Archive for the ‘Advent’ Category

Advent and Christmas music for your time of waiting

Monday, November 25th, 2013


insert createspace.inddOf all the music that I recorded, my favorite by far was my Advent/Christmas collection known as Wait with Me: Advent of the Promised Son. Drawing upon the rich scripture tradition of Advent, these songs proclaim the biblical truths from Isaiah and St. Luke. The collection begins with songs of expectation and build to the birth of our Lord on Christmas Day. Unlike my other CDs, this one features earthier arrangements: acoustic guitar, hand percussion instruments, plentiful harmonies. Listen to samples here:


Now playing: susanbailey’s station
- Susan Bailey – Wait with Me

I can send you a copy of the CD, Wait with Me so that you can have it to prepare your heart in waiting for Jesus.

Click here to place your order.

Mary’s Silent Burden, and Her Solace

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Last night at Mass, Monsignor Mike preached about the true meaning of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: that this feast celebrated Mary’s conception, not our Lord’s. While preaching about Mary being born without Original Sin, he made an important point: Mary was the first creature to be born since the creation of man without the veil that separates man from God. He went on to say that our true selves are meant to be in total union with God, to be one with Him, and the veil of Original Sin acts as a wall, impeding that relationship. Jesus came to lift that veil so that we could be one with God again, but His coming did not eradicate sin from our world. He opened the door to heaven for us so that one day, the veil could be completely lifted and sin could be wiped out of our lives.

Mary was one with our Lord, right from the first moments of her creation. She was born to be her true self, without any veil. She was singled out to be completely pure. Isn’t it ironic then that Mary, who was chosen to bear the unknowable, unfathomable God incarnate in her womb, had to bear the ‘sin’ of being pregnant without being ‘married’?

I realized that this ‘sin’ would not only cause her grief at the beginning (in trying to explain the situation to her betrothed, Joseph, and to her family), but it probably followed her for the rest of her life. She was able to tell Joseph and Elizabeth, her cousin, the truth and they either believed right away or came to believe through the help of God’s grace (Elizabeth by her pregnancy, Joseph by an angel in a dream). But what of her immediate and extended family? What of her neighbors? What must it have been like to tell them? Did she tell them the truth as well? Did the ‘stain’ of this ‘sin’ follow Mary for the rest of her life? I had never thought before of the silent burden she would have to bear as the people she knew and loved perhaps wanted to cause her shame. They would never understand the glorious union she had with God, not only as His pure vessel, but as His only spouse, and the mother of His Son. Surely that knowledge and the memory of Christ in her womb (as well as Him being in the world) was her solace. But her silent burden was a foretaste of what Jesus would know in His life on earth – knowing who He was but being so misunderstood by His own people, especially His own kin and neighbors!

Yet despite this burden, Mary, in a sense, had Jesus all to herself during those 9 months of pregnancy. Anytime the sting of her ‘shame’ would hit, she could meditate on the Son of God, warm and safe in her own womb. Containing the uncontainable – what solace that must have been!

While we may not have the privilege of housing the incarnate God in our bodies, we do house the Holy Spirit. And we too can share the intimacy that Mary shared with Jesus, especially by partaking the Eucharist. As her blood flowed to her baby, nourishing Him and helping Him to grow, so now we can have His precious body and blood flow throughout our blood, to every cell in our bodies. While it would have been extraordinary to meet Jesus in person as a man, we can meet Him at any time, in any place simply by calling out for Him. We can even receive the Eucharist virtually by meditating upon it. We indeed have an extraordinary opportunity!

Thanks be to God that Mary said yes and willingly went through her silent burden, and the other sufferings to come as the “sword pierced her heart” to work with God to bring Jesus to the world!

Family History is Important

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Today’s readings
Micah 5:1-4; Psalm 13:6; Matthew 1:1-16,18-23

Last night when I posted about Mary, I had no idea today was her birthday! Everything I read today, from the morning prayers of the Divine Office to today’s readings, reinforced everything I had heard the night before from John Michael Talbot’s song.

Family history became important to me after my mother’s passing last April. My sister and I made a trek to the city where my her father came from, as I wanted to see his grave. He died when I was teenager and I wasn’t permitted to go to his funeral since I was so young, but since that time, I had wanted to say goodbye in a proper way. I waited 46 years, but I finally got to say my goodbye at the cemetery, and see 4 generations of his family to boot! You can see pictures of our trek here on Facebook.

Everything is connected and in such intimate ways. The hymn from this morning’s Divine Office said it all for me:

Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!
Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.

Mary the Dawn; Medieval English text; Gregorian Tone 4, setting by Paul Crosssung; performed by Kathleen Lundquiest

You can hear it sung here. Click on the Morning Prayer tab and listen to the beginning of the podcast.

The morning prayers also contained a favorite reading from Isaiah about the Shoot from Jesse; I put that reading to music and thought you’d like to hear it. Again, it speaks of connections.

The more I am connected with the Lord, the more I see how all things are connected to and through Him, and to everyone and everything else. It becomes a joyful adventure, recognizing and making these connections.

So even though today’s Gospel reading is a long, long genealogy, take a moment to read it anyway and marvel in all the connections that made the birth of Christ possible. It will give you a new appreciation of your own family history.

Advent reflections from
Archbishop Joseph Raya

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I’m reading a wonderful book by Archbishop Raya called Christmas: Birth of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Private Life. Archbishop Raya was a prominent Melkite bishop (Melkite being one of the Eastern Catholic churches). Here is a quick bio from Wikipedia:

“Joseph Raya (August 15, 1916 – June 10, 2005), born in Zahlé, Lebanon, was a prominent Melkite Greek Catholic archbishop, theologian, civil rights advocate and author. He served as metropolitan of Akko, Haifa, Nazareth and All Galilee from 1968 until 1974 and was particularly known for his commitment to seeking reconciliation between Christians, Jews and Muslims. He was also a leading advocate of celebrating the Divine Liturgy in vernacular languages.”

Books written about Eastern spirituality are often very dense and hard to read because the treatment of the faith is done in such a deep way. What I love about this book (besides the fact that the type is larger and easy to read :-) ) is that it’s easier to read than most, though still pretty deep. I want to share with you passages which struck me which I hope will bless you in your Advent journey.

from pages 9-11:

. . . St. Paul calls this generous attutide of God kenosis, or “emptiness”. He said that Jesus Christ possessed a state that was divine, yet He “did not cling to this quality with God, but emptied himself to assume the condition of slave, and he became as men are.” (Phil 2:6, 7)

Kenosis of God Our Lord

Kenosis was for our Lord Jesus Christ such a sublime and sincere attitude that He forbade His apostles to talk about what everybody called “miracles,” since for Him these were simple acts of love in favour of the poor and the needy. He called Himself, in the Gospel of Mark, “Son of Man.” He corrected the young man who called Him “good Master” by telling him, “There is no good but God Himself.” (Mk 10:18). The story of His passion is in every single detail a stunning story of one who is above and beyond human humiliations and blows and even killing. Through the unfolding of this whole amazing event He did not complain, or hurt by any word those who scourged Him, insulted Him and made a mockery of Him. Even after His triumph and resurrection He did not stoop down from His majesty to show them how wrong they were. This attitude of kenosis was one of the most glorious characteristics of the love of our Lord for our humanity and of His identification with us, His respect of our freedom.

Thus God the Son emptied Himself at His very incarnation and birth from all the appearances of glory and the majesty of His divinity in order to appear in the human form which we know and are familiar with. This kenosis Saint Paul calls also “condescension.” Saint John Chrysostom says, “The condescension of God is when God does not appear as He really is, but according to the capacity of the one who seeks to contemplate Him.”

After having contemplated this kenosis and condescension of the Lord, Saint Gregory of Nyssa (330-400) exclaimed:

If You had not hidden your divinity . . . who would have been able to sustain Your glory? You came down, O beautiful One in a form we can look at, and we can comprehend. You came down, but You covered Your divinity with the mantle of our flesh.

And Saint John Chrysostom (354-407) writes again:

God empties Himself in order to draw us closer to Him and allow us to follow Him to the mountain where He showed Himself to the apostles as He really was: Divine and the very essence of divinity.

Saint Irenaeus (c.200), Bishop of Lyons in France, explains further that the “Word of God manifested God first in creation. But He kept His Trinity and indivisibility a secret from humanity who were not yet ready for such an intimacy. Otherwise,” he continued, “man would have despised God.”

You can purchase a copy of Christmas: Birth of Our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ in His Private Life through Madonna House Publications.

Advent has begun

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Today marks the first day of Advent, that most beautiful, and often forgotten, time of year when we can take some time out to reflect upon the coming of Christ. I noticed in a reflection I read today from the Living with Christ missalette, that Christ can come in 3 ways – past, present, and future.

We can reflect on the past, when God condescended to us by sending His Son, who became a man through being born of the Virgin Mary, thus taking on all the weaknesses of flesh (except sin) so that we might become more like Him.
We can reflect on the present, creating a sacred space in our hearts and lives, to make room for Him so that He can be reborn in us yet again.
And we can anticipate the future with hope, waiting for his coming again in glory. Marantha! Come Lord Jesus!
On the Prayer Chapel page, I have created a section for Advent Devotions as found on the Catholic New Media Roundup Advent Calendar. Just click on the day to read, hear, or watch an Advent devotion. You can also find this same graphic on the Marian Cenacle Rosary Podcast page – just click on it to get to the calendar.
166px  CNM Advent Badge
I will also try to share frequently the things I am learning as I go through Advent in this blog.
May the Lord be with you in a new and vibrant way this Advent season!

Advent songs to share

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I mentioned in the last post about Advent Observances that I had some Advent songs that I had written based on passages from Isaiah. Those two songs are called “A Shoot from Jesse” and “The Lord Has Come to Save You” and they are included on my CD, Wait with Me. I threw in a couple of other songs written for Advent on this player too. One of them, “Wait with Me” is based on readings from Fr. Gobbi’s book, To the Priests. Enjoy!

This CD is on sale from now until Dec. 12 if you purchase a copy of the Sung Rosary project too. Go to the purchase page for more details.

Sharing our Advent Observances

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

I have come to truly love Advent. More and more I find it a refuge from the commercial Christmas (although I admit, it makes me forget to Christmas shop sometimes!). I remember when the kids were young, we used to light the Advent wreath at the dinner table and recite prayers before eating dinner. The kids are nearly grown now and out of the house, so I’ve had to find new ways to observe this special season.

Advent is such a ‘quiet’ and short season that it can easily be ignored or forgotten, and for a few years, I let our observances lapse. This year though, I wanted to take some time out each day to observe it.

First of all, I splurged on a really nice Advent wreath – well worth the expenditure. :-) Each morning I light the candle(s) on the Advent wreath (that’s my wreath on our dining room table), read a special Advent wreath prayer, and then read out loud (or chant) the daily readings. I end my time reading a concluding Advent prayer and singing an Advent hymn. The readings for Advent (especially from Isaiah) are so incredibly beautiful and makes this observance a pure joy. (I loved the readings so much from Advent that years ago, I wrote songs around those readings, specifically Isaiah 11:1-10 on the shoot from Jesse, and Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 (these are on my Wait with Me CD) ).

This simple exercise takes just 10 minutes but it sets up the tone for the whole day. I find myself wishing to be with God more often during the day and I so look forward to spending that time with Him in the morning before leaving for work.

Many people have interesting ways of observing Advent. Do you have an observance you’d like to share? Simply click on the Comments link just below this post and share how you and your family observe Advent. We can all learn from each other.