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January 20th Reflection

     The last class I took as a seminarian, forty-seven years ago, was a counseling internship through a local hospital. Specifically, I was interning if family therapy as part of the inpatient drug and alcohol treatment program. Each weekly session lasted about four hours and was intense and heart-wrenching. Family members and loved ones routinely confronted those in treatment, with the suffering their addiction had caused.

     Our staff supervisor often spoke to family members about the “tough love” that is needed in the face of addiction. For example, not enabling the person with the addiction and not sugarcoating the harm that was done to them and the pain they were feeling. He would often remind those in treatment: “You cannot just talk the talk; you have to walk your talk.” Talking about remorse is different from being remorseful. Talking about making amends is not the same as making them.

     St. John was saying the same thing centuries ago: “Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and in truth.”

     Our tradition teaches that love is not so much a feeling, as it is an act of the will. Love is to will the good of the other person, whoever he or she is. That, it seems to me, is the hinge upon everything turns.

True love is counter-cultural because it is the conscious choice to love and to will the good for those who are deemed unlovable. True love is cross-cultural because no one of any race, creed, color sexual orientation, ability or disability can be excluded from it. True love is having the wide, embracing, redeeming, and merciful love of Jesus.



Hear our prayer, O Lord: Bless, protect and sanctify all those who bow their heads before You.

Blessings. M+

January 5th Reflection

     A fresh span of twelve months stretches out before us now, like a blank canvas daring us to create something new. But we know all too well that the fresh hope of a new year can get dragged down by old habits that feel as comfortable as a well-worn sweater. This is the time when many of us get down to the business of making resolutions: pounds to shed, diets to clean up, social media to pare down. If we were honest, the resolutions probably sound a lot like the ones that we made last year.

     Why is that? Because surface-level changes do not feed our souls; true transformation requires us to dive deep and work toward an inner revolution instead. That requires prayer, complete surrender, and absolute trust that what God has in store for us is better than we can conjure up on a vision board.

     Even when we turn to God to help us take this monumental step, however, we often do so with a laundry list of expectations. We want transformation, but we want it on our terms. Maybe that is because we will not expect anything too grueling of ourselves.

     Once we put is in God’s hands, all bets are off. The path we are meant to walk, the person we are called to be, may require a freefall into a new of living. If you want proof of that, just look at some of the feasts we mark this month.

     We begin the year celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, the ultimate example of surrender and trust in the face of the seemingly impossible. From there we mark the Epiphany, showcasing the Magi who came from afar trusting a star to lead them to the Messiah. Later this month we celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul, transformed from persecutor to true believer through a blinding flash an unlikely vision, and an even more unlikely baptism.

     Which is to say that nothing is unlikely or impossible once we get God involved, or, more accurately, once we open our hearts to God already in our midst just waiting to be invited and involved.

     To begin our revolutionary journey, we must ask ourselves “Why do we confuse ourselves by worrying?” We need to learn to leave the cares of our affairs to God and we shall find everything will be peaceful. We have God’s promise to us - that in every act of true, blind, complete surrender to Him – we will find the effects of we desire and the resolution to all difficult situations.

     True, blind, complete surrender, and faith – this is what God seeks from us. Like Mary, like the Magi, like St. Paul, and like so many others over the course of our faith history who have shown us with their very lives that the transformation that we seek cannot be found in a number on a scale or in a bank account: but only, by a message of hope that is written on our hearts, by the One who offers us the only real path to peace and joy.

     What if the only thing we need to do this year – is to surrender?

Hear our prayer, O Lord: Bless, protect and sanctify all those who bow their heads before You.

Blessings. M+

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