Sunday, January 7, 2018

A reflection on 'Epiphany' - January 7th 2018

     "Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you!"

   With these wonderful, joyful and hope-filled words of the prophet Isaiah, we proceed into 2018 celebrating the Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus as our Messiah and Lord. The season grows brighter as the days begin to lengthen. Saint Irenaeus, one of the great Fathers of Christian antiquity, tells us in one of his sermons that the Magi from Matthew's Gospel were eventually given the names: Casper, Melkior and Balthasar. Upon finding Jesus, Mary and Joseph in a cave near Bethlehem, they brought with them the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh: gold fit for a King; frankincense offered to God and myrrh used to prepare a body for burial. These were the perfect gifts for the Divine King whose life and ministry changed so many lives over the centuries. Biblical scholars refer to the story of the Wise Men as a 'HAGGADAH' comprising bits and pieces of Biblical oral tradition that points to a more profound truth for the community. So how can these gifts be translated for us?
Gold - The gift of our loving hearts, giving beyond ourselves, our fears and our excuses.
Frankincense - Remain faithful to prayer and to worship. We are called to grow, to give of ourselves, to be grace and light to the world.
Myrrh - Preparing ourselves for the final encounter with God who is continually drawing us on deeper into areas where we are uneasy, uncertain and lack confidence. What a challenge!
   Epiphany means we can choose to be light and life-bearers like the Magi or we can reject that life and light like Herod. We trust that Jesus, for us Christians and those who believe in him, would be our shining and guiding star in 2018!
   Happy New Year from Ronaldo and Daniel, your brothers.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Wisdom word for the year 2018: "Faithful."

FAITHFUL
   Happy New Year to all our friends and family from the Prairies!
Each season adds its own magic. We are in the midst of winter; yet, we know spring will soon be upon us for our God is forever faithful. 
   I have chosen 'Faithful' as my 'word of life' for 2018 inspired by the Chinese New Year beginning February 16th, the 'Year of the Dog' which speaks fidelity to me. I will be celebrating my birthday next month; grateful for faithful friends and a God who has always been part of my life. The words of Pope Francis' on faithfulness have a poignant touch: "God is faithful: we should pause in order to discover, even amid the difficulties of this life, the beauty of the love of God."
   For us Christians, we are thankful for a God who remained faithful to his covenant, to the promises He made to Abraham and to the salvation promised to us through Jesus. In spite of what we perceive as ugly or bad in the world; I still want to re-discover the beauty of love, mercy, hope and joy in 2018.
   "I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your well being and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)    "Faithful" is my guide this 2018.
   Happy New Year from Ronaldo and Daniel, your brothers.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Christmas - an encounter with the Divine:

   May your 'encounter' with the Christ-Child fill you and your families with joy. May the 'Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph' bless and keep you in love. May this beautiful moment we choose to remember each Christmas fill your hearts with peace.
   Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your brothers, Ronaldo and Daniel in North Dakota.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A 19th century poem celebrating Christmas

                            "Holy Jesus every day
                    Keep us in the narrow way
                    And when earthly things are past
                    Bring our ransomed souls at last
                    Where no clouds thy glory hide
                    In the heavenly country bright
                    Need they no created light
                    Thou its light, its joy, its crown
                    Thou its sun which goes not down
                    There forever may we sing
                     Alleluias to our King."
                                                           (Chatterton Dix)

About the poet: born in Bristol on June 14th 1837 and died on September 9th, 1898. He was an English writer of hymns and carols. Perhaps his most famous poem/hymn/carol is "What Child is this?" Sometimes so-called 'insignificant' writers can touch us the most. Enjoy this delightful poem reminding me of my childhood days growing up in British colonial Trinidad of the 50's.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Prayer for me:


    Writing has become prayer for me ... but this is my personal evolution of six decades in the making! 
    Julian of Norwich used the expression, "onyd" with God, to be united with the quiet. Like any art, such "onyd" moments demand patience and practice which run in short supply today. We want instant gratification. To breathe slowly and consciously is a first step. Buddhists describe a practice of "tonglen" which means breathing in darkness and breathing out light on the world. After learning how to be still, we listen attentively. 
    I think too often our public worship takes the place of our prayer. It is only a beginning and ought to be a stimulus for deeper prayer and meditation; but it is no substitute. These days, I find when I actually sit down to write; I have to concentrate very deeply and focus. At times, I am lost in a zone where writing and I become "one" so to speak. It is not easy nor do I expect anything magical. I create a space to be inspired and allow myself to pay attention deeply to what lies ahead. I believe this is what happens when a person communicates with his or her God. Then, we realize we are actually praying or talking to a Higher Being.
    "Peace be with you, friends, " (John 20, 26) as we open our hearts, imagination to new possibilities this Advent-Christmas season 2017 and beyond.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hospitality in Thanksgiving

 

    The word hospitality is derived from Latin, hospitalitas which means friendliness to guests. And what better way to display such as in preparing for Thanksgiving. This practice means taking care of others by making them comfortable and welcoming. Here are 3 displays of table settings we have organised this year. We learnt a lot from our monastic years about taking care of the guest. Saint Benedict in his rule for monks devotes an entire chapter on the "Reception of Guests."Attention to detail was paramount because in the guest, the monk was to see Christ. It is about entertaining the divine when one person is gracious to another. 
   Away from beautiful table settings is the mundane care for others. Our Christian perspective is described in Matthew 25:31-45 as caring for the physical, social and spiritual needs of others, especially those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, foreigners and imprisoned. On Thanksgiving Day, we try to focus on being hospitable and hope that this gift would last a lifetime.
   We pray with friends and family gathered together for a meal. We remember those who have no-one, those easily judged or condemned. May our frowns become smiles with those who sometimes irritate us. May we invite more friendships in our lives and allow despair to become hope and sadness, joy. 
   "Hospitality is not to change people; but, to offer them space where change can take place." (Henri Nouwen)