silence

Adoration_of_the_sheperds_-_Matthias_Stomer

God Has Spoken

Adoration_of_the_sheperds_-_Matthias_Stomer

Christmas 2020

Fr. Mark Gatto

Posted: December 25, 2020

Luke describes a vision of shepherds going in haste to see something special.  A multitude of Angels were praising God singing, “Glory to God in the highest heaven,…”  It all seems like such a wonderful, magical moment.  But, what we see is such a simple, ordinary and very human scene.  A mother, a father and a weak new born baby.

The Word became flesh.  A child was born among us wrapped in swaddling clothes.  In this little baby, the God of the universe, the God who is beyond all and embraces all, wanted to speak to humanity.  God entered our history and time, became one of us, to speak a word to us.

So, we speak of Jesus as the Word of God and sometimes speak of Jesus as the face of God.

The invisible God was made visible in our midst.

In Jesus, the Word made flesh, what has God spoken to humanity?  Here are a few words that capture some of the ultimate Word that God spoke to us in the coming of Jesus:

Love.  That God is love and that we are loved by this God and that we are all called to live a life of love.  We are all connected in a love beyond anything we can imagine.  Wherever there is true love in this life, we are connected to God.  It is love that keeps us connected to those who have died and gone before us.  Love and connection is the foundation and basis of our universe.  God’s Word is a word of love.

Human dignity.  St. John Paul II once described Christianity as “an attitude of amazement at the dignity of the human being.”  We need to recognize our own dignity, each one of us has a dignity rooted in God.  Therefore, we need to treat each person in this life with a sense of their dignity.  The homeless, the poor, those of other religions or no religion, each member of our family, each friend and each stranger.  The dignity of each human being should be the guide to every decision we make politically, economically, personally.  How we respond to refugees, to people of other nations and to each neighbour.  God’s Word reveals our human dignity.

Forgiveness.  So much guilt can afflict us, but God has spoken a word of forgiveness.  God is so generous in offering forgiveness.  God is extreme, even seeming foolish in offering forgiveness.  God wants to overcome evil, not by force or violence, but by wiping it out through forgiveness.

This should lead us to make forgiveness the heart of our way of life, our spirituality.  In fact, we recognize that call to forgiveness, in order to be like God, each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer.  God’s Word says to us, “I forgive you.”

Poor.  The rich and the powerful and the famous are not worth more than the poor, the weak, the unknown.  God sees beyond all of our world’s ways of judging.  God did not come as a powerful force to dominate and control the world.  God came as a poor little baby with no power at all.  For the God of the universe does not desire to control us but to set us free.  God’s Word is a word to the poor, including the poverty in each one of us.

The final word that I will use today that captures something of that Word of God spoken in Jesus, is the word, Kind.  This is a God who is everlasting kindness.  When we are kind, we are being like God.  When I decided to become a priest, my father only had one piece of advice, “be kind to the people.”  It seemed so simplistic.  Yet, the choice to be kind makes a big difference in our world.

Think about your own experience.  During your day, when one person shows you kindness how does that make you feel?  But, if one person shows you unkindness during the day, how does that make you feel?  A kind word or a kind act can make such a difference.

God’s Word is a word that says, Be Kind.

In Jesus, the Word of God, our God has spoken to humanity.  The words I shared here capture some of what God wanted to say to us.  Take some time to think about what other words you would include in this story.  Someone once asked, “what is the most valuable prayer of Christmas?”  His answer was, that the most valuable prayer of Christmas is Silence.

This Christmas, take a moment of silence, listen in your heart to the word God has spoken in Jesus and listen within for the word spoken to you.

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silence

Mary Pondered Them…The Value Of Silence – Fr. Mark

silence

Feast of Mary, Mother of God

Fr. Mark Gatto

Preached: January 1, 2019

What is the closest thing to God in the entire universe?

Silence…

When we pray, our words can have some value.  Some of our concepts and images of God can help to lead our heart towards the mystery of God.  But, our words always fall so short of the reality of God.  Silence is the most honest place to encounter the mystery of God.

“Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” .  In silence Mary pondered them in her heart.  As we come to the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, we would do good to follow this example of Mary.  Take time to ponder all that is happening in my life, to treasure God’s presence in ways we do not understand.  Enter into silence to be embraced by the mystery of God.

Close your eyes, let us take now a moment of silence to dwell in the presence of the living God.

Some of us will have new year resolutions for this year.  One might be to commit to a time of silence each day.  If just beginning, start very small and short.  Even just 5 minutes a day, with everything shut off, sit in silence, not to say anything, not expecting to hear anything, just to be in the presence of God.

Knowledge is a good thing.  Experience is a good thing.  But, it is in Silence that our knowledge and experience are able to become wisdom.

“Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart”.  We also need the wisdom that comes from silence, like Mary when we treasure and ponder in our heart.

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desert-silence

Silence Of The Desert – Fr. David

desert-silence

1st Sunday of Lent – Year B

Fr. David Reitzel

Preached: Feb 25 2018

In biblical language, the wilderness refers to any place that has not yet been tamed by the hand of humanity. The wilderness is a place where animals still roam free and threaten any human who enters. The wilderness is a place without protection from the elements: the wind, the rain and the sun. The wilderness is a pace where food and water must be fought for rather than purchased. When Jesus was driven by the spirit into the wilderness for 40 days, he entered a wild place.
But why? Why leave the comforts of the city and the security of civilization. Was there something in the wilderness that he was looking for? It is hard to imagine that someone would look for anything in in such a desolate place, but that my friends is where Jesus is different. When Jesus walked into the desert he was looking for what only the desert could provide, nothing.
You see, the city provided everything. If you needed it, it was there. But the wilderness provided nothing and that nothing provided a quiet space, a space that lacked the distractions of civilisation. Through the conditions were harsh, the wilderness provided silence and that is exactly what Jesus was looking for.
This May for our diocese we will have three young men ordained to the priesthood. It is a law of the Church that each man preparing for priesthood must go on a retreat before their ordination. These young men will go to retreat houses, convents, or monasteries to make their retreat. They choose these places, not for what they provide, but for what they don’t provide. In these places there is no TV or internet, no cell phones or tablets. These places are like fortresses of quiet that keep the noise of the world outside so that those inside can enter into silence.
But what is so great about silence? Why does Jesus seek it before he begins his public ministry, and why do seminarians seek it before they begin their priestly ministry? Cardinal Robert Sarah, a cardinal from Guinea Africa, who works in the Vatican just wrote a book called, “The Power of Silence” and in it he provides an answer, “Without silence, God disappears in the noise. And this noise becomes all the more obsessive because God is absent. Unless the world rediscovers silence, it is lost. The earth then rushes into nothingness.” Without silence, God disappears.
Cardinal Sarah is not just talking about audible noise. He is referring to the hundred and one distractions that each of us has at our fingertips at each moment of the day. The news feed we can check, the profile we can update, the video we can watch. These noises compete for our attention and if we constantly give into them, then the voice of God, which is always soft and quiet, can go unheard. Without silence God disappears in the noise.
Jesus knew this was possible even in his comparatively simple day, so to encounter God his Father in prayer Jesus ran to the silence of the wilderness. The seminarians know this and so they seek God in the silence of their retreats. And we need to understand this so we can find places and moments that become our silent wilderness.
My friends we have entered into Lent, a time were we imitate Jesus by 40 days of fasting, prayer and almsgiving. All too often the emphasis of Lent is on fasting. We ask each other “what did you give up?” But Lent entails more than giving up.
In Lent our goal is to end it closer to God than when we began, and this cannot happen without a good dose of prayer, times of silence spent with our Lord. Sometimes our prayer can include spoken words, sometimes it can be quiet listening on the presence of God. Whatever it is, we need to find those quiet times and places so that God might be heard.
So may I recommend a practice this Lent? It includes fasting and prayer. First fast from sleep. Wake up 15 min early while the house is still quiet. Then use that time and that quiet to enter into silent prayer with God. If you’re married, do it as a couple. Find an image and maybe a candle to help you focus your attention. Use whatever helps.
In the Bible the wilderness is not a comfortable place, but it is a place that provided Jesus with the silence he needed to hear his father. For us, the wilderness of Lent may not be pleasant either but we do it for the same reason. May we accept the sufferings that comes this Lent in order that we might be able to find the silence in which we can hear God’s voice
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