Tag Archives: advent

DECEMBER 7 Saturday the First Week

To be a saint

His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled
and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36


A Sufi story tells us that if we wish to be a saint, we need five qualities of children: they do not worry about their daily bread; when they fall sick, they do not complain night and day about their misfortune; whatever food they have, they share; when they quarrel, they do not keep grudges in their hearts, but make up quickly; the slightest threat frightens them and brings tears to their eyes.

Many people say that Christmas is for children. That is understandable as we watch children’s awe, excitement, and joyous giving (as well as delight at receiving). Yet awe, excitement, giving, and delight are also a part of our lives, or should be!

Aren’t these characteristics also the basis of Jesus’ life? Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus’ heart continually goes out to people. His concern was always rooted in the present moment and the needs of each person in that moment. Since Jesus came to us to teach us how to live, perhaps these selfless qualities are our call – and our joy – during these Advent days.

DAILY PRACTICE: Which of the five qualities of children could you live today? Which could you let grow in your life during Advent, so that, as the New Year begins, the quality is second-nature in you?

ADVENT PRAYER: Inviting God, you call me to be a saint in all the moments of my life. Deepen in me the commitment that Jesus taught and lived: trust, joy, sharing, forgiveness, and empathy.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications


DECEMBER 6 Friday the First Week

How do we see?

…and their eyes were opened. Matthew 9:30

Jesus Heals the Blind Man copy

One morning, after a young couple had moved into a new neighborhood, the wife looked out the window and noticed her neighbor hanging the wash outside. “That laundry isn’t very clean,” she said.

Her husband didn’t reply, and every time the neighbor hung her wash, his wife made the same comment. About a month later, the woman was surprised to see clean wash on her neighbor’s line. “Well, she finally learned how to wash!” she said.

Her husband replied, “I got up early and cleaned our windows.”

In today’s gospel, two men are cured of physical blindness. But other types of blindness can afflict us too. We can train our eyes to see only what we want to see. We can let our eyes get clouded over because of past perceptions and prejudices, hurts and slights that we’re still harboring, or an attitude that our way is the only way.

There are many legends about St. Nicholas, whose feast we celebrate today, stories of his generous giving to everyone. Perhaps he was able to give to all because he had a wide and clear vision; he could see the goodness of everyone, despite their circumstances.

DAILY PRACTICE: Wash your windows today in preparation for the celebration of Christmas. As you wash them, ask yourself: what smudges and streaks might I need to eliminate so that I can see the fullness, the beauty, and the goodness of everyone?

ADVENT PRAYER: God Who Restores Our Sight, you respond to our every need, even those we might not see. Help me to see as completely as you do and to respond as generously as you do.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications


DECEMBER 5 Thursday the First Week

Opening the gate

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them…”  Matthew 15:36


In the movie Phenomenon (1996), the main character has a garden, and he is pestered by a rabbit eating all his vegetables, no matter what fence he constructs. One night he decides to open the gate to the garden and wait. All of a sudden, he realizes that he had trapped the rabbit in; the rabbit was trying to get out.

Why did Jesus come into our world? Was it because the people were trapped in their fears, in their doubts about what it meant to be really human? Did Jesus come for us because we often fence in our worries, our doubts, our discouragements, our pain and suffering? Did Jesus come to show us how to open the gate, to slowly and steadily let go of our hesitations, disappointments, and negativity?

The coming of the Word into our world spoke words of comfort and of challenge, words calling us to action and to commitment. Jesus, the Word of God, opens new possibilities of peacefulness and freedom.

DAILY PRACTICE: Go for a walk. Each time you pass a fence, call to mind feelings or attitudes that are perhaps trapped inside you. Each time you pass a gate, ask God to help you be open to the words of Jesus that bring you healing and comfort and call you to freedom.

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Openings, you sent Jesus to free us from all the things we’ve fenced in. I am grateful that Jesus’ life and words teach and empower me to be open to healing, positive attitudes, and the freedom only you can give.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications


DECEMBER 4 Wednesday the First Week

Surprised by God

He took the seven loaves and the fish… gave them to the disciples… (and) to the crowds.  Matthew 15:36

I asked Abby, my seven-year-old great-niece, what she would like for her birthday. She replied, “If I tell you, then it won’t be a surprise.”

That sense of surprise and wonder, which certainly pervades the season of Advent/Christmas, is also the foundation of our constant and deepening relationship with God. In today’s gospel, imagine the surprise and wonder within the crowd when all were fed.

Sometimes I wonder and think about how I pray. Am I always telling God what I need, what I want, laying out all the steps of what I would like God to do? Or is my prayer one of being aware and grateful for all the ways God is already surprising me?

Jewish prayer in the Old and New Testament (the prayer that Jesus prayed) is not primarily asking God for something. It is predominantly a prayer of thanks, recalling the presence of God among them personally and in their history and expressing gratitude for God’s surprises.

DAILY PRACTICE: Listen to your prayers. Are they giving God advice on how to run the (your) world? When you pray, are you open and trusting of God’s surprises in the daily occurrences of life?

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Surprises, thank you for your continuing amazements. Deepen my trust and wonder as I pray and as I live. Help me to recognize your wondrous gifts, which are greater than I could ever imagine.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications


DECEMBER 3 Tuesday the First Week

Rooted in Peacefulness

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb… Isaiah 11:6


A young child frequently wandered in the woods. Over time, his father became concerned. ”I’ve noticed that each day you walk into the woods,” the dad said to his son. “Why do you go there?”

“I go there to find God,” replied his son.

“That’s a very good thing,” said his father. ”I’m glad you’re searching for God. But don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?”

“Yes,” the boy answered, “but I’m not.”

Today’s reading from Isaiah speaks of a stunning vision of a peaceful world. As we think about peace in our times-in our families, our neighborhoods, our nation, our world-many people suggest steps to bring about a peaceable kingdom. They’re all true and need to be adopted boldly.

But what is the first step, the foundational action that leads to the others? The young boy in our story knew the answer. He knew he needed a place, a process, by which he first realized who he was. He needed to be rooted in a peacefulness within himself. Spending time with God reveals to us who we are. It ingrains in us the peace that only God can give. Then we can be peacemakers.

DAILY PRACTICE: Decide on a way that is best for you to spend time with God, growing in peace. Decide on a way you can bring peace to a situation that is full of discord.

ADVENT PRAYER: God of Peace, encircle me in your never-ending peace. This Advent, make me an instrument of your peace.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications


DECEMBER 1 First Sunday of Advent

Profitably busy

“Stay awake.” Matthew 24:42

For most of us, Advent is a busy season. Today’s readings call us not to be busy, but to be profitably busy. Our busyness must count for something. It must make a difference.

Why are we called to be profitably busy each day? Often these readings lead us to think about the Second Coming of Jesus-and they should! Yet, if we mean by the “second coming” that Jesus isn’t really with us now, that he is an outsider to our world and just drops in once in a while, then we are missing something really important.

Every day of our lives, we encounter Jesus in some person, in some situation. We need to “stay awake” to all the ways we meet him. That means that we are called to be profitably busy.

What will that mean for this Advent? Perhaps it will mean slowing down for prayer, paying closer attention to the people in our lives, building an awareness of those in our world who are lonely and suffering, or taking action to reach out to someone whom we might know.

DAILY PRACTICE: Make a resolution that will enable you to be profitably busy during this Advent season.

ADVENT PRAYER: God of the Here and Now, nudge me to notice your Son in the hundreds of ways he is with me. Urge me to ways of being prayerfully, profitably busy.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications





As I observe my niece and her husband respond to, care for, and lovingly watch every move of their firstborn, their precious daughter, I’m very aware of how they look at her. Such a protective, proud, cherishing gaze!

That is how God looks on us! God is enthralled with each of us, as if God is saying, “Look at what I’ve made. How unique, how extraordinary you are!”

We often talk about how we believe in God, but the extravagant promise we have received is that God believes in us. This is the message to remember as we celebrate this Advent/Christmas season: because of God’s incredible love, God became one of us and promised always to be with us, offering benevolent care and shielding protection. What an extravagant promise!

In our culture Advent/Christmas is often a time of extravagance. That’s true for us as disciples of Jesus too-this is a time of extravagant love, extravagant expectations, extravagant promises.

Advent comes with this extravagant promise: when we slow down and live the season, we will discover new realizations about ourselves, new awarenesses of the God who loves us beyond imagining, and new and energizing challenges of what it means to live as God’s holy ones.

May these reflections, daily practices, and Advent prayers help us to rediscover the extravagant promises of our extravagant God.

From: ADVENT 2013. Daily reflections, practices and prayers.
The Promise of Peace. Janet Schaeffler, OP.
Twenty-Third Publications


December 15. Saturday of the Second Week

God will dry all tears

  Shepherd of Israel, listen …. From your throne upon the
cherubim reveal yourself  Psalm 80:2AC

During Easter thirty-three years ago, I was dead tired. I had been giving retreats all over the archdiocese of Los Angeles. I felt drained of inspiration. It was difficult to put one foot in front of the other. God seemed distant. Then I attended Easter Liturgy at a Russian Catholic Church from nine at night to four o’clock Easter morning. The Eastern chant lulled me into a state of rest. Then when all the lights were turned on in the darkened church to celebrate the moment of resurrection, people started to shout, “Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!” Light glittered from the scores of gold icons lining the wall. Victorious chant celebrating the triumph of Christ filled my ear. It was as if I saw the light of heaven shining forth, and I was refreshed.
In glory, God will dry all tears, restore all losses, and fill us with consolation. In glory, he transforms huge loss into huge triumph. We may fear death, but if we die into God’s love, our death is being born into a magnificence in which all things are made new.
Glory is the shimmering New Jerusalem, which descends from heaven, lit by the light of the lamb as all tears are wiped away forever.
Glory is a tear shed in a moment of awe.

 * * * * * * * * * *

DAILY ACTION   Can you think of a favorite Scripture that tells of God’s glory? Find it, read it slowly, and savor it.

O Lord, you live in unfathomable glory;
thank you for shining forth in Jesus
and making glory touchable.

From: Advent 2012. Reflections, practices, and prayers for every day of Advent. GLIMPSING THE GLORY by Deacon Eddie Ensley. Twenty Third Publications.


December 13. Thursday of the Second Week

Don’t wring your hands,

clasp them

“I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand;
It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

Jim faced a wall of fear. His daughter-in-law did not survive a deep postpartum depression. Jim was the one who found her. Now he was faced with the task of taking over much of the care of the baby and keeping his now grieving family together. Each evening he articulated his fears and worries to God, often with tears streaming down his face, pouring out his anguish to the loving Father who had always stood by him, and his load became easier.
Fear leaves us with an intense sense of powerlessness and vulnerability.  When we are overcome by fear, says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, “don’t wring your hands, clasp them…. Prayer or meditation can change the state of your brain.” Talk to God when you feel worried or fearful. Jesus listens to us; we listen to him. Hardly anything comforts and eases us more than someone who lovingly listens. Jesus -the greatest listener, the greatest friend- experienced our fears, our stresses and worries. He understands us more than anyone He grasps our hand.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

DAILY PRACTICE   Name some of your current fears and write a prayer in which you give those fears to Jesus.

Dear Lord, you probed the
depths of fear in your life here on earth.
Ease our fears through your nearness.


From: Advent 2012. Reflections, practices, and prayers for every day of Advent. GLIMPSING THE GLORY by Deacon Eddie Ensley. Twenty Third Publications.


December 4. Tuesday of the First Week

Waiting on the tiptoes with awe

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall
lie down with the kid… with a little child to guide them. Isaiah 11:6

People who work in hospice care sometimes witness extraordinary things as patients near death. One hospice nurse told me about an eighty-year-old man who, an hour before he died, lifted his arms out in a welcoming gesture and mumbled, “The angels are there.” My friend and pastor Fr. Gerry Schreck tells a similar story of his own father. At times we glimpse the glory -maybe not always as vividly as the man in the hospital room, but real nonetheless -of the time all tings will be brought together in the new creation
We wait on tiptoes for Christ’s coming glory. After hostility there will be forgiveness; after estrangement, reconciliation; after oppression and dehumanization, justice; after death, homecoming and resurrection.
In the coming of Jesus Christ, future glory broke into the present.
The Lord is the calm weather after the storm; he enfolds the universe in his tender mercy. It is, as theologian Karl Barth put it, “the glory of God investing the whole creation… of every time and place with unspotted and imperishable glory.”


DAILY PRACTICE  On a sheet of paper write out how you can manifest this newness Christ brings in your daily life.

Dear Lord, give us a taste of your
coming glory so that we may brighten
this world in which we live.

From: Advent 2012. Reflections, practices, and prayers for every day of Advent. GLIMPSING THE GLORY by Deacon Eddie Ensley. Twenty Third Publications.