“Minnesota Nice”

“Minnesota nice” is a phrase we like to use around our area to refer to the good encounters that we have with people from our state. People feel good when we smile and greet one another and genuinely show care and concern for one another.

However, sometimes that Minnesota “nice” can turn into Minnesota “nasty”. As one friend of mine said recently, why does it seem that sometimes people from around here seem so nice to your face and when you turn your back to walk away that is when the gossip and the nasty comments begin?

This is a point worth reflecting on for each of us in our area. How do I speak and act to those that I am with? And how do I speak and act toward those that are not in my presence? If we profess Jesus as Lord then we should find ourselves being consistent in our speech and conduct with the way He spoke and acted.

During this Advent season leading up to the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ, we should find ourselves practicing Minnesota “kindness”. That is, we should seek out opportunities to genuinely serve those around us in love and offer words of encouragement without seeking repayment.

A generous heart is a kind heart. A deceitful heart is a nasty heart.

The heart of Mary for women is an example of kindness and generosity as she says “yes” to the plan of God the Father and fulfills what the prophet Isaiah foretold, “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you this sign, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14).”

The heart of Joseph for men is an example of faithfulness and obedience. Joseph receives the message of an angel in faith as he is told, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her (Matthew 1:20).”

What is going on in your heart during this Advent season? Is there a need for new life, healing, forgiveness, love or peace in your life?

As we draw near to the Lord during this sacred season let your love for Jesus be revealed in your kindness to all that you meet!

 

Gaudette Sunday

The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudette Sunday. The Latin word Gaudette comes from the antiphon of the opening scriptural reference or introit, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice, the Lord is near (Philippians 4:4-5).” This scripture sets the tone of joyful expectation for the Lord’s birth and Second Coming.

The Church in her open message of Joy invites the wearing of Rose Colored vestments and the openness of hearts to joyfully prepare for receiving the Lord! We are encouraged by the Church in the Advent season to slow down and take time out for the Lord. As we hear in the letter from St. James, “Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain…(James 5:7-9).”

Patient waiting is the posture for the Christian. Advent is a training ground for our souls in joyful hope. The increase of joyful hope is offered to the one who practices patient waiting. When we settle our souls in quiet prayer and stillness with the Lord, we open ourselves to an increase in patience.

During this season we do all things to prepare for Christmas with parties, decorating, gift buying, card writing and event planning, even more so should we participate in special events for our souls in going to Confession, spending time in Eucharistic Adoration, spending more time in quiet prayer and reflection, reading the scriptures or devotional books and serving the poor. As we are drawn deeper into the mystery of waiting for the coming of Christ, together let us take time this week to be with the Lord and allow Him to form us in patient waiting and joyful hope!

 

Jesse Tree

When I was a child, my family practiced simple yet memorable devotions and prayed meaningful prayers during Advent. One of those memorable devotions was placing symbols of important people of our faith on the Jesse tree.

The Jesse tree helps us connect the custom of decorating Christmas trees to the events leading to Jesus’ birth. The Jesse tree derives its name from Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.” Jesse was the father of King David.

We adorn a Jesse tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history. In general, the symbols that are placed on this tree are for Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Jesse, David, Solomon, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.

In this week’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah we are reminded that from this line of David will come the messiah who will have the “Spirit of the Lord upon him.” In the presence of this blessed one amazing peace will be found as, “The wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them (Isaiah 11:6).” It is this same favored one that St. John the Baptist points out in his prophecy as he says, “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier then I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire (Matthew 3:11).”

The prophets of old made known that God would send a savior and let people know that they should be prepared. In our time, we are no different, as we need to be prepared to receive our Savior Jesus Christ when He comes again.

This Advent take time to prepare your soul for Jesus. Do you spend time in prayer each day? Do you read and reflect on the scriptures each day? Have you been to Confession during the Advent Season already? Have you turned off the TV or put down the Tablet to make quiet time?

May the Lord find us ready when He comes in Glory!

Advent Begins

Advent is a holy season of preparation for Christmas. During these four weeks we have the opportunity to slow down and allow our hearts to be still with the Lord as we prepare for His coming into our midst.

Jesus emphatically states, “Stay awake! (Matthew 24:42). We must be alert and attentive in our spiritual lives for the coming of Jesus Christ our Savior.

Advent allows each of us time to pray a little more. To light a candle and to sing a familiar hymn in preparation for Jesus Christ to come into the open door of our hearts. If you and I are only thinking about parties and gifts and family stress, then we have missed the opportunities afforded in this holy season. Advent is intentionally a time to pray more, reflect on our beginning and our end in this life, a time to go to Confession, a time to serve the poor, a time to spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration, and a time to go to Mass each week in preparation for Christmas.

Don’t be caught off guard sleeping through this holy season which is a preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ!