With Franciscan Eyes

Living Advent Joy

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We are fast approaching the third week of Advent which has JOY as its theme. What exactly is joy? I looked up the definition and it says, “joy is a feeling of great pleasure or happiness.” In the full definition it uses the words elation and delight to further describe joy. Digging even a little further I found that there is a Biblical meaning for joy. St. Paul understood that joy does not depend on what is happening, or what we have, or who is in our life or not in our lives. Letting go of all of that makes room for God. Joy is an attitude of the heart determined by confidence in God. Real, genuine joy is a result of having a strong and intimate relationship with Christ. To truly know Christ is to truly have joy. So, to have true joy we need to spend time with God. Thus, the more time we spend with God, the more joyful we will be! Not exactly the true joy that St. Francis talked about where he was not welcome at the monastery in the dead of winter at night. Just picturing Francis with icicles on the bottom of his habit and ice on his beard makes me shiver! He would agree that spending time with the Lord is true joy. During the remaining days of this short Advent may we take time to be with God so when Christmas comes we can experience joy in our world! It would be wonderful if instead of war, hunger, depression, poverty, homelessness, etc. our world would experience elation and delight in God and one another. What is the attitude of your HEART?

in Advent

Have a Greener Christmas

Your Christmas list isn't finished yet! There are other gifts to give... gifts to the planet... gifts to future generations... gifts to our Creator. For individuals, what do these gifts, these offerings, look like? These gifts are every effort, great or small, to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. How can we do this? Think first: Do I really need to buy this? Can I make or bake a gift? Can I re-gift something? Could I find gifts at a thrift shop? Is there a more earth-friendly version of this? Can I buy it locally? Can I use more natural materials in decorating and wrapping of gifts? If I use lights, can I use LED lights and limit the hours they are used? Can I recycle my old holiday lights and Christmas tree? Can I use small potted trees to decorate and then plant them outside in the spring, giving them away to others if I don't have a yard? And for those holiday parties, can I avoid plastic and Styrofoam, wash those dishes and recycle properly at the end?

Thank you for doing what you can to care for God’s creation! Your every effort is a gift! Have a Greener Christmas, and may it make your heart light!

in Advent

God is Our Hope

As we enter the blessed season of Advent, this quote seems appropriate. I always think of Advent as a quiet season. It is a time of reflection and stillness. In a season that can be crazy, we need to go to our inner sanctuary and be still. Of course, we can go there anytime or any season. What do we do during our stillness? We listen to our loving God to hear His voice. The first week of Advent focuses on the virtue of HOPE. One of the things everyone hopes for is peace throughout the world and here in our own country. It is heartbreaking to see all the mass shootings, the impoverished people, especially the homeless suffering from cold and hunger, as well as those who are disabled, sick, lonely, or elderly with unmet needs. These are just some issues in our own country as well as in the world. Sometimes life may seem hopeless, but it is not. God is our hope.

God sent His Son to be with us no matter how rough life may be. He is our light when all seems dark. This is when we need to go to our sanctuary to converse with God. We need to let go of things that interfere with our stillness. If it is not good for your soul, then let it go! God sent Jesus to be our light and we are to spread this light to others. When you see the Christmas lights, reflect on the strands of light. If one of them burns out, the whole strand is affected. If they are all lit, they shine and light everything around them. Think about how you are a light to whomever needs it in their life. Remember to spend time in stillness and your sanctuary so your light shines even more brightly. Let us light up the world and send HOPE to others so that our strands do not burn out!