Category Archives: Lenten Reflections
By: Megan G.
Merry Christmas students, faculty, staff, and friends of the St. Mary’s Community! You have been preparing for Christmas Day to some extent; if you have been keeping up with this blog you have been specifically reflecting on “Maranatha, Come, O Lord!” What a great way to keep Christ in Christmas!
So where do I start? Today, I know the Lord has come. For clarification, I will referrer to the Lord as: Jesus, Christ, Jesus Christ, and our Savior. So now, let me dig myself out of this whirl of Secret Santas, cookie parties, final papers, exams, saying goodbye to friends, and re-connecting with at home. Phew! Often, I have a hard time focusing on what should be the center of any celebration. In this case, the celebration is Christmas day! But what exactly does this mean? Please join me in prayer as we reflect on the simple sentence below.
“Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us.”
-The Catechism of the Catholic Church
“The Christmas Mystery 526”
Does this mean that we have to have an active relationship with Christ to celebrate Christmas? Doesn’t Christmas just happen?
I plan to go to Mass with my family, I am going to exchange gifts with my loved ones, and I have given to the poor. Is that enough?
No, I don’t think that it is. Let us review what happened on the first Christmas day. Our Lord and Savior was born of a virgin named Mary. Mary’s husband Joseph was a carpenter, and both were poor. Our Lord Jesus was born in a manger. A manger is a feeding trough for barn animals. This is not very romantic, right? Why would our Lord be so humbled?
Jesus was born to offer us salvation! He loved us so much that He embodied human suffering to give us life. Jesus took part in our humanity and in our suffering so that we could take part in His divinity. Every time you feel doubt or hurt, you can be comforted with the fact that Jesus felt it all. Rest in this and continue to seek out His divinity, and you will be at peace. This, my friends, is the mystery of Christmas. This is what we must reflect on, live out, and share with others, especially on this day. While many believers take this mystery for granted, it is the source of doubt for many unbelievers. The love is just too difficult to understand.
Let us challenge each other and challenge ourselves personally to allow Christ to be formed in each other and in us. Please re-read the previous sentence.
“Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us.”
-The Catechism of the Catholic Church
“The Christmas Mystery 526”
In sharing the Christmas mystery with your own community, I challenge you not just to say Merry Christmas, but to allow Christ to be formed within yourself and let this shine. Only with this enthusiasm and active participation can you do your part to keep Christ in Christmas.
Merry Christmas friends and God bless you all!
Reflection by: Alyssa B.
When hearing the verse “King of Glory we welcome your coming”, I automatically think of our Savior returning to us and showing us His light once again, just like how He did in ancient times. I also think about how He is coming back to save us from all the darkness and despair in the world. There are so many unfortunate events going on in the world now that people are praying every day for Christ to return. We have so much war, death, drugs, poverty, sex, and so many other sins that fill our lives that we forget the Lord will return to us and restore us, the living and the dead. Sometimes people forget that the Lord has a second coming, and lose their morals. However, there are other people in this world, like myself, that are anxiously waiting for the Lord to return to us. I can speak for myself that I desperately cannot wait to see this world saved. Many will welcome His coming.
In many other ways, the Lord is already right here with us every single day of our lives, just as He has always been. He guides us and walks with us in our daily lives and carries us when we can no longer walk. He fights our deep, dark battles alongside us and makes sure we come out on top. He helps protect us from sins and gives us the grace to never fall. For everything He does for us, He deserves to be welcomed with open arms. Once we do that, everything He has planned for us will surely fall into place. Whatever He has planned for the world will be for the better. It will be to help us grow, become stronger, become wiser, and become more aware of our King’s love.
When the good Lord returns to us, we have to remember to keep an open mind. Most importantly, we need to have an open heart so that we can let Him in. He has great plans for us, to prosper, to grow, and to feel His love on a whole new and different level. We should welcome His coming with open arms and hearts. He will always be with us no matter what may happen. We must welcome His coming because He does so much for us. His love for us is unimaginable. When He returns, the world and its people will see a whole new meaning of love and life.
Alyssa B. is a Sophomore member of Delta Zeta and participates in her parishes ACTS Retreats.
Reflection by: Megan K.
“Come Oh Lord to set us free: Marantha, Maranatha, Maranatha.”
At this time of year, we are preparing for the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We welcome our families into our home, we enjoy hot cocoa by the fire, and we eat a good meal together. But we cannot forget the reasons for Advent season. “Advent is a time when we can reclaim the light of the Messiah in our own lives. Longing for hope in an age full of fear, dreaming of light in the dark: Is the Messiah, the promised One near? When will our Savior appear?” We, in our own lives, may ask if the Lord is near, or if He will appear. In my own life, I know that the Lord is always near me and that He is with all of us, always. During Advent season, we remember why God is in our lives and how truly important God is for our lives. For me, several years ago while I was in elementary school, my father had a heart attack. The doctors later said his arteries were around 98% clogged. For him to have survived this traumatic event was a true miracle. It taught me that prayers can be answered, and that I can trust in God. Before then, it was really hard for me to understand God, and who He is. But, with Him, I grew as a person. As I grew, I faced many challenges to this belief, including unanswered prayers. I would pray for something to happen and, when it didn’t happen, I would ask God why He didn’t do it for me, and I would become frustrated. However, I had to remember, some unanswered prayers aren’t really unanswered. We don’t see the answers because the answers aren’t what we want to hear. This past March, I lost a very close friend of mine. It was really hard because nobody was able to say goodbye to him, because he died instantly. It was difficult to believe that he had passed away because he was only 18 and he had his whole life ahead of him. I would ask God and blame God for taking him so soon, but I didn’t realize something. My friend didn’t feel any pain and he’s in Heaven now. Knowing that has made his death easier to cope with and has made me grow in faith. This faith that I have has truly made me appreciate the Advent season and what it’s here for. It’s a time for me to reflect on all that God has done for me and thank Him for what He has done, is doing, and what He will do in the future.
Megan K. is a freshman, Interdisciplinary English Language Arts and Reading (Elementary Education) Major. She is a brother of Alpha Phi Omega, she participates in S.E.A.L., and she sings in the Chapel Choir.
Reflection by Claudia B.
As a child, I did not grow up with a full understanding of what the Advent season was. I honestly did not even know that there was an Advent season. I grew up with the notion that Christmas was simply about giving and receiving presents, and that on December 25, a long time ago, baby Jesus was born. I loved and still to this day, continue to love all of the decorations, tamales, and songs that accompany the season of Christmas. I did not give the emphasis that should be given to the fact that the season of Christmas was about the birth of Jesus Christ.
If I had heard “Child of hope, we welcome your coming” when I was younger, I probably would have just associated the Child of hope with Jesus Christ being born. Throughout my faith journey, I have learned that hope has a much greater meaning then I had given to it when I was younger. Hope gives me something to look forward to. It is what keeps me motivated to move forward with my faith journey, to do greater things than what I am doing now. We all come across many different obstacles in our lifetime that may hinder us from growing in our faith life. This can cause everything one may know to be tested. Hope is what keeps me moving forward, striving to be a better friend, daughter, student, and, most importantly, person of faith.
Hope, to me, cannot be defined by some sort of definition in Webster’s Dictionary. To me, hope is something that is learned throughout experiences in life, and one’s own faith journey. In the season of Advent, as well as in any other time of year, we find our hope in the birth of baby Jesus Christ. The hope that accompanies the birth of Jesus Christ gives me, and the whole world, something greater to strive for. I have learned that Christmas is much more than the tamales we eat, the presents we get, and songs we listen to. It is about the birth of Jesus Christ, Child of Hope.
Claudia B. is a Junior, majoring in Economics and minoring in International Relations. She is actively involved in: Delta Zeta Sorority, Liturgical Ministry, Rattler Awakening, Leaders in Faith Training, and Catholic Daughters of the Americas.
Reflection by Julie B.
There are so many times in our lives when we tend to forget that the official definition of the term “catholic” is: “concerning all humankind” or “universal”. We, as a Christian people, all too often tend to ignore the fact that there are other people waiting. When I think of, “all the peoples of the earth,” my first thought is how often during this time Catholics think of themselves and how rarely they think of all those who may not have the same beliefs. Everyone has something to long, hope, and wait for. I come from a very multicultural family and even my father, who is atheistic, says that no matter what happens to us, we will all move onto something better in the future. Most of us, religious or not, are striving for a perfect place. However, we often forget that we cannot only wait for the kingdom of God, though patience is important, we must also act. If we’re trying to make this world a perfect place, we must work for it. We always say that something must be done, yet we are not always willing to do what we think must be done to improve our world.
At this time of the year I also begin to notice the diversity of Christmas celebrations. Christmas isn’t just a celebration for Christians. Though our Jewish brothers and sisters do not celebrate it, several others do. Throughout the world there are so many different customs and traditions that we don’t even think about. For example, I want to share some things I’ve learned about Christmas celebrations in other countries.
In Ireland, Christmas is more about the religious aspect than it is about the fun. Also, when they go to bed on Christmas night they leave their doors unlatched as a sign of hospitality. Light is one of the most important symbols for the average Irish Christmas. In Mexico, from what I have experienced, the focus of the holiday is on the nativity and, particularly, on Mary. This time of the year is summer in New Zealand, so while people prepare to go to the beach, shops will be decorated with scenes of snow and Santa in his bright red suit. New Zealand is also full of shepherds and that role in the nativity has special significance to their people.
Christmas is as diverse as the people of the world are. We need to remember that diversity and we should all delve deeper into traditions that may not be normal for us. Only then can we truly understand what it means to “wait with all the peoples of the earth.”
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Sung Tan Chuk Ha! Nollaig Shona Dhuit! Buone Feste Natalizie! Mele Kalikimaka! Fröhliche Weihnachten! S rozhdestvom Kristovym! Kuwa na Krismasi njema! Joyeux Noël!
Reflection by Bre R.
“Come prince of peace; open the pathways to our lives”. In reflecting upon this passage I felt that we are supposed to let God not only come into our lives but to show us the plans that He has for our lives. We have to ask Him first “Lord please come into my life”. The second thing we have to say is, “…and Lord let your will be done”. Sometimes in life, a difficult yet common thing for young people, or people of God, is that we have hopes and dreams for ourselves. But sometimes we have to let them go in order to see the dreams and hopes God has laid out for us. We have to love ourselves; however, we have to love God first and trust in Him if we ever want to be a part of His plan.
Most times it will not be easy, but we have to remember God will not place more on us then we can bear, and He makes no mistakes. Moreover, no matter what situation God puts us in, even if we feel like we are stuck in a bind, He promised by His word that He surely will take care of us. We simply have to put our lives in His hands so He can light our pathway. However, a good first step is to let God come in and praise, worship and thank Him. When we praise the Lord in bad times, as well as good times, the miracles that will come about will be such a great blessing from God. “The heavens are open, the devourer is rebuked, and your favor has come.”
If our God is for us then no one can ever stop us, and if our God is with us then nothing can stand against us. With the Lord at our side guiding our footsteps we shall fear nothing. This is how I interpreted the passage through prayer and testimony: “Come prince of peace; open the pathways to our lives”. In the end, God is good all the time; all the time, God is good!
Breonna R. states: “Most people on campus know me as Bre. I am a not a Catholic, however I am a Baptist raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. I am a junior and an English and Philosophy major. I am the vice president of the Black Student Union. I am in the Chapel Choir and A Cappella choir. I am a member of the Zaragoza Leader Orientation staff. I am the captain of the Black Student Union step team. I am a member of the Rowdy Rattlers, and I am a recent member of the Rattler Awakening: Gopher Staff for RA 15. “
Reflection by Taylor V.
Come Christ of compassion. Compassion is a word which I believe to be often played out during the times of the holiday season. People everywhere are taking time out of their monotonous daily routine to go out to communities and serve the less fortunate. The Salvation Army stands at the doors of grocery stores accepting donations, families serve at soup kitchens to feed the hungry, and Toys for Tots kicks off the giving season by wrapping presents for the children who don’t get a Christmas.
We give during this season, but Christ has compassion for mankind each and every day. To explain Christ as a person of great compassion is to say that He is sympathetic and even empathetic to those who are less fortunate. Perhaps remembering Him as this kind of person helps and motivates us to do and be the same. In a world where 780 million people lack safe drinking water, and 7 billion do not have the comfort of a shelter over their heads, we are called to open the doors of our homes and be compassionate in the exact way that Christ does for us. Christ opens the doors of our homes because He sees in us what we don’t see in ourselves. We are a worthy people made by God who deserve kindness and nurturing.
If only we saw that in the man begging on the street, or our annoying next door neighbor, or the man sentenced to a year in prison for defending his family. If we can capture this iridescent beauty of compassion and open our eyes and the doors of our homes to society then we are completing that very mission that Christ was born on this earth to help us achieve. Christ is born and we celebrate this amazing nativity story because we are rejoicing in the fact that a King is coming to lead our people! By Christ being born and living among us, we can see the path which we need to follow to live a fulfilling life. Christ is compassionate; He feeds the hungry, clothes the naked, and teaches the parables in the temple. His door is open and our Advent challenge is to ask ourselves, “Is my door open? Am I modeling this truly Christian life by being compassionate?”
In this advent season, remember to have an open mind, open ears, open eyes, open arms, and most importantly, an open door. When there is a man without a coat, give him yours. When there is a woman standing at the register wondering how she will pay for her groceries, offer to buy them for her. When your grandfather wants to tell you his story about the war in Vietnam for the fiftieth time, listen. We are a joyful people and we hope to be a compassionate body of Christ through Advent, Christmas, and the rest of the New Year. Christ has come and opened your door; now let it be open for anyone in need.
Taylor V. is a sophomore Theology major, and a member of the Marianist Leadership Program.
Reflection by Jennifer H.
As the time of Advent continues, let us prepare for the coming of Jesus. It is meant to be a time of joy and celebration. Part of this is to allow Jesus to come in to our hearts and rule with justice and peace. The kind of peace I am referring to is the one where we are content with God coming into our life—especially during the times of trials and tribulations. During this time, we should find peace in our relationship with Christ, and trust Him. Justice is conveyed through the coming of Jesus because through Him we can be restored. The coming of the Messiah is fair and honest and His coming gives new hope to the world. In our world, it is often difficult to understand the justices that God gives us. God reveals justice to us through the challenges He gives us. Coming to earth, He allows justice to become known because through His ruling of our hearts, justice will be achieved.
Reflection by Joey O.
This particular portion of the Advent prayer is emphasizing the importance of reconnecting with God during this time of Advent and focusing on the necessity for his intercession in our lives. In the Bible, Jesus is depicted as the Messiah, the one who would triumph over chaos and establish order in the world. The overall imploration of the Advent prayer reflects this notion that humanity is awaiting one who will liberate us from the darkness of the world. Salvation is the word that we have come to know as this all-encompassing grace that is bestowed upon us by God. For me, salvation is more than just the redemption of one’s soul. For me, salvation is present in the seemingly unimportant happenstances of life, in forgiveness, in relationships, and in knowledge. That, to me, is where our salvation on earth lies, because without these sporadic instances of grace, of salvation, then God’s true presence could not be felt. Additionally, those of us who are steadfast in our faith at times focus so heavily on others who we feel need to be “saved” that we forget the necessity of God’s intercession in our own lives. We are taught a very hard lesson as followers of God, one that Jesus made us conscious of during the time of his ministry. This lesson is that the closer we draw near God, the deeper we delve into our faith and into our walk with him. Salvation frees us from the burden of sin. In the Advent prayer we are asking for this divine intercession, for grace to come upon our world and ease this burden that comes with our humanity.
Reflection by Erin F.
As stores become filled with the smell of pinecones, stocked with the latest electronic devices, and shelved with festive decorations, the spirit of Christmas is evident even before Thanksgiving has even begun! Children across the nation can be found writing letters to Santa Claus and spending their winter days counting down to the moment when they can rip through the wrapping paper that prevents them from knowing what awaits. Jesus Christ is our present from God! As children of the faith, we remember the day when our Savior was born and celebrate this gift! What gift could be better than receiving the Savior? God’s gift of Jesus is the most fulfilling and meaningful gift that any individual could ever receive! The most beautiful aspect of this gift is the fact that all of humanity can have the joy of Christ: rich or poor, young or old, male or female. Like the young children who await the sound of reindeers’ bells jingling on their rooftops, all of God’s children celebrate the coming of the Savior.
As a child, I was not brought up in a wealthy family. Although I hardly had a Christmas filled with materialistic “dreams come true”, it did not deter from the splendid moments I cherished with my family. I can still recall my favorite memories: decorating gingerbread cookies with my sister and brother, listening to my dad’s classical Christmas CD, eating my mother’s Mexican pastries, and watching the birth of Jesus in the Jesus of Nazareth series my dad played every Christmas. The very essence of Christmas was still in my household, regardless of the presents under the tree; the virtues of love and joy cannot be bought in wrapping paper or gift cards, nor can they be taken away or exchanged. This concept is similar to the love God has for us. God blessed us with Jesus Christ who came for you, me, and all of humanity! Jesus comes once again, during this holiday season, ready to deliver justice, peace, love, and salvation to the earth. He is coming to rescue the beaten, battered, despised, and rejected. Therefore, do not fear in rejoicing in our Lord’s birth! A king was born in the town of Bethlehem in a stable. As a humble redeemer and perfect example for His followers, the name of this child was, and is, exalted for all generations following His birth. So this season, take the time to reflect and rejoice, for unto us a Savior is born!
Erin F. is a Freshman Theology Major. She is active in Liturgical Ministry and is an active member of Alpha Phi Omega.