27 Dec

Anger

Not all families are holy and many people experience anger and impatience dealing with children, parents, siblings, in-laws, and so forth.  It can be worth praying about anger on this feast of the Holy Family.  "Be angry, but do not sin," says Saint Paul, "do not let the sun go down on your anger" (Ephesians 4:26). 

There is legitimate room for anger and reaction when we encounter injustice and evil.  But we have to be on our guard to not let that anger fester overnight and slip into sin.

Spiritual writer Jacques Philippe writes this about the deadly sin:

God's anger is always directed against what is bad for us. He is not angry for himself but to protect people against themselves. But let's not imagine our own anger is always 'holy anger.' Often we become angry under the pretext of defending something essential when we are only acting out of self-love or to protect our own interests.

20 Dec

Christmas Saints

When Mary and Joseph arrived at Bethlehem, they were really arriving at Calvary.  Bethlehem in Hebrew means "house of bread," and Christ, the grain of wheat, was beginning his journey to fall to the ground and die so he could produce fruit.  The cross overshadowed the crib.

We see this lovely shadow in several "Christmas saints." The Christmas tree originated with Saint Boniface, the "apostle to Germany," who was cut down like that oak tree he felled that the pagans had been worshipping.  Blessed Charles de Foucauld, who loved the Holy Family so much that he spent several years in Nazareth and Bethlehem before living in the Sahara to minister to the Tuaregs, lived death everyday of his life until his actual martyrdom in 1916. 

13 Dec

The Annunciation

There are thousands of depictions in art of the Annunciation.  My guess is that, if we were given a line-up of paintings, we would not choose the more "traditional" images.  Think of Fra Angelico's fresco (1438, Museum of San Marco, Florence), Caravaggio's (1608, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy), or Leonardo da Vinci's (1472, Uffizi, Florence).  They all have similar characteristics.  Mary, wearing a blue mantle, is seated or kneeling in a palace-type setting in an enclosed garden, while the winged, Aryan creature genuflects before her. 

06 Dec

The White Dawn

Watching the movie Red Dawn will leave you wanting for more.  We are best served watching and gazing, instead, upon the White Dawn: Mary.  Yes, Mary is sometimes referred to as "The White Dawn," the one who heralds in the new morning, the advent of the Messiah.  She is also the Morning Star, which in the sky is literally the planet Venus.  She reflects the light of the sun and ushers in the sunrise.