Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Greater Sacrifice?

A Greater Sacrifice?

In Holy Week, our Lord
gave up His life
for us and died
alone, betrayed,
abandoned. We know
no greater sacrifice
than this – to die
for others.

And yet, some thirty
years and more
before, the Holy
Word of God
gave up His Godhood
in exchange for
human birth and
mortal life.

The Word that breathed
across the chaos
at the start of
all creation,
that breathed into
being galaxies,
planets, elements and

the Word that shaped
the life we know –
bacteria, fish
and people –
that Word forsook
His Godly ways
to be born a babe
in Bethlehem.

The All-Knowing
knowledge for an
infant’s word-
less cry; the All-
Powerful traded
power for an infant’s
the Ever-Present
confined Himself
to human time and space;
the Infinite
found limits
in an infant’s
tiny world.

In Holy Week, our Lord
gave up his Life,
and this we hymn
with gratitude for
all his sacrifice.
In Christmastide, our Lord
was born, a baby held
in Mary’s arms. .

The Love that led our
Lord to death has
led our God to birth.
Rejoice! Rejoice, you
faithful, at this
wondrous sacrifice!
As we raise our alleluias,
Let us sing “Thanks be to God!”

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Christmas 2012

What are we celebrating
here and now
with Christmas–
Christ’s Mass?
A mostly hidden
of God
into the world?
Family unity
pasted together
out of old
new resolutions
to do better
spend more,
gorge together?
What are we celebrating
here and now?

What are we celebrating
here and now?
Fond memories of
Christmas past?
Major profits for
retail stores?
One-day ingathering
of a
scattered clan?
Birth of a child
who will change
the world?
What are we celebrating
here and now?
The world says
Go wild!
Spend too much
Eat too much
Drink too much
or coffee
or eggnog.
You’re priming the
economic pump –
Go wild!
Exceed your income,
Break your diet,
Breach your boundaries,
Smiling! Smiling! Smiling!

God says –
Be joyful with
My Child is born.
I love the world.
So – please – love
my world.
Love my Child.
Love me.
Love your neighbour.
Love yourself.

So –
What are we celebrating
here and now?

Let’s love.

Sr. Sue Elwyn, SSJD
Toronto, ON
December, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2018

Monday December 24, 2018

Psalm 45, 46 
Isaiah 35:1–10 
Revelation 22:12–17, 21 
Luke 1:67–80

Today is Christmas Eve. We are coming to the end of our time of reflection. Tomorrow we reach the climax for which we have been preparing. The presents are wrapped, the food is prepared, the house is decorated. We have reached this point annually for many years. We have heard sermons and reflected on it. 

I was surprised on first reading the lessons appointed for Morning Prayer today that there was no specific mention of the birth of Christ in them. Why were we hearing these particular passages? As I re-read them it began to dawn on me that they were all about a vision of heaven on earth. Each one, in its way portrays a picture of the world in the way God made it to be. 

Psalm 46 talks about who this God is; Isaiah portrays the perfect world God wants for us; Revelation looks at what the future holds for us; and Luke tells about how this perfect world will come about. 

I was reminded of one of my favourite carols – “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”. Isn’t this what the angels were singing about on the first Christmas Eve? Isn’t that the “Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all People”, of their song? Jesus was born into the world to show us God’s perfect world. Even after “two thousand years of wrong” the angels are still singing to us. “O listen now, and still your strife, to hear the angels sing.” So amidst all the hustle and bustle, the tinsel, and preparations, may we this Christmas Eve listen to the angels’ song. 

- Jean Gandon

Photo by Joanne Ingram

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Psalm 93, 96 
Isaiah 33:1722 
Galatians 3: 15-22 
Luke 1: 67-80 

Your eyes shall see a king in his splendour and will look upon a land of far distances. Isaiah 33: 17

Coming to Canada from Pennsylvania ten years ago with the hopes of traveling with my husband and the dreams of remodelling a summer cottage soon were turned around. The saying If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans” certainly applied to me.

Of course, I was a religious person. I went to Church every Sunday, sang in the choir, was on altar guild, always helped at church suppers and even visited the sick. I wanted to take a break. And then the Bishop of Algoma called saying he would like to meet with my husband. “Only for eighteen months,” he said. “Just ‘til the six churches in Muskoka get settled and a new priest comes.” I might say I said some not too nice words at this point. It was all about me, you see, and what I wanted. That was nine years ago.

I have learned in these nine years that altar guild, choir and church suppers are not what following God is all about. Rather than being in the center of everything, it is more simply being in a quiet relationship with God. I do not do the work of the church to be noticed or to say how hard I work. I do it because it’s part of my love for and worship of God.

I believe my granddaughter, Grace, was right when she told her mother, “I think I’ll stay in Canada with Grammy and Pop ‘cause God lives in Canada.” Seeing a King in his splendour in a distant land absolutely! How wonderful!
Lynne Van der Hiel

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Saturday December 22, 2018

Psalm 80 
Isaiah 29:13–24 
Revelation 21.22—22.5 
Luke 1:39–48a (48b–56) 
Advent 4

Through all of the Advent Quiet Days I have attended over the years, it has been a time of “my” waiting or “my” expectations as I await the coming of Christ anew and the celebration of the Christ Mass. What do you think of when you reflect on Advent? 

The common thread I see in these readings is God’s expectation and waiting for us. Isaiah reveals that the people of Israel were doing lip service to God, were trying to say the right thing with their lips, but in fact their faith was a superficial faith – all words and no heart. Their mouth, and mind were saying one thing but their heart just was not in it. I think God is asking us to love God with our whole heart, mind, strength and soul; that deep down our prayers and praise be truly for the pure love for God. 

Psalm 80 reminds me that God will bless and enrich my life, not only in times of trouble, but at all times. God’s light and glory is within me – I just have to turn around and see with the eyes of my heart. 

I am aware of a parallel between the verses in Revelation with the Garden of Eden. Revelation describes a new creation – a new Garden of Eden, without all the things that spoiled the Garden. I can imagine the Tree of Life and the healing of all nations, which includes me too, being washed clean with the crystal water of life, and yes, I long to see God walking in the Garden again and being one with Love. Can you see it? 

Love has come to us through the “yes” of Mary and the beautiful Magnificat reflects that this love is there for us and for all to come. Jesus’ message throughout the Gospels tells us to share this love with all. Love. Love. Love.
                                                                                                            – Sr. Dorothy Handigan, SSJD

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Psalm 72 
2 Samuel 7: 1-17 
Titus 2: 11 3:8a 
Luke 1: 39-48a (48b-56) 

“Christ of the Breadline” by Fritz Eichenberg:

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. Psalm 72:12

There was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:7

In the year of our Lord, hospitality was a sacred duty. Mary and Joseph probably arrived at the home of friends or family after all the other travelers, and the room set aside for guests was taken. They were welcomed and the stable was offered.

Who are these people sleeping huddled in doorways on this the longest night of the year? They are someone’s child, perhaps someone's mother or father, brother or sister. They have worn out their welcome. Most often the victims of substance abuse or mental illness, even the homeless shelters have rejected them.

On this long dark cold night, let us make room in our hearts for those less fortunate, who we see but do not know; and let us keep in our prayers those who have nobody else to pray for them.

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglectedpersons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the oldand the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Chris Hooker

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Psalm 61, 62 
Zephaniah 3: 14-20 
Titus 1: 1-16 
Luke 1: 1-25 

For God alone my soul in silence waits;* from God comes my salvation. Psalm 62.1, SSJD Psalter

This single phrase from Psalm 62 has been resonating in my soul for many years. When I was in my early 20's and came as a visitor to the Convent, it was the silence that I found attractive summed up in this phrase. The silence is what awakened my heart and set me upon my life’s journey in the Sisterhood. When the Sisters recite the psalms, there is a brief silent pause at the asterisk which marks the half- verse. In that silence I feel that I can touch infinity where God resides. It may seem to be a small thing, the brief silent pause, but it is enough to begin hearing the voice of God stirring within our heart and feel its magnetic resonance which draws us to God.

It is waiting in silence which attunes the ear of our heart to know that God is longing for us even more that we long for God. To wait upon God, one must wait patiently yet with intent focus on the one for whom we wait. Nothing should distract us from God who is our salvation; not sound, sight, object, food, or drink, or even scent: nothing should come between ourselves and God. But it is not simply what might distract us through the senses; silence teaches us to quiet our thoughts and emotions, however good and holy they might be, to simply wait for God. The second half of the psalm verse recognizes “from God comes my salvation.” What salvation means to me is my very life. To paraphrase the half verse then, “from God comes my life,” is how I feel about this verse. This is what it means to wait on God alone: I wait on God in the silence, for this is life.

– Sr. Elizabeth Ann Eckert, SSJD