Spiritual Reflections by IHM Sisters and Friends

 

Evening of Prayer Reflection, Gaudete Sunday, 2006

Sr. Maureen Therese Harun, IHM
December 17, 2006

Evening of Prayer Reflection, Gaudete Sunday, 2006
Rejoice Always

Welcome and thank you for coming. We gather this afternoon in our lovely chapel for Advent Vespers, while outside our world is fighting wars and hatred prevails. We are here this evening to fill our hearts with hope as we prepare for Christ's coming. I have been reading and praying over the chapters on the Incarnation in Ronald Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing. Some of my thoughts and two of his stories are taken from this book. The incarnation began with Jesus and has never stopped. The Ascension of Jesus did not end, nor fundamentally change, the incarnation. God is physical and real today as God was in the historical Jesus. God still has skin, human skin and physically walks on this earth just as Jesus did. In a certain manner of speaking, it is true to say that, at the Ascension, the physical body of Jesus left the earth, but the body of Christ did not. God's incarnational presence among us continues as before. This brings to mind a marvelous story about a four-year-old girl who had a nightmare. She awoke screaming. Her mother came into her room to comfort her and said, "There is nothing to be afraid. I am right next-door and I have always told you that God is with you." She said, "I know, but I want someone with skin." God's presence was emphasized over and over again. Perhaps this next story will tell us that God's presence is not visible but hidden and it is up to us to discover it.

Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek writer, once explained about the hiddenness of God by means of a parable. A man came upon Jesus and complained about the hiddenness of God. Rabbi, I am an old man. During my whole life, I have always kept the commandments. Every year of my adult life I opted not to retire to my bed without saying my prayers. I have made my yearly visit to the temple; I look at the stars and the mountains and wait for God to come so that I might see him. I have waited for years for God to come, but in vain. Why? Mine is a great grievance. Rabbi, why doesn't God show himself?" Jesus smiled and responded gently, "Once upon a time there was a marble throne in the eastern gate of a great city. On the thrones over a period of time sat numerous kings. All of them called upon God to appear so that they might see him, but all went to their graves with their wish unfulfilled. Then when the last king died, a pauper appeared, he was barefooted and hungry. God he whispered, " The eyes of a human being cannot look directly at the sun, for they would be blinded. How, then Omnipotent one, can they look directly at you? Have pity, Lord and temper your strength, turn down splendor so that I, who am poor and afflicted may see you!" Then the pauper reflected and waited and he said to God, "You humble yourself for me. You become bread, water and a warm tunic, you have given me a wonderful wife and a beautiful child in order that I might see you. And I did see you. I bow down to worship your many faceted faces."

In my meditations for this Sunday, I chose Paul's letter to the Philippians were he stresses over and over to rejoice always. I came to the awareness that when we rejoice always it also leads to praise, love and thanksgiving, over and over for His goodness to us. After much thought and prayer I wrote a litany on rejoicing. When you hear it I am sure you can reiterate some of my thoughts or add some things that you are grateful for.

I am going to ask your help as I read a sentence and raise my hand I would like you to add rejoice always but: with much gusto.

  1. For the gift of participating daily in the Eucharist with Msgr. Conlon who feeds us with God's word, for this_____________________.
  2. On awakening each morning and being able to get my body out of bed and to be able to be free of pain, for this ____________.
  3. Hafiz, a Persian poet says, " God woos us first through nature." How true, each day, in every season of the year when I look out my window God gives a feast -the beauty of nature. For this_____.
  4. For the pleasure of food for the every day fare and for the sumptuous meals on feasts and holidays. For this____________.
  5. For the gift of vocation. How I rejoice for having the opportunity to move from one IHM congregation and transfer to Scranton, IHM, Oh how I __________________.

 

As I come to the end of my litany I have also spent time meditating with Mary what these days had been for her and I ask that I may join her on her tourney to Bethlehem. The words of a prayer written by Elizabeth of the Trinity, a French Carmelite, sums up my prayer during these last two weeks of Advent.

Mary,

Your attitude during the months
Announcement and the birth of your Son, Jesus,
Is the model of all interior souls.
In whose depths God has also chosen to dwell.
Finding your example,
May we bring that same kind of peace,
The same kind of recollection to everything we do.
Help us to act in such a way
That through God's presence in us the most trivial things in
Our day may be divinized again. Amen
Therefore, as we await Jesus becoming one of us
LET US REJOICE ALWAYS, AGAIN I SAY REJOICE.