Archangel Gabriel then appeared
To bring great news of joy
The will of God she adhered,
Word made flesh, a little boy.
Hidden in His mother’s womb
Away from human gaze
The tiniest of Bridegrooms
In secret there He stays
Though angels and star made known
The birth of God the Son
The little King would choose a home
hidden from sight of everyone
30 years of precious silence
His words and works would not be seen
Until the Spirit made appearance
At Jordan’s banks, water serene.
Healings and miracles followed in his wake
Signs and wonders He did display
Never did He the glory take
But went to the mountains to fast and pray
Passover night, at cenacle’s table
The humble Master would show again
That of all the things that He was able
He willed to be hidden from the sight of men.
Hidden under form of food
To make for us the way
To show how we have been pursued
The Bridegroom’s love in clear display
The pierced heart that was foretold,
His Sorrowful Mother He gave away
To John the Beloved he gave to hold,
To his home she would go and stay.
Detached completely from the world
The Morning Star did fade.
Placed within a borrowed tomb
Adam’s debt had been repaid.
Desiring to be hid once more
He prophesied the Pentecost
The Spirit would come behind closed doors
flowing from His side upon the Cross
The Triune God in heart to dwell
What humility sublime
The victor over death and hell
With us until the end of time
The Father’s gift, the hidden One
The greatest grace He could impart
Was His Only Begotten Son
In womb, in host, in heart.
Written by Chris Pinnegar
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
“Never change who you are”
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, No one thinks of changing himself.”
“You were born this way”
These are all familiar quotes to us. We hear them in music, in movies, and see them on cheesy prints they sell at gift stores. One challenges us to change ourselves for the good of the world, while the other embraces comfort in not changing at all.
Often people assume they can change the world by giving in to who they feel they are. This means embracing all faults and making them excusable by thinking that removing those faults would be dishonest to who they are. For example, I really struggle reaching out to people. I am shy about meeting new people, and often I make excuses for myself because I am too afraid to get out of my comfort zone. I found out there is another new mom not far from me and I was so afraid to reach out to her. I made excuses like “she’s a bit older than me”, “she won’t like me” , “she is a stranger”, and “I’m too shy”. I convinced myself it was okay to just keep to myself because of my introverted nature. It took several weeks for me to just send her an e-mail.
It seems more apparent that people would rather change their surroundings than change who they are internally. We may challenge ourselves to do good deeds, which in turn can make an impact on ourselves, but it is only temporary if it isn’t pursued and ultimately will yield little or no fruit if we do not continue to change ourselves.
We may need to reflect on the little things we do and ask ourselves some hard questions. Am I humble? Am I modest in dress? Do I love selflessly? Do I always expect something in return when I do something kind for someone else? Do I really put God first?
The change we embrace must not be solely fuelled by the desire for what we wish to see happen in the word nor in what the world wants from us. Instead, any change we make must be rooted in Christ, who is truth and love. It is only by Him that we can be made perfect. This conversion is about seeking holiness rather than temporary happiness.
Christianity calls us to change the world by changing ourselves daily by picking up our cross and conforming out lives to Christ. It means turning away from sins that we may have allowed to become habits in our daily lives. It requires repentance. A murderer can become a capuchin, but it requires a change of heart through conversion, not just once, but daily.
As the Christmas season draws near, let us prepare our hearts for the celebration of the Incarnation. Let us change our ways and continue to pursue a real relationship with Christ, one that requires us to change and to grow. Let us change into the people of God, not of the world.
“Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes.”
These words of Jesus, in Luke 19:42, are as poignant and as applicable to our world today as they were to the city of Jerusalem, when Our Lord wept over it before His passion.
Our world is embroiled in war and violence. Truly, despite the lack of formal declarations, the whole world is at war. Pope Francis, in reflecting on the same verse of scripture, preached that God weeps over the worldwide violence of today, for which “there is no justification”.
The Church herself is no stranger to war, no stranger to violent men slaughtering her children, to forces plotting to destroy her. In fact she has rarely (if ever) been without such threats. But with each generation, the people of God must face anew the violence of the world, however it manifests.
We shouldn’t fear for the Church in such times. Our Lord’s promise has been proven good through more terrible times than ours, and time and again the bride of Christ has been upheld, even when the odds were against her. Instead, we should look to our own souls, and the work with which God has entrusted us in our broken world.
In an interview published on November 13th, 2015, the same day as the terrorist attacks in Paris, Canada’s new defence minister, Harjit Sajjan, said that Canadians have no need to fear ISIS.
“ISIS is a threat, no doubt about that. Should we fear it? No. The Canadian population should have full confidence in all the security services to keep us safe.”
In terms of our physical safety, the statement was a bit dubious even before France – a far more powerful country than Canada – was powerless to stop a multi-pronged attack on their capital city. After all, it was only a year ago that a lone ISIS-inspired drug-addict with a gun breached the security of our parliament buildings and nearly reached our cabinet.
But in a sense, the defence minister is right.
Our Lord says in Matthew 10:28, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
If we in the West truly believed our Lord’s words, we would fear our own sins, rather than temporal murderers like the Islamic State.
In a recent article, Marc Barnes of BadCatholic wrote about the essential role of theology in the fight against ISIS. He points out what has been increasingly clear – that our political leaders, and secular society in general, have little understanding of the Islamists they face, and no capacity to challenge the source of the issue; bad theology.
This really gets at the heart of the issue for Catholics. Where our nations can only fight and destroy human beings, as Christians we can fight against sin and error using the weapons God gives us. His Holy Spirit, working through us in love for our enemies, and in words and deeds filled with truth and charity, will defeat the world and the devil. We are not necessarily called to wage war physically (though we may well be), but we are all called to fight in the great battle which the Church Militant fights through all time; the battle for the salvation of souls, both of our own and others.
Whether it’s in combat with our own culture of death, or the one in Syria and Iraq, we need to engage that culture with Truth and Charity. And in prayer, we must continue to lift up our world and plead for conversion, in our own hearts, in our homes, and for the conversion of Muslims.
In our region, we’ve recently wrapped up another 40 Days for Life campaign, where volunteers from all walks of life freely give of their time to stand together in prayerful opposition outside the hospital in our area that performs abortions. I’ve always tried to make it out for at least a few hours over the weeks, but this year, with so many little ones of my own at home, it didn’t seem like it was meant to be for our family this year.
This prompted me to start thinking about what it truly means to be pro-life. I’ve always worn that title proudly and been vocal amongst my family and friends about what I know to be the priceless value of all human life. I’ve realized, however, that for all my passionate discussions on the horrors of abortion, this is all my “pro-life action” consisted of: words.
Words are, of course, important. They are how we communicate with one another. It’s how we hear and read the Gospels and come to learn Sacred Scripture. Even Jesus, Himself, carries the title “The Word Made Flesh”! There cannot be more gravity placed on the importance of words than that!
But, goodness, there are so many WORDS out there these days, aren’t there? Advertising and social media bombard us all the time, joining with the voices of our friends and family, studies at school or work and yes, even competing with our well-intended and much-needed pro-life messages. If we are keen observers, we’ll notice that the world has become very efficient at tuning it all out. There is so much noise, there is no way we could be open to truly listening to each voice.
And so we become selective listeners, only allowing the words that fit our preferences, lifestyle and, what we believe to be, our “truths”. How can we be sure that our well-made pro-life points are not bouncing off hardened and inundated hearts and are, instead, reaching the masses beyond the pews?
This fall, when the opportunity to add my physical voice to the pro-life movement evaded me, I began to realize that my words, though necessary, are not enough. I was faced with my own inefficiency in propagating a pro-life culture by my lack of understanding and my lack of active compassion for those truly faced with life and death decisions.
If I’m going to say that women should not have abortions, then I need to support the establishment and upkeep of organizations that can effectively take care of them and their children.
If I’m going to speak about the injustice of a baby terminated within the womb, then I need to be prepared to open my heart and mind to the possibility of helping to raise them.
If I’m going to sign petitions and hold signs by the side of the road protesting a person’s “right to die” by means of euthanasia, then I need to be active in meeting the needs of the hospice movement.
I’ve realized that I have a long way to go in my own growth in the pro-life movement. Placed on the shoulders of a few, these actions can seem insurmountable in the face of a convenient culture of death.
Blessedly, I’ve seen the faces of the pro-life movement and we are anything but miniscule. Whether young or old, our many hearts beat together with vibrant and passionate life! There is hope – I have seen it in droves.
The challenge that I have issued myself, I now extend to my brothers and sisters in the movement, who yearn for the day that the right to life is once again an ingrained cornerstone of our society: Continue to talk the good talk, because every force needs to remember and remind others of its purpose.
But don’t forget to also look for ways to put our talk into action and walk the good walk, because the culture of life will remain just another sign for others to ignore on the side of the road, if we don’t encourage our movement to move!