Isaiah: 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
Psalms: 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
1 Corinthians: 1:3-9
When people are waiting for someone important to them, have serious concerns or needs, they are watchful and alert; watchful and alert for the long awaited one, for opportunities to gain a foot up, or for a possible opening to a better life. I remember an older woman in Paterson who waited anxiously every month for her Social Security check in order to pay her rent. I remember a young mother in my family waiting and watching anxiously for her husband to return home from active duty in Afghanistan; the closer his arrival date came the more anxious she became as to whether he would make it home alive and whole.
When we wait like this our sense of security often falls away with our inability to control the outcome. We wait and watch with hope and often with anxiety. This can be an experience of poverty in our dependence on others, on God.
St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Sisters of Charity, said that when people are truly poor, watchful and alert ... they often do not judge or disdain anyone, but earnestly hope that their absolute need for God will be matched by the gratuity of his mercy.*
Jesus was drawn to those impoverished in body, mind or spirit. Full of mercy and compassion, he reached out to heal and nourish those who were hoping in God. This Advent, once again we await with anticipation the coming of Christ at Christmas.
Let us take to heart this waiting and watching for God. Let us be aware that God actively enters into our lives every day to heal us and is present in every encounter and every situation providing us with an opportunity to share mercy and compassion. Let us be alert and watchful and welcoming.
Maranatha ... Come Lord Jesus.
* (Father Hugh F. O’Donnell, C.M., "Vincent de Paul: His Life and Way," Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac: Rules, Conferences, and Writings, ed. Frances Ryan, D.C., and John E. Rybolt, C.M. [New York: Paulist Press, 1995], p. 17).
Sr. Rosemary Moynihan SC '67, Ph.D.
General Superior, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Chair, College of Saint Elizbaeth Board of Trustees
Psalms: 122:1-2, 3-4b, 4cd-5, 6-7, 8-9
Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord!
The LORD's mountain is the house of the God of Jacob, the holy places in our communities, and the holy places of our whole creation. Let God instruct us in his ways, that we may walk in his paths, and find the ways of peace.
How can we walk in the ways of peace in our times? How can our everyday actions be an expression of peace, care and concern for our world? One simple way is to care for our earth by reducing the waste that creates garbage. Often garbage is incinerated and creates pollution that leads to asthma. Wasted water bottles leach chemicals into our water. Choose a reusable bottle and bring a reusable bag!
We all have many cares and our jobs, families, and classes make demands on our time. But take an honest look. Are distractions and trivial pursuits preventing us from changing unsustainable habits? We can make time for this.
Pope Francis teaches that this work is "neither optional nor secondary." As Saint Pope John Paul II wrote 25 years ago, "the ecological crisis has reached such proportions as to be the moral responsibility of everyone."
It's not too hard to bring a reusable bottle or mug, and bring a canvas bag shopping. Think of the beauty you are preserving for God's holy mountain, holy land, holy lakes, holy cities, holy sidewalks. God has chosen to live among us in Jesus – this world is touched and renewed by the Incarnation. It is the place where our salvation happens, and caring for creation is our gift back to God.
Let's honor God's holy mountain and avoid mountains of trashed wrapping paper that used to be trees. Last year, I bought a Christmas-colored tablecloth, cut it up, and I used the sparkly red-and-green fabric to wrap gifts for my family. Then I took the cloths back and I will re-use them this year. It's pretty, easy, reusable, and leaves no waste. Try it if you see some holiday cloth napkins or tableclothes on sale!
As the Scripture says, "May peace be within your walls, prosperity in your buildings." Let us add: Let there be beauty in your home and earth, simplicity in your life, a healthy earth for all, and may new life come to you in the Advent season.
Erin Lothes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Theology, College of Saint Elizabeth
Psalms: 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17
As we may all know, there are plenty of people who are in need of food and shelter. We are taught as little kids that sharing is caring and when we get older we come to an understanding that sometimes it isn't about just giving physical objects, but also giving our attention and showing empathy to others. We learn to just listen and sometimes even give advice to others.
I once volunteered at a soup kitchen where I met this sweet woman who shared with me what happened to her. She was about in her early 30's when she was assaulted and robbed by a man while she was selling ice cream in her little cart. This was her whole life because as an undocumented person and having a language barrier, there was nothing she could do. She ended up in the hospital and all these bills suddenly added up. Barely even able to sustain herself, and especially now that she was hurt so bad, she was limited in what she could do, so she became in debt. She was struggling to survive and was basically living day by day. She started to go to the soup kitchen because she no longer had money to even get herself a decent lunch.
After going on for what seemed like hours, she just stood up and hugged me real tight. She confessed that I was the only person to ask how her day was going and to sit and actually listen. She felt hopeful that things were going to get better.
In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."
How many times have we neglected to hear or see God in others? Sometimes it just takes a few minutes (or maybe even hours!) to sit and talk with God and ask him to listen to us. It's in the poor where we actually come to listen to God and his message of charity and faith. Sometimes it's the less fortunate who see way beyond what we see and are closer to God in spirit.
Jessica Velasquez-Julca '20
Psalms: 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
"Then ordering the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, after giving thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all of them ate and were filled ..."
We live in a world of scarcity, not enough money, not enough time, and not enough love. How is it that at the heart of this story, there was more than enough for all? How do we change our thinking to center ourselves around? There will forever be enough.
I have been fortunate to see the realization of always having enough come to fruition most often in my former role as program director for a small Episcopal non-profit that distributed baby supplies to families in need in Newark, Paterson, Dover, Morristown and their greater communities.
We had a client come into our Dover office a few years ago in need of a very expensive prescription baby formula that her son needed. This mid-20-year-old mother had three boys, one with special needs, and a new baby that could only digest formula that was five times the still high price of regular formula. Neither food stamps nor WIC covered this formula and so Ninoska was left with the choice: Does she feed her child, or put gas in the car to go to work?
After documenting her request, my colleague and I were at a loss of what to do. We gave her all we had of this very expensive formula, but there were no plans in our budget to buy more.
Not 15 minutes later, a man that neither of us had met before entered the office and dropped off five cases (60 cans) of the formula that Ninoska was in need of. This donation was from a source that we had not used in the past, and I believe to date the organization has not received supplies from again. The little boy "ate and was filled" for his remaining six months of formula consumption and then transitioned to regular food.
This season, look for those opportunities to step into faith and into generosity and see what the holy spirit has in store for all of us.
God of hope,
When your Son appears
May he not find us asleep or idle,
But active in his service and ready.
Give us grace to cast off the works of darkness,
Put on the armor of light,
And allow me to put my trust in you.
Jayne Murphy-Morris, CSE Graduate Student
Director, Volunteerism and Service Learning
College of Saint Elizabeth
Psalms: 118:1 and 8-9, 19-21, 25-27a
Matthew: 7:21, 24-27
We have two options: To either listen to the will of God or to ignore it. As the Gospel says, "not everyone...will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the ones who do the will of my Father..." We are constantly seeking out the path to righteousness.
When we have a mindful moment with God and listen to His words and act on them accordingly, we are granted with great joy and abundance. Listening to God, the wise man built his house upon rock, and when "the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew...it did not collapse." He was greatly rewarded.
We are all God's children, but not all of us listen. Do not be like the "fool who built his house on sand." Think of the little version of yourself – did you always listen to your parents? I was a stubborn and adventurous little thing. Hard to believe, right? One day, my father told me to watch television in the family room, while he did some lawn work outside. I guess I got bored, so I disobeyed, and decided to climb the ladder leading to the roof of our ranch-style house. Little Maria ended up standing on the roof of her house! Long story short, I did not listen to the will of my own father and I put myself in danger.
God our Father only wants what is best for us. When we listen and obey the will of God we keep ourselves out of harm's way. If we listen, and I mean really listen, we establish a sense of trust in our Father – just as a child learns to trust his or her parents. This trust ultimately shows our love for Him and leads us to eternal life.
Maria Capozzoli '18
Genesis: 3:9-15, 20
Psalms: 98:1, 2-3ab, 3cd-4
Ephesians: 1:3-6, 11-12
"Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (Lk 1:28)
Every other year at the beginning of Advent, this Gospel is read. Quite honestly, I often find myself questioning the whole event. Being a skeptic right off the streets of Jersey City, events like this are not accepted easily.
"Wow, an angel, really?" What does this mean, "full of grace?"
I once heard a Sister I lived with tell a story about teaching the Hail Mary to her first graders. One small boy kept saying, "Hail Mary, full of grapes." When the Sister questioned him as to why he kept saying full of grapes, He responded, "you, know ... Fruit of the Loom (womb?!)"
What's the point of this, both the Angel coming and the story of the grapes? They both involve listening. How well do I listen? How do I quiet myself enough to be able to listen, to hear God's whisper, God's gentle voice; to ponder what God might be asking of me in this time and place? Where do I go to be quiet, to find God, to deal with my own skepticism and questions?
Personally, I go to the beach. The rhythm of the waves is calming and quiets me so I can be still, really listen for and experience the calm and prepare me to hear what I may have been avoiding, fearing, resisting, challenging, etc.
Choosing the quiet, clearing out the distractions, helps me to ponder in my heart, to listen for my angel, and then prepare to say my yes to what I hear. And, if I believe in Grace, I too can trust that like Mary, I do not have to be afraid. I will have found favor with God.
Sr. Joan Repka SC '71
Councilor, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Isaiah: 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalms: 147:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Matthew: 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8
This day's Gospel reading is telling me that Jesus reached out to the people of Zion who were troubled and abandoned to give them the bread for their hunger and the water for their thirst. He summoned His disciples to tend to the lost sheep and proclaim His works and words. He was there for them and answered to their needs, but they had to open themselves to Him.
He is telling me that no matter how I feel physically, emotionally, spiritually, He is there for me in all ways always. But, I must do my part.
I must include Him in every day in all I do. Pray to Him, praise Him, thank Him, and ask for guidance and love. All does fall into place in ways I can't even imagine. Even on the challenging days, this gives me peace.
Valerie Martin '11
Office of Vice President for Student Life
College of Saint Elizabeth
Isaiah: 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalms: 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14
2 Peter: 3:8-14
We are all called to prepare the way of the Lord. We are called to lead. We are called to challenge ourselves and others.
It's easy for me to challenge my students; I give them grades. And I need my students to challenge me; to be creative and to understand and be receptive to different points of view.
Given the voices I hear in our country's current political discourse, I am challenged to make real and sincere efforts to understand why peoples' opinions differ from mine. While it is unlikely that I will change my position on issues, if I do not understand why people hold their beliefs, I contribute to the divisions in our country. If I do not listen, I will not appreciate why there are no quick and easy solutions to our country's problems.
However, climate change is not an opinion, it is not fake news. Climate change is real. The results of climate change will affect you and me, your children, your grandchildren, my nieces and nephews and their children. The damage to our planet will be irreversible. Wealthy countries will be better able to adapt at first. Poor countries are suffering the effects right now.
It is a matter of justice that I teach the science of climate change. It is a matter of justice that I make life choices. For me, I call it, "don't waste a drop and don't waste a watt."
So here I am, with the winter solstice approaching and the days getting shorter. I will need to keep my lights on longer. This Advent I challenge myself to offset this increase in my carbon footprint by eating more chicken and less beef. And as the days grow longer, it will be a continual challenge to up this practice. How are you challenging yourself to prepare the way of the Lord this Advent?
Sr. Elena J. Colicelli SC '72, Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry, College of Saint Elizabeth
Psalm: 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
"We have seen incredible things today." – Luke 5:26
One of the touchstones of my life as a Catholic has always been the old school hymn, "How Great Thou Art." The song reverberates in my mind at times of prodigious gratitude, and at times of desperate surrender – an anthem reminding me of God’s goodness and greatness regardless of what I am experiencing in this earthly domain – "then sings my soul ..."
Our firm belief in and hope for miracles encapsulates our faith as Catholics and is the central theme of today's readings – that God is our savior, in every sense of the word, and there is no limit to what God can do to save and redeem us.
The first reading from Isaiah provides a poetic, eloquent litany for the marvels of God's awesome power where the "lame leap like a stag" and "the tongue of the mute will sing." The reading assures us to never have any doubt about what the Lord can do on our behalf; a good and gracious God who saves us from our sorrows and "crowns us with everlasting joy."
The gospel reading provides a dramatic demonstration of this faith in action where a paralyzed man on a stretcher can't get close enough to Jesus through the crowd and has people lower him to the Lord from a rooftop. What an effort this man and his friends made to get him to Jesus to be healed!
As I imagine this remarkable moment in my mind, I reflect on where I might be in my journey to grow closer to Jesus. How far am I willing to go and whom do I rely on to help get me there? Certainly, at times I feel as though I am dangling, helpless, at the end of a rope at the mercy of others or adverse circumstances that I do not control. This story reminds us, however, that the rope is in no other hands but God's.
We tend to see the holiday season as magical and glorious, and for all sorts of reasons, it truly is. But if we pause on any given day, at any particular moment, we know that we are routinely blessed with incredible, marvelous and miraculous experiences that reflect the power and goodness of our God.
During this advent season, let us stay aware and on watch for these opportunities to recognize the marvel of God working in our lives, even if we have to go to a rooftop to get there.
Monique Guillory, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs, College of Saint Elizabeth
Zechariah: 2:14-17 or Revelation: 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
Psalms-Judith: 13:18bcde, 19
Luke 1:26-38 or Luke 1:39-47
It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to be told that you are to become the mother of God. The scripture tells us that at first Mary was uncertain. Did she feel joy? Did she experience anxiety?
At the time of the pronouncement, Mary was a young woman – it is said that she was likely in her early teens. One can only imagine her emotions. The angel Gabriel tells her not to be afraid. Did this calm her? Did it scare her?
In this gospel, we are told that she accepts what she is told and acknowledges that she will do what she is asked. What is it like to have unwavering faith, to accept the proclamation of an angel and agree to do God's will? How do we, during this holy season, accept our future as that which God has determined and not what we desire? How do we gain the strength in faith so evidenced by Mary? Let us pray for a deepening of faith during this Advent season.
Helen J. Streubert, Ed.D.
President, College of Saint Elizabeth
Psalms: 103:1-2, 3-4, 8 and 10
On a cool September day, my boyfriend and I were walking out to his car to go hiking. Before we opened the car doors, I noticed something hanging off of the driver-side door handle. As I approached the handle, I realized that it was a tiny bird with light gray feathers.
We could tell that there was something wrong with the bird as its movements were minimal. I gently picked up the bird into the palms of my hands and saw a wound under the bird's left wing. The bird tried to hold out its wing, and while doing so, I went into a state of shock as I saw a gaping tear in the bird's body. I could see the internal organs of this creature and my heart began to break as I have never seen anything like this before.
I carried the bird over to the front porch and held it in my hand, hoping that the warmth of my body would comfort the bird. Tears began to stream down from my eyes and I looked up to the beautiful blue sky calling out to the Lord: "Bless, you Lord. Please, I beg of You, heal the life of a creature that You formed with Your bare hands."
A few seconds later the bird began to seize and my hands began to tremble with fear that I worsened the life of this bird. There were no more body movements from the bird and the breathing dwindled.
While I had hoped and begged the Lord to heal this bird so that it may live, He gave the bird the eternal rest that it needed. In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus tell us that he will give us rest we need if we only ask Him. We are encouraged to pray as much as we want, and the Lord will hear our prayers. Sometimes, He answers our prayers in a different way than we had hoped. Sometimes the rest that we so desired looks like a "yoke" or a "burden" and this is okay.
The bird that I had so wanted to live had died, but it was for the best. Always trust in the Lord and what He does for us, for His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
Alexis Bostrom '18
Psalms: 145:1 and 9, 10-11, 12-13ab
This scripture reading strengthens my confidence in God's mercy. I find myself often questioning the extent of God's mercy. How could he not get frustrated with me? I am a sinner. To God, I must appear incapable of learning a lesson. I sin, repent, and then sin again. God is merciful, but there must be an end to this mercy. How many times can He forgive? And yet, despite my doubts, I know in my heart that God is forever merciful.
My husband's late priest described the extent of God's mercy to his congregation last fall. I will never forget his explanation. It was beautiful, and involved two of my favorite people. His explanation was based on an event that happened one Saturday night.
That evening, my husband John, daughter Lia, and I had dinner with Father William and his wife Amy. (Orthodox Christian priests can marry.) During dinner, Lia who was 8 months at the time, sat on my husband's lap. She smiled and kept throwing her ball down to the floor. After each throw, John would pick the ball up, hand it back to her, and resume talking to Father William. That scenario repeated itself about 20 times.
The next morning, Father William referred to Lia and John during his sermon. He compared Lia and John's interaction the previous night to that of humans' relationship with God.
Most people are relatively good-natured and want to do the right thing. Nevertheless, we can't help ourselves. We continuously "drop the ball" and sin. And yet, God responds with mercy, and keeps picking that ball up – each and every time. He gives us that ball back, so we can try again. This scripture and memories of Father William remind me of that.
Nicole Yanoso '04, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of History
College of Saint Elizabeth
Psalms: 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
The people in this gospel story just could not see "beyond." They looked at John and saw a "crazy" person because he did not drink or eat – they looked at Jesus and saw a "sinner" because he did drink and eat (especially with those other "sinners.").
These were people looking for the stereotype that fit their notion of wise, holy, sacred. Yet, as the story goes, both John and Jesus were people who possessed profound wisdoms that they were very willing to share – if only others would listen.
So what are my stereotypes of a person I would consider wise, holy, worthy or sacred – someone I would respect enough to ask for guidance? Is it someone with a formal title? Someone who has political or monetary power? Someone who follows all the "rules" of society? Or should I be "seeing" by listening more deeply? For me, that is what this Biblical passage is about.
Now that I think of it, some of the most profound wisdoms I have received in life have come from those who appear "different." Guess I should "see" that way more often!
Director, Experiential Learning Center and Career Services
College of Saint Elizabeth
Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Psalms 80:2AC & 3B, 15-16, 18-19
Matthew 17:9A, 10-13
Wait, wait! Hurry up and wait! Most of us impatiently wait in line at the supermarket, in long lines of traffic, or even for family and friends when it's time to leave the house. And here we are halfway through the season of Advent and still waiting – but this time it's different.
Advent is considered a time of waiting for the Lord to appear in our lives. We do the waiting. But if we reflect carefully on the Church's readings for the season, perhaps we should turn that around and reflect on the possibility that it is God waiting for us.
In reality, there is no waiting for God, for God has already given us the gift of his son, Jesus, who lived among us, died at our hands and rose again to reveal for us the promise of eternal life. This is the core belief of Christmas. In a sense, the ball is now in our court to plumb the depths of this mystery, to understand what difference it can make in our lives.
God is waiting for us. In other words, God is willing to wait until we are ready to accept and love him as He has already accepted and loved us. We must do our part that "the kingdom come" in our lives, in our families, in our world.
This day, let us renew our sense of purpose and our unique place in the unfolding process of bringing about God's reign in our world.
Restore us, O Holy One; let your face shine upon us, teach us to love!
– Psalm 80 as found in Praying the Psalms, Nan Merrill
If I am willing to accept that God is waiting for me, how does that change the priorities of my life here and now?
Sr. Barbara Conroy SC '60
Director of Sponsorship Services, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Isaiah: 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thessalonians: 5:16-24
John: 1:6-8, 19-28
It is easy these turbulent days to identify with John the Baptist's "voice of one crying out in the desert." The political landscape is often void of compassion and care. The KKK is actively parading its racist messages; immigrants are being deported amid plans for walls so we never even have to see those who need a safe and fruitful life; scores of women have come forward to speak of sexual abuse at the hands of men who have misused their power. Yet, as always, Isaiah's words call us to stand counter culturally: God "has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners."
On my lawn is a sign that reads "In Our America Love Wins." My neighbor was reading the sign and said he could agree with most of the litany except, "Immigrants and Refugees are Welcome."
"If you aren't here legally, then out you should go," he said. "No exceptions." I replied, "I always ask myself, 'What would Jesus do?'" This gave my neighbor pause. Even in these troubling times I can "rejoice" because "God has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice." It's the only path to take "to make straight the ways of the Lord."
I trust that "the Lord God (will) make justice and praise spring up before all the nations." This promise is our greatest hope and our greatest joy this Advent season. And we all get to do our part.
Margaret Roman '72, Ph.D.
College of Saint Elizabeth
Psalms: 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
Since childhood, I have always had tremendous admiration for Saint Joseph; indeed, I have been somewhat in awe of him. I imagine the remarkable pressure that he must have felt to disavow Mary when he learned that she was with child prior to their marriage, and knowing that it could not be his own.
It is clear that at first he struggled with this, but ultimately, and without question or hesitation, he placed his trust in God, and his commitment to Mary and to Jesus above all. In this way, he serves as an outstanding model of faith, humility, obedience, courage, and commitment. He is an archetypal servant of God, as well as an exemplary husband and father.
I sometimes ask myself: would I have the strength to do what Saint Joseph did? I hope so, but I am not sure. And then I realize that everyday each of us is asked to follow Saint Joseph's example, at least in some small way, i.e., to set aside strong negative feelings and what might seem like our own better judgment, and instead to trust in God's will and providence.
Anthony B. Santamaria, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences
College of Saint Elizabeth
Judges: 13:2-7, 24-25a
Psalms: 71:3-4a, 5-6ab, 16-17
This gospel reminded me of the story when Gabriel came to Mary and told her she would bear God's only son, Jesus. After some research, I realized that this gospel is directly before the gospel where Gabriel appears to Elizabeth. I think that Luke decided to put these gospels next to each other to allow people to think about the differences between these stories.
When Elizabeth gets the news, she is an older woman who gives birth and hides away for five months. In contrast, Mary is a young woman and she is excited to go out into the world being pregnant. There are many similarities, too. Gabriel appears in both stories to announce that God will give them a child. They were both frightened about the appearance of an angel and bearing a child, but they ultimately said yes to the will of God.
To end, I think there are many questions that arise from these passages. Why did Gabriel give Elizabeth a child when she was older? I think that God would not give a child to Elizabeth if she was not ready to become a mother. Did God already know what type of a mother Elizabeth and Mary would be?
I believe that God knew that Elizabeth and Mary would be wonderful mothers. God trusted Mary with His only son and knew she was ready for this new step. What I learned from these passages is that God may give you a curveball in life. However, God would not give you anything that you were not ready to handle. The situation may seem daunting at first, but it could turn out to be a miracle!
Laura Surace '21
Psalms: 24:1-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
Advent is the season of such great hope. It is dreaming beyond our wildest expectations whether we are a child dazzled by the Christmas lights and decorations, a young adult with dreams of a good job, an anticipated Christmas gift or the wizened adult who is carried through the glitz and glitter to the marvels of a loving God who does all things for us.
An angel announces to a teenage girl she is with child, but not just any child, the Savior himself. And in her innocence asks: What? Why? Me? Impossible. But the angel reminds her as a young woman of faith, nothing is impossible for God.
"OMG," we might say in 2018, "what a lucky young woman!"
But that angel's statement that nothing is impossible for God is meant for you and me as well. We are included in this wonderful message of hope.
So we ask ourselves this Advent, today and every day, "Do I turn to God in hope when things do not seem possible? Will I step into the heart of God and his peaceful message and recognize nothing is impossible for and with God?
Msgr. Thomas J McDade, Ed.D.
Professor of Education/Chaplain
College of Saint Elizabeth
Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah: 3:14-18a
Psalms: 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
As children of God, each and every one of us carries God within us and there is such joy to be found when we recognize that in one another. In today's Gospel, we hear that the infant John the Baptist leapt in his mother's womb when he encountered Jesus.
I will always remember the first time that I ever met my campus minister because he immediately greeted me with such warmth and kindness that I was taken aback. As I have gotten to know him over the past few years, I have been inspired by the joy with which he greets his student leaders and more importantly, the joy with which he greets students who he is meeting for the first time.
Should we not rejoice as the infant John the Baptist did when we encounter another child of God? Should we not choose to see that God is present in every person that we encounter?
I am a naturally shy person, but most people know me to be friendly and talkative. I work hard to overcome my shy tendencies and be talkative with people that I do not know because I try to remember that they all carry God within them. I try to embrace the opportunity to greet everyone that I meet because it is the opportunity to greet God each and every day.
When we greet our dear family and friends, we should recognize them as children of God and rejoice. When we meet someone for the first time, we should remember that they too are a child of God and we should rejoice.
Today, begin by striving to remember that each person you encounter is a child of God. Challenge yourself to greet each person with the joy and elation that you would pour out upon meeting Jesus Christ Himself.
God comes to us every day, let us leap for joy!
Katie Blevins '19
Samuel: 1 Sm 1:24-28
Psalms: 1 Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8abcd
With Christmas arriving in a few days, television commercials encourage us to buy gifts for loved ones. One popular gift is the open-heart jewelry collection by actress Jane Seymour, inspiring us "to share our open heart with someone we love."
As we reflect on today's reading we see that Mary exemplifies the true open heart. In one of the few passages where Mary speaks to us telling us to trust in God, she leads us by example in a simple mindful way. During these last few days of Advent, we are encouraged to follow Mary, to think with all our heart, to reflect on graces given, to be joyful, to find peace within ourselves and with others, and to open our heart to God.
Saint Mother Teresa, our modern-day saint, had a simple prayer of love for Mary, "Keep me in your most pure heart," asking to be in Mary's heart, and for Mary to be in her heart leading to Jesus. Through this simple prayer, Saint Mother Teresa reminds us of our need to be mindful and "to share our open heart" with our jewel, Mary.
Monica Luby, MS, RDN
Assistant Professor, Foods and Nutrition
College of Saint Elizabeth
Malachi: 3:1-4, 23-24
Psalms: 25:4-5ab, 8-9, 10 and 14
Responsorial Psalm – Ps. 25:4-5AB
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
Teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
For you are God my savior.
As a Sister of Charity for 53 years, I have tried to always take time discerning the path God is calling me to next in my life. Back in the Advent of 1980, I had discerned with two other Sisters to seek ministry options in Appalachia. It was the longest Advent "time of waiting" that I ever spent. We wrote to many Bishops and visited several areas in the Appalachian region. Throughout this whole time, I felt very much at peace trusting God would surely lead us to the right place.
Our time of waiting was over in August 1981 when we visited a small parish of 25 families in Wayne County, WV. The Bishop was looking for a Catholic presence where we would have the freedom to create our own way to be of service to the poor in the area. I knew in my "gut" that this was it and God had blessed me/us.
My extended Advent was a period of blessings along the way. It was a time of seeing the Advent of God in my life in a new way because Jesus' birth in ages past wasn't the only act of God being faithful and loving to me. I learned to be still and listen, to trust, and surrender to the path God had planned.
As I have grown and matured, my life has brought me to wonderful people and places, careers and opportunities. I find that God has ways of bursting in, or slipping in at the times I least expect, always guiding me and having my best interest in mind.
What worries or concerns in my life now do I need God's help with to see the path more clearly? How might I begin to trust my future to the God of my understanding?
Sr. Roberta Feil SC '68
Coordinator of Community Life, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth
Samuel: 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalms: 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Today's Gospel from Luke is probably one of the most popular readings in the New Testament. It is popular because through Mary "God became flesh."
Mary's Annunciation is one of the most important events in our Catholic/Christian history, as it was her willingness to say, "Yes," to the angel who appeared to her that changed the course of time, history and salvation.
Let us reflect on the "yesses" in our life. What happens when the angel appears to us? She may come in many disguises. Angel invitations often meet us where we are. The "Yes" that we have been resisting for some time suddenly slides off of our tongue astonishing us. Many times "Yes" takes us into new territory moving us forward to new vistas and opening up to us new and different situations.
Pause for a minute and think about the "yesses" in your own life.
Yes, I will drive you to the College lecture. Yes, I will be on the cleanup committee for the next dance. Yes, I will be nice to the new students in class and help them without being asked. Yes, I will volunteer at the soup kitchen. "Yes" can lead us to surprises and sometimes life-changing opportunities and experiences.
Take time and read the passage Luke 1:25-37. Read it again with your heart. Think about what you read and what stands out in it for you.
Mary's "yes" will come to fruition tomorrow with the Incarnation – the birth of Jesus. "Yes" extends the Christ within us to others and we meet the Christ residing in them. Make every day this Christmas Season a "yes" day for yourself.
Sister Maryanne Tracey SC '70
Formation/Vocation Team, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth