Monday, December 15, 2014

Third Sunday in Advent (Gaudete Sunday)

Why is it so dark in here?

Last night, as we gathered in the University Church (in unusually dim light) to celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent—Gaudete Sunday—many asked this question.

Why is it so dark in here?

And isn’t that the same question Advent asks of us? As the sun sets earlier and earlier, leaving us literally “in the dark,” this season leaves us waiting for the light, longing for the light—for the coming of Christ, the true light, into our world.

And truth be told, sometimes our world is dark. Really dark. Wars rage. People are shot and killed on our streets. Friendships, relationships, and marriages fall apart. Most often, we persist in the little sins, the drama and little hurts that tear us apart.

Take a moment, right now, and call to mind those things. Call to mind those darknesses that you’re dealing with right now.

Name them. Face them. Hold them in your heart.

Why is it so dark in here?

But this Third Sunday of Advent—this Gaudete! Sunday—calls us to REJOICE!

Because even in darkness, we invoke the light that has come into our lives! We symbolize that ever-growing light with candles—one, then two, then three, then four—that symbolize our growing hope, our anticipation of the coming of Christ.

That for which we long has come and will come again

But don’t get me wrong—that doesn’t mean everything is okay. Quite the opposite.

Why is it so dark in here?

Christ, the true light, dwells within and among us. And although those are words we say a lot, we need to consider the full depth of their meaning. These words are a command! Because Christ is present in us and through us, we are called through prayer and action to make our joy known to the world, that all “may have life, and have it more abundantly!” (Jn. 10:10). 

The First Reading gives us pretty specific ideas of what it means to bring this light to the world:

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor,
to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the LORD
and a day of vindication by our God.

To ask, “Why is it so dark in here?”  is to ask “How do I make it light?”

Rejoice, People of God, and work to make it light!

Paul J. Schutz
PhD Candidate in Systematic Theology, Assistant Director of Music for Campus Ministry

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Second Sunday of Advent

Advent is a time of joyful anticipation – a time when we await the coming of the Lord and the beginning of the fulfillment of the new covenant with the birth of Jesus. With joyful voice, we hear that anticipation proclaimed over and again in today’s readings. We hear of God’s comfort and forgiveness, compassion and care and a deep, patient and resounding love.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist speaks of one who is mightier than he who will come after him – one who will baptize not with water, but with the Holy Spirit, which will pour out into the world.

As we prepare for the birth of Jesus, God’s magnificent outpouring of love into the world, we are invited to “prepare the way” – to purify our hearts - to level the mountains and fill the valleys, making a highway through the wasteland - and to proclaim from the highest mountain – God is near!

How do we prepare the way today? Worldly preparations for the Christmas season seemed to have started early this year, with decorations and carols making their appearance in stores and shops well before Thanksgiving. Yet I wonder if the real preparation, or perhaps the preparation for the preparation, doesn’t begin earlier, in the quiet moments of our lives; those moments when we are invited by God to know God’s love and compassion, God’s forgiveness and God’s overwhelming desire that no one be excluded from the banquet of the Lord. Advent is a time to prayerfully acknowledge our own mountains and valleys, and joyfully make even the inner-road. In our preparations, we are equally invited to turn our gaze outward as well. Just as the Israelites waited in eager anticipation for the coming of the Messiah, there are many in our world today who today also await in anticipation – those on the margins who look to be brought into the center, those who have suffered pain who look to be healed and those whose hearts cry out for God’s mercy, justice and love. God was welcomed into the world in a humble manger. As we prepare to welcome God into the world today, what kind of world do we prepare?

In the birth of Jesus we are invited to experience an outpouring of God’s love that is so generous, so powerful and so wholly gratuitous that the only truly appropriate response is to continue to pour out that love. In Advent we are invited to let God’s love pour into our hearts, our lives, our labor and our world and prepare the way for a world where God’s love reigns supreme.  We glimpse that world in the today’s psalm:

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Indeed Lord, we pray, in this time of Advent as we prepare the way, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation. Amen.

Conor L. O'Kane
Associate Director, Campus Ministry

Director, Interfaith Ministries

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Reflection - First Sunday of Advent

Readings from the First Sunday of Advent:

Today marks the first day of Advent - the beginning of the church’s liturgical year. For many centuries, it was understood as a penitential season, akin to Lent, in which fasting and abstinence were its chief features, as the church prepared for the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Although increased fasting and prayer are still encouraged, and purple vestments are worn to signal the penitential overtones of this liturgical season, many of us get lost in the secular and commercial nature of this time.

In the first reading we hear Isaiah wishing that the people of Israel might be caught doing what is right, but more often it seems that is not the case. So they blame God for giving them too much freedom and for not coming through with awesome signs, which would make doing the right thing so simple! They sound like a pathetic lot!  If we are honest, we can recognize some of our own projections onto God.  How easy it is to blame others or to blame God for moving away from us and for hiding from us.  The Psalmist pleads, like a child, “Lord make us turn to you”.  (I can almost hear myself or a sibling plead to our parents, “Make her do this. Tell them to do that.”)

Paul reminds us that we don’t need to blame others or God. Through Christ we already have the grace we need to live in fidelity to the covenant. We are invited, not forced, to do what is right. The message is this: Wake up, people!  Wake up to your potential! Wake up to your calling to live in the light.

Advent is about presence, not  presents. Instead of rushing about searching for presents, we are invited this Advent to take seriously the quality of our ‘presence’ to one another and to God. May we be fully present to the One who longs for us to take seriously God’ presence revealed in Jesus’ incarnation.

Joan Cavanagh
Director of Campus Ministry, Westchester

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday, April 20, 2014- Easter Sunday

Today's Word:

We rightfully look on Easter morning as a day of supreme joy.  And that is as it should be.

But those who experienced that first Easter morn were confused and astonished.  Mary of Magdala approaches the tomb before dawn on that Sunday, and is horrified to see the tomb open.  She rushes back to Peter and John, the beloved disciple, with the news that someone has taken the body of Jesus, the one whom they so loved.  Peter and John rush to the tomb.  John arrives first but awaits Peter before entering the tomb.  And Peter is as confused as Mary.  It is John who first understands.

The resurrection is not a resuscitation of the crucified Jesus.  His death was just as real as our own shall be.  But our transformation shall be just as real.  The apostle Paul likens it to a small seed—our present lives—which shall fall into the ground and die.  But from that tiny seed a great tree shall emerge, as different from the seed as we shall be from whom we are today, to whom we shall be in the resurrection.

Peter and Mary, of course, came to understand.  As we hear this morning from the Acts of the Apostles, we “ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”  And so we too do, each time we gather for the Eucharist, and recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.  Alleluia!

Fr. Robert Grimes, S.J.
Dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014- Holy Saturday

Today's Word:

“He has been raised from the dead!”

Tonight, Catholics all across the country, after braving through seven long readings from the Old Testament, each with their own Responsorial Psalm, and an epistle, will finally rejoice at hearing the Good News we have been waiting all of Lent to hear. That is what today is about: waiting. No masses are celebrated commemorating Holy Saturday, it is a time of quiet reflection and anticipation. 

Everyone in the City can identify with this sense of waiting. Through a particularly difficult and bitter winter, every day in February and March I would wake up and check the weather app on my phone, hoping for a promising change in the weather forecast. Each day, as disappointment would come, I would nostalgically recall the warm spring days of years past, renewing my excitement for the inevitable turn in the weather. 

In a similar way, I think that is what today is about. After the disappointment and heartbreak that comes with Christ’s passion, remembered on Good Friday, we spend Holy Saturday waiting for His return in the Resurrection. As we do we recall God’s infinite goodness.  The plethora of Old Testament readings read tonight, that anticipate the Gospel of Jesus’s resurrection, detail some of the most famous moments of God’s goodness in the life of the Israelites: creation, God’s promise to Abraham, God’s liberation of the Israelites from the Egyptians, etc. These readings are supposed to remind us of the many times that God has been good to His followers, culminating in God’s greatest act of love and redemption found in the resurrection. As we spend today prayerfully waiting, anticipating the Good News of Easter, take a moment to recall a time you have felt God’s blessing in your life, and offer it up in thanksgiving of God’s greatest gift of all: His son.

Greg Pfeiffer
FCLC 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014- Good Friday

Today's Word:

“Help me, Brian.  Help me.” 

Nelisiwe’s words continue to pierce my heart.  A beautiful, bright-eyed young woman in her early 20’s, Nelisiwe was ravaged by AIDS.  As I held her hand at the hospice in South Africa, she repeated those words to me over and over again.  She writhed in pain upon the bed, upon her cross.  What could I possibly do to help?  Unable to take away her pain or heal her from this incurable disease, I sat by her bedside.  In the early hours of the following morning, she passed away.  It was Good Friday.  Those were her last words to me.

Nelisiwe’s death and her words mirror Christ’s Passion in my life.  Every year when Good Friday comes, I think back to that final day with her.  I remember her pain and suffering, her plea for help, and my own inadequacy.

As we enter into the Triduum today, let us spend time with Jesus on the cross.  Pray with the Gospel story of Christ’s Passion and enter into the scene.  Hold Jesus’ hand.  Walk with him to the cross.  Stand by his side.  And listen closely.

What does Jesus have to say to you from the cross?  I hear his words, echoing in my mind.

“Help me, Brian.  Help me.”

Brian Strassburger, S.J.
Missouri Province Jesuit Scholastic 
in Studies at Fordham University

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014- Holy Thursday

Today's Word:

On this day, Holy Thursday, we recall the very significant events that took place around the table at the Last Supper. At every Mass we attend, during the Consecration we are reminded of the Last Supper when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. In today’s second reading from I Corinthians, Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” On Holy Thursday, these words are particularly meaningful to read and to hear spoken at Mass.

In the Gospel reading from John 13, we read that Jesus knew that His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father and also that He loved his own in the world and He loved them to the end.  Jesus was sharing a meal with these friends He loved while facing his crucifixion and death.   He must have felt great sadness as well as dread at what was to come very shortly.  In spite of this, He took the time to minister to His friends – the friends He loved.  In an act of humble service, He washed the feet of his disciples.  He explained to them that even though they called Him teacher and master, He did not consider it beneath Him to do this for them.  He asked them to follow his example:

            I have given you a model to follow,
            So that as I have done for you, you should also do.  (John 13:15)

The model that Jesus gave the disciples on Holy Thursday night is a model for us as well.  In fact, His whole life was a model -- and a gift -- for all of us.   

Judy Kelly
Assistant to the Dean
Fordham College at Lincoln Center