Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Joy

This can be a difficult time of year when everywhere we turn there is the sense that we are supposed to be filled with joy and good cheer, when, in fact, it can be a very difficult, depressing time for many.

The social pressures that surround Christmas can place undue burdens on parents who feel they have to find that one gift that their child must have; on spouses who search for the one gift that can really speak of the love they have in their heart; for those who feel they must outdo another, or overspend.  The loneliness of those who have lost a loved one or who are separated from them by distance can also put a serious damper on this holy season.

The list is endless.

But none of these things have anything to do with Christmas!  The further away we get from the miracle of the Incarnation of Jesus--the Father sending the Son to save us--the less joy we will have in our hearts.

Giving and receiving gifts can be a lot of fun, but our joy does not come from all of these external things, but from the quiet place in our heart that celebrates the greatest gift of all time.  When we contemplate the life of Jesus, we shift our focus and adopt a more grateful heart.  From this place of love, we can find true joy.

If you want to find joy again in this holy season, spend some time alone, in the quiet, in the presence of God.  Then, when you return to the tasks that must be done, you will do them from a place of refreshment.  The shopping will not be tedious, but thoughtful.

May God pour out His love on you as this holy season begins, and bring your family an abundance of love, joy and peace.

Merry Christmas!
God bless,

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Are you for or against Vatican II?
I have read that it takes 100 years for the work of church councils to be implemented and that we are about midway through the impact of the Second Vatican Council.  That should neither discourage us nor settle us into contentment.

There are some people who argue against what took place at Vatican II and the ensuing New Evangelization.  These people stand firm and hold onto the years before that church-wide gathering of the early 1960s. For others, they want to lay the past to rest and get on with it, advancing the work of the Council.

The key to resolving this conflict about pre or post Vatican II and where we should be, what is right or wrong, lies in correcting a tremendous misconception.  We are erroneous when speaking in terms of before and after, if we intend to imply division.  That is because the work of the Church is one fluid movement of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever came before, or after, is simply different ways of expressing the Church's understanding of its responsibility to dialogue with the world.  How do we speak, or engage with those who are different from us?  What is the message?  Who's job is it to proclaim it?

Vatican II is a gift, an inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the People of God.  We are stewards of that gift--all of us, religious and laity alike.  Some of us--the laity--are just waking up to the realization that we, too, are a necessary part of the mission of the Church.  No longer should we sit back, expecting our shepherds to do all the work.

There is a beautiful document that came out of Vatican II (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity) that every layperson (non-ordained) should study and consider. You can read it here.

The interesting thing about the idea of us being midway in the process of implementing the Council's wisdom is that you and I have a wonderful opportunity to participate in something amazing! 

You have gifts that God will use in order for the New Evangelization to make an impact on the world.  What are your gifts?  How should you use them?  These are important questions for you to explore--for each of us to explore--so we can be assured of working in concert with the Holy Spirit in whatever way God wills.

God bless,
Janet Cassidy

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Are you feeling spiritually lost?

I have been noticing as I drive around that there are an awful lot of deflated Christmas inflatables in the yards in my community.  I am not sure if it is due to wind or maybe a faulty system, but it got me to thinking . . .

What if our faith were like those santas and reindeer?

Perhaps for a moment in time, we get puffed up in our faith.  Filled with inspiration from listening to a dynamic speaker, or just motivated by a new found passion, we stand tall and bright, bursting forth as a shining symbol to our community that God is great, and then, out of the blue, the air goes out of us.

We never want to look like those deflated santas and reindeer, but the truth is, sometimes, it happens to the best of us.  Even saints, such as St. John of the Cross, speak of the "dark night of the soul."  We have seen it addressed most recently in the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa.)

When someone goes through such a time, where doubts creep in or they just feel lost in faith, our saints tell us to look closely at where that might come from.  If something moves us away from God, we can know for sure that it does not come from God.  While God is with us in every dark trial we go through, he does not send us there. 

Are you having a hard time with your faith today?  Have you had a general feeling of malaise when it comes to your spiritual life?

This is the time to be very intentional, turning ever more closely to God.  Go to Adoration. Pray with the scriptures.  Sit and rest in the presence of God.

Of course, I am speaking specifically of a spiritual lull.  If there is something greater going on such as depression or another physical or mental condition, then that needs to be addressed by a professional in the medical field.

But if you are having a brief experience of having the wind go out of your spiritual life, remember that God is there with you in it and he will help draw out for you a richness that can only be gained through this sense of loss.

Remember, God never gives up on us!

God bless,