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Advent Preparations

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One of my favorite memories as a child was the two days after Thanksgiving. Of course I was off from school, but this was also the time when the Christmas tree went up and lights were put on the house. There are certain ornaments, even to this day, that my mom leaves for me to put on the tree - mainly the Packer ornaments! For many of us, we are going into "Christmas mode". I'm sure decorations are going up and family events are being planned. These are all wonderful things because as Andy Williams sings, "It's the most wonderful time of year!"

Through all these joys, we have to remember that this is the beginning of the Advent season, not the Christmas season. These next four weeks are a time a preparation, not only to welcome guests into our home, but also Jesus himself into our hearts. In the middle of all the busyness, we must recall why we're doing all of this in the first place. Perhaps this year something won't be as perfect as you'd like. Maybe you didn't have time to make that one extra side dish because you took a break to pray. Maybe there's a few decorations that didn't make it up this year because you came to Mass or Reconciliation instead. I promise you that time spent preparing your heart will make you far happier on Christmas morning than any decoration.

Together, as a family, may we prepare our hearts well this Advent, so that we can join the choir of angels on Christmas morning singing, "Glory to God in the highest!"

Everyday Discipleship

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While I am now an empty nester, I remember very clearly when my children were in grade school. I was teaching fourth grade and working really hard at being a "good mom". I had great role models in my mother and my grandmother, for what it looks like to blend work and home. While both these things were my vocation, I was always wanting to do more in the church. I wanted to lector, be a Eucharistic minister, serve the poor in the various meal programs, and the list goes on and on. There was only so much of me to go around! My children needed me first, the children I served needed me second, and then I had to choose.

In sharing my frustration with one of my co-workers a long time ago, he wisely reminded me that I was being a disciple in raising my family. I was being a disciple by teaching my children, and the children I taught, to know, love, and serve Jesus. I was being a disciple by doing what I could with the time I had. He reminded me that when my life changed, so would how I served God's people.

Being a disciple also meant that I needed to take time to feed my soul - a person cannot give what they do not have. I now look at it as I need to be Martha but also Mary.

Our catechism says that as followers of Jesus, our goal is to know, love, and serve Him. How are you doing that? What is an obstacle you face? What is St. Dominic doing to help you? What would you need from your Church to assist you, if anything? I look forward to learning.

We Are All Children of God

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Hindsight is always 20/20. As we look back on history, knowing that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, along with 2,000 years of theological study, the Sadducees can seem a little silly. Yet during Jesus time there was a belief about who the Messiah would be and what he would accomplish. This Jesus didn’t look much like the warrior king that would return Israel to its previous glory. From the Sadducees perspective they needed to discredit this impostor as soon as possible. They devised a plan. They came up with a seemingly impossible and absurd scenario. A woman had married, and before she could have a child, her husband died, so she married her brother-in-law as prescribed by the law. This happened to her not once but seven times. If there were a resurrection how absurd would it be to simultaneously be married to seven men?

How does Jesus respond? He says we are all children of God. There is no need for marriage as a type of estate planning. While that was important in this life it has no meaning in heaven. Instead, we are more like angels and will have eternal life with and in God. In fact to God we have never died. Jesus knows of his upcoming death and resurrection and he also knows that we too, by virtue of our baptism, will rise with him to eternal life. This is the good news! This is the kingdom Jesus has come to create, where everyone has come from God and everyone must return to God. A kingdom of love and mercy vs a kingdom of earthly power and exclusion. A kingdom that somehow exists in our world today but in an imperfect way. It is the kingdom that is tangibly present to us in all the sacraments, particularly in the Eucharist. This, is the resurrection we live for, a life with the Holy Trinity, the communion of Saints and the heavenly host for eternity.

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