Getting through the hard times

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Recently, I have met with a number of people who are going through some difficult times. Some of the situations are medical, even life-threatening. Others are economical. Then there are those that are relational. And as each of us knows, when one area of our lives is not going well, it negatively impacts other areas as well, and we find ourselves struggling to cope with a variety of challenges.

At times like these, it’s not uncommon for us to wonder, even aloud, “Why me?” as we strive to make meaning out of what we’re experiencing. We can have
thoughts that we’re being treated unfairly, or have the worst luck; or we struggle to figure out what we’ve “done wrong to deserve this.”

Some wonder why a good God would allow such a painful event to happen; or they try to resist the belief or even do believe that they’re being punished by none other than God. When we’re grappling with these notions about God, it can be especially tumultuous because we find it hard to turn to God for the help and
consolation we need if we believe God is the one who is causing it.

People have been grappling with the same questions from the beginning of time. Our ancestors in faith believed that if you were having a hard time it was because you had sinned or perhaps your parents had sinned. But Jesus rejected this notion ( John 9:2-3). If we ever wonder if God is causing our difficulties, look to Jesus, the human face of God. Nowhere in scripture does it say that Jesus made someone blind or lame or leprous, or that Jesus ostracized anyone or wished them harm.
His heart was opened to all, and he strived to bring healing and hope to all, especially those who were suffering.

Sometime ago there was a popular book published by a Jewish Rabbi: “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Interesting reading and the question is great. In my own mind, as one who has been through difficult times and has asked the question, I have come up with several responses.

One: Bad things happen to everyone and good things happen to everyone.
Two: Goodness or badness may be determined by our expectations.
Three: What begins as bad sometimes turns out good.
Four: What begins as good sometimes turns out bad.
Five: Life is what happens in the good times and bad times.
Six: Life is messy for everyone.
Seven: God is with me in all times.
Eight: I will always have, from God, what I need to go forward.
Nine: Life IS beautiful.
Ten: “Some of God’s greatest gifts are our unanswered prayers.” (Garth Brooks)

I don’t ask myself the “Why me?” question as much these days as I once did,
even though it comes to my lips from time to time. Usually I catch myself and
chuckle as I think Why not me. And then I turn to the One who loves me unconditionally and whose promise to NEVER abandon or forsake me holds firm.

Fr. Ronan

January 30
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In speaking to the prophet Jeremiah, God reminds him “before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations, I appointed you.”
Whether a prophet or a disciple, the message is the same – God’s love never fails and we are to mirror that love in our lives.
St. Paul describes what that love look like in our lives.
It is patient, kind, not jealous, not rude, does not hold grudges, is hopeful and truthful.
To be loving as St. Paul describes is a tall order, and yet there is no doubt that this is our task as Disciples of Christ.

One For All

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Anyone who has ever watched the classic movie, The Three Musketeers, remembers that stirring call the three men proclaimed as a sign of their unity and strength: “One for All and All for One”. You recall the simple plot: the young French peasant, D’Artagnan, has a dream of becoming one of the King’s Musketeers. He challenges two of the experienced Musketeers to a duel, armed with more enthusiasm and passion than skill. Circumstances change quickly and the three men find themselves needing each other in a fight with Cardinal Richelieu’s guard.

Well, I am getting carried away! The film was released as early as January, 1935 with countless new releases since, all of them popular. And I have to think one of the elements in the popularity of the films has been the enduring theme of each committed to all and all committed to each. There is a simple truth in the soldiers’ proud claim that continues in the military today and in countless structures from families to communities, and organizations.

How does it fit into the community of Charlestown? There is a continual tension between our individuality and our community. Our personal needs and interests are our own, each unique. And yet we are called to live in common, at whatever level that might be. Often our individual preferences are sacrificed for the greater good of the common good. In truth and practice, the entire process is messy and such is the case with democracy. There needs be a give and take. There are tensions and disagreements and yet, our systems arrive at a final position often by majority rule, guided by laws and systems of justice.

The Three Musketeers were very likely Catholic, as were so many in France in that era. And so the sacrifice of one for the other might have been not only strategically smart, it happens to have a sound theological base. The Christian believes that service to and for others is a way for a more complete and joyful life. The teaching that “In giving we receive” imitates Jesus and yields mature, healthy individuals and families.

Sadly, one can see the opposite of the Musketeers slogan in a mindset that is pathetically self-centered. When this is seen in children, parents usually work to correct it (think about the tears that go along with learning to share). When it is seen in adolescents, it exacerbates the already self-conscious youth and makes maturing much more painful. And when it is seen in adults, it shows in a tragic loneliness and searching for fulfillment.

In Laudato Sí, Pope Francis has underlined the fundamental connection that exists between the environmental crisis and the social crisis that we are currently experiencing and asks us for a personal and community ecological conversion. He often reminds us “everything is interconnected.” Given the stresses and trials of this time of pandemic, climate change, and all that is dividing us in our country, the clarion call to care for one another needs us to willingly and faithfully respond more than ever.

The Three Musketeers had it right: One for All and All for One. How could each of us put that into practice this day?

Fr. Ronan

January 23, 2022
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Re-read today’s Gospel. Put yourself in the scene: you are in the synagogue, perhaps your family is beside you.
Jesus, the carpenter’s son, gets up to read – He is serving as “the lector.”
The carpenter’s son reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah about the promise of the Messiah.
Upon finishing, he looks at the people gathered and says: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Who are the blind, or the oppressed or the poor in your life that need to hear the “Good News” of Jesus Christ?
Today, you are that lector!

Ordinary Time

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There always seems to be a bit of a letdown after the holiday season passes and we roll into the winter months. Looking ahead into January, February, and March, springtime seems far off. Liturgically, we enter into what is called ORDINARY TIME. This is the season when the priest
wears green vestments at Mass, and there are no major feasts and celebrations like Christmas and Easter on the horizon.

After such a time like the rush of the past weeks, I think we could all use a break – time to stop, look around, and kind of get our bearings. If we were to do that as individuals and as a parish, all of the readings for this weekend, especially the reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:4-11), have a beautiful message to offer us.

To me, St. Paul’s letter seems to be a tribute to the complex and wondrous thing called our differences. Some might call this a tribute to diversity, a popular word these days. The sacred author acknowledges that there are many different gifts and talents and the source of them is the same: God’s Spirit.

We are all so very different. We come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and our color, race, culture, and background may vary. Each individual is a work of art! No two of us are exactly alike. Even identical twins are distinct as time passes. However, different as we are, we have so very much in common. God has seen to that! We share the same hopes, dreams, pains, joys, and sorrows. We worry about the same things and struggle with the same issues, and on and on. Of course, there are differences in expressions and points of view, yet at the very root of everything; we are all God’s creation.

Yet, if we are so alike, why do we have such a hard time getting along with one another? Why do we let our differences often keep us so far apart? Each of us is born with our own freedom and our own ego and will, and we are born into a sinful world that we help maintain. The choice to forgive each other our shortcomings and faults and the choice to love our neighbor is a big one and it does not come easily. Our own ego, selfishness, and righteousness often get in the way. Nonetheless, our faith points us to our merciful, loving Lord wherein we find the way to move forward daily toward that unity with one another that offers us hope and from which love blossoms.

So let us celebrate our sameness and all that also sets us apart! As we do that, perhaps in this ordinary week of this ordinary New Year, we can experience the extraordinary power of God’s Grace calling us to be as ONE.

Fr. Ronan

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 15/16, 2022

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul makes a list of gifts dispensed to members of the Christian community by the Holy Spirit. Each gift bestowed has a specific purpose for the person for whom it is intended: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment, tongues, and interpretation.
Good stewards know these gifts are not meant to be kept hidden by the recipient but to be shared with the community and beyond.

As we begin a new year, let us reflect on the gift the Holy Spirit has given to each of us.
Do we recognize this gift? How was it intended that we use this gift?
Are we being good stewards of this gift?

It Is the Little Things

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

For several days now as I meet people walking around town, I wish them happy New Year and, of course, they respond in the same way. The
saying seems somewhat trite and I am not sure what I am really wishing for the person. This New Year 2022, is fraught with anxiety in all corners of the globe and in the midst of it, I appear to be glibly wishing somebody happiness. I wonder?

Maybe I want to hope that each one of us will work to make the new year happy. I think most of us find some measure of happiness when we have contributed, when we have improved a situation, when we have connected in a positive way with someone else, and when we have both shared and received the gift of love. The troubles that surround us in these times are certainly daunting to the point where each of us wonders if we can really do much about them.

We do hear that cooperating with all the recommendations and mandates makes a difference for ourselves and for others regarding control of the pandemic; so that certainly is making a contribution. Yet at the same time, the pandemic has caused isolation for many and brought about increased depression and worry for others. So making positive connections is kind of difficult.

I remember hearing a story about a little boy on a beach where a large number of baby turtles had been washed up onto the dunes by a storm. They needed to be in the water or die. There were many hundreds of them and the little boy, ran to each little turtle, picked it up and raced down to water’s edge placing it in the tides. A man watched from a distance and finally approached the boy asking what he was doing. The boy explained exactly what he was doing, saving the life of the turtles. The man observed that there were thousands of them so the boy’s efforts made no difference. The boy picked up a baby turtle looked at the man and said, “It makes a difference for this one”.

No one of us can solve the problems of the world but every one of us can do
something. It is easy to become cynical in the face of the enormity of the challenges of the times. It is easy to talk ourselves into complacency because the issues are so overwhelming. It is more difficult to believe that every single person, from a little boy to an executive in an office, can do something every day if not every hour of every day to make a difference for others.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta once taught: “God is not calling on us to do great things rather to do little things with great love”. Those little things can be little things! How we greet one another; how we look up from a mobile device, make eye contact with another and smile; how we create space for one another; how we show simple acts of kindness acknowledging the dignity and value of one another everything makes a difference.

These days can beat us down if we let them. However, we have a choice to do something, little things at the very least that truly make a difference. Most faith traditions call on us to love one another as we are loved by our gracious God. I believe this is the formula for a Happy New Year!

Father Ronan

January 9
The Baptism of the Lord

Our Gospel recounts the story about Jesus’ baptism and the important words spoken by God about Jesus “You are my Beloved Son” Isaiah uses similar words. “Here is my servant, my chosen one in whom I am pleased . . . “ During the coming week, take some time to pray and reread these scriptures. Hear God say these words to you “I formed you and set you as a light” “You are my beloved, . . . with you am well pleased” As you acknowledge God’s love and delight in you ask God for the courage to witness His truth.

Thinking Outside the Box

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

We all have our way of doing things and looking at situations. Usually, we believe ours is the best way. Honest conversation between friends can include
sharing our points of view and trying to persuade another that our vision is more correct then theirs. For example a couple of guys discussing sports who are avid fans – maybe for opposing teams (i.e. the Bengals vs. the Pats) – loud conversation will follow! Child rearing practices can get us going as well (i.e. let the child decide vs. make the choice for the child). In every case, it takes a bit of patience and openness to hear another’s point of view that is very different from one’s own (i.e. a republican listening to a democrat and visa-versa).

Today’s feast, The Epiphany, is one of those remarkable moments in our history when we are all called to think differently. The deepest meaning of this
celebration pushes everyone out of his/her comfort zone to think of God in a
new way. Consider the situation: Jerusalem is a big city, nonetheless likely a
small town in many ways. The arrival of three very different and important
strangers (language, color, dress, customs, foods, etc.) asking questions about a
local reality (a newborn king of the Jewish people) evokes attention up to the
local king. – “Who are these people and why on earth would they have traveled so far to this place? And what is this about a king?”

So uncommon would such an event be that people took notice. We should too. “From the East, they came” and to find and pay homage to a newborn King.
We read that they followed the star from Jerusalem and found their way to the
stable in Bethlehem. In spite of the humble circumstances of the place, they recognized the King and offered their gifts.

God’s Son has been born into our world and His purpose and interests are not limited by race, color, ethnic background, social class, gender, political position or any other common distinction that differentiates us one from another. The
Epiphany insists that you and I think of God as bigger than we usually do. The
implications of this thought are significant. For example, all those whom we consider our enemies, may not be God’s enemies. The whole philosophy of war and capital punishment, immigration and refugees, gays and straits, rich and poor, and on and on takes on a new perspective in light of the Epiphany. The insistence of Jesus in Mt. 25, “Whatever you do to the least… you do to Me” flows from our understanding of the Epiphany.

An epiphany is understood as a moment of new awareness or insight that opens up a fresh way of looking at something. No wonder this beautiful word has been incorporated into our vocabulary. What a great way to start the New Year – with an epiphany on the Feast of the Epiphany!

Fr. Ronan

Heartfelt gratitude to all who were able to decorate our beautiful church for Christmas. Featured in this picture left to right are Maria, Jeanne, Fr. Mark, Nancy (who has the wonderful artistic vision), Shirley, Lauren, and Oscar. Not featured in the picture are: Lynne, John, (our Music Director who also has that creative gift and added the greenery and ribbon that’s is weaved across the flowers and added the wreath on the choir loft), James, Jim, and John, who picked up the flowers in Danvers.

January 1 – Solemnity of the
Blessed Virgin Mary,
the Mother of God

Saturday, January 1, 2022 In today’s first reading, God bestows three blessings upon Moses and directs him to extend those blessings to others:
The Lord blesses you and keeps you.
The Lord lets his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
The Lord looks upon you kindly and gives you peace.
Good stewards realize these blessings are showered upon them in a unique and special way each time they receive the Eucharist, and exercising good stewardship of the Lord’s blessings in this sacrament begins by receiving these gifts with profound gratitude.
Take time this week to memorize these marvelous blessings and repeat them to yourself frequently.
Make them part of your morning prayer each day.

January 2
The Epiphany of the

The readings today stress the importance of light – Christ’s light. Isaiah states,
“. . .upon you the Lord shines.”
The Magi followed the light of a star that led them to Christ, the Lord, an encounter that changed their lives.
Do you believe that the Lord looks upon you and shines forth from you?
Has each encounter you have had with Christ brought about a change in you, in your way of living?
When you humbly and honestly follow Christ and live in his light, “nations shall walk by your light.”
People will notice something different about you.
So on this Epiphany – let your Christ Light shrine!

The Family

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

In November 1954, Perry Como recorded and RCA released the popular Christmas song, “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays”. By now you have heard it on your car radio and in shopping malls thousands of times this year alone!

If you listen closely to the lyrics of this song, you’ll find that they offer a simple and enduring truth: when the time comes to celebrate certain moments and seasons in our lives, we want to be home. Home usually means our family as well as our town and country. We want to be with the familiar, the comfortable, that place we know, and especially with those who know us, accept us, and love us.

The celebration of Christmas, perhaps more than any other occasion, draws us home. My own childhood memories of Christmas at our home on Percival Street in Dorchester include a flood of images of a big Christmas tree and gifts, along
with parents, kids and, of course, a dog in the middle of it all. With all of that comes the gift of being together, sharing, feeling safe, and being happy. Because it’s so familiar, we can all too often fail to appreciate the gift of family. The very
source of our lives and those who formed and cared for us are so much a part of us, that we can overlook our family when counting our blessings.

Today is the feast of the Holy Family, always celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. On this feast day, the Church invites us to see in the family of Joseph, Mary, and the Child Jesus the simple beauty and truth that the Son of God was
born into a human family – just like yours or mine. This celebration can help each of us to recall how precious the gift of family can be. Though human and fallible, our family, nonetheless, is uniquely ours. Sadly, hurts, mistakes or whatever, can fracture family unity and cause enormous pain and damage. It’s so astonishing to see how deep and serious the consequences of the breakup of a family can be. Regardless of the circumstances, the reality is that if one member is
separated, every member suffers.

The Grace of these days holds the possibility for everyone to act in ways that can strengthen the family. If there is too much distance between you and another in the family, if there are hurts that have lingered too long or anything else that
has damaged your family relationships, why not seize this day and extend an olive branch? Why wait? What benefit could there be in delaying?

Let’s take the time to reflect and ask ourselves: “what can I do today to strengthen my family?” What is it that a family member might need that I could give that would bring us closer together? Let’s not delay because we are looking for the precisely correct moment. More often than not, the right time never comes!

In all ways, this is a day to be grateful for the gift of our families – imperfect as they may be! This is the day to see that family is often diminished by the popular culture in both subtle and aggressive ways. Let us choose not to be complacent for our own sakes. We, our Parish, our community, our city, our nation, and our world are only as strong as the family unit.

On this day, we remember that Jesus, Himself, belonged to a human family and in that we find hope. In this Christmas season, as the canned Christmas music fades away, let us be grateful in every possible way for our families and pray for
the grace to heal what is broken and strengthen whatever may be weak, for our sake and the sake of our world.

Fr. Ronan

The Feast of the Holy Family of
Jesus, Mary and Joseph
December 26th. 2021

We celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on the first Sunday after Christmas! This feast day is a reminder to us of the example to us Mary and Joseph set for all of us in welcoming Jesus into their lives. The Holy Family serves as a model for us all in which to live in faith and simplicity.

Prayer for Family Commitment

Dear God, our Father, you have called on all Christian families to be a sign of Your love to the world.

Help us to be generous with the gifts of life and love that you have showered on our family. May we share them so that our homes become true signs of unitive and fruitful love.

Let us never forget to thank you each day for all that sustains us and to look to Christ, who comes to us in the events of family life, in the sacraments of the Church and in service to the poor.

In all of this, our family becomes a living expression of your Church, a hallowed home of life and love. By the power of the Holy Spirit, may all of us -spouses, parents and children- share, as members of his Body, in Jesus’ mission to build a civilization of love. Father, we ask this in Jesus’ name in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

To Wonder

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

During these December days, Winthrop Square has been filled with every conceivable variety of inflatable Christmas ornaments and figures. Apart from the Santa Clauses and reindeer, Snoopy is over there along with a variety of elves, Grinch himself and lots of snowmen in various sizes and shapes! It is quite a sight to watch the children gawking and giggling as they walk around the square and look at the moving figures, all of which have some kind of animation and lighting.

One of the joys of the season is to observe children as they consider the mystery and the delight of Christmas. All of us love to watch that and in fact, for many of us it is a way to enter into, once again, the loveliness of these days. It seems to me, what we are really observing is the wonder with which children behold and consider not only the Santa Claus and reindeer thing but of course, the beautiful story of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem.

In our adult world, wonder is not a posture readily found in our everyday repertoire. Our approach to the world around us even our relationships, is often cerebral: analytical, studying, processing, thinking about and working through. To wonder is different from all of that. Wonder is our human instinct for the transcendent, the mysterious that which is beyond readily comprehensible logic. Children are experts at wondering, adults not so much.

Some would say that to wonder is a gift from God and that the capacity to wonder is not self-initiated. Poets, artists, composers and others often can provoke us to wonder and when that happens, it is a beautiful thing! To wonder breaks through the limits of our reasoning; it opens an infinite vista to the more. The Jewish theologian Abraham Hershel once wrote, “The person who never wonders can never find God”.

Most of us use the verb to wonder frequently, yet when we do, we are actually doing some kind of a calculation. For example to wonder why the 93 bus is late, is just thinking about the traffic patterns in Sullivan Square or some such. We can also speak of wonder in a much more superficial way when it is simply an expression of curiosity. For example, to wonder how much a gallon of gasoline is costing this week is more mathematics and economics than wondering.

Advent is the perfect time to wonder deeply! To hear the music and lyrics, to listen to the Scripture readings, to pause and closely read the details of our Christmas cards and the messages sent from friends and family; all of this can draw us to the sweet experience of wondering. In truth, we cannot understand what God is doing in our world however; we can grow closer to the truth of God’s love and astonishing actions by wondering!

These few days before the celebration of Christmas join me in some quiet wondering about what all this is about and be prepared to be surprised, even delighted by the fruit of such pondering.

Fr. Ronan

December 19, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Advent

The gospel today presents the beautiful story of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth.
This reading gives us much to ponder – Mary’s concern for and willingness to be present to her older cousin,
Elizabeth’s acknowledgement of Mary’s yes to God, her admiration of Mary’s belief in God’s promises.
Who are the people you will visit and be with during this Christmas?
How might this gospel guide your interactions with them?
Pray for the grace to imitate the faith, trust and love of Mary and Elizabeth
in your interactions with your family and friends during this Christmas season

The Holiday Season

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Have you ever noticed that as the bell-ringing Salvation Army Santas show up on street corners, the plastic holly & the colored lights decorate store windows and the canned music everywhere pushes out Christmas carols – you start to feel … kind of negative? My first response is a kind of deflation – that the wave of commercialization is trying to obliterate the essence of the feast of Christ’s birth. Because all this starts up in October, it is a stretch to get into the holiday spirit.

Before we arrive in the Advent and Christmas season, we have celebrated Thanksgiving. Here the emphasis is on giving thanks as well as family gettogethers. “Where are you spending Thanksgiving?” is a common question. Implied in these holiday times is that everyone will gather with friends and family, and a wonderful sense of unity, happiness, sharing, dining and thanks will prevail. At least that is the Hallmark card version. In reality, for many folks, these holidays do not bring a sense of happiness and gratitude.

There are so many stories of families and individuals in difficulty, strained by countless incidents and situations. Whether it is someone out of a job, the loss of a loved one, an uncertain element in a marriage or relationship, children in trouble, illness and aging, addictions, or depression, for many the holidays can be anything but a “happy” time.

Finding a way to cope is the highest priority for some – just to survive the holiday season intact becomes a real goal. So perhaps for all of us, it makes sense to realize and accept that this wonderful season of the year brings with it certain stresses and demands. Each of us needs to acknowledge our limits and own the situations of our families and friends. It is OK to give oneself permission to NOT feel there is something wrong if one does not want to sing Ho – Ho – Ho!

The consequence for many who experience the pressure of this time of year is to feel painfully alone and maybe disconnected from others. All around one sees people together and apparently happy and celebrating and for some that is not their experience. Acknowledging that it is OK to feel out of step with what the culture says “ought to be” often helps. Giving voice to our sadness in conversations with good friends eases one’s struggle.

Even more, bringing my pain, sadness, loneliness and struggle to God in prayer offers one the deepest source of comfort. Through prayer, one can come to recognize that one is not alone; that God who promises to be with us always is truly there regardless of how we feel. Then we can begin to remember that we, too, have experienced goodness before and will again. So even in the midst of life’s pains and struggles, often we can find reason to give thanks. The celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ truly is cause for joy – for all people in all times.

This holiday season any one of us can find moments when loneliness seems more painful in the light of the season. When such moments occur, take them as invitations to turn to God in humble prayer and your aloneness will give way to a peace and a sense of the goodness that is inherent in these holiday times.

Fr. Ronan

December 12 ~
Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

“Shout for joy.” “Sing joyfully.” “Be glad and exult with all your heart.”
“Rejoice, in the Lord always.”
The message this week is clear; joy must be a sign of our life in Christ.
We need to bring the light of Christ to these dark
December days and speak a word of hope to our world – the Lord is near.”
With each remaining day in Advent, make the gospel acclamation your prayer:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.”
Believing this and acting on it, the light of Christ will certainly shine through you!

It’s Going to Get Better

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Reluctantly, I think most of us would agree that driving in and around Boston can be hazardous. It did not seem that way when I was younger but it sure does now.
In fact, I hear folks speaking about reckless and speeding drivers all the time. Some speculate things are worse because of the pandemic and, likely, there is some truth about that. The divisiveness within our culture could also contribute to the overall tension people feel and maybe it plays out when someone is behind the wheel.

Apart from the overall reality of worry about the pandemic, most people are not satisfied. People express their opinions in surveys, polls, to one another, in bar rooms, and around dinner tables. Everyone wants something to change for the better, whether that is a sports team, a government official or policy, the weather, their church, a friend or family member. Additionally, most of us are dissatisfied with aspects of ourselves and look for betterment.

Anxiety, worry, and anger usually accompany our dissatisfaction and can become a sad and negative element of life. I think there are more unhappy and angry people today than a decade ago. We can explain our anger and/or unhappiness by looking at the world around us and the overall mess from climate and weather to local questions of safety and sickness. However, the root of our unhappiness and anger lies within each person.

God knows all of this, and understands every element of our frustration and desire for things to improve. Everyone wants things to get better and I would dare say God also wants things to get better!

We are in the Advent time – there is a call to look toward and prepare for the Birth of our Savior. The world into which Jesus Christ was born 2000 years ago was every bit as fractured and troubled as is our world today. In this season, we celebrate His birth and ongoing presence in our world and lives. His mission was then and is now to bring peace, to heal, and to bring hope and freedom. He comes to make things better.

Yet, maybe that is untrue. It isn’t “things” He can make better, rather it is you and me. Opening ourselves to this Truth of our God can transform our unhappiness and anger into a peace that only flows out of loving and being loved.

Fr. Ronan

December 5 ~
Second Sunday of Advent

“Prepare the way of the Lord.” This is what the Church calls us to focus on in these opening weeks of Advent.
How might we prepare for the coming of Christ now and at the hour of our death?
St. Paul offers some ideas for what we need to do. He prays that our love will increase in knowledge and perception, that we will discern what is of value, and that we will live pure and blameless lives.
St. Paul encourages us with the reminder that God has already begun this good work in us and will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.
In this coming week, ask for the grace to keep the focus on Christ. Remember, that even in the midst of all that seeks to distract, God is with you.

The Unexpected Answer

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The promise had been long standing, passed from generation to generation. Unimaginable hardships, persecution, exile, and slavery were all part of the story and, still, the promise was recounted and cherished. There would arrive a deliverer, a savior, a messiah, a king of such might all would be resolved and a bright future would be born. This was the story of the suffering Israelite community who longed for the
arrival of the Messiah.

Fast-forward more than 2000 years and you and I look out at a fractured world with countless people suffering in nations across the globe. We want to look away and pretend it is not that bad and yet we know otherwise. The world needs help beyond the United Nations or any individual nation although all people and nations need to be a part of creating a future of hope.

It seems to me there is a parallel between the suffering and longing of the Jewish community of old and our present day reality. Our Creator God knows our human condition intimately and 2000 years ago responded with the answer to our needs and longings with the birth of an infant in an impoverished village called Bethlehem.

The world then and now looks for a temporal solution for modern day crises. We look for presidents, prime ministers, kings, revolutions, generals and armies. While all of that plays a vital role in governance and order, none of that is enough. It never has been and never will be.

The needed solutions come from within and not from without. It is within a faith, a spiritual relationship with our God that each of us can find our footing, our purpose, and a way of living that gives birth to hope. For Christians this is found in Jesus Christ, His teaching, His life, and His friendship.

This Sunday is the first Sunday of the four-week Advent season that leads us to Christmas. The readings in Sacred Scripture recall the prophecies of old fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. If we listen carefully to the cries of our ancestors 2ooo years ago, they are startlingly similar to the longings of this age. We too are desperate and longing for light in our darkness.

For every one of us this is a Kairos moment. Refreshing our relationship with Jesus Christ offers a transformative moment for our own well-being, our family and friends and, in fact, for our world.

Fr. Ronan