Friday, December 25, 2015

Reflection for Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Day
IS 52: 7-10
PS 98: 1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
HEB 1:1-6
JN 1: 1-18 OR JN 1: 1-5, 9-14

Today is the day! The presents are waiting underneath the tree, the stockings are full, the baby Jesus’ are placed in the mangers, and the celebration of Christmas comes to its climax. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming”. During the advent season we await the coming of our Lord, Jesus. Today we sit in awe. In awe that a God so mighty and ungraspable would humble Godself to become a human baby boy, so small and weak.

He has been born. The Savior is here. I believe that this day is a celebration of hope; a celebration of things known and felt becoming tangible and real. For the secular world that is the arrival of presents from Santa Claus. Children of the world feel this fulfilment of hope to see that the cookies are gone, the milk has been drunk, and the presents await.

We can learn a lot from the children who believe so fervently in Santa. While we come to know that Santa is not real, rather a magical figment of imagination that is the secular celebration of Christmas, there is a real conviction in the lives of 2-10 year olds who believe. John’s gospel tells us that for “those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name.”

Jesus is the tangible revelation of God. When we believe in him we are given the gift to be called children of God. Believing in things unseen is a staple to any faith, especially when connecting with a God who is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omnipotent, in other words, completely and totally out of our capacity to grasp. Today we are to sit in awe, simply beholding. The First reading proclaims “…all the ends of the earth will BEHOLD the salvation of our God”. We are witness to something big and beautiful. But we are called to do more than behold; we are called to announce what we know, feel and see to others.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news…” This mountain, where glad tidings and good news come from, is a place of rest, revival and renewal of hope. We are not meant to live on the mountain top, just like we are not meant to live our life solely beholding. There is a greater call to action; a further request to share the good news.

Christmas is a time for profound hope and joy. We are called to come down from the mountain, to go forth from Christmas day, to share with our brothers and sisters the newfound light and hope within us. Coming down from the mountain is never easy, but as the first reading states “how beautiful” it is to share the light of God, that still shines as brightly as it did 2000 years ago, shinning through a beautiful baby boy.

I wish you a day of rest, laughter, joy, renewal, wonderment and cheer. MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Hannah Sattler is a junior majoring in Social Work and minoring in Theological Studies.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Reflection for Thursday, December 24, 2015

Fourth Thursday of Advent 
2 SM 7: 1-5, 8B -12, 14A, 16
PS 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27 AND 29
LK 1: 67-79

Christmas Eve!!  Even the words conjure up childhood memories of that last day of waiting before the big celebration—the smells, the sounds and the sights of Christmas. Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM says that Christmas Eve is actually more Christmas than Christmas Day because it contains all the energy of Advent waiting in addition to the Christmas joy.  Just as the anticipation of an event such as a vacation is a major part of the enjoyment of that event, so it is with our Advent preparations for Christmas. We are almost there!

Typically I spend this day immersed in many last minute details—cooking, setting the table and even some a last ditch effort at wrapping gifts. Hopefully today I will take at least a few minutes in which I can quietly contemplate the gift of God’s love that the world received over 2000 years ago.  A gift that caused the previously mute Zechariah to loudly proclaim:

In the tender compassion of our God
The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death
And to guide our feet into the way of peace!

Christians are definitely Easter people but we are also an Advent people. We watch and wait for the second coming of our God.  But today let us begin celebrating anew that first coming so long again. The people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light!  We wait in joyful hope as we pray that we have a part in making the light grow and in banishing the darkness.

Geralyn Meyer, PhD, RN teaches in the School of Nursing.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Reflection for Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Fourth Wednesday of Advent
MAL 3: 1-4, 23-24
PS 25: 4-5AB, 8-9, 10 AND 14
LK 1: 57-66

“The answers you seek never come when the mind is busy.
They come when the mind is still, when silence speaks loudest.”
-Unknown

For several months, Zechariah has been silent. The angel Gabriel commanded that Zechariah not be able to speak until the birth of John, because Zechariah doubted that Elizabeth could bear a son at her age.

Zechariah was in silence for nine months because he did not trust God’s plan. Imagine all of the times we have doubted God’s plan for us. God is teaching us that in times of doubt, we need silence to listen to Him. Alone time can be uncomfortable because we have an innate need to be with others. In moments of silence, we can better hear what God is speaking to us. I believe that the more silence we have in our lives, the greater our faith in God will be. Jesus often went alone to a quiet place to pray. In a world that is so connected, we need time to disconnect and be alone. Today, as we prepare for Christmas celebrations, take time to be alone. Be comforted in knowing that in those moments of silence, we are not all that alone, because God is at our side.

As Zechariah and Elizabeth experienced, even when something seems impossible, God surprises us. We need to practice diminishing our doubt in God, and instead waiting in joyful suspense for the gifts he may surprise us with in the coming year. Often, we miss God’s gifts, thinking they will be something big, such as the gift given to Zechariah and Elizabeth. Be aware of God’s subtle, yet significant gifts – a new friend; a smile from a passerby; an opportunity for growth. God is giving us gifts every day. Be aware and surprised for all that he gives us.

Be silent
Be aware
Be surprised

Kaitlyn Vokaty is graduate student studying Occupational Therapy.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Reflection for Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Fourth Tuesday of Advent 
1 SM 1:24-28
1 SAMUEL 2: 1, 4-5, 6-7, 8ABCD
LK 1: 46-56

One of the best periods of my life was when I was a Jesuit novice.  The formation I received at the novitiate changed me profoundly.  The novitiate building itself became as much a home as my family’s house, and every year all the young Jesuits would gather there to watch the newest Jesuits take their vows.  I came to cherish that former convent on Denver’s east side.  So when the Jesuits decided to sell that building, it was a blow to many of us.  The last time I visited the place was difficult, even heart-wrenching.  But as we were driving away, I was suddenly inspired to repeat a line from the book of Job:  “The Lord has given, the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”  That prayer helped me express my gratitude for the gift (which was never meant to last forever) and to praise the Giver of the gift (rather than idolizing the gift).  As the novitiate disappeared in the rear-view mirror, I was no longer sad—just feeling blessed, and content to put myself in God’s hands for the future.
Today’s first reading is startling.  Hannah was a woman who prayed earnestly, with copious tears, for a child… and now she says to the priest at the temple:  “I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request; now I, in turn, give him to the Lord,” and she leaves the young Samuel there.  Do we ever beg God for some favor, but then give it right back to God?  It almost seems nonsensical.  But something about this paradoxical back-and-forth lies at the heart of a relationship of love and trust.  As St. Ignatius Loyola wrote, “Love consists in a mutual sharing of goods—the lover gives and shares with the beloved what he possesses, and vice versa, the beloved shares with the lover.”  It’s love that enables us to pray Ignatius’ most famous prayer:  “Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess.  You have given all to me; to you, Lord, I return it.”

As we prepare for a season of gift-giving to celebrate God’s greatest gift to us—the gift of God’s very self—it’s good to remember that gift-giving is not really about the gift:  it’s about the relationship that the gift expresses.  God showers us with gifts every day of our lives.  As the Psalmist sings, “What return can I make to the Lord for all that he has done for me?”  If all we have and are comes from God, the only thing we’re able to do in return is to give back what we’ve received—even all we have and are.  As a wise Jesuit once told me, “God is a jealous lover; he wants it all.”  Let’s pray that we can be as freely generous with God as God is with us.  And in the end it is all for our good… for it is in giving that we receive, and it is in losing ourselves that we ultimately find ourselves.

Fr. Steve Schoenig, S.J. teaches in the Department of History.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Reflection for Monday, December 21, 2015

Fourth Monday of Advent 
SG 2: 8-14
ZEP 3:14-18A
PS 33: 2-3, 11-12, 20-21
LK 1: 39-45

“Hark! my lover–here he comes” is the first line from today’s first reading found in the Song of Songs. The narrator is excited to see her lover and uses these words to describe his upbeat demeanor upon arrival: springing, leaping, gazing, and peering. He’s made it across the mountains and hills and now sees through the windows and lattices. All this work and suffering just to see his lover. Jesus does the same for us. He suffers so that we can live our lives in peace and praise of him.

This is why the Responsorial Psalm proclaims, “Sing to him a new song.” Our voices, filled with joy and love for Jesus, show our praise for him. At the end of this story the lover tells the woman, “Arise, my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!” He wants her with him because she is lovely and he wants to see her and hear her voice. The baby Jesus is coming and as soon as he arrives he, too, wants to see us by his side and hear all of our voices. There are several ways we can do this as we approach the end of the Advent season. For example, at the most fundamental level, we can take the time and effort to pray and consistently tell God about our lives. I like that this method does not have to be formal. I often find myself walking back to my dorm room late in the evening. I like to use that time to tell God about my day, just like I would tell a friend walking beside me, and listen to God’s voice in the sounds of the water fountains and the wind brushing up against the trees. We are fortunate to live on a beautiful and well-maintained green campus. In addition to prayer, we can also experience God and see his works in the mass. In the span of just one week we have the Christmas mass and celebration on Friday, December 25th, the weekly Sunday mass on Sunday, December 27th, and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God mass on Thursday, January 1st. These are all wonderful opportunities to see Jesus over the holiday season. Thus, we can pray and go to mass to hear and see Jesus in our lives.

Alex Mikhailov is a sophomore studying Economics and International Studies.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Reflection for Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent 
MI 5:1-4A 
PS 80: 2-3, 15-16, 18-19
HEB 10: 5-10
LK 1: 39-45

Each time I read the Gospels through the eyes of Mary I cannot help but try and place myself in her shoes. What must it have been like for her to be called upon by Gabriel to be the mother of Jesus?  I always think about how she must have felt and of the thoughts that must have raced through her mind. In these moments I almost instinctively determine that I wouldn’t have the faith and strength to respond as Mary did. I do not have enough within me nor the confidence to fully trust in God and myself. And so begins the “I’m not enough for ____” internal debacle that seems to flood from one aspect of my life to another. I am good, but not great. I work hard, but I should work harder. I care about people, but I need to be more patient. I could do better, I could be better, and I could try harder. Did Mary ever feel this way? Or Jesus himself?

The Gospel today gives us a glimpse into Elizabeth’s world as she asks, “and how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” A statement of feeling unworthy  has become all too common among SLU students as we often overload our plates with activities, involvement, meetings and credit hours. At times, it seems as if the SLU culture is founded on being overscheduled and overwhelmed at all points of the day inhibiting our ability to be satisfied with the now and ourselves as we are.

These thoughts of unworthiness and “not-enoughness” come to impact our attitude about ourselves and the world around us that can become paralyzing at times. In fear of not being able to be the best person for the job or able to speak the perfect words in front of a group of people, we find it easier to not try in the first place and not speak up in fear that our voice might shake. But God doesn’t need nor ask for perfect, which is such a central message of the Incarnation - that God became Man to validate the human struggle. Faith is the Marys and the Elizabeths of the world which is reflected in you and me. We very much are enough, incomplete and imperfect as we come; we just need to say “yes” to Christ amidst the uncertainty and feelings of doubt.

“blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled”

Don’t paralyze yourself in the evils of the “not good enoughs” this Advent and prepare the way for the Incarnation no matter where you are on your faith journey. Whether you are struggling or growing or confused or changing, you are enough as a Child of God; open your arms to the Lord today in whatever capacity you have, because what you have is enough.


Caitlyn McNeil is a senior studying Economics in the John Cook School of Business.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Reflection for Saturday, December 19, 2015

Third Saturday of Advent
JGS 13: 2-7, 24-25A
PS 71: 3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17
LK 1: 5-25


WHAT IF?

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2, New International Version)

How many times have you found yourself asking ‘what if’ questions? What if I mess up on a work assignment? What if I forget the lyrics during a performance? What if I get cancer? What if I lose my job? The list goes on and on.

As followers of Jesus, we are commanded to live by a different moral code and not wonder about the ‘what ifs’. Instead God wants us to stand strong on our faith and know that no matter what happens in the future, God will take us through it with dignity, grace and compassion.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10a, New International Version )

I sing in a group and we recently had a performance in what is considered a prestigious venue. While rehearsing one morning, I started feeling very nervous and began wondering “What if I mess up or fall on the stage?” I almost drove myself crazy with all the ‘what if’s’ that were swirling in my mind. Eventually, I decided that the best course of action would be to rehearse more. At that very
second I turned on my phone to listen to the music, and the daily scripture popped up on my phone. It was Psalm 18:2 – 'The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Some may regard this as a coincidence, but I choose to believe that God, via modern technology, spoke directly to me and reminded me once again that he is faithful and that I don’t have to ask ‘what if’.

We can only make ourselves sick by worrying about the ‘what if’s’ in life. Instead, we can use our time in more productive ways like helping someone less fortunate than ourselves or writing out a list of 10 to 20 things we are grateful for. I find that writing a gratitude list immediately calms me down and reminds me not to worry and ask “what if?”. It makes me say, “Here I am Lord, how can I be of service to you?”

Lori Corzine works in the Center for International Studies

Friday, December 18, 2015

Reflection for Friday, December 18, 2015

Third Friday of Advent 
JER 23:5-8 
PS 72: 1-2, 12-13, 18-19
MT 1:18-25

"Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel."

Joseph seems like the type of guy who followed the law. He didn’t want to hurt Mary, but at the same time Mary was going to bear a son without Joseph himself getting her pregnant. So originally he planned to quietly divorce her, unwilling to expose her to shame. Sometimes we think it was so easy for Joseph to allow Mary into his home, when in reality he had a lot at stake. He had his own family, a reputation and life to carry out. This particular passage, truly shows what a man totally trusted in God looks like. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.”

Our culture often pressures men to bail out when there is trouble. Joseph shows the way by obeying God over the pressures of prevailing culture, even if he will personally suffer for it. We are afraid to go down a road that is not lit for us, and mapped out just the way we think it should be.

Surrendering one’s self to God, there is freedom. We are free to say yes to what is right and good without any fear because God is with us. Sometimes things get difficult but there is an even greater reward in the end. When Joseph let Mary into his house, although there were plenty of reasons to say no, he was really answering God’s call.

Each one of us: students, co-workers, faculty and staff members are called by God. When we give up and obey by faith we will then use faith to obey. Faith and trust is how we pursue living out the life God has called us to do . It isn’t easy. First off, we have the urge of sin not to trust God. Secondly, God’s calling (his promises) are futuristic and thus unseen to us. So how do we give up and embrace that freedom? We have to pray and set our hearts on trusting God’s promises until the Holy Spirit strengthens our faith so much so that we say, I trust you Lord. And the reward is always greater than we can imagine.

Question:
Has there been a time in your life when you trusted the Lord and experienced his blessing? Do you have a sense of how God is using your current circumstances to prepare you for a great calling?

Molly Diehl is a junior majoring in Nutrition & Dietetics.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Reflection for Thursday, December 17, 2015

Third Thursday of Advent
GN 49:2, 8-10
PS 72: 1-2, 3-4 AB, 7-8, 17
MT 1: 1-17

How many of us could name our great grandparents? Our great great grandparents? Some might be able to but probably not many. The Gospel for today is the genealogy of Jesus. It contains his family tree from Jesus all the way back to Abraham, 42 generations of family history!

Knowing where you were from and truly knowing your family members and the history of your family was important in Jesus’ time. It is the very reason Jesus was born in Bethlehem. When Caesar decreed that every man should return to the land of his family, Joseph and Mary embarked on a long journey to the city of Jesus’ ancestors.

Many of us will embark on these long journeys to the homes of our family members during this Christmas season. Perhaps the entire family gathers at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas dinner. Or perhaps we enjoy the company of our immediate family as stories are shared around the Christmas tree.

Wherever we are, Jesus calls us to be with our family. On the night of his birth, Jesus is together in Bethlehem with not only Mary and Joseph, but with all his ancestors who lived and prayed in that humble town.

While it will not be possible for many of us to journey to the homes of our ancestors in Ireland or Italy or wherever your family is from, it is enough to reflect and pray for the members of our families who have gone before us. It is through these people that we are able to live as we do.

During this Advent season and this coming Christmas season, take the time to put the phones down and truly listen to your family. Learn their stories. Know them for the incredible human persons they are. What are your aunt’s greatest fears? What was your uncle’s greatest challenge growing up? What is your grandma most proud of her in her life? Who really are these people that we call our family?

Just as Jesus is in the presence of all his family on that first Christmas, let us also be fully in the presence of our family. As we prepare for Christmas, let us pray for family and for the beauty and wonder that comes from knowing and loving a person so deeply. Let our families be more than just names on a family tree; let them truly be a part of who we are.

Moira McDermott is a senior studying Secondary Education and English.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Reflection for Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Third Wednesday of Advent
IS 45:6C-8, 18, 21C-25
PS 85: 9AB AND 10; 11-12, 13-14
LK 7: 18B-23

“I am the Lord, there is no other…”

With these eight words at the beginning of today’s first Reading, everything is made clear.  When the Lord is Number One in life, everything else seems to fall into place.  Dealing with the daily challenges of life can be a little easier knowing that we are not walking alone.  The little things don’t weigh us down.  We have more patience when dealing with difficult people.  The glass is half full rather than half empty.  When we put other material things before our relationship with God, things soon become out of balance.  Work becomes the primary focus and the source of self-worth.  Material possessions become more important than spiritual well-being.  I like to compare finding this balance with an automobile. When something goes wrong with an automobile, it can throw everything else off.  One low tire messes up the alignment for the entire vehicle.  Being low on oil impacts the functioning of the engine.  Everything is connected, and if one part is out of balance, the entire car is affected.

I like to think of Advent as the time to get things back in balance.  The weeks before Christmas are spent with preparations for the holiday.  There are cards to be written, gifts to be purchased and wrapped, decorations to be put up, cookies to be baked, parties to attend, and on and on.  Advent is the time to remind us to pay attention to our spiritual lives and to find that balance that comes when God is first and foremost in our lives.  Later in the Reading we are reminded:  “Turn to me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other!”  So just in case we didn’t hear it at the beginning of the Reading, we are reminded again! 

May these remaining days of Advent provide an opportunity to bring balance back into our lives.  When we truly realize that God is God and place our lives in God’s hands, Christmas will be a time to celebrate both the birth of our Savior and a renewal of new life within our hearts.  There can be no greater gift.

Cathy Zimmer is the Business Manager for the College of Arts and Sciences.