Wednesday, December 24, 2008
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the whole world is in movement. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to be counted in the census, reminding us that the world today is also traveling toward its definitive encounter with God. The journey of the Holy Family toward the moment in which God enters the world from the womb of Mary, in the Person of Jesus Christ, for all human eyes to see, reminds us that we too are moving on our own journey through this life, in company with millions of others, to our own definitive encounter with God.
Mary and Joseph found no comfort, no welcome, no shelter, no understanding from the world on this journey. They followed and were supported by heavenly inspirations and light, the presence of angels, and their own profound faith in God’s never-changing goodness and His ever-present Providence. This was their strength and consolation.
We also should not expect too much help from the world on this journey. The world has no space for God. No time. No real interest. It offers only distraction and a kind of movement which keeps the human heart in confusion, apprehension and vague unhappiness. The world is full of activity which often has no ultimate meaning. This activity spends the precious moments allotted to us to find our way home to Our Heavenly Father.
God enters our world in the fullness of time because He can no longer wait to be with us in Person. But Christmas also comes because mankind, in the persons of Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and the wise men, seek God as well; because the intense, hidden longing of their souls has not been misinterpreted to them by the false prophets of the world. Their interior has not been cluttered with distraction. It is unfettered by illusion. God is their inner life and moves them in a mutual, eager longing, in silence, in poverty, in simplicity, in penetrating light and redeeming love. Mary and Joseph “walk the
way of perfection” to Bethlehem because they know God and are the friends of God. They call us to follow this way with them, a way which holds difficulty, discomfort, the contempt of the world, but which brings us to be the friends of God, as the psalmist says: “He who walks the way of perfection shall be my friend.” -Ps 101 Jesus silently stirs our hearts and beckons us to the embrace of true friendship with Himself, promising to make known to us all that He has heard from the Father. –Jn 15:15 This happens in God’s way, in His time and by His choosing. And it brings us the most precious gift of all, God Himself as a tiny baby depending on us to love Him, to care for Him and nurture His life in ourselves and in others.
In Bethlehem, two longings meet: the longing of God and the longing of man. Two longings answer each other and fulfill each other. May our poor and lowly souls this Christmas be still as the stable in Bethlehem at midnight, ever ready to receive our Lord in humble awe, in mutual longing. May we be the ones to be wrapped tightly with the gifts of Christmas peace, light, love and joy. And may that Divine love which becomes incarnate in Bethlehem, radiate outward to all mankind through our oneness with the Holy Family in this sublime mystery. May this Christmas find us and those we love and hold dear, numbered in the heavenly census, as citizens traveling joyfully forward to our celestial Fatherland.
United with all of you in the joy and light of the greatest gift of the Most Holy Trinity this Christmas: our Savior and Beloved.
Sr. Anne Marie Walsh
Society of Our Lady
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
For the feast of Christ the King we went out to one of the farthest parishes in his diocese of the closing Mass of the youth jamboree. There were about 600 young people from one parish that had spent the week taking part in this jamboree. Mass was outside with the kids sitting on benches under the trees. Before the Mass the Bishop had me speak to them about vocations and Our Lady's Society. The parish priest translated for me. It was quite something....almost a moment out of a movie.
The picture of the little kids is from that Mass. They stayed right with me for the 3 hour Mass and posed over and over again for photos. I wanted to scoop them up and bring them home but I resisted the temptation and watched them walk away with their mothers!
Even though I ran away all the way to Africa, I still could not escape formation. The Bishop asked me to give the 3 young women some teachings to get them ready to come into formation. Try as I might to get away from formation, I run right into it. After the teachings Sr Rejoice took me all around town to meet her family, friends and to see everything there was to see. We went to the primary school which over 1,000 students attend. The classes range in size from 40-60 students. The younger grades have no desks, books or pencils. We came in after lunch during their nap time and there were 60 little kindergarten kids curled up on the cement floor. Unfortunately for the teacher nap time was over when I walked in! The little kids are awe struck by white skin. It didn't matter where I went the little kids wanted to touch me, have their picture taken or wave at me. It was so very cute.
One of the highlights of my time in Damongo was probably going to see Sr Rejoice's family the first time. We drove over in the Bishop's SUV and Sr. Rejoice's dad, James, saw us coming and ran (literally) out to meet us. Here was this tall, super-thin, dignified man running full speed to arrive at the car as his daugther opened the door. She jumped out and he threw his arms around her, practically lifting her off her feet and hugged and kissed her over and over again. There wasn't a dry eye in the place. What a blessing to see a father loving his daughter.
Another highlight would be going to St. Ann's Girls Secondary School....that's where the "Where's Waldo?" photo was taken. This is the girls' boarding school that Bishop Philip started and where he originally wanted Our Lady's Sisters to serve. There are over 100 girls attending the school now. As we walked in to speak to them, they stood up and sang a song of welcome that just about raised the roof. Between their voices and the drums we processed to the front of the room. We spoke to them about vocations and the call to holiness. I have never seen 100 high school girls as well behaved as these girls were....respectful, quiet and attentive....amazing! After we answered some questions they once again stood up and now sang a song of thanks as we marched out.
The last highlight would be going to Mass at a parish in Accra on the first Sunday of Advent. Accra is a pretty big city with lots of parishes and people. There had to be 600-700 people at the Mass we attended. Sr. Rejoice and I were asked to help distribute Holy Communion and what an honor it was. If that Mass was the only reason why He brought me all the way to Ghana that would have been enough. As I gave Holy Communion to probably 250 people all I could do was thank Him for letting me do what I have always wanted to do. I gave the people of Africa Jesus. But more importantly the people of Africa gave me Jesus.
Friday, December 12, 2008
May Our Lady of Guadalupe intercede for women all over the world.