Home Essentials – Peace

Today’s post is about uncertainty.

11155064-illustration-of-mary-on-donkey--joseph-and-jesus-walking-in-desert

I’m sure that, at one time or another, almost everyone has contemplated the thought of Mary’s uncertainty, as she travelled to Bethlehem on that first Christmas, two thousand years ago.

She was expecting her first child, a poor young woman with no resources, except her faithful husband and faithful God. Many of us have wondered what it would be like to arrive in an unfamiliar town and have nowhere to stay, and then to actually go into labour that night, with no midwife or doctor, no clean bed, and most of our baby’s requirements left at home. (Mary had swaddling clothes, so maybe that is a little like us being able to grab some disposables from the 7-11.)

But, the truth is, that we all have very uncertain lives. We literally don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We have no idea when we will be called to leave this world. We can ‘read the signs of the times’ and get a feel for events moving into place around us, but as for the exact circumstances of tomorrow, or even later today, or even five minutes’ time, well, who knows?

God does, of course.

The Bible is filled with stories, amazing stories, of the uncertainty of men and women and the faithfulness of their God.

The Apostles were no strangers to uncertainty, even though they lived with Jesus, day in and day out. It may seem surprising to be reading about Jesus’ Last Supper during this time of Advent, but, Jesus’ words on that night are really the crux of His mission on earth and show us the certainty that He promised to give us to replace the uncertainty always present in our lives.

Jesus promised us peace. He never assured us that we will experience wealth, happiness (as in always getting everything we desire), stability, good health, freedom from war and tyranny. Some of His followers do experience blessings; some are freely given, some are given as an answer to much prayer, some are given miraculously, but none of those blessings are guaranteed.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. ” John 14:27.

It was peace that marked the lives of Mary and Joseph, as they passed through their many trials. It was peace that the shepherds experienced, when they arrives at the humble shelter to honour the baby Jesus. And it is peace that the world craves – the world will not be converted with an intellectual argument; if that were so, then we would have no atheists today. When we have peace, true peace, not a false acceptance of error or sin, and when we live that peace, then not only can we cope with whatever life throws our way, but we also learn to listen, to better help our children, to make good decisions, to discern the Will of God, to have dialogue with other Christians, to build bridges.

images (5)

Advertisements

The Interior Advent

There will be two posts today; The Interior Advent is about our relationship with the Lord, and the Business Update will add a little to the story of setting up my online business.

download (2)

The Interior Advent.

Pope John Paul II continues to be a source of inspiration, as I read through his book, ‘Prayers and Devotions.’ There is a meditation for every day of the year – some follow the Liturgical year, as these Advent posts show you, others simply study various facets of our lives as Christians, eg work, family, leisure. Today’s meditation picks up a common thread which runs between the Incarnation, the Second Coming, and our own personal lives, causing us to remember that we are both uniquely formed and loved by God, and also part of a worldwide fellowship of God’s beloved.

John Paul begins by quoting St. Bernard:

” ‘In the first coming, the Word was seen on earth and mingled with mankind, when, as He himself affirmed, they saw Him and hated Him. In the last coming, every person shall see the salvation of God, and they shall look on Him Whom they have pierced. But the intermediate coming is occult (hidden), in it only the elect shall see Him within themselves, and their souls are thereby saved.’

This Interior Advent is brought to life through constant meditation on and assimilation of the Word of God.It is rendered fruitful and animated by prayer of adoration and praise of God. It is reinforced by constant reception of the Sacraments, those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist in particular, for they cleanse and enrich us with the grace of Christ, and make us ‘new’ in accordance with Jesus’ pressing call: ‘Be converted.’

“In view of this, every day can and ought become Advent for us Christians. It can and ought become Christmas! For the more we purify our souls, the more we shall make room for God in our hearts, the more Christ will be able to come and be born in us!”

Hold Fast What is Good

images (2)

There are many people grieving around the world, this Advent.

The headlines give us news that makes us drop our own cares for a moment and, in spirit, we rush to the sides of lamenting mothers to offer our support.

Wars in far-off places are so common that we hardly notice their reports, but we are nevertheless aware of the never-ending suffering of the peoples caught in the war-zones.

Many families around us are caught in emotional storms, especially at this wonderful, but stressful, time of year.

How can we weather the storms?

St. Paul tells us to “Hold fast what is good.”

Find your source of comfort and beauty and cling to it.

He also says, “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Paul challenges us to accept the will of God.

This frees us to become peaceful, as we stop the search for reasons ‘why’ and focus instead on gratitude for what we still have, and for what we may one day have restored.

Defending Our Freedoms

“Once, at the beginning of his story, man, male and female, heard the voice of temptation: “You will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad” (Gen 3:5). Man yielded to that temptation. He continues to follow it constantly.”

Advent meditation by JPII in “Prayers in Devotions.”

images

The Federal government in Australia is considering a new legislation that has the potential to severely limit the rights of its citizens to freedom of speech and religion.

The proposed ‘Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Act 2012’ states that criticism of the government voiced in the workplace could lead to a lawsuit, if that criticism offends a listener. We are well on the way to being persecuted for speaking only the truth, perhaps even for merely questioning or speculating about some motive or action of our leaders.

An even more worrying aspect of the proposal is that the burden of proof will lie with the accused i.e.we will be guilty until proven innocent – which is the polar opposite of the principal which has underpinned our justice system for over two hundred years – that we are innocent until proven guilty.

A very expensive detention centre was recently built in Tasmania. It was intended to house some of the hundreds of refugee ‘boat people’ who arrive in Australia every year, fleeing from unimaginable suffering in their native countries. Since the Australian government has arranged to send most of these poor people to detention in Malaysia, one wonders if those unused Australian centres will one day house our own citizens, if the jails begin to overflow with people whose only crime has been to speak the truth according to their conscience.

At least no-one can ever take away our freedom to pray against injustice.

download

“Against man’s perennial temptation, we must set the Advent of Christ; we must be born of God and incessantly reborn of Him”

(Ibid.)

12-12-12

images (12)

Here’s a nice reminiscence about the birth of my little boy, Emmanuel. (He’s 14 tomorrow.)

In 1998, our Archbishop celebrated Hobart’s first public Mass in honour of the Feast of the Divine Mercy, to which I have a great devotion. I was expecting my seventh child at the time, and was pleased to have the opportunity of venerating the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Unborn Child, which was displayed during that Mass. That was really the beginning of my interest in OLO Guadalupe.

Well, my due date drew near, the 12th of December came and went, but on the 13th I went into labour. It was one of those frustrating stop/start labours, but eventually progressed, and we went to the hospital. A friend, also devoted to the Divine Mercy, stayed with the children.

Things were still progressing rather slowly, until 3 o’clock precisely, when the midwife who was with us bumped a chair; the baby jumped inside me and engaged fully, and the labour began in earnest. The second stage lasted from 3 until 4 o’clock; the Hour of Mercy, and then our little Emmanuel came into the world. We later found out that our friend had said the Chaplet with the children at 3 o’clock.

The little baby is now almost 6 feet tall, has a very deep voice, and looks handsome in a suit!

(Does anyone know of a connection between Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Divine Mercy devotion? If you do, I would like to hear about it.)

Happy feast-day to you all.

The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel.On curds and honey he will feed until he knows how to refuse evil and choose good.

Words of Wisdom from John Paul II

images (3)

This is an extract from an Advent meditation taken from “Prayers and Devotions” by Pope John Paul II and edited by Bishop Peter Canisius Johannes van Lierde:

Saint Joseph of Nazareth was a “just man.” It was said to his credit, “as justice,” that he believed in “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into existence things which do not yet exist.”

That happened at the decisive moment for the history of salvation, when God, the eternal Father, “sent His Son into the world” to accomplish the promise made to Abraham.

It was exactly then that the faith of Joseph of Nazareth was manifested. It showed itself to be up to the measure of the faith of Abraham.

It was manifested even more when “the Word of the Living God became flesh in Mary,” the Spouse of Joseph; by the announcement of the angel, “she was with child through the power of the Holy Spirit.” The faith of St. Joseph was bound to be manifested “before the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.

Then it was indeed that Joseph of Nazareth underwent the great proof of his faith, just as Abraham had seen his faith tried. And now Joseph, “the just man,” believed in Him who “calls into existence things which do not yet exist.”

In fact, God Himself, through the power of the Holy Spirit, called into existence the humanity which was that proper to the only begotten Son of God, the Father’s Eternal Word, in the womb of the Virgin of Nazareth, Mary, the bride promised to Joseph.

And Joseph of Nazareth believed in God: “Joseph, Son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife. It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.” Joseph took Mary to himself- and That which had been engendered in her.

images (8)