Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From December 25th, 2011 Bulletin)

“Let us go then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”
 One shepherd to another, Luke 2:15

     Blessed and Merry Christmas to all! It is a beautiful time to be together to worship our New-born King. Has He taken root in your heart this season yet? The holidays can be so stressful, given the traffic, shopping and festivities. It is easy to lose our peace in the midst of so much activity. Guerric of Igny writes:
If in the depths of your soul you were to keep a quiet silence, the all-powerful Word would follow from the Father’s throne secretly into you. Happy then is the person who has so fled the world’s tumult, who has so withdrawn into the solitude and secrecy of interior peace, that he can hear not only the Voice of the Word, but the Word himself: not John but Jesus.

     “Quiet silence”, “Sacred Silence”, “Silent Night”, the words seem easy to sing, consoling to consider, but when can they happen? I’m reminded of a riddle from the movie, Life is Beautiful: “If you say my name, I disappear.” Of course “Silence”, once said, is no longer present. Even in writing about it, I delay finding it. We need silence, we need inactivity, we need, like the Blessed Virgin, for the Holy Spirit to overshadow us in a moment of silence and awe.
     I recommend breathing to start. Last week I wrote about the Jesus Prayer. Breathing in the Sacred and Powerful Name of Jesus is one of the best ways to bring silence and peace to the soul. Mere contact with His Name is enough for the soul to be quieted, like a lamb that at once feels safe in its Shepherd’s arms. Let Him draw you near to His Heart, a Heart full of goodness and love for you. Writing about it makes me want to stop and take that five minutes of the Jesus Prayer right now…I invite you to do the same….

Lord Jesus Christ, (Son of God and Son of Mary), have mercy on me, a sinner.

…five minutes is not enough. I am at least ready for a nap! I hope you can take quality time for prayer during this Christmas Season. Remember as Catholics we have a whole Season to celebrate that lasts 15 days this year. That is one reason why we are closing our offices from Dec 25th through Jan 2nd. Not only does our Pastoral Team (staff) need a rest, but I think it is important for all of us as Christians to take real extended Sabbath at various times during the year. The Christmas Octave (8 days of Christmas) is a perfect time to start. I encourage all to take time with family and friends; time for prayer; time for rest. Emmanuel, God with us, will be with you.
     From all of our Pastoral Team and the Parish Community of St. Stephen the Martyr, have a Blessed Christmas Season.

by Stephen Wentworth Arndt, Ph.D.

In a thistle-thick field, The sun-baked clay with its break-spade soil
Had a summer-seared yield, And the drought-sky-flouted dry ground foiled all of Israel's trouble and toil.

But the Caretaker saw And tilled that wilderness field with priests
And their ground-breaking law, As the prophets' cry thinned high sin-weeds,
And the kings did their battle with beasts. Then the Husbandman sowed
Pure virgin earth, and the germ took root. When the gracious rain flowed
On the love-lit plot, it shot out shoots, And it budded forth, bearing its fruit.

Now the fruit of our womb Is blest grain bread and a vine grape wine
From the Passover room; O incarnate Lord, O Christ divine, Make the fruits of your flesh and blood mine!

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