Welcome to OSJ from Father Dan
From the Pastor – 12.15.13
One of the themes of the Advent scripture readings is the idea of staying awake. This seems to take on a different flavor – or at least, it has for me – as I have gotten older. For kids, it is all about negotiating permission to stay up with the grown-ups. The occasion may be A TV show that ends after normal bedtime (like the recent live broadcast of “The Sound of Music” on NBC, which ended at 11 p.m.). And of course, every kid tries at least once – with or without parental permission – to catch Santa delivering the presents. To the best of my knowledge, not a single kid has yet succeeded at this! (more…)
From the Pastor – 12.8.13
I am determined not to miss it this year! Advent at its longest lasts 28 days; this year, in particular, it lasts 24. And it never fails to astonish me how fast those days disappear… (more…)
From the Pastor – 12.1.13
Wow. It’s December again; and it’s Advent again. It’s a time for waiting… a time for preparing… a time for hoping… It’s a season which I love, although I never quite seem to give it the spiritual time and effort which I think it deserves. Maybe this year…
In my earliest recollections – dim and distant memories from the pre-Vatican II Church – Advent was a kind of “mini-Lent.” It wasn’t until the liturgical renewal which followed the Council that Advent began to come into its own, to recover its own special character. “Penitential” season? Yes, but not in the same sense as Lent at all. I have learned to think of Advent more as a time for spiritual housecleaning, prompted by the anticipated arrival in our hearts of a very special Guest…
For a while – late 70s till early 90s? – many Catholics even assigned Advent its own (unofficial, unapproved) liturgical color. Midnight blue vestments and candles for the Advent wreath replaced the official, traditional purple in many parishes… While it seems largely to have been a passing fad, it did, perhaps, have its point. I recall hearing, during those years, a variety of interesting explanations (free associations?) with the dark blue. For example, it was to remind us of the night sky, where we looked for the light of the Christmas star to appear in the darkness. Or it was meant to remind us of one of the great figures of Advent, Mary, the mother of Jesus. (When and how, exactly, did the Catholic faithful decide that blue was her favorite color?!)
But we don’t really need an “illegal” liturgical color as a marker of Advent’s character. We need only attend to the cycle of readings to be immersed in the season’s spirit of “waiting in joyful hope.” I can’t imagine ever tiring of the wonderful prophetic readings, especially from the book of Isaiah, which look forward to God’s reign of justice and love whose coming the Messiah promised to bring.
The wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
Or later on:
The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.
Yes, Advent holds forth for us a constant promise that God’s goodness and love will prevail in the end – that our wildest hopes and dreams are meaningful and trustworthy…
Speaking of hopes and dreams, I certainly hope that this year’s Advent At-Home Retreat will build on the success of last year’s Advent and Lent At-Home Retreats. It certainly supports my own prayer to know that many others in our OSJ faith community are praying through the season “together” with me… The prayer guide we have chosen corresponds to the one we used during Lent; and as we did then, I will provide a series of (three) podcasts accessible via our website for those who find that helpful to their prayer…
While the author of the little prayer booklet, Fr. Brendan McGuire, is a diocesan priest from San José, I feel confident that our shared retreat experience will be authentically “Ignatian.” First off, the suggested prayer exercises are based on Scripture readings. These are also deeply Christ-centered – but then, given the season of Advent, what else could they possibly be? Borrowing from St. Teresa of Avila, The author explains in the Introduction that “the starting point of all Christian prayer ought to be the humanity of Christ.” That is, of course, the wonder and the mystery which we ponder at Christmas – the Word made Flesh. And not surprisingly, St. Ignatius directs the maker of the “Spiritual Exercises” to begin to follow Christ by contemplating the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the Nativity.
The little interpretive commentary for each day in our Advent prayer guide tries to steer our imagination to apply the mystery, to discover it in our own lives here and now. And the little “ACT” paragraph tries to invite us to translate our prayer into action for our living. Finding the Christian mystery in the daily concrete circumstances of our present lives is, of course, Ignatian; as is the call to “mission,” to action.
In the end, however, the most obviously “Ignatian” thing about the retreat is us. When numerous parishioners, staff, and clergy of a Jesuit parish commit to pray “together separately” for the Advent season, we respond in a significant way as Christian stewards of prayer. If we are generous in spirit, and commend ourselves in faith to the God who treated Ignatius “just as a schoolmaster treats a child whom he is teaching” (“Autobiography”), then surely God will do the same for us. In the spirit of Advent hope, we should expect that the Retreat will deepen and enrich our personal experience of the Advent and Christmas seasons, and will also shower rich blessings on our parish community of faith. Over these weeks of watchful waiting, “let us meet often in prayer”…
© 2013 Fr. Daniel M. Ruff, S.J.
From the Pastor – 11.17.13
If you have been to a Sunday or Holy Day Mass where I was presiding during the past three weeks or so, you will have noticed that your pastor has abandoned the pulpit and has been preaching from the floor down in front of the altar, using handheld notes rather than a full homily manuscript. (more…)
From the Pastor – 11.10.13
The “Year of Faith” promulgated by His Holiness Benedict XVI on October 11, 2011 for observance by the Church Universal began on October 11, 2012 and will conclude this month on November 24, the Feast of Christ the King. The Pope envisioned this Year of Faith as a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). (more…)
From the Pastor – 9.8.13
As I write this, I am just back a couple of days from nearly two weeks of vacation with a Jesuit friend in southern California. (This was my longest absence since I took office as your pastor five years ago!) The weather was lovely, and I feel relaxed and fortified. (more…)
From the Pastor – 9.1.13
Well, it is the middle of summer; and as the delegates to the Continental Congress sing at the opening of the musical “1776,” “It’s hot as hell inPhiladelphia…” It’s a time when we all thank God for air conditioning. But here’s a thought… One disadvantage of our ability to control the temperature of our home and work environment is that we can now be reasonably expected to put in a full day’s work 24/7/365! (more…)
From the Pastor – 8.25.13
Your pastor is cautiously dipping his toe into the water of 21st-century technology; using an Amazon gift card from some generous parishioners, I recently acquired a “Kindle Fire.” (more…)