I hope Thanksgiving brought you a good, extra dose of Christ’s peace. I hope Advent will do more of the same.
This Week in Prayer
Pardon the slight change in this week’s “This Week.” The December homilies will address the question of “discernment”. That pursuit requires a bit of information about the spiritual states of “consolation” and “desolation.” Hence the prayer part of this week’s “This Week” contains two parts, a review Sunday’s homily and a review of discernment, consolation, and desolation.
Sunday’s Homily for the Feast of Christ the King: Chapter One’s Call to Discernment
Every human life contains three chapters. Each chapter includes a unique job description.
Chapter One starts when we start and ends when our bodies die. Chapter one, the chapter in which you and I currently find ourselves, is the chapter that keeps our earthly bodies integrated with our souls. Our fundamental, chapter-one duty, according to one of many possible descriptions, is “to know what God wants, to want what God wants, and to do what God wants.” Sunday’s first reading from Ezekiel provides a great analogy for our chapter one existence. We are the sheep who are always under the shepherd’s care but who frequently make goofy or sinful choices that lead to hurt.
Chapter two starts when we die and ends when Jesus Christ the King returns. During chapter two, the remnants of our earthly bodies remain interred in sacred ground and our souls move toward the fullness of Christ’s peace. St. Paul reminds us in Sunday’ssecond reading that, because Adam did what Adam did, we will all experience death. And because Jesus did what Jesus did, we can look forward to eternal life after our earthly death. Our chapter-two job is simply to complete the spiritual purification, aided by the prayers of the chapter-one folks who can pray for us. For some, the ones we call “saints,” the purification process is already complete and their souls feast on God’s presence.
Chapter three begins when Jesus Christ the King returns to end history and launch eternity. Sunday’sgospel reminds us that He will return. Sunday’s gospel also provides the scriptural version of the phrase we repeat every time we recite the creed: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.” Each of us will enter Chapter Three at that moment and God will then reintegrate our glorified bodies and our purified souls. Our chapter-three job will then be simple, blissful, and never-ending, “to behold God beholding us” and to do so “with our own eyes.” (We recall the possibility of the hellish, eternal separation from God, and we strive to make the choices that prevent that result.)
So here we are in chapter one, trying to do our chapter-one job, to know what God wants, want what God wants and do what God wants. We can never fully know God’s mind but we can experience a profound sense of “this choice aligns best with God’s hope.” What about you? What are some of your “convincers”? What happens in your guts, heart and/or head in those moments when you trust that the choice you are making is the one that aligns best with God’s hopes? Is it a feeling? A conviction? A hunch? Regardless of how old you are, you have made many inspired choices in your life, choices that align with God’s hopes. If you had to explain to a visiting angel how you know when a choice is the right one, i.e., one that answer’s Christ the King’s call, what would you say?
Discernment, Consolation, and Desolation
The Advent homilies will focus on “discernment,” “consolation” and “desolation.”
Discernment: The process of striving for clarity about God’s desire is called “discernment.” As one of the real pros on the subject says, “In essence, discernment is a decision-making process that honors the place of God's will in our lives. It is an interior search that seeks to align our own will with the will of God in order to learn what God is calling us to.”
Spiritual consolation is an experience of being so on fire with God’s love that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best as we can. Spiritual consolation encourages and facilitates a deep sense of gratitude for God’s faithfulness, mercy, and companionship in our life. In consolation, we feel more alive and connected to others.
Spiritual desolation, in contrast, is an experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil. We are assaulted by all sorts of doubts, bombarded by temptations, and mired in self-preoccupations. We are excessively restless and anxious and feel cut off from others. Such feelings, in Ignatius’s words, “move one toward lack of faith and leave one without hope and without love.”
- Read last Sunday's readings
- Read the coming Sunday's readings
This Week in Community
SMELL (and eat) THE PANCAKES. The Knights will be cooking up a breakfast storm Sunday morning after all the Masses. If you’ve been there before, you know you don’t want to miss this.
Speaking of storms – the BLUE STORM basketballers will be serving in many liturgical roles at the 9:30 Mass this Sunday, December’s Young Ministers Mass. Looking forward to praying with you and then eating pancakes with you.
The Raritan Valley Chorus will hold its Advent/Christmas/Winter concert here at St. Joe’s on Sunday, December 10 at 3:00 pm.Tickets are free for parishioners who stop by the office to pick them up. Otherwise, admission is $10. So REMEMBER TO PICK UP YOUR FREE TICKET BEFORE NEXT FRIDAY.
A great big welcome to our newest parishioners: Frank Cichon; Dorothy Voorhees; Onasis and Fabiola Espinal; David & Diane Mory and their children, Connor and Ryan; John & Mona Reilly and their children Nina and Luke; Corinne Sicola, and; Robert & Leslie Torok. We are glad you joined St. Joe’s!
The same welcome and blessings go out to the families of the five babies baptized here recently. (Since I haven’t yet obtained permission to name them publicly, I won’t – but stay tuned)
This Week in Service
Great thanks to Keelin Glennon for single-handedly replacing all the old hymnals with the new hymnals. It was a colossal undertaking for one woman, but given Keelin’s training at St. Nicholas Tollentine, it came as no bic surprise that she pulled it off.
Becca’s Friends Social Club is selling packages of note cards derived from their paintings at the pancake breakfast. Sales will continue after most masses in the gathering space during Advent. ALL proceeds from this sale help the Camp Jontoni Summer Campership Fund for special needs children and adults of the ARC of Somerset County.
Once again, bravo for our pumpkin patch kids who, under the inspired direction of Ann Quinn, made a very sizeable donation to Hillsborough Food Bank. They raised the money by growing and selling pumpkins at church
The response to our Advent Giving Tree has been excellent. Thanks and more thanks. Your kindness will make a big difference to many. A few more tags still need to be taken – and remember – the presents that are bound for Appalachia are due on Sunday, December 3.
This weekend is the ideal time to turn in your Baby-Bottle! Don’t stress but do what you can.
January and February will be time for ministry recruiting. Give it some thought. Is it time to try something new? Is it time to keep doing what you are currently doing well and enjoying?
May Advent’s start be a time of true consolation for you.