‘Same Love’ and A Different Kind of Grammys

the-winners-of-the-55th-annual-grammy-awards-11Well the Grammys aired Sunday night to the usual cacophonous diatribe of vacuous self-worship. But this year had a new kind of rotten show for us to digest: a mass ‘wedding’ ceremony of Oprah-size proportions (You get a marriage! You get a marriage! Everyone gets a marriage!). Has an orgy of weddings ever been shown on TV before? It has now. It’s been said that we live in a post-Christian society; surviving on the expiring fumes of a culture that once sprung forth from the fecundity of the Gospel. Sunday was a rather jarring reminder that those fumes are thinning quickly.

Just as the water beneath the surface reveals much more about the actual action on the surface itself, so it is with human events – there is a lot going on in the background. Sunday’s display was no different. As Queen Latifah legislated over the assembly line style ‘ceremony,’ slithering in the background was the crested hymn of all the festivities: Macklemore’s ‘Same Love.’ The title of this song is the perfect place to start to understand all this surface-level confusion.

What is love?

This question should be talked about more. It is perhaps the most important question that exists. And the definition of its subject is perhaps the most important definition that exists. Where should we start? Let’s start where ‘Same Love’ ends: 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Everyone recognizes this passage, but unfortunately, the middle of it is often forgotten. Yes, we all know love is ‘patient’ and ‘kind’ (incidentally, as an aside, this does not mean anything flaccid like ‘nice’) and not ‘jealous,’ ‘boastful,’ or ‘rude.’ We should never forget that they are part of the profile of love. But we often forget that St. Paul tells us love ‘does not rejoice in the wrong, but rejoices in the right.’ What exactly does that mean?

Jesus says something similar in John’s Gospel when he tells his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15.) How does this help us know what love is? It can start by showing us that love involves action, it involves doing something. And why does one do anything? Well, because it’s good to do. Well, why is anything good? Because it’s true. It is an affirmation of being. It is in accord with reality, with “what is”, with the way things really are. So, Jesus is essentially saying here, “If you love me, you will act according to the Truth of what I have revealed.”

Similarly, St. Paul is saying, in 1 Corinthians 13, that love will only ‘rejoice’ in that which is in accord with Truth, with reality. Why? Because love seeks, wills and works towards what is good for the other – and it cannot be good for someone to be acting outside of reality, to be moving towards nothingness. How could love ‘rejoice’ in that? Thus, love is always motivated by a desire for human flourishing and freedom. And, in order to attain those, we must be willing the “other” to be in right accord with reality. How could love do anything different?

In the midst of this discussion a principle is rising like cream to the top (one that is so very foreign to our culture that it rushes upon us like a fresh breeze):

There is no Love without the Truth.

If we lose our ability to see the Truth, we lose our ability to love (regardless of our good intentions).

Now, there are many kinds of love (filial, fraternal, affectionate, etc.), but the subject of  ‘Same Love’ is particularly sexual love. So the question then is, “What is the truth about sexual love?” Tomes of beautiful words have been written on this; but, to deal with the topic only briefly here, it seems safe to assert that sexual love is the love in which persons unite most comprehensively and through which babies are made. Another way to say this is that sexual love is both unitive and procreative. Then, what is simply given to us as fact about how human beings can both completely unite (meaning especially bodily unite) and produce offspring?

It would seem written into our very bodies that this can only occur between one man and one woman. To act on the contrary is simply to deny the truth practically screaming at us and, as a result, simply cannot ever lead to human flourishing. So then, however good the intentions are, to act in a way contrary to what is good for someone cannot be love.

A brilliant illustration of this is found in St. Francis. Many people across all kinds of dividing lines admire St. Francis as a man of great love. Most aren’t familiar with a phrase St. Francis unceasingly lifted up in prayer:

O Lord, show me – Who are You; and who am I?

In so many words, St. Francis asked for nothing but the Truth: the truth of who God is and the truth of who Francis was as his disciple. ‘Lord, let me see things as they really are.’ And it is precisely that which freed him to love so ardently. The truth set him free – free to love.

So, what is love? Love is found in Truth. The Truth of ‘what is’ and the Truth of what is ultimately good and life-giving for each and every one of us.

Be Not Afraid

DawnTreader_MPC_Dark_Island

The word “virtue” can be one of those oft-repeated non-words that we digest as dull and lifeless. This reaction is completely understandable – the familiar becomes banal. But it is good to shake ourselves out of this and ask the Spirit to refresh and renew our vision to see things as they really are. The Christian concept of virtue simply consists of a person being all that it is possible for him or her to be (the realization of the human capacity for being). They are gifts that bud from the grace of God, which surge through the disciple and manifest him or her as a radiant, free, happy, inexplicably wondrous child of God.

One of these gifts that is seldom appreciated for its impact in our lives is courage. We don’t carry swords, fight in battles, lodge on the frontiers or live harvest-to-harvest anymore – we work on computers, drive in cars, store our food in Tupperware and have temperature-controlled houses. So why do we need courage?

“Do not be afraid” is the most repeated phrase in the Bible. In fact, it is repeated 365 times – one for each day. Isn’t that somewhat shocking? It’s not variations of “I love you” or “Come to me all who labor”, but “Do not be afraid”. That must mean two important things:  1) God is telling us that fear will be a huge part of our lives and, if you don’t think it is, you are kidding yourself and 2) He can do something about it (why would He tell us to rise above fear unless He could give us the power to do it?).

We need to admit that fear is a very real part of our lives. Every day we are met with situations and decisions that grip us by the throat – some lightly, some tightly – and make us want to shrink away, to run. Think of the Dark Island from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. How often does a “great dark mountain rising out of the sea” meet us on our life’s voyage, an “utter blackness as if they had come to the edge of moonless and starless night”, “not land at all, not even, in an ordinary sense, a mist… [but] Darkness”?

And, though they vary in severity, hue and gravity, this fear-inducing darkness meets us every day. Fear really is one of the biggest problems in our lives. Michael O’Brien – one of today’s best fiction writers, who happens to be Catholic as well – was recently asked what he learned from times of struggle, hopelessness and discouragement. His response:

I saw that fear – not just sin, but fear – blocks out the actions of God. It can…  What have I learned? After sin, fear is my greatest enemy. 

Sin is our worst enemy: evil flooding into our very selves. But after that, nothing is more hellish and can keep us from all the good the Lord has for us than fear – the fumes of that flood.

If fear is one of our biggest problems, then it makes sense that courage is one of the biggest “answers” in our lives. St. Teresa of Avila goes so far as to mark courage as perhaps the most important characteristic one can have when on the “spiritual journey” that is the life of a disciple. Why? Because fear won’t lead us home. Fear makes us shrink and deflate; it makes us “turn tail” as most of the members of the Dawn Treader would have done. But courage literally “gives heart” so that we may attain and achieve what is good for us and our brothers and sisters. It frees us to not be steered by our fears, but by our internal compass, by Truth, by God Himself. It liberates us to plow forth on the mission – our mission – given to us by the King.

We need not even be bogged down by the fact that there is fear in our lives. We are not called to be fear-less. We are called to be courageous – willing to go on in the face of fear.  Fear will come (doesn’t God allude to that by repeating a phrase 365 times in the Bible?) and when it does may we embody Reepicheep, saying,

This is a very great adventure, and no danger seems to me so great as that of knowing when I get back to Narnia that I left a mystery behind me though fear.

So how do we acquire courage? By asking for a gift. We don’t have to rise above fear strictly on by our own moxie and savvy. Of course grace isn’t magic (it requires our co-operation) but it is, first and foremost, from the Father. We can’t defeat darkness. We can’t, of our own accord, flick the fears off our back and shimmy on up the mountain. But, our Father, who confidently stands as Lord over all, has no problem with turning our darkness into light. Let’s rejoice that, with God dwelling in us, we are empowered to rise above all evil. Alleluia!

Let us beg our Father to pour out on us this gift of courage, which, like Reepicheep, can often come in a small package, but can nonetheless steer the ship straight – through choppy, dark waters to Aslan’s country.

FOCUS 30 under 30

30under30-2

Over the past several weeks, the FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) blog has run a series highlighting 30 Catholics under the age of 30.  It’s a diverse and interesting group of people, and it’s exciting to see what is being accomplished in the Church and in the world through the initiative of young adults.

http://www.focus.org/blog/30-under-30.html

St. Francis the Preacher

St-Francis

By: Peter Herbeck

“He filled all the earth with Christ’s Gospel, so that often in one day he would make the circuit of four or five villages or even towns preaching to everyone the Gospel of the Kingdom of God: and, edifying his hearers not less by his example than by his words, he had made a tongue of his whole body.” (First Life of St. Francis, Thomas of Celano, IV, 97)

St. Francis of Assisi loved to preach. According to the records of Thomas of Celano and St. Bonaventure, his official biographers, St. Francis was one of the most powerfully anointed preachers in the history of the Church. The Lord gave him extraordinary grace in the Holy Spirit to preach with great clarity, confidence, and apostolic authority.

Like the apostles, his preaching was accompanied by signs and wonders. His biographers provide long lists of amazing miracles, including healing of the blind, deaf, dumb, and lame, raising of the dead, healing of animals afflicted by various diseases, and the driving out of demons.

St. Francis was compelled to preach by a love for Jesus and a zeal for the salvation of souls. Once he had received his commission to preach he demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to seek and save the lost. With single-minded devotion, even while burdened by frequent infirmities and serious sicknesses, he abandoned himself completely to the call Jesus had placed upon him:

“For during the space of eighteen years, which was now completed, his body had little or no rest while he traveled through various very large regions so that that willing spirit, that devoted spirit, that fervent spirit that dwelt within him might scatter everywhere the seeds of the word of God.” (Thomas of Celano, First Life, Chapter IV, no. 97)

Conformed to Christ

The recent election of Pope Francis has brought fresh attention to the life of this great saint. I was delighted when the Holy Father chose the name of St. Francis. It was, to my way of thinking, just the right choice. He’s the ideal model for the Church at this moment of the New Evangelization.

The Second Vatican Council spoke of two fundamental calls given to all the baptized: the universal call to holiness and the universal call to mission. St. Francis provides an astounding example of both. In his extraordinary life, holiness and mission were one.

Has the Church ever seen a saint more conformed to the person of Jesus? For Jesus, he lived radical poverty, embraced the poor and marginalized, was filled with humility, compassion and mercy, lived in almost constant prayer and disciplined his body at an intense level to bring it into submission to Jesus. Christ crucified captured his imagination and his heart. He longed to imitate his Lord, to be united to his passion. And by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus answered that longing by granting St. Francis the utterly unique, mystical grace of the stigmata.

And it was that same love for Christ crucified that compelled St. Francis to preach:

“Out of the abundance of the heart his mouth spoke, and the spring of enlightened love which filled him inwardly through and through bubbled forth outwardly. Verily, he was much with Jesus; ever did he bear Jesus in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in his other members” (Thomas of Celano, First Life, Chapter IX, no. 115)

In the words of St. Bonaventure, St. Francis was:

“ … a sharp sword all on fire, zeal for the salvation of others pierced the depths of Francis’ heart in his burning love…If he saw a soul redeemed with the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ being stained with sin, he would be overcome with sorrow, and weep so compassionately that he seemed to travail over them continually, like a mother in Christ.” (St. Bonaventure, Minor Life, Chapter 3, no. 8)

With special emphasis, Bonaventure makes the point, “this was the reason he was so energetic in prayer, so active in preachingChrist gave himself up to death for the salvation of others, and Francis desired to follow in his footsteps till the last.” (Ibid.)

St. Francis “gave himself up” for the salvation of others: “…he realized he was sent by God to win for Christ the souls which the Devil was trying to snatch away…he became a herald of the Gospel and he went about the towns and villages, preaching the Kingdom of God ‘not in such words as human wisdom teaches, but in words taught him by the Spirit’ (1 Cor 2:13)” (Bonaventure, Minor Life, Chapter 2, no. 5)

Seeing St. Francis Accurately

This understanding of St. Francis, given repeatedly to us by his primary biographers and from those who knew him best, is mostly ignored today. The contemporary picture of St. Francis is either focused on his heroic virtues, particularly his love for the poor, or a more ideologically driven image of Francis as an environmental activist or the patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Although preaching played a central role in the life of St. Francis, the only wisdom one hears is the often repeated quote that is falsely attributed to him: “Always preach the Gospel, and, if necessary, use words!” How did this quote ever end up being the standard interpretive key to St. Francis’ attitude toward preaching the Gospel? The quote is not in any of the small number of written documents or letters attributed to St. Francis nor can it be found anywhere in the Omnibus of Sources for the Life of St. Francis.

In defending the quote some people point to a command given by St. Francis in Chapter 17 of the First Rule from the year 1221:

“No friar may preach contrary to Church law or without the permission of his minister. The minister, for his part, must be careful not to grant permission indiscriminately. All the friars, however, should preach by their example.”

He expands on that same command in Chapter 9 from the Rule written in 1223:

“The friars are forbidden to preach in any diocese, if the bishop objects to it. No friar should dare to preach to the people unless he has been examined and approved by the Minister General of the Order and has received from him the commission to preach.”

The point here is that friars are to preach under right authority, whether that be the Bishop of a Diocese or the Minister General who has the authority within the order to commission friars to preach.

In saying that “all friars should preach by their example,” St. Francis is simply stating the obvious, that one’s life is a message, not that the witness of life is to be preferred to preaching or that preaching should only be done on rare occasions.

To miss or ignore the important and nearly constant role that preaching played in the life of St. Francis is to miss who he actually was. In St. Francis the preacher, we find the challenge and inspiration needed to take up the urgent call for a New Evangelization.

Faith Comes Through Hearing

The recent Popes have exhorted all the baptized to take up the mission of proclaiming the Gospel, not just in deeds, but also in words. Pope Benedict Emeritus provides a typical example in his encyclical Verbum Domini:

“Since the entire People of God is a people which has been ‘sent’, the Synod reaffirmed that ‘the mission of proclaiming the word of God is the task of all of the disciples of Jesus Christ based on their Baptism.’ No believer in Christ can feel dispensed from this responsibility which comes from the fact of our sacramentally belonging to the Body of Christ.” (Verbum Domini, no. 94)

How many Catholics know deep down, that they have been personally “sent” by Jesus to proclaim the word of God? How many have ever felt the burden of this “responsibility”? Here Pope Benedict is simply echoing the clear teaching of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity:

“However, an apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one’s way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life.” (Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, no. 6)

To “announce Christ by words,” to believers and non-believers alike, ought to be a normal part of a mature, authentic and integrated Catholic life. Simply put, it’s what followers of Jesus do.

Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangeli Nuntiandi, challenges all of us to examine ourselves on this very point:

“Here lies the test of truth, the touchstone of evangelization: it is unthinkable that a person should accept the Word and give himself to the Kingdom without becoming a person who bears witness to it and proclaims it in his turn.” (EN #24)

Has the “unthinkable” become the norm today for most Catholics? How many in our day ever feel it “necessary to use words?” Instead of finding in St. Francis the inspiration to use words, far too many want to find in him a reason not to speak directly to others about the gospel. The “if necessary” emphasis provides an excuse to avoid speaking about Jesus. It lets us off the hook.

If the New Evangelization is going to become more than an effort of a very small minority of Catholics to proclaim the Gospel, we all need to examine our lives in light of Pope Paul VI’s “test of truth.” We need to be honest with ourselves; have I ever made the effort to speak directly with another person about Jesus and the good news of salvation? If not, why not?

We have to overcome what Vittorio Messori described so aptly as a “mutism” that grips the Church in our time:

“Today, precisely today, we may note on the part of many Christians—and, unfortunately many Catholics—a kind of mutism, a kind of reticence of re-proclaiming the faith and its reasons. So many who could alleviate the current lethal claustrophobia of the world, by explicitly re-proclaiming the Word that does not delude and that saves us from despair, seem to want to be merely ‘like others’: devoting themselves indeed, to others, but only as human, extremely human ‘social workers’; devoid of any wish to say that it is Christ who inspires them and that it is he who gives a significance to their actions.” (Vittorio Messori, “Confessors of the Faith in Our Time,” from Laity Today: Rediscovering Confirmation, p. 29)

How many of us stand mute today because the world demands it from us? What is the reason for so few words about Jesus? Is it the fear of men? Do we want to simply be “like others”? What is holding you back from speaking to others about Jesus? Are we embarrassed by the gospel?

St. Paul tells us, that “faith comes through hearing, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) The proclamation of the gospel is an essential and irreplaceable part of evangelization. There is no evangelization without it. Until we understand that and embrace it, the New Evangelization will never get off the ground.

We all must take to heart the words of Pope John Paul II to the Church in America:

“Everyone should keep in mind that the vital core of the new evangelization must be a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the person of Jesus Christ, that is, the preaching of his name, his teaching, his life, his promises and the Kingdom. (Ecclesia in America, no. 66)

“Everything planned in the Church must have Christ and his Gospel as its starting-point. Therefore, the Church in America must speak increasingly of Jesus Christ, the human face of God and the divine face of man. It is this proclamation that truly makes an impact on people, awakens and transforms hearts, in a word, converts.” (Ibid., no. 67)

Unleash the Word

The time has come for all of us to “speak increasingly of Jesus Christ.” The tendency to limit evangelization to the witness of life, as important as it is, is simply not enough. Authentic Christian witness is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

Why is proclamation irreplaceable? Because the gospel message about Jesus Christ “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.” (Romans 1:16) This is why proclamation “makes an impact,” and “awakens and transforms hearts.” Only the power of God can awaken the human heart. God set it up that way. He has decided to reveal himself and the plan of salvation through the preaching of the gospel:

“For since in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (1 Cor 1:21)

St. Francis understood this. He embraced the folly of the cross with passion in his own life and he “preached Christ crucified” (1 Cor 1:23) knowing that through the folly of that message God’s power would go forth to win souls for Christ, to snatch them from the clutches of the devil, to free them from sin and the death-directed destiny it produces.

St. Francis shows us the way forward with holiness and mission, witness of life and proclamation. It’s time to break the silence and to unleash the power of the word of God!

Bearing Fruit for the Kingdom

The video below is the last of four young adult shows on Crossing the Goal.  The first three can be found on our blog, http://www.crossingthegoal.com, or http://www.etwn.com.  In this episode, the guys look at the importance of intercessory prayer while engaging in the mission of the Church.

Contra Comfort – I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For


A traveler walks in snow in Chicago


 If you live in the Midwest of the United States, over the past week or so you have been somewhat uncomfortable. The snow has made ordinary tasks just a bit too difficult, the cold has made leaving your house catastrophic and the omnipresent clouds have chased any inspiration into hibernation.

The common response to these kinds of storms, at least in the Western world, is to maintain a certain level of convenience and comfort. We must keep everything in order so that we can still eat and drink what we want, watch what we want, and spend time with those we want to be with. On a certain level, that seems a proper response to a storm. Surely, life must go on. But it also exposes the over-inflated comfort level in our culture.

As clever human beings, we have invented and crafted a myriad of tools, toys and techniques to make our lives easier—more convenient and comfortable. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But in a postmodern culture where the atheistic and nihilistic anthems of Nietzsche and Sartre contaminate our water, comfort becomes our bitter Master, quick to turn its subjects into slaves. Without the horizon of the eternal and transcendent, our only purpose in life is to maintain this baseline comfort level. We bow down to it like starved minions. If there is no meaning to life, what is our life’s aim except the daily toil of minimizing pain and maximizing pleasure? Perhaps this is a slice of the carrion comfort that disgusted Catholic poet Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Too often these toxins can contaminate us as disciples and we backslide into living for our physical, emotional and situational comfort. We want just enough of this and that, avoiding pain and suffering at all costs and increasing pleasure to give us a serene, prosperous, tranquil, fun, enjoyable life. Isn’t this basically “the American dream” that assaults us through the media at every turn? Isn’t that what the West now offers the rest of the world? But is this dutiful preservation of perpetual comfort and convenience a healthy state?

This should give us pause:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:24-25)

Does that sound comfortable? To deny yourself, lose your life, and take up your cross sounds like the antithesis of “comfortable”, yet it is the job description of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Moreover, look at Jesus’ very life! What about it – down to his very occupation – was comfortable? And century after century His closest friends, whom the Church honors and reveres, without exception lived lives in which comfort wasn’t the rudder guiding their ship, but the chain they deliberately severed, because it kept them moored to the dock.

One could go so far as declaring the tagline for a Christian disciple to be “Jesus of Nazareth – making people uncomfortable since the year zero”.

But, here is the paradox: that tagline is actually really, really, really Good News.

Peter Kreeft has said that the two worst things in the world, that humans can’t help but resist, are loneliness and boredom. Well, if living for comfort rings with a dark dissonance, it’s because it is boring – and we aren’t meant to live in boredom. So says Benedict XVI:

“This world will offer you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

Comfort tries to make a home out of our temporal lives here on Earth. And that simply doesn’t cut it for us! We want more. We want glory (Romans 8). We want radiant, unmitigated joy (John 15:11). We want all things made new (Rev. 21:5). We want to be heroes in a great story – in The Great Story – and what heroes that you know of surrounded themselves with comfort? We want, as two different Irishmen put it, to go “further up and further in” “where the streets have no name”. So we should live like missionary pilgrims “seeking a homeland” (Heb. 11:14) who “still haven’t found what [they’re] looking for”, not fearfully and fancifully settle for less – for mere comfort amidst a storm.For this reason we are told to “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials” (James 1:2), and, taking our guidance from the Lord and our cue from the weather around us this winter, to resist our culture’s comfort fetish and “rage, rage against the dying of the light” in our souls and in our society.

Motherinez

I know a woman who hasn’t had a real night’s sleep in decades. She is an 86 year old, hunched-over nun who runs an orphanage in Mexico City. She began her vocation teaching in a prosperous school in the city. Yet when she encountered abandoned, suffering children on the street, she relinquished her own comfort to be Christ to those who literally had no one else to love and care for them. She set up a tarp for shelter and “took in” the forgotten, unwanted children. Today, housed in a simple building, she almost single-handedly cares for more than 230 children. Most are mentally handicapped and some are quite young, disabled and in such a fragile state that they often need critical help at any moment. So, during the night, as these infants sleep in their cribs, Madre Inez dozes intermittently in a nearby broken down chair so that she can respond to their needs.

This is a woman who has purposely chosen the life of a disciple: a life of love.

Does it sound comfortable? Absolutely not. But, my Word, is it great.

Celebrating the Conclusion of Christmas with Celine

Lest we degenerate into paganism, we should remember that it’s still the Christmas season!

To aide in celebrating the conclusion of this marvelous time, I invite all of us to do something our generation rarely does. The soundtrack of our times, for good or bad, would definitely not be hymns, chants, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, George Gershwin, Louis Armstrong, Elvis, The Beatles or U2. Instead, it would be mindless, throbbing background music. Have we ever just sat on a chair, a couch, or a bed and just listened to music without doing anything else? Maybe we would hear something more than just sound and reverberation.

You want to try that, you say?! Splendid! Here is an opportunity to witness “angels ascending and descending”.

Sit down and listen (and if possible, for the love of God and the gift of music He has given us – not on dinny laptop speakers) to Celine Dion sing “O Holy Night” live. Whenever I pay attention to the words she is singing and behold this daughter of God pouring out her voice and soul to her Father in praise and glory, the dome of the everyday work-world existence is pierced and I glimpse a breath of what beholds us at the end. May it be the same for you.

Merry Christmas. May the Spirit of the Child Jesus fill you in the next 5 minutes and 19 seconds and always.