Today is the feast of perhaps the most popular saint of all. He is the patron saint of Russia, Greece, Sicily, Loraine, and Apulia in Italy. He is also the patron saint of children,bankers, pawnbrokers, sailors, perfumers, brides, prostitutes, travelers, fishermen, dock workers, brewers, poets, and prisoners.
What we know for certain about him is that in the 4th century he was bishop of Myra (in present day Turkey.) Curiously, Dutch Protestants living in New Amsterdam gave him the features of a Scandinavian elf. The Dutch for "St. Nicholas" is "Sinter Claus."
We might ask him to pray for us that we might be as generous as his reputation.
With this First Sunday of Advent we begin reading from the Gospel According to Mark, but we jump way ahead to the end of chapter 13. This chapter is followed immediately by Mark's account of the Passion. In verses 33-39 Jesus tells us to be on the watch for the coming of the Son of Man. Three times in five verses he uses the word "watch." We must watch also and be ready when Jesus comes to us in our own death.
This "Xmas" cactus came to me a few years ago as a tiny gift.
Dorothy Day died on November 29, 1980. We may associate her with great poverty and a hard life, but she had this to say, "How necessary it is to cultivate a spirit of joy. It is a psychological truth that the physical acts of reverence and devotion make one feel devout. The courteous gesture increases one's respect for others. To act lovingly is to begin to feel loving, and certainly to act joyfully brings joy to others which in turn makes one feel joyful. I believe we are called to the duty of delight."
The most recent insight that God is giving me is a deeper understanding of a prayer I've been using for a long time just before Centering: "You are Love, with Whom, I love You."
The development began with the river of Love that I experienced last month both with a grieving family and with a family with little twins. Love was already flowing when I arrived with each family. All I had to do was put my foot in the stream and I was swept along in Love.
God is helping me realize that when I begin my Centering Prayer in the morning I am not really beginning anything. Spirit, Son, and Father are already Love flowing within me. Centering is just my way of choosing to let go and let Love sweep me along into Love.
This picture is from several years ago. Today we have a bright sunny, cold day with a lake that hasn't begun to freeze. I'm hoping this might remind us of what faced the Plymouth Colony when they arrived in the New World in November of 1620.
As we have often been told, many of the little colony starved to death during the first winter, almost putting an end to their project. What we have not been told is that a ship arrived from overseas on February 20, 1621, bearing the much needed food., The ship was The Lyon and it had sailed from Dublin, Ireland.
According to the Massachusetts Historical Society, the wife of one of the prominent Plymouth settlers was the daughter of a Dublin merchant; and it was he who had chartered the vessel, loaded it with food and dispatched it to Plymouth. The day after its arrival, February 21, 1621, was designated as a Day of Thanksgiving, well before the Thanksgiving Day that we hear so much about.
Catholic Europeans in America before Puritans:
St. Brendan in the 6th century kept a record of his voyage.
Irish monks in the 7th century left rock writing and a body in Southern W.V.
Norse explorer Leif Erickson in Newfoundland around 1,000 AD.
We thank God for them as well.