Breaking Trail

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  Luke 2:19

“You can ask about it, but nobody knows the way; no breadcrumb trail to follow through your days… It’s a matter of getting deeper in, any way you can.” All This Beauty by the Weepies

If you’ve done much snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, you know that the most challenging thing you can do is break trail – that is, to go where no one else has yet gone and make your own trail in the snow. It requires a lot of energy, and you will tire quickly if you don’t pace yourself. Once trail is broken, it’s much easier to go back the way you came, or to use the trail you just made the next day. Breaking trail, however, is serious work.   Continue reading “Breaking Trail”

Insecurity and Inhumanity

Feast of the Holy Innocents

“Then a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.”  –  Exodus 1:8

The gospel passage for today’s Mass looks backward to a previous brutal act by a ruler. It also looks forward as it unmasks for us why human beings can do acts of violence like this one. Thus, it remains an important witness and challenge for every generation, including our own.

Let us begin with that previous brutal act.  Continue reading “Insecurity and Inhumanity”

What Was From The Beginning

Feast of Saint John the Evangelist

When I was two years old, I began to read without being taught – or so I was told. I don’t remember a time in my life when I could not read, so this is likely true. Soon, I was able to find TV shows in TV Guide. Then, while in the family car, I was naming other cars I could see: Ford, Plymouth, Volkswagen, Studebaker. (Yes, Virginia, Studebakers still prowled the earth when I was a toddler; it wasn’t the car itself so much but the name ‘Studebaker’ that fascinated me for some reason.)  Continue reading “What Was From The Beginning”

Finding Christ in Christmas

You may have come across the term “cognitive dissonance”. It is defined as “the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time… or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values”. To be a Christian in contemporary American culture is to deal with cognitive dissonance frequently. Although we can find many things in our culture that are praiseworthy from a Gospel perspective, there are other values and practices that contradict the life and teachings of Jesus. Many Christians believe that this is even more true of our society today than ever before, though others would dispute this.   Continue reading “Finding Christ in Christmas”

The Pain of Advent

This is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” – or so Andy Williams would have us believe. Indeed, the air around us as we shop is filled with varied songs that say – more or less – the same thing, as they beckon us to open our hearts (and our credit cards) to the season. We are urged not to be like old Scrooge before he met those spirits of Christmas, but to be generous and give.

Not every one of us is in a position to give – or to give as much as we would like. For too many of us, the old Merle Haggard song “If We Make It Through December” comes far closer to our own reality. We’d like to be incredibly generous to all those we love in every way we can. But we can’t always be that generous financially. We begin to feel inadequate. This is one of the unintended pains of Advent.

But there are more.  Continue reading “The Pain of Advent”