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Advent 2017 Daily Devotionals

December 19, 2017


Welcome to The University of Scranton's Advent Devotional

The Jesuit Center Staff and University Advancement invite you to join us on a spiritual journey through the holy season of Advent. For those who wish to join us on this spiritual journey, you will receive in your inbox a daily reflection and prayer based on the Church's readings of the day. Each reflection and prayer has been prepared by a member of our university community.

These daily reflections and prayers will help each and every member of our Royal Family prepare their heart so as to experience the manifestation of God’s goodness in a more profound way on Christmas Day.
As we worked together to make this devotional a reality, we have been powerfully reminded of God’s grace flowing through each participant’s reflection. It has been a humbling experience to read through the diverse reflections offered in this devotional and we are excited to share them with you as friends and colleagues. The reflections presented in this devotional were formed from varied Christian traditions and perspectives, yet serve as a reminder that we are bound together by the great revelation of God’s incarnation. Whether you pray from the Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant tradition, we hope that your experience of praying with us during Advent will help you connect more profoundly with your family and friends, your community of worship, and those with whom you labor here at The University of Scranton.
Enjoy these reflections and Godspeed for the journey ahead.


Blessings,
The Jesuit Center Staff
Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
Mr. Ryan Sheehan
Rev. James Redington, S.J.


december 3, 2017 reflection

What am I running from? Why do I keep myself so busy during this holy time of preparation? If I am going to be honest with myself I have to admit that I’m afraid of God. I’m not so much afraid that God will return and find me unworthy the way Jesus admonishes his followers to “stay alert” because the Lord of the House is retuning. This scenario doesn’t bother me so much because St. Paul reminds us that we are “not lacking in any spiritual gift.” Therefore, I’m going to trust St. Paul’s words and have faith in God’s gifts of mercy and grace should He return unexpectedly.

What really scares me is the thought that if I don’t keep myself busy “doing things” that God will catch me and begin to mold me in ways that will challenge my comfortable lifestyle and world-view. And you know what? I don’t feel like being challenged by anyone right now much less God. Doesn’t God know that I’ve been working hard all year and am tired? Doesn’t God know that there is so much to do before we celebrate Christmas? In my bolder (and more frustrated moments) I feel like shouting: “Hey God, this preparation for Christmas doesn’t just happen, and if you want the anniversary of your birth celebrated in style you should just let me take care of my business and go bother somebody else!”

As I contemplate the holy season of Advent before me, I know I need to pray for the grace to slow down and accept the outstretched hands of God that seek to catch me and mold me in His divine image. I need to remind myself that of the many gifts that God desires to give me during this holy season He most wants a heart ready to be formed anew. May it be granted to me according to His divine will.

Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
Executive Director, The Jesuit Center
The University of Scranton

prayer

As we begin Advent we humbly implore you to quiet our busy lives so that we become more aware of the divine life you lavish upon all your servants. Let our cries be one with the Psalmist: “Rouse your power to save us Lord”!


December 4, 2017 reflection

“FIAT” or Faith in Action Team was a club my children participated in while attending middle school at St. Raphael. That year we started a tradition in our family where we would always pay for the car behind us at a popular drive-thru; I vividly remember the excitement and pure joy they would feel every time we practiced this simple act of kindness. The gesture was small in comparison to the happiness that my children received. Learning to live your faith by serving others is something we tried to always instill in our children.

Matthew’s gospel references the familiar words we recite at every Mass as we prepare to receive the Eucharist:

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”

In today’s reading, Jesus demonstrates a simple act of kindness to heal the servant, yet the centurion took a big leap of faith and humility as well in his approach to ask Jesus for help. Do you have the same faith and humility to fully rely on Jesus to show you the way?

There are tough challenges that we must face in today’s world: the social injustices, the pains of illness, or even the personal struggles to forgive. Life is fast-paced and many of us live in a state of constant fear of missing out. But the message today is one of faith-slowing down, of letting Christ show you the way, of beginning “to walk in the light of Christ”, and of finding peace in your life. True happiness and peace comes to you when you are following the will of Christ; when you are steadfast in your faith and committed in your service.

Look for opportunities today to live your faith and improve your service- Smile at a stranger, forgive a relative or friend. Be kind and be patient. Take time to pray and give thanks; it is in these very small, daily actions we prepare our hearts for the joy of Christ’s birth and to once again renew and enhance His presence in our lives.

Theresa Rice Haughey '87
Member, Alumni Society Advisory Board

prayer

Dear Lord, Create a sense of peace in our hearts and homes. Let us stay connected and focused on living our lives and walking in the path you have planned for us. May Your light shine in us and may those around us see and feel Your love through our actions and deeds.


December 5, 2017 reflection

What a beautiful image Isaiah portrays in today’s first reading. Leopards lying down with children, wolves guests of the lamb, and babies playing by the cobra. Sounds a bit outlandish, but isn’t that the very essence of God? He created all things and is the Master of the Universe. We are made in His image and likeness. He declared all of creation very good.

So, does Isaiah’s Messianic prophecy ring true in our hearts? The Spirit of the Lord rests upon Him. The gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out upon Him: Wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge and fear (awe) of the Lord.

But how will we know if we are truly engaging in advancing God’s Kingdom? Isaiah reminds us at the beginning of the first reading – the same Spirit that rested on Jesus, rests on us. We have been given the wisdom, understanding and counsel we need to discern what is of value. We will have the strength to move ahead with the knowledge that as long as we trust the mission of Jesus and our ministry to his needy ones, we are God’s partners in extending His reign of justice and mercy.

In our Advent journey, we prepare for Jesus’ birth at Christmas. He is our Savior and Redeemer. All the world seeks Him, including the Gentiles. Justice shall indeed flourish in His time and the fullness of peace forever. Our God is faithful to those who call upon Him and He will rule the world with justice. May the gifts of the Holy Spirit inspire us on this Advent journey to seek the Lord in all things, to wonder and marvel at all His greatness, and to shine our bright light, so that God’s glory may be revealed in His little ones, where His Son, our Savior, will bring harmony and peace to His Holy mountain.

Joe Vaszily '95
University Trustee

prayer

Good and gracious God, thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus, ever present in our lives. May the gifts of your Holy Spirit inspire us each day during this Advent season to spread your peace, love and joy to our families, communities and to our world. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.


December 6, 2017 reflection

The Birth of the Messiah—Whom are we expecting?

By the time Jesus was born, Jews had for generations lived under the rule of the Roman Empire, and amid the oppression, many hoped that God would soon send a Messiah to free them. While the people differed as to what this Messiah might be, a telltale sign of his advent would at least be the waning of Roman influence in the Promised Land.

Needless to say, Jesus disappointed a lot of people. He brought no end to Rome and no tangible peace to the Land. Though many were expecting a Messiah, none—including his disciples—were quite expecting the one they got. In the honest words of one disciple, “We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Only slowly did Jesus’s immediate followers come to see that the purpose of God’s Messiah was “to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day” (Luke 24:26) and so free not from Romans but from the burden of sin. Once Jesus came and went, his contemporaries were therefore left with a question: Do we reexamine our expectations and accept Jesus as the Messiah, or do we hold to our expectations and continue to wait for another? A few chose the former; many chose the latter.

As Christmas draws closer and we prepare for the birth of this Messiah, we must regularly ask ourselves, “Whom are we expecting?” Are we expecting someone that God does not ultimately send? Do we the short-tempered prefer a Jesus who did not suggest that murder and anger deserve similar punishment (Matt 5:21–22)? Do those of us who are lustful prefer a Jesus who did not suggest that it was better to pluck out one’s eye than to lust (Matt 5:27–30)? Do we the vengeful believe in a Jesus who did not say, “Love your enemies” (Matt 5:44)? Do we the rich prefer a Jesus who did not say, “Sell all you have and give it to the poor” (Luke 18:22)? Will we, like many of Jesus’s first disciples, hold to our various expectations of what the Messiah should have been, or will we part with those expectations and joyfully recognize the birth of the Messiah whom God has sent?

Rev. Michael G. Azar, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Theology/Religious Studies

prayer

Lord, grant us to overcome our desire for whom you ought to be that we might more fully live according to who you are.


december 7, 2017 reflection

Oh, how I love advent! It’s such a great time to reflect on the past year while so anticipating the birthday of our Lord. I love birthdays and the renewed promise for another year on this beautiful Earth they represent. Each birthday reminds me of the wonderful times I had as a child, celebrating with family. And like a good birthday, Christmas brings out my inner child as well.

When I was a child, I loved stories. After reflecting on today’s readings and praying about our world, it reminds me of one of my favorite stories, The 3 Little Pigs. In that story, the pigs built houses of straw, sticks, and brick. However, the house we are building as followers of Christ is God' house. What is God’s house? It is the house within our heart that allows us to have the graces of God and to treat all people fairly, respectfully and with reverence of being God's handmade creation. God's house in our heart will be the most peaceful area you will find if you can accept God’s grace, His openness and His unconditional love. Stronger even than the third little pig’s house of brick.

As we wait for the coming of our Savior and this gift from God, we will be the meek and humble beings that we are, remembering our days as a baby in the hospital neonatal unit or that crib in our home nursery. It is through our faith that we are strong members of God's church, building ourselves up (and those around us) as a nation filled with FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE.

As we accept God's unconditional love and mercy we will be able to overcome every flood, fire and manmade disaster that exists. Don't forget we have a GENERAL CONTRACTOR that builds the best, (better even than Little Pig Inc.!) Trust in HIM and you will see the mighty fortress that HE will build for you.

Dr. Debra Pellegrino
Dean, Panuska College of Professional Studies
Nonna to Geneva, Cecily and Michael Daniel

prayer

Dear Lord, you are coming! Please help us accept your unconditional love and mercy, so we will be able to overcome every flood, fire and man-made disaster that exists. We need your help to overcome these disasters of hatred, drug and alcohol addiction, and not believing in YOU. We need to listen to you so one day, we can go to YOUR KINGDOM.


december 8, 2017 reflection

Today’s Gospel tells the story of a young girl of about 14 being asked to become an unwed mother. That’s some request. Today, unwed mothers are not chastised or denigrated. But Mary lived at a time in history when the Law required that she be given over for execution if found pregnant outside of marriage. When Mary said yes to God, she knew the consequences of her response. Her family – at the very least – would face grave dishonor. At worst, she would be stoned. Still, she said yes without talking it over with her family or her betrothed, Joseph. No hesitation – just yes. Yes, Lord, I will do your will.

Mary accepting God’s request seems surreal when one takes into consideration the tremendous religious transgression this must have been for her, as an observant Jew, to undertake. Toss into the mix her social standing as a woman living in antiquity and it makes the yes even more staggering to comprehend. Yet, she said yes to God regardless of the repercussions. Now that’s faith.

Last year, Pope Francis pointed out that in the Scriptures, “Mary appears as a woman of few words, with no great speeches or deeds….” How true – a woman of few words. But all it took was that one. And because she said yes, because she made the conscious choice to move forward in faith and do God’s will, she ushered in the most important event in history – the birth of our Savior to and for us. This was true servanthood.

We have a little over two weeks of Advent still before us. Advent is a time of renewal – to receive comfort and hope in the deep of winter, and be immersed in the eternal unchanging nature of God. What better time is there than Advent to reflect on how God is working through us as God did through Mary all those years ago?

Helen M. Wolf, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Office of Campus Ministries

prayer

Advent is a time of vigil – a time to walk with Mary in a spirit of expectant waiting. May we hear and heed God’s call during these sacred days and be renewed in the hope given us through the birth of Jesus.


december 9, 2017 reflection

On this first Saturday of Advent, we are reminded that Christmas is just 4 weekends away. Our thoughts begin to race – have we bought all the presents we should; are all of the decorations out so everyone else knows of our Christmas cheer; did we buy all the food for our holiday feast? In the first reading, we are reminded of other things – Isaiah reminding us that God is graciously listening and answering our anxious minds; giving us the bread and water that sustain our bodies and all other things that sustain us in life.

It is in these reminders that allow us to re-center ourselves in preparation of the coming of the Lord. During this time of year, I take time to not only think of the many blessings within my life, but I take time to pray for those who are suffering. Our community of Scranton is blessed with the opportunity to share our time and talents with those, who for various reasons and circumstance, do not have the same comfort of a home or bed or clean water or food to eat. Let us slow down our lives and share God’s graciousness with others. Volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen, donate used clothing, pick up an angel from the Christmas tree, and/or pray. Find a moment during this busy season to allow our hearts to be filled with the true love and joy of God.

Sarah Jerome
Assistant Coach
Women’s Soccer Team

prayer

Lord, help us to remember the promises Isaiah gave to a people hungering and thirsting for renewed life. “He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as He hears He will answer you. The Lord will give you the bread you need and the water for which you thirst.


december 10, 2017 reflection

A blessed event, 2000 years old, blesses and informs our lives today. John the Baptist’s call, "Prepare a way for the Lord!" Our Lord with us, already known. We encounter our Lord in the Word, the Eucharist, common prayer and, our encounters with one another, each and everyone we meet. Each made in the image and likeness of God, and for the Christian, configured by Baptism unto Christ.

Advent, 2017, “Prepare a way for the Lord."
Do I prepare a way?
Do I look, notice the presence of Christ in others? If yes, do I ever talk about it?
Does what I say and do set the stage for another to be the good creation they were meant to be?
Do my words and actions encourage another to be more like Christ for me, for others?

Advent, busy about many things. Make the time, encounter the Lord in the written Word and homilies. Experience the Lord in the Eucharist. In prayer and song, in the company of others. And, by recognizing and encouraging that which is Christ like in all we meet. First and foremost, at home. And in the halls of work or school. And the brief encounter with strangers.

Let our posture be humble, that of the Baptist. Say to yourself, “this one before me, right now, is more powerful than I. And, I am not worthy to be the servant who unties his/her sandal strap.” For the one standing before me can make the presence of Christ and the power of God real in the world. And I, unworthy as I am, have been asked by God to help this one be that more perfect creature, that living icon of Christ. Allow others to be the generous presence of Christ. A permission that only you can give.

Be John the Baptist in Advent, 2017.

Rev. Timothy Cadigan, S.J.
Assistant Professor, Biology

prayer

Lord, my God, help me to serve you in ways old and new. Open my eyes and ears to the beauty of my brothers and sisters. Give me the courage and the cleverness to place them before myself. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen


december 11, 2017 reflection

“We have seen incredible things today.” This line ends today’s Gospel and it is an appropriate way to begin our reflection. Now that the semester has come to a close and we await the fresh start of the new year, whether you’re already home or you’re still in your office, let us take the time to reflect about the incredible things we have seen today. This does not have to be grandiose thoughts. As the poet Mary Oliver tells us, “It doesn’t have to be the blue iris. It could be weeds in a vacant lot.”

Today’s readings are meant to catch our attention like the blue iris of Oliver’s poem. Streams flowing in deserts. Parched land blooming with flowers. A man who was crippled walking off his stretcher and returning home healed. Or bigger still, sins being forgiven. These tell us that nothing is impossible with God. But I don’t want us to focus there. That’s the blue iris. I want us to focus on the weeds in a vacant lot. There are many incredible things we will see today and we should take the time to stop and recognize them. St. Ignatius tells us in the daily Examen to recognize these incredible things, big or small, iris or weeds. I truly believe that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

We have the ability to mold our day and influence the way we look at things. When doing the daily Examen, notice the little things we take for granted. Appreciate the clean abundant water we drink, the infrastructure of roads and safety, the grocery stores filled with food, the meals we eat, the bed we sleep in and the caring people we are surrounded by at this university. If we can appreciate these small things, if we can be reflective on the abundance of our gifts, then we may turn our lives upside down. We will see water flow forth from the desert, or flowers blooming on parched land. We will heal the things which cripple us. Who knows, our sins may be forgiven too. Mary Oliver, in the above-mentioned poem, tells us to “pay attention.” That’s what our readings today call us to do, and in particular in this advent season. When we do pay attention, we will surely see incredible things.

Virginia Farrell '20
Art History Major

prayer

Like Isaiah of old or our very own Mary Oliver, help us to pay attention to the abundant life that continues to spring up around us. May flowers bloom in our parched hearts and flowing waters cleanse us from our sins


december 12, 2017 reflection

n the twelfth day of December, the Church celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas. Today marks the 486th anniversary of her miraculous apparition; famously imprinted on the cloth jacket of the peasant Juan Diego in a place that would later become Mexico City. During this holy day, many Mexicans journey hundreds of miles to her temple in order to celebrate at the Basilica de Guadalupe. A few years ago, I went to the Basilica of Guadalupe and saw the miracle of faith alive in the people there. A faith so strong that it could move mountains. Our Lady of Guadalupe brings hope to those who are hurting while uniting the hearts of millions of people around the world. The sick, the rich, the poor, the disabled, they all come to her seeking the warmth, comfort, and love that only a mother can give her children.

When the Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would be carrying God’s only son, despite much uncertainty, she accepted; gracefully embracing God’s love which is life itself. I know that same uncertainty because I had to take many parenting courses in order to learn how to be a father to an adopted child. I never expected to be caught so unprepared to take care of a small child, but in my heart I knew that I would love this boy with all of my heart. One day, shortly after the adoption, my son placed my hand on his heart so that I could feel his heartbeat. It was at that moment that I understood, that while I may not have given him the gift of his life, life had given me the gift of him. Our Lady of Guadalupe is always present in our lives; her unconditional love is the hope that keeps us moving forward and forms the many bonds between my son’s heart and mine.

Mr. Leonides Guevara
Faculty Secretary, Theology and Religious Studies

prayer

Lord, bless those who are traveling for these holidays. May they arrive safely to their destinations to be with their loved ones. Our Lady of Guadalupe, bless those whose lives have been affected by the recent catastrophic events. May their hearts find peace, strength, and hope in the knowledge that you continue to intercede for them.


december 13, 2017

We are approaching the midway point of this holy season. The decorations are hung, the elf scurries from one hiding place to the next, the cookies are baked, the kids are checking lists, and the gifts are being wrapped.

But can I honestly say that I am more content this year? More peaceful? Joyful? Each year I promise myself at the beginning of Advent to calm things down and focus on what matters most during this season: celebrating the coming of Christ with loved ones and friends. I tell myself to let go of attachments, unnecessary pressure, and burdens and find the real meaning in Christmas.

How do I do actually accomplish this?

Today’s Gospel answers in a clear (and concise) way. We can choose to turn away from the pressures and busyness of our lives and look instead to the message of Christ. He is present in this season and he calls to us today, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Look to Him who is meek and humble of heart and find joy and peace this Christmas. Look to the Lord and your strength will be renewed!

I can go home today and turn off the television and put on music. I can turn off the game tonight and share time with my children and spouse. I can stop doing – rushing and baking and buying – and begin to quiet myself so that I can begin to hear the real message of this Advent season. God is calling me into new life and a new relationship.

Ryan Sheehan
Assistant Director, The Jesuit Center

prayer

Lord, help us to continue to calm our busy lives. Take from us our burdens and weariness and allow us to see you more clearly this Christmas season. Let our friends, our children, and our families see in us the gentleness and humbleness of He who was born meek and kind. We ask this, as we always do, in Your name, Amen.


december 14, 2017 reflection

During Advent, we are again assured of God’s grace, strength and presence in our lives. There is an undercurrent of energy and anticipation in the coming celebration of the birth of Jesus. In this birth, we find light and hope. When darkness or troubles exist, we should be confident in reaching out to God. God’s outstretched hand is always present and always within our grasp. Upon taking hold, we secure the guidance to more confidently and easily navigate the path toward hope and an illumination of the darkness.

Patricia L. Tetreault '94, '00
Associate Vice President for Human Resources
The University of Scranton

prayer

Dear Lord, as we make our way through the hustle and bustle of the season, help us to make time to step aside, calm ourselves and check in with you. In making this connection, let us be fully inspired and animated by the hope and anticipation of the season.


december 15, 2017 reflection

I have been told many a time that I am weird because I don’t like going to pick out a Christmas tree. To me they all look the same, just a bunch of green trees, some tall, some small, but in the end they all get the job done. However, one year I became particularly interested in a tree during our selection process. It was one of the most symmetrical trees I had ever seen. It seemed like the tree God Himself had come down and created. Of course, my sister fancied another tree, a less superior and unsymmetrical tree. Being siblings, we argued over who had chosen the better tree, and, in the end, my parents picked an entirely different one because we couldn’t come to a consensus. Needless to say, we were both upset and felt we had gotten gypped.

In today’s reading Jesus compares two groups of kids, one group that wants to play wedding, and another that wants to play funeral. (I’m still not sure why anyone would WANT to play a game of funeral, but that is beside the point.) In the end, the kids squabble so much that they choose to play neither. Jesus then likens this to those who choose neither to repent for their sins with John or to eat and celebrate with Jesus. By choosing to do nothing, these individuals have failed to do much of anything with their faith life.

During this Advent season Jesus calls us to set aside our differences and come together as one. Although it is easy to get entrenched in one’s way of thinking, He challenges us to briefly put aside our pride and instead converse with those around us about their dreams and ideas. Instead of yelling at one another, or refusing to speak, sit down with a cup of hot chocolate and talk about WHY you believe what you do. In this season of reflection, take some time to listen to others who may not see things the same way you do. You might find out you like what you hear.

Steven Browning '18
Exercise Science Major
Student Government President

prayer

Lord, let us not fall into the trap of being so stubborn that we refuse to listen to your challenging words that sometimes admonish us yet help us grow in faith.


december 16, 2017 reflection

God of Compassion
Flood the path with light . . .
turn our eyes to skies full of promise . . .
tune our hearts to fearless song . . .
grant us companionship with
the faithful of every age . . .

Quicken our spirits, O God,
that we may bask in the light of Him
whose coming is certain and whose day draws near.

From the Jesuit Center Staff:
Rev. Patrick Rogers, S.J.
Mr. Ryan Sheehan
Rev. James Redington, S.J.


december 17, 2017 reflection

Known for centuries as Gaudete (“Rejoice!”) Sunday, Advent’s third Sunday can’t help letting out the news early. No fewer than four great waves of joy carry us along toward Christ’s birth.

First, the season’s prophet, Isaiah, proclaims boldly, in words Jesus later applies to himself: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me . . . to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, release to prisoners.” Too much to hope for? Yes, unless we ourselves assist God’s grace in bringing these things to pass.

In response, Mary sings her Magnificat. She of all of us knows best—feels it in her womb—that this Joy is about to burst upon us. May we join her song by lavishing love on our own families.

St. Paul then tells perhaps his favorite church, at Thessalonica, to “Rejoice . . . Pray . . . Give thanks.” But also, trustingly, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances,” adding only: “Test everything; retain what is good.” May Christmas bring us such trust in one another!

And last, the restrained but growing joy of John the Baptist says: “No, I’m not the Christ, not Elijah, not the Prophet . . . He must increase, I must decrease.” For all of us there’s time for joy when the work is done. Let us honor each other with it—the joy of peace.

James D. Redington, S.J.
Jesuit Fellow in the Jesuit Center

prayer

Lord God, the joy you send us today is too much to believe. Please, in this as in other things, help our unbelief!


DECEMBER 18, 2017 REFLECTION

In Matthew’s Gospel, the angel of the Lord speaks directly to Joseph the same prophecy given many centuries before. The message was a message of hope in the face of fear. In the Gospel passage, Joseph opens his heart to the Lord and instead of divorcing Mary quietly, as he had planned, he brings her into his home. Rather than turn his heart away from God, Joseph opens it to His will. Matthew offers Joseph as our model. In faith, when the humble Joseph obeyed the call of the Lord, God’s saving plan was one step closer to completion. Through the grace of God, Joseph’s eyes, heart and mind were opened and his fear was replaced by hope.

This gospel reminds us that we should never lose hope or feel alone because in any moment, especially in difficult circumstances, there is one person who is always there: God. God will always be there to protect us, give us hope, provide for our needs, and listen when we feel alone. The Lord can appear to us as anyone or anything at any time. We just have to listen intently, open our eyes, and most especially, open our hearts. God calls us constantly, but our lives are so busy that it sometimes becomes difficult to recognize His call. Joseph was changed because he accepted God's plan for his life. We all struggle with the choices of our world. When the Lord calls us, what will be our choice? When He comes to us, will we accept His plan for us or will we be too preoccupied with our busy lives to hear His call?

Tracy Bannon '84
University Trustee

PRAYER

May we model ourselves after Joseph who listened to Your call and opened his eyes and heart to do Your will. Help us to hear Your voice and recognize the ways in which You call us to love and serve You and each other.


december 19, 2017 reflection

On this day in the third week of Advent, we are reminded that with God nothing is impossible. In today’s readings we encounter two women considered barren, the wife of Manoah in the first reading and Elizabeth, wife of Zechariah, in the Gospel. Advanced in years and without children, these women were chosen to bear sons who, filled with the Holy Spirit, would “begin the deliverance of Israel” and “prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Who at the time could have imagined this turn of events?

Barren implies being empty, impoverished, or lifeless, and is defined as “not being able to support growth.” At times our world may indeed seem barren. Too often we witness innocent people suffering from oppression, violence and poverty as a result of failed political, social and economic systems. At times our own lives may seem barren. Personal hardships, failed relationships, and lack of purpose can lead to feelings of desolation, loneliness and confusion. Are these not the inevitable struggles of human existence?

Perhaps from a purely human perspective, the challenges of creating a just world and living lives full of hope and purpose appear insurmountable. But just like for the women in today’s readings, the unimaginable can become reality through God’s power and love. It is faith that sustains each of us in our journey, despite the obstacles, toward fulfilling His will. In God’s eyes, it is never too late for a miracle.

As we prepare for the arrival of Christmas, let us be open to its message of peace, joy and rejoicing. It is a time for us to welcome our Savior, to count our blessings, and to share our gifts with others. It is a time for us to be mindful of those who need our help, our comfort, and our prayers. It is a time for renewing our faith, reigniting our hope and not giving up on creating a better world. It is a time for us to believe in miracles.

Rose Sebastianelli, Ph.D.
Professor of Operations & Information Management

prayer

Dear Lord, as we prepare for the miracle of Christmas, strengthen our faith, open our hearts and fill our lives with purpose, according to Your will. Amen.

 


DECEMBER 20, 2017 REFLECTION

In these readings, we see how it is important to completely trust God.  In the first reading, when told to ask for a sign from God, Ahaz said that he would not tempt the Lord.  Instead, he placed complete trust in God.  In the Gospel reading, when Gabriel visits Mary to tell her the great news that she will be the mother of the Son of God, she doesn’t question or protest.  Instead, she says "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word."  We are called to do the same.  Not everything will be easy and we will all experience challenges.  But, we are asked to focus on God and to be totally dependent on Him, trusting that he will provide everything we need.

What challenges am I experiencing in my life?  How do I handle struggles when they come my way?  Do I run and hide?  Do I feel alone? Where is God during these times?  Do I continue to trust in God, or do I do things my own way?  For Christians, every day is a gift and another opportunity to be thankful, even when we struggle.  For Christians, every day is an opportunity to learn how to trust in God’s providential care; surrendering our struggles and trying to go along with His plan.  It helps me to remember that we can, and should, trust in God.  When things get challenging and we get frustrated, we must learn to take a minute to pause, say a prayer, and remember that God is always with us and will help us through all that comes our way.  

One of my favorite prayers, which helps me in times when I struggle, am challenged, or frustrated, is the serenity prayer.  It helps keep me grounded and reminds me to trust in God, just like Ahaz and Mary.

Lauren Tomasic '18   
Exercise Science Major
Student Government Vice President

PRAYER

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Amen.

 


DECEMBER 20, 2017 REFLECTION


As I read the Song of Songs, I began to take a deeper look into who this lover is for me and how I come to find it in my daily life. I hear it calling unto me to rejoice and go forth into this world with hope and optimism. I am mindful of how nature calls me, acting as this lover, drawing me towards its beauty. Although I am no fan of the winter, I can appreciate the changes of the seasons that are occurring and how like nature we too change. We are called to be mindful of God’s presence in these changes and in this world, recognizing it in the overt moments of life, but also in the subtle moments as well. Elizabeth’s child, John, teaches us that we do not need to have physical sight to see God’s love but rather we are to be humble enough to accept His Grace at any moment, especially in the seemingly minutia. The Dove, for me, is a symbol of this “hidden” grace in our daily lives. It is in these moments where God’s love can fill us with the joy, understanding and peace.

Luis Melgar '18   

Exercise Science Major

PRAYER

Loving God, let us accept Your love when it is brought before us. Allow us to leap for joy as Elizabeth’s child John did when he heard Mary’s sweet voice.  May we always recognize Your Spirit and presence in our lives as we come closer to the Nativity of our Savior.

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