The Gifts of Christmas

By Sr. Clare Walsh, MHSH

Growing up in my family, Christmas Eve meant gathering around the Christmas tree, house lights dim, tree lights glowing, the scent of logs burning, the fragrance of pine needles, as my Dad read with great fanfare The Night Before Christmas. His boisterous rendition was always followed with our attention turned to the creche as my mother proclaimed, with more hush than gusto, Luke’s Infancy Narrative. From an early age, I learned that the sacred and the secular go hand and hand.

This is the time of Christmas. This is the time of a global pandemic. Perhaps there has never been a time when we were more in need of God entering our chaos and becoming human in Jesus.  The Incarnation is plain enough to be understood by the shepherds and almost by the sheep.

The troubadour of Christmas. G.K. Chesterton, helps us to uncover the spiritual center of the secular:

THE OTHER STOCKING

 What has happened has been the the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it.  It happened in this way. As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good ~ far from it.  And the experience was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. Of course, most people who talk about these things get into a state of some mental confusion by attaching tremendous importance to the name of the entity.  We called him Santa Claus because everyone called him Santa Claus, but the name of a god is a mere human label. His real name may have been Williams. It may have been the Archangel Uriel. What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still.  I have merely extended the idea. Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking, now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void. Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dolls and crackers, now, I thank him for stars and street faces and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking.  Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.

                                                                          

                                                                                             

For our pondering

 Where in my life is God inviting me to enlarge my heart and to love a bigger God?

Recall a moment of Wonder/Amazement in your life.  Revisit.  What happened inside of you?

Does the Incarnation provide an invitation to live your life differently post-COVID?

 

 

 

 

“Mercy is Misericordia” – A Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Lent

By Sister M. Judith Waldt, MHSH

The Latin term for Mercy is Misericordia. This is illustrative in that the meaning of the term “Miseria” refers to suffering, which so many people experience in many and varied ways. “Cordia” refers to the heart. Thus, Misericordia means joining in one’s heart to the suffering of others. This is the core of what extending Mercy is all about – uniting our hearts to the suffering of others, placing our lives in solidarity with the suffering.

mercy_visiting the hospital

If we reflect on the Incarnation – how God enters into our world and embraces our humanity we see that God chooses to unite the Sacred Heart of his Son to our suffering. God does not do this out of necessity but out of love. Our suffering is transformed, not eliminated.  It is akin to visiting someone who is ill in the hospital – not because you have to, but rather, freely, and from love.

Their suffering is transformed, not eliminated, because they are no longer alone. The one who chooses out of love to enter into their suffering changes the reality. When we think of the Sacred Heart of Jesus joining his heart to our suffering, it reminds us that we are no longer alone.sister-judy-waldt-visiting-the-hispanics

As Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart, this is our mission: to enter into the suffering of others out of love and to bring the Sacred Heart to themIn doing so, we do not eliminate suffering, but transform it by the love of the Sacred Heart, helping  people know that they are not alone.

The “Yes” that Changed the World

By Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

Earlier this year I was invited on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   I won’t forget the introductory words of Father Peter Vasko who was the group leader: “You did not decide to come on this journey,” he said.  “God Himself decided long ago that you would come on this journey.  It will change you; you will never be the same.  God will make Himself known to you, touch you in a special way, heal you where you need to be healed or call you to a special or renewed purpose. But you will never be the same.”

There were so many moments that touched me during this pilgrimage.  One was at the site of the Annunciation where the Incarnation became a reality—the place where Mary’s “Yes” changed the world and turned its values upside down.  Our group gathered there in silent awe, and I pondered this question:  “What has Mary meant to me throughout my life?”

Quietly, prayer filled the hallowed space at the site, and the strains of “Gentle Woman/Hail Mary” began softly then became our special American tribute and our heart-song.  We lingered, hesitating, not wanting to rush this moment, yet we knew that other groups of pilgrims were waiting and longing to enter this space.

What has Mary meant to you throughout your life?

NOTE:  More of Sister Natalie’s reflections on the Holy Land will be posted over the next several months.