“It's through the cross that we reach the resurrection. We should be absolutely sure of this truth, and we should keep this cross hidden and not place it on the shoulders of others. It is our cross we have to carry. It is the one God has given us to go through into His resurrection. This is the one we should keep hidden. But there are crosses and crosses, some of our own making. These we should immediately discard. Some permitted by God for our sanctification. These we can share for they are also for the sanctification of others. True, we can help to carry other people's crosses and they can help to carry our crosses, but the operative word is "hidden." The Lord said, "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by men," and "When you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Mt 6:16-18)
Our very hiddenness becomes a light if we do not complain, if we carry our cross manfully, ready to help in the carrying of other people's crosses. Then we become a light to our neighbor's feet because we become an icon of Christ—shining!” Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Sobornost: Experiencing Unity of Mind, Heart and Soul
"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day; For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and 1 have life because of the Father, so also the one, who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said; "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you?"
- John 6:53-61, NAB
Jesus is obedience incarnate. He is nothing other and nothing less than everything the Father gives to him. To consume his words, his works, his example, and, in the end, to consume his very life - his body and blood - is to receive his uninterrupted obedience to the Father. Those who eat his flesh and drink his blood receive this direct gift through him, "that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I am in you" (In 17:21, NAB). Does it shock you that this gift would be so simple? Does it shock you that he gives what he receives and holds nothing back? Does it shock you that we who receive him receive everything? Does it shock you that his gift calms our jittery hearts and tames our wandering desires? Does it shock you that his life becomes our life, a life we are to share in common and give freely to others? To receive Jesus can never be reduced to an intellectual exercise or an affair of the affections. He who receives everything from the Father and offers everything 'back to the Father gives everything of himself to us. To live means to receive from him and be transformed through his gift to give of our very selves in his company. This saying is hard, indeed; who could accept it? Who could accept such a gift from anyone else, let alone from the one who is the Father's own love? Who could give themselves so completely in response to such a complete gift? I understand the disciples' murmurings. Murmuring is what we do when we are dissatisfied, afraid, skeptical, or even outright cynical. Maybe it is right to assume that the disciples were scared by the apparent physicality of what Jesus says. But what is even scarier is standing before a gift so absolute, so full, that no partial reception will suffice. They are being drawn into total intimacy. We shudder at all kinds of intimacy, when someone bares their soul to us and asks us to receive them, wholly and completely as they are. This happens rarely, but it is shocking every time. It is an invitation to receive this person. We are often inclined to hesitate, to stammer, to murmur. What a shocking gift. We fear intimacy; intimacy demands that we strip ourselves of our defenses, our guile, our lingering distrust. The two in the garden of Eden were naked without shame, but the serpent was full of guile, the shrewdest of all creatures (cf. Gn 2:25-3:1). We have become accustomed to that guile, and we have forgotten how to stand before each other transparently; we prefer to hide ourselves from each other and from God. But in God there is no guile, only intimacy. Jesus gives himself in this kind of intimacy, in response to the intimacy of the Father's gift to him (and this intimacy is the Holy Spirit). And so Jesus speaks of baring himself to those who will receive him. To receive him will be to receive the one who sent him' (cf In 13:20). It means being drawn into that sacred intimacy. The intimacy of Christ's gift strips us of our defenses, if only we will receive him, open to that intimacy. He will be our food, our drink, our communion within the eternal communion.
Lord help me to receive what I lack.
from A God Who Questions by Leonard J. DeLorenzo pp. 79-81
O, my Jesus, May our feet journey together. May our hands gather in unity. May our hearts beat to the same rhythm. May our soul be in harmony. May our thoughts be in unison. May our ears listen to the silence together. May our glances melt in one another. May our lips beg the heavenly Father together to obtain mercy on souls.
So that it is no longer I who live, but You Christ, who lives in me. Amen.
Advent ⏤ The Celebration of an "Overwhelming Reality"
As we all know, “advent” means “coming”, “presence”, and in ancient times it meant, precisely, the arrival of the king or emperor in a specific province. For Christians the word means a marvelous and overwhelming reality: God himself has crossed the threshold of his heaven and has lowered himself to man; he has made a covenant with him, entering the history of a people; he is a king who came down to this poor province which is the earth, and made a gift to us of his visit, taking our flesh and becoming a man like us. Advent invites us to retrace the journey of this presence and reminds us over and over again that God did not take himself away from the world, he is not absent, he has not left us to ourselves, but comes to meet our needs in various ways that we must learn to discern. And we too, with our faith, our hope and our charity, are called every day to perceive this presence and to witness to it in the world that is often superficial and distracted, and to make the light that illuminated the Grotto of Bethlehem shine out.
Excerpt from The General Audience of Pope Benedict XVI December 12, 2012
By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. By the President: Abraham Lincoln William H. Seward,