. He wants us, wounds and all, for it is through our wounds that we encounter Christ.

It all begins in SELF ACCEPTANCE: to approach God in our wounds and sins, without any fear whatsoever. Our true self is the one created by God in His image and likeness; our false self is the one rooted in ego and self created. We have to unVEIL the destructive false self that we have created in our loneliness and inner alienation and allow it to die, revealing the true self created by God, loved by God. Just be yourself…

St. Nick is the saint of children and lost innocence, which means he is the saint for us all. The gift he gives cannot be wrapped, it can only be discovered, deep within our beings: Christ.