Tag Archives: creighton university

Feast of the Holy Family

Holy Family Readings from USCCB

When I was a young wife and mother, I could never find the time to pray. Each day was so full and with each passing year our schedule as a family grew more demanding. How could I get the laundry done? How could I find time to pray?

I finally realized that no one ever came into the laundry room, and the peace of that room was the perfect place to pray. As I sorted laundry, I prayed for each person in my family while folding pajamas, school uniform blouses and an endless number of socks. My prayers and my spirituality were shaped in that laundry room, and I have always connected doing the family laundry with prayer.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, remembering how Jesus grew up in the normal busy-ness of family life, how he was shaped as a person by both Mary and Joseph.

Pope Francis wrote in his recent exhortation that the family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.” That very belonging to each other is what today’s readings are about.

In the first reading, Sirach entreats parents and children to love and honor each other. When one generation can no longer care for the other, he calls us to “take care of your father when he is old … even if his mind fails, be considerate of him.” He adds the care we give for the elderly “will not be forgotten, firmly planted against the debt” of our own failings.

Our lives are complicated and families don’t always consist of two parents. But Paul’s letter to the Colossians offers all of us the tools we need to care for each other: . I can guess that Paul was intimately connected with family as he notes other important family skills, like “bearing with one another” which seems like an apt phrase on the harder days. When we share a home, we not only have to forgive each other, but to be aware that we need forgiveness from each other, prompted by the example of God’s deeply loving forgiveness for us all.

The Gospel is Matthew’s story of the Holy Family fleeing to Egypt in fear of Herod, who was searching for their son. The left their homeland and lived in a country they did not know, with languages and customs not their own, separated from their family. When they could finally return to Israel, fear of Herod’s successor forced them to go not home, but to Galilee, where they would be less likely to be found.

But despite the stress of their situation, I picture them as holding onto each other even more closely. That seems to be our human reaction to tragedy – we want to gather our loved ones together and hold onto each other. Even with the people who drive us crazy. But they are family and they belong to us and we belong to them; because family is not about perfection but fidelity. As Pope Francis says about families, “We remain steadfast in our intention to respect others, to heal wounds, to build bridges, to strengthen relationships and to ‘bear one an­other’s burdens.’”

He says when a parent speaks to a child, the parent “becomes small,” crouching down to eye level and speaking in a softer, different voice. He says, “Someone looking in from the outside might think, ‘This is ridiculous!’” and yet parents do it “because the love of a father and mother needs to be close.” He says God comes to us in the same “small” way of a parent, speaking to our fears with gentle love, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, I’m here.”

Being part of a family means being faithful to our everyday lives, to loving each other on our best and worst days, and to remembering the sacredness of even the pile of socks, overflowing in the laundry room.

Maureen McCann Waldron
Creighton University

Advent Reflections for Mon. Dec. 23

Today’s readings from USCCB

Advent is a beautiful season of the year. Christians wait and pray for the coming of the Lord. The liturgical texts focus on the Lord’s first and last coming. We anticipate Christmas but we also are reminded that the Lord is at hand. Each Sunday we confess, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.” Along with these comings, St. Bernard of Clairvaux reminded us of a third coming that we can celebrate during Advent or any season of the year. This is the coming of Jesus into our hearts as Lord. In the words of one of our seasonal hymns,

How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.

The fact that Christ came and will come again is critical to our faith. But what difference do those comings make if he has not come into our lives and transformed us into his image? If you are one of his disciples, thank him during Advent for the wondrous gift God has given you by personally entering into your life. Meek souls still receive Him.

The Malachi passage refers to the coming of the Lord God as a refining fire. God will come among his people to purify them so “that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord.” Before this God will send Elijah, the prophet, who will work to reconcile the people to God and one another. Several things about this passage stand out to me. First, Jesus alludes to this text in referring to John the Baptist as Elijah, the one who would come to prepare the way of the Lord. Second, the mission of Elijah is to reconcile parents and children. Is it any wonder that John the Baptist came preaching a baptism of repentance? It takes humility to confess your sins, turn from them, and be baptized. That is exactly what divided families need. Humility will turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the hearts of the children to their parents. Finally, when Jesus referred to his forerunner, John the Baptist, as Elijah, based on the words of Malachi, it should not shock us that this shocked his hearers. According to Malachi, Elijah will be the forerunner of God himself.

I love the gospel passage for various reasons. One of them is that my wife and I named our oldest son John and I took great delight in quoting this passage when people asked me his name: “His name is John.” Advent reminds us that we live in the kingdom of God by trust. Zechariah learned the hard way that God does what he says. Advent is also a great season for us to meditate upon the mystery of the incarnation and to express our joy that God has come among us. Zechariah’s “mouth was opened, his tongue was freed, and he spoke blessing God.” If you are one of those Catholics who does not sing during Mass, may God pull a Zechariah on you on Christmas so that your mouth is opened and your tongue freed to praise and bless our glorious God! Silence is a good practice for Advent but not for Christmas.

Have a Blessed Advent, what is left of it. And have a Merry Christmas.

George Butterfield
Creighton University

Advent Reflections for Sat, Dec. 21

Today’s Readings from USCCB

Some feastdays that we celebrate seem to be too rich or too complex for us to do them justice in either our celebrations or our homilies. I think here especially of Holy Thursday, but I have the same feeling about Christ’s Baptism and the Transfiguration. The one that interests me the most, however, is what we are focusing on in this passage from Luke.

When we celebrate on March 25, what happens here, we call this the feast of the Annunciation, and what we center on almost exclusively is Mary herself and her response to God. That is not what the word “annunciation” indicates, however, although that centering is better than dwelling on Gabriel impersonally announcing to Mary what God is about to do, as if she had no voice in the matter. That is simply not what Luke says.

If we wished to retain the concentration on Mary and on her response, we might well begin to refer instead to this as the feast of the Invitation, where the Father asks whether Mary would be willing to bear His Son. This could bring out the respect God shows her as well as the very personal attitude she manifests in accepting.

I myself would prefer to call it instead the feast of the Incarnation, since considering our position on the point at which a human life begins (and consequently our position on abortion), this is the day on which we celebrate the most central event in the history of the universe and all creation. I think we might well transfer some of the emphasis we give to Christmas to this day, whether the quiet scene with Mary and Gabriel has all sorts of warm images and memorable stories attached to it or not.

We might do a sort of contemplation of this scene in our prayer. Where is the Father in all of this? And the Second Person? What is Gabriel thinking as he appears and speaks for God? How does Mary feel in having such a visit, even in just the first moments? How does she feel as the angel leaves her? Just exactly what is it that the Spirit does (outside of the obvious physical arrangement)? Talk to each of them and ask them to tell you.

And what does any of that say to each of us about our own lives?

Chas. Kestermeier, SJ
from Creighton.edu

Thursday of the First Week of Advent – Reflections

Read today’s readings.

By Marcia Shadle Cusic

The readings for today, Thursday, of the First Week of Advent call us to be faithful to the Scripture messages. We are also reminded to be confident in our trust in God. “A strong city have we; he sets up walls and ramparts to protect us.” We are also reminded to keep our feet firmly planted in our trust and appreciation of how our faith and trust in God can guide us, living our lives appreciating the guidance that the Scripture messages give us.

I am reminded of the notion of “rightful pride” in reading, “He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down.” A reminder to all of us, that just when you think “you’ve got it all figured out ” and “are in charge” our lives may seem, all of a sudden, to be falling apart. We need to be reminded and live our lives remembering that God is our partner in success and in disappointment, in opportunity and in loss. And remain humbled in all that we experience in our lives. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” Yes, we need to make decisions, and respond to situations but maybe we need to take a step back and consider how the Scripture messages call us to respond.

From Creighton University

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Monday’s Readings from USCCB

Collect:
Keep us alert, we pray, O Lord our God,
as we await the advent of Christ your Son,
so that when he comes and knocks
he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. *

Today’s Readings

Daily Meditation:
That He may instruct us in His ways.
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

We want to begin this journey by rallying ourselves
to turn to the Lord with great hope.
In the midst of many discouraging challenges in our lives
and the violence in the world around us,
we desire to spend this day in anticipation of the graces
our God desires to give us.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again. Is. 2

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you;
but say only the word and my soul will be healed.

Today’s Daily Reflection

Intercessions:
Christ the Lord, Son of the living God, light from light,
leads us into the light and reveals his holiness.
With confidence, let us make our prayer:
Come, Lord Jesus!

Light that never fades, dispel the mists about us,
– awaken our faith from sleep.

Guard us from all harm today,
– may your glory fill us with joy.

Give us unfailing gentleness at all times,
– toward everyone we meet.

Come to create a new earth for us,
– where there will be justice and peace.

Closing Prayer:
Loving God,
I sense that all is your creation
and everything, and all of us,
are being drawn back toward your loving heart.

Help me to be a person of peace,
to speak about it in an uneasy world,
and to live it among the people
you have put into my life every day.

Light in me a desire to prepare for your coming
to stand in the darkness, waiting, eager and filled with joy.

From Creighton University