a blog by Marilyn Karpinski
Advent is all about being vigilant...waiting. I've never been good at waiting. I am an impulse shopper. The strategy of putting candy bars in the check-out lanes was developed just for people like me. A friend once said that I bought and sold two houses in the time it took him to make the decision to list his. Waiting has never been my strong suit. Yet I find when it comes to spiritual matters like Advent and Lent the waiting gives me time to ponder and prepare; to come to a fuller understanding of the true meaning of the season. It focuses my attention on the significance of the past and the hope of the future.
Waiting heightens the joy when the prize is attained. Our daughter and her family are extremely health conscious and snacks and fast food are not a part of their diet but exceptions are sometimes made for special occasions. Last Christmas, in preparation for our visit, our daughter Katy purchased a few unhealthy snacks. When her son Will came home from school and went to the pantry to select an after-school snack his shriek could be heard throughout the house: "Mama, there's a Christmas Miracle in our pantry!" He found the bag of cheddar and sour cream potato chips.
The Gospel reading above mentions being prepared to "stand before the Son of Man." The lyrics of a song entitled "I Can Only Imagine" poses the same question: "Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine."
While I can only imagine that day, I do know that I want to be as prepared as humanly possible. So I pray my waiting and preparing this Advent will produce a response as joyous as Will's when I discover the true Christmas Miracle, the birth of Jesus Christ.
This is a translation of the sermon Fr. Bob gave at the Mass of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Tuesday night, December 12, 2017 at St. Anthony's. It is merely a summary of the sermon given by Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome a few hours earlier. The full text of the Pope's homily - which is much better than Fr. Bob's poor summary! - can be found at https://v.gd/lHF57A
This year, as he does every year, Pope Francis presided at a Solemn Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in honor of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thousands of Latin American faithful participated.
In his homily, the Pontiff asked Latin America to defend "our peoples from an ideological colonization that cancels out their richness, be they indigenous peoples, African-Americans, mestizos, peasants, or slum dwellers."
The Pope said:
Today's Gospel is the preface to two great Biblical canticles: the Canticle of Mary, called the "Magnificat", and the Canticle of Zechariah, the "Benedictus", which I like to call "the Canticle of Elizabeth" or "the Song of Fertility".
Elizabeth is the sterile woman, with all that this implied for the religious mentality of her time, which considered sterility as a divine punishment due to one's own sin or that of the husband - a sign of shame in her own flesh, making her feel guilty of a sin she did not commit, making her feel worthless because he did not live up to what was expected of her. And in this context the song of Elizabeth breaks forth in the form of a question: "Who am I, that the mother of my Lord comes to visit me?."
Here we can glimpse the parallel with the poor Indian Juan Diego when he tells Mary: "I really am not worth anything, I'm just a Mecapal, I'm a Cacaxtle, beaten and broken, who must bow down before the foreign conquerors. It is not my place nor my right to go to the high places you would send me."
Here, too, we see the parallels in our own society:
And yet, alongside this "Elizabeth the sterile one", we contemplate "Elizabeth overshadowed by fertility". She was the first to recognize and bless Mary. It is she who in her old age experienced in her own life, in her very flesh, the fulfillment of the promise made by God.
In Elizabeth, we realize that the dream of God is not - and never will be - to sterilize or stigmatize or fill with shame His children, but rather to nurture in them and let break forth from them a song of blessing.
In the same way we realize it in Juan Diego. It was precisely he, and no other, who carries in his tilma the image of the Virgin: the Virgin with brown skin and mestizo face, supported by an angel with the wings of the eagle, the pelican and the macaw - the sacred birds of the Aztec; the mother able to take upon herself the traits of her children to make them feel part of her blessing.
Dear sisters brothers, in the midst of this dialectic of fertility and sterility, let us behold the richness and cultural diversity of our peoples in Latin America. This cultural diversity is a great treasure that we are called upon not only to cultivate but courageously to defend against any and every attempt at homogenization that ends up imposing - under catchy slogans - one single way of thinking, one single of being, of feeling, of living - a globalization that ends up crippling and sterilizing everything we inherited from our elders; that ends up making us - especially our young people - feel small and worhless because we belong to this or that minority culture.
In short, our fertility requires us to defend our peoples from an ideological colonization that cancels out their richness, be they indigenous peoples, African-Americans, mestizos, peasants, or slum dwellers.
The Mother of God is a figure of the Church. From her we want to learn to be a Church with a mestizo face, with an indigenous face, an African-American face, a peasant face, a Mecapal, a Cacaxtle, beaten and broken, forced to bow before the mighty - the face of the poor, the face of the unemployed, the face of every boy and girl, of the old and young, until nobody feels sterile nor infertile, until nobody feels ashamed or belittled.
Until each and every human being, like Elizabeth and Juan Diego, can know themselves to be the bearer of a promise, of a hope and can say from their gut: "Abba! Father!" in accordance with the mystery of the children of God, an adoption which, without canceling the unique features of each person, universalizes us and makes us a people.
Mary! Mary! Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus!
HOMILÍA DE P. BOB PARA LA SOLEMNIDAD DE N.SRA. DE GUADALUPE, 12 DEC. 2017 (TOMADO DE PAPA FRANCISCO)
Como cada año, el Papa Francisco presidió hoy una solemne Misa en la Basílica de San Pedro en Roma con motivo de la festividad de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, en la que participaron miles de fieles latinoamericanos.
En su homilía, el Pontífice pidió a América Latina defender “a nuestros pueblos de una colonización ideológica que cancela lo más rico de ellos, sean indígenas, afroamericanos, mestizos, campesinos, o suburbanos”.
El Papa dijo:
El Evangelio que acaba de ser proclamado es el prefacio de dos grandes cánticos: el cántico de María conocido como el «Magníficat» y el cántico de Zacarías, el «Benedictus», y me gusta llamarlo «el cántico de Isabel» o «el cántico de la fecundidad».
Isabel la mujer estéril, con todo lo que esto implicaba para la mentalidad religiosa de su época, que consideraba la esterilidad como un castigo divino fruto del propio pecado o el del esposo. Un signo de vergüenza llevado en la propia carne o por considerarse culpable de un pecado que no cometió o por sentirse poca cosa al no estar a la altura de lo que se esperaba de ella. Y en este contexto brota el canto de Isabel en forma de pregunta: «¿Quién soy yo para que la madre de mi Señor venga a visitarme?».
Así podemos vislumbrarlo en el indiecito Juan Diego cuando le dice a María, «yo en verdad no valgo nada, soy mecapal, soy cacaxtle, soy cola, soy ala, sometido a hombros y a cargo ajeno, no es mi paradero ni mi paso allá donde te dignas enviarme».
Así también este sentimiento puede estar en nuestras comunidades:
Y junto a Isabel, la mujer estéril, contemplamos a Isabel la mujer fecunda-asombrada.
Es ella la primera en reconocer y bendecir a María. Es ella la que en la vejez experimentó en su propia vida, en su carne, el cumplimiento de la promesa hecha por Dios.
En ella, entendemos que el sueño de Dios no es ni será la esterilidad ni estigmatizar o llenar de vergüenza a sus hijos, sino hacer brotar en ellos y de ellos un canto de bendición.
De igual manera lo vemos en Juan Diego. Fue precisamente él, y no otro, quien lleva en su tilma la imagen de la Virgen: la Virgen de piel morena y rostro mestizo, sostenida por un ángel con alas de quetzal, pelícano y guacamayo; la madre capaz de tomar los rasgos de sus hijos para hacerlos sentir parte de su bendición.
Queridos hermanos, en medio de esta dialéctica de fecundidad–esterilidad miremos la riqueza y la diversidad cultural de nuestros pueblos de América Latina. Ella es signo de la gran riqueza que somos invitados no sólo a cultivar sino a defender valientemente de todo intento homogeneizador que termina imponiendo — bajo slogans atrayentes — una única manera de pensar, de ser, de sentir, de vivir, que termina haciendo inválido o estéril todo lo heredado de nuestros mayores; que termina haciendo sentir, especialmente a nuestros jóvenes, poca cosa por pertenecer a tal o cual cultura. En definitiva, nuestra fecundidad nos exige defender a nuestros pueblos de una colonización ideológica que cancela lo más rico de ellos, sean indígenas, afroamericanos, mestizos, campesinos, o suburbanos.
La Madre de Dios es figura de la Iglesia y de ella queremos aprender a ser Iglesia con rostro mestizo, con rostro indígena, rostro afroamericano, rostro campesino, rostro cola, ala, cacaxtle. Rostro pobre, de desempleado, de niño y niña, anciano y joven para que nadie se sienta estéril ni infecundo, para que nadie se sienta avergonzado o poca cosa. Sino, al contrario, para que cada uno al igual que Isabel y Juan Diego pueda sentirse portador de una promesa, de una esperanza y pueda decir desde sus entrañas: «¡Abba!, ¡Padre!» desde el misterio de esa filiación que, sin cancelar los rasgos de cada uno, nos universaliza constituyéndonos pueblo.
¡María, María! Bendita eres entre todas las mujeres y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
p. Roberto María Showers Arreazola OFM Conv.
12 de dec. 2017
by Anne Ferguson
This fall, about 150 participants continued their journey in the Why Catholic? program. This section is called Celebrate: The Sacraments.
Why Catholic is one of the offerings from Renew International for adult Catholic faith development. It is used throughout the diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Like previous years, the program is built around small faith sharing communities. Our parish had twelve groups, and St. Paul's Chapel had one larger group. There are two groups meeting in Spanish, using the Arise program, (Levantete), also from Renew International. The faith sharing groups gathered in the mornings, or afternoons, or evenings; they met at parishioners' homes or in parish classrooms or in the daily Mass chapel or in the old church - wherever and whenever convenient to accomodate working parents, retired people, and many part-time residents (our beloved "snowbirds"!). Some groups were newly formed, some have been meeting as a group for five years now.
This year we asked each small group to choose a name for themselves.
More than 150 parishioners continued their faith journey in this year's Why Catholic program.
Some small faith sharing communities have not taken on any special name, but they do have a special identity, every one of them. One small group descibes how they enjoy taking turns being the facilitator, while other groups have chosen one or two permanent facilitators. One group meets on Sunday morning between Masses while the children have catechism - this group especially enjoy's Friar Joe's regular presence and wisdom.
One community met six weeks in a row in the fall and will meet six times in the spring. Another group is meeting just once a month pretty much all year. Each group chooses a schedule that works for them!
The Why Catholic small communities show a lot of imagination in meeting each other's needs and supporting each other in the faith. The members become part of each other's lives, building up not only each other but the parish and the entire Catholic Church as well.
If you want to become part of next spring's Why Catholic program, you can always jump in! Contact Anne Furgeson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Ferguson is the parish coordinator of the Renew Inernational programs at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Angola, IN. She has partipated in Renew, Arise and Why Catholic.
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