AN END OF THE YEAR APPEAL
I know, like me, you have had
programs interrupted on public radio and television for fundraising.
Allow me to do a similar thing. We need your help for
"PreacherExchange.com" and "First Impressions." We have kept
the Spanish and English internet preaching and liturgical resources
free so those in poorer parishes and the developing world can have
access to them. Judging from the emails I get that is exactly what
is happening. Will you help us continue to do that?
At the priory we pray for our
benefactors daily. Please let us know if you have any special Advent
petitions. We will pray for them. And please pray for our preaching
mission. Thank you.
Send tax deductible checks to:
3150 Vince Hagan Dr.
Irving, Texas 75062-4736
For a secure
online donation (Via Credit Card, eCheck, or PayPal): Go to:
and click on the appropriate link.
and Christmas are special times for us in the church because we
celebrate God’s present and coming active presence in our lives. We
were reminded last week to stay awake and alert to the Lord’s
coming. "Be watchful! Be alert!" Jesus told his disciples (MK
13:33). Don’t the exclamation points convey a sense of urgency?
Advent reminds us we will not see the presence of Christ already
among us, and coming, unless we are alert and looking for him.
Today’s readings further that
message. Not only are we to be alert, we must tend to our lives. Not
only must we not doze our way through life, we must, as the Baptist
proclaims in the desert, "make straight his paths."
John was echoing what the prophet
Isaiah says to us today, "In the desert prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God." At this point
I would look over my life, and the life of the world in which I
live, to ask: "Where in my life is the ‘wasteland?’" How am I
wasting my time and energies on frivolous pursuits and things? How
do I waste my days in busyness, distractions and entertainment? What
waste clutters my mind? How much of the resources of the planet do I
waste and cast aside? What else would you add to your list of
"waste" – wasted time, energy and resources?
Having dwelt in our own wasteland
for these moments, we are ready to hear the wake-up call of the
prophet. "In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight
in the wasteland a highway for our God." Advent calls us to clean up
our acts and straighten things up. It is not a time to bargain or
convince God to act on our behalf. God is already well disposed
towards us. The prophet is quite clear what God’s intentions are.
God tells the prophet, "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to
her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated."
God is ready to act on our behalf,
heal our wounds and forgive our sins. But while we can’t earn God’s
pleasure towards us, it is always a given, what then can we do to
prepare God’s way? What can we do to "wake up" to God’s coming?
The prophet suggests a road
construction job. In ancient times when a dignitary or ruler would
visit a city, the townspeople would fix the roads to make the royal
person’s entrance smooth. What roadwork do we need to do this
Advent? What valleys and empty places need filling in? What
mountains, obstacles, to God in our lives, need leveling? What rough
edges need smoothing?
If we tend to our "roadwork," Isaiah
promises, "Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all
peoples shall see it together." Glory is an important word in both
testaments. The Hebrew for glory means "weight," or "importance."
Applied to God it refers to God’s visible manifestations to humans.
When we have such an experience of God we respond by giving glory to
God. Experiencing God’s glory will transform us. Not only will we
have the experience, but others will come to know God’s "weight and
importance" through experiencing us.
There is a strong appeal in today’s
readings to change. For example, Peter urges us to "conduct
yourselves in holiness and devotion." The Baptist proclaimed, "a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." When we hear the
word "repent" we may not be moved by it. "After all," we might say,
"I’m not a bad person." True enough. Aren’t we here at church,
listening to God’s Word, praying and getting ready to receive Christ
in his body and blood? Don’t we do our jobs faithfully and honestly?
Aren’t we trying to be the best parents and grandparents we can be?
Don’t we work hard at school and treat our friends fairly? We all
have faults, for sure, but we’re basically good and decent people,
doing our best. Our paths are pretty straight, our valleys not too
deep, our mountains not too high.
But the Word of God these first
weeks of Advent invites us to look more closely at our lives. The
other day I moved some books on my bookshelf and saw the dust that
had accumulated behind them since I last touched them That’s a
lesson for my life. I need to move a few things around, make some
adjustments and do some dusting. Isaiah said it in his way, "Make
straight in the wasteland a highway for our God." John the Baptist
says it in his way, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his
paths." In light of my book-moving experience we might say, "Do some
dusting and straighten up this Advent"
The sins and missteps of "good
people" like us aren’t very obvious until we take an opportunity to
pause for a closer look. That’s what we do in Advent. Take a closer
look at: our complacency at the evils around us; our smugness that
sets us apart from others; our preoccupation with wants, especially
during this buying season; our negativity and lack of gratitude for
God’s many acts of kindness; our unwillingness to work with others
to make changes in our world; our holding back from someone in need.
These are not listed in the 10
Commandments, but it’s Advent, take a look around. In your life what
would you add to the list of valleys that need filling in; mountains
that should be made low; and roads that need straightening? These
might not make the list of "big sins," but they still call out for
attention, as we prepare the way of the Lord?
for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
Let in the cold,
Let in the wet,
Let in the loneliness,
Let in the quick,
Let in the dead,
Let in the un-peopled
Fearful is my virgin heart
And frail my virgin form,
And must I then take pity
on the raging of the storm
That rose up from the great
Before the earth was made,
That pours the stars in
And shakes this violent
Let in the fire,
Let in the power,
Let in the invading
Let in the wound,
Let in the pain,
Let in your child tonight.
Raine, "Northumbrian Sequence," COLLECTED POEMS,
1935-1980 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1981, 36-37)
desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a
highway for our God!
(Isaiah 40: 3)
This Sunday’s readings are all about
preparation and not just any kind of preparation. No, we are to get
ready for the coming of God’s Chosen One. What are we to do? Look at
the last line of the responsorial Psalm 85:14, "Justice shall walk
before him," and the second reading in 2 Peter where we look to a
time when "righteousness dwells" and we are reminded that
cultivating a disposition that leads to good action is another
important way to get ready. This preparation requires us to be
involved in works of justice and for us to practice an interior
peace, kindness, and generosity that will transmit to others. But,
we have so much to do…clean the house, trim the tree, buy the
presents, cook the food…who has time for anything else? Perhaps, if
this has a familiar ring, it is time to re-prioritize your life in
Here are some suggestions to "make
way" for Christ by serving him in his guise of the poor and
vulnerable and by participating in seeking a more just world:
1.Join one of these parish advocacy
groups—Congregations for Social Justice, Justice for Immigrants,
Respect Life, or Campaign Nonviolence
2.Walk in relationship with a
disadvantaged person—Door Ministry, Gabriel Project, Habitat for
Humanity, Prison Ministry, or Support Circles
3.Prepare food for those who you do
not normally encounter—Catholic Parish Outreach, Family Promise,
Helen Wright Center, or Moore Square/Oak City meals
4.For your children--have them
collect clothing for underprivileged children--a Note in the Pocket.
For smaller children--create a "kindness chain" to hang on your
tree, adding a link for every kind thing they do someone between now
and Christmas--these will be their gifts to the Christ child. (And
your actions for a more just world will be your gifts!) All of our
parish ministries can be found at
> parish > social justice.
If you are
not familiar with the seven major themes of Catholic social
teaching, spend part of your day and check out:
Molinari Quinby, MPS
Director of Social Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh,
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for
persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted
in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Isaiah reading:
In the desert prepare the way of the
Make straight in the wasteland a
highway for our God.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made
Advent invites us to clean up our
act and straighten things up. It is not a time to bargain or
convince God to act on our behalf. God is already well disposed
towards us and will help us "Prepare the way of the Lord."
So we ask ourselves:
- What valleys and empty places
in my life need filling in?
- What mountains and obstacles to
God need leveling?
- What rough edges need
POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES
"One has to strongly affirm that
condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that
humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
Inmates on death row are the most
forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this
space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a
postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not
forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through
North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If
the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
- Eric G. Lane #0667195 (On death
row since 7/11/05)
- Eddie Larmar Taylor #0762634
- William H. Raines #0526698
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail
Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285
For more information on the Catholic
position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:
is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday
worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like
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If you would like to support this
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St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan
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Make checks payable to: Dominican
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1. We have compiled Four CDS for
- Individual CDs for each
Liturgical Year, A, B or C
- One combined CD for
"Liturgical Years A, B and C."
If you are a preacher, lead a
Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical
team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process.
Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they
prepare for Sunday liturgy.
You can order the CDs by going to
and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.
Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily
scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a
friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr.
John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.
Where you will
find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions"
and "Homilías Dominicales," as
well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material
pertinent to preaching.
Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to
prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars.
If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a
friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.
you and blessings on your preaching,
fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.
St. Albert the
Great Priory of Texas
Vince Hagan Drive
First Impressions Archive
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