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First Sunday of Advent November 27, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 63: 16b, 17, 19b; 64:2b-7; 1 Corinthians 1: 3-9; Mark 13: 33-37 God is faithful (1 Cor.1:9). In a recent discussion with a 9th grade student, I asked for a more specific meaning for her assertion that God is always there for you. This is the ultimate compliment from a young person, that another is there for you. So, where is the there youre talking about? I asked. Well, wherever! she responded with a well, DUH! look on her face. Of course. God IS wherever. God is where God is, anywhere we need God to be. Isnt that what Advent is waking us up to? That God is faithful, because God is present simply wherever. The author of Isaiah begs God to return to our hardened hearts, to rend the heavens and come down, as if God had gone away! (Is 64: 2). And in verse 4, Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! St. Maria De Mattias often encouraged her sisters to work hard to promote the welfare of souls for the glory of the Divine Blood [and] very, very frequently, call to mind the most holy life of Jesus Christ. . . . (Letter #570) In the Gospel, Mark calls us to Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. Watch! It is this kind of mindfulness in our daily living and in Scripture that will keep us finding God wherever. Truly, God is always there for you. God is faithful. Practice mindfulness of God wherever. Reflection by: Sister Raphael Ann Drone, ASC (United States Region)

First Monday of Advent November 28, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 2: 1-5; Psalm 122; Matthew 8: 5-11 Mountains mean climbing. Todays famous reading about all the nations coming to the Lords mountain means there is work for us to do. Isaiah not only says that the mountain is high but that all nations will stream towards it. What Isaiah does not say is how easy or difficult the climb will be. Many times having a relationship with God is not easy, it is a tough climb. Remember, getting to God means ascending, climbing, spending energy. Part of that energy is personal. It is easier to head downhill. It is easier to move on our own path, rather than the Lords. Connecting with God means putting God in the first place, not self. That is never easy. The last part of the reading has these famous lines: They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. War is very much in the news today. What is not a difficult call is that God calls us to peace, not war.

Advent is time of waiting, but it is purposeful waiting, not in idleness. Both individually and corporately we must ascend the mountain which will allow us to behold the face of God. God bless us this Advent Season. Reflection by: Rev. James Urbanic, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)

First Tuesday of Advent November 29, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 11: 1-10; Psalm 72; Luke 10: 21-24 There is a longing in our hearts, O God, for you to reveal yourself to us . . . (There is a Longing-/Anne Quigley) How much more this year than in past years do we need Jesus to be born again in us and in our world! And how aptly the scriptures portray what happens when we let Jesus make his home with us: fruitfulness, justice for the poor, truth, peace, non-violence and friendship among races and nations and religions. We are reminded in our Constitutions, page 33, that we are in a lifelong process of continued conversion. May Jesus give us the heart of a child that we may hear the revelations he has in store for us. In what ways am I childlike? Picture yourself in the lap of mother/father God, being cuddled and instructed for the lifes journey . . . May justice and peace abound. Psalm 72: 7 Reflection by: Sister Carol Boschert, C.PP.S. (OFallon, Missouri)

First Wednesday of Advent November 30, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 25: 6-10; Matthew 15: 29-37 ** This may be different if the feast of Andrew is being celebrated Remember the tug-of-war game you played as a child? Some days it seems to me that life is just one great tug-o-war. Events, demands, delights, celebrations, tragedies, milestones all seesawing back and forth over the months and years sometimes putting me on top of the mountain and then, without warning, plummeting me to the depths. Daily I experience life: --the pain and suffering at every turn --the injustice and oppression so apparent when I scratch the surface of situations --the inequities exposed in classicism and racism among us --the unthinking devastation of air, water, land Today, what is the God of my heart inviting me to remember? To what action does my bloodied heart move me?

Isaiah invites us to trust and to remember who our God is so that ultimately we together can say .let us be glad and rejoice in Gods salvation. Today I will spend some time remembering and re-focusing on who the God of my heart is. I will take a positive, concrete action to express my trust in Gods fidelity. Reflection by: Sister Mary Lou Schmersal, C.PP.S. (Dayton, Ohio)

First Thursday of Advent December 1, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 26: 1-6; Psalm 118; Matthew 7: 21, 24-27 Advent is the time for waiting. But waiting during Advent is just what we dont do these days. Advent has been so taken over by the merchants that we begin to celebrate the Coming for which we are to wait before the season of waiting even begins. Often what we really wait for is getting through this hectic time of buying and selling. Can we hope to change the American Christmas? Shouldnt we rather recognize that most people are not waiting for the Lord? They have changed Christmas into a post-Christian winter holiday. The day is past when we can imagine that we are putting Christ back into Christmas by managing to display the crche in public places. The crche is already there in the shopping mall along with Santa and Rudolph and all the other symbols which proclaim the gospel of ever higher sales and profits. We must recover Advent and Christmas on our own terms, in those areas of our life still in our controlin our prayer life first of all. The Advent Scripture readings and the texts of the liturgy should be a basis of our devotion these days. What about an Advent day-of-recollection instead of a premature Christmas party? In our homes, lets follow the calendar of the Church instead of counting the shopping days before Christmas. The Master is coming. Blessed are those servants who watch for his coming. Reflection by: Rev. John Behen, C.PP.S. (Cincinnati Province)

First Friday of Advent December 2, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 29:17-24; Psalm 27; Matthew 9:27-31 Both of todays readings make reference to blindness. In Isaiah we read out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. Matthews parable tells us that Jesus touched the eyes of the two blind men, and their eyes were opened. And, much against Jesus desire, they went out sharing the good news of what had happened to them. (Sometimes it is difficult to contain good news.) When we pray: Lord that I may see, or Come, Lord Jesus, we, too, are asking to see differently. We seek help. In response, Jesus invites us to broaden our vision, to see as a

redeemed people who understand the invitation. With the eyes of our hearts, we are impelled, through faith, to look around at our world, our church, our society, and like the blind men, find the moment of healing and expand the vision. While driving to my office one rainy, foggy morning my eyes strained to see the road ahead. I proceeded down the highway very cautiously, keeping my proper distance from the cars around me. It was a tedious and tense drive. I couldnt see clearly. I had to trust others while knowing my limitations of sight. There are so many times, when the vision of heart is easily cluttered. The needs of others go unnoticed and neglect becomes almost normal. Do I allow the fog to impair my vision? Are my eyes open to the needs of the world? What can I do to bring the brilliance of Jesus light to the poor, the blind, those in the greatest of need? Reflection by: Sister Helen Moore, ASC (United States Region)

First Saturday of Advent - December 3, 2005

Readings: Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26; Psalm 147; Matthew 9: 35-10: 1, 5a, 6-8 Feast of St. Francis Xavier Auspiciously, the first Saturday of Advent coincides with the Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, a feast day for members of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. How good it is that Isaiah the prophet reminds us in the first reading that no more will you weep and as soon as you cry out, you will be heard. This is truly that waiting with joyful anticipation that is so much a part of our Advent time. We realize there are so-called down times in our lives but Isaiah reminds us that there will come a time when all will be blessed because of our belief in Him. In Matthews gospel we are reminded that the first disciples were sent, not to others but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and freely you have received, freely give. That phrase should easily be our hallmark during these advent days. One of the wonderful acts of St. Francis Xavier was that he went out to the lost sheep outside of the then known world. He struck out, almost blindly, yet with all the tools that he would need, his faith and his tenacity in the face of any kind of evil, be it storm or prejudice or occasional self-doubt. That is how it must be with us. We know we are truly formed of clay yet we persevere because we live in great hope. That hope will not leave us disappointed. It has not yet and there is no reason to believe it will ever do so in the future. If we doubt it for a moment we have great inspirations before us in the persons of our founder and today our patron, whose life we remember with great passion and pride. Blest are all who wait for the Lord. Todays psalm reminds us that God heals and binds, sustains and rebuilds, and best of all he does that through us, the shy, the hurting, the quixotic, the unsure, the doubting, the cautious. God calls us to lift our feet from that quagmire of

uncertainty and he reminds us that He has placed His words in our mouth and that we are His hands and heart and he strengthens us by that gift of Himself in the Eucharist to go ever onward and never turn back. Reflection by: Rev. Gary Luiz, C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)

Second Sunday of Advent December 4, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 40: 1-4, 9-11; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 3: 8-14; Mark 1: 1-8 The intensity of Second Isaiah, calling Israel back from Exile, declaring forgiveness, announcing that Israel is still called to proclaim Gods fullness, a fullness which will overflow the world itself is almost overwhelming. The depths of Israels anguish seems to be the measure of the glory that is to come; its vocation is intact. The psalmist echoes the incredible promise, and 2 Peter offers an impossible vision with almostapocalyptic imagery: the heavens and time itself are to be consumed in fire. But Marks John the Baptist, returns us to the reality of the labor required to make straight in the wasteland a highway for God. Taken together, the readings might well describe the Church today: battered by the stories of clerical sexual abuse, yet not relieved of its command to proclaim the Gospel, or with the promise of glorious fulfillment withdrawn. John can evoke the long history of the church, laboring in fasting and penitence, caring for the abandoned, often proclaiming the Word amidst its own failure to be an example of its message. We, too, can see ourselves in these readings: remorseful for our failings, buoyed up always by the promise and the vision, struggling to live the reality day by day in the strength we have in the Blood of Jesus. Meditating anew on Gods profound forgiveness and never-failing promise, pray that in the coming celebration of Christs Incarnation the Church will realize anew Gods gift of forgiveness and challenge to be a light to the nations. Reflection by: Sister Mary Barbara Agnew, C.PP.S. (Dayton, Ohio)

Second Monday of Advent December 5, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 35: 1-10; Psalm 85; Luke 5: 17-26 When people experience disasters, whether natural or inflicted, as we have seen in the last few years, they so readily tend to attribute it to the wrath of God because of peoples sinfulness. This kind of approach to theology tends to be very self righteous, always pointing the finger at someone elses sins. In all the readings of this day there seems to be a message of a God who saves us, not of a God who cannot wait to destroy us. In the first reading, God comes to save the people of Israel. In the psalm, there is a promise of deliverance. In the Gospel reading, there is salvation for Gods people, symbolically portrayed through the healing and forgiveness of a paralytic. We realize in these readings that it is about

salvation for Gods people, not about destroying them because they have sinned. The message of Gods Word always points toward salvation through the forgiveness of sin. Thinking about God's salvific action in our world there is no better phrase to sum it up than we have in the Gospel reading today: We have seen some incredible things today! It truly is incredible that there is a God who would never reject anyone who wants to be saved. We admit we are sinners, probably no less of a sinner than anyone else, and it is the Word of God that we hear today that again reminds us that we are part of the plan of Gods love and mercy. The Gospel illustrates Gods love and mercy so well. First of all there is the community aspect of the story when a group of people, who seem to believe in the message of Jesus, are willing to assist in the healing process by opening the roof and lowering the individual on a mat. Then there is the interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees about healing and forgiveness. What is incredible about this action is that Jesus both heals and forgives. Through healing and forgiveness Jesus invites people to believe in his authority and to participate in this ministry Our invitation is to be part of God's salvific action by our faith, and also in our action. We are called as Precious Blood people to be forgiving and healing ministers. Through word and sacrament we, too, have authority. We are to never underestimate Gods work in and through us. When we truly are about Gods work and ministry, the words of todays Gospel quoted earlier will ring true: We have seen some incredible things today! Reflection by: Rev. Al Ebach, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)

Second Tuesday of Advent December 6, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 40: 1-11; Psalm 96; Matthew 18: 12-14 During this period of holy longing for the Lord to come once more into our lives, we can expect Gods grace to be very active. The prophet Isaiah was told to shout with a loud voice; to say God is coming with power. With power - yes, but God is like a shepherd feeding the flock, gathering the lambs in His arms, holding them against His breast. God is really looking for us, made in His own image. Matthew relates the story of the Good Shepherd. Our God wants none of us to be lost. He leaves the ninety-nine and searches for one. God is searching for the hidden, lost parts in each of us. That buried, secluded, forgotten part can be brought forth and become an instrument for renewing ourselves and all mankind. The Holy Spirit will help us find the lost sheep that may have been buried by forgetfulness, or numbed by the misfortunes of life. The universe felt the effects of Love on the first Christmas. Our world has more than once been renewed out of chaos. Jesus continues to descend into the throes of our alienation in order to make of us a new creation. Dante, descending into the seventh circle of the Inferno, saw a river of boiling blood which contained those who had inflicted violence upon others. Symbolically, let us envision the victims

of todays chaotic situations in the sea of Christs redeeming Blood. His Love can re-unify the world today, and re-establish concord in the universe. That is the work entrusted to us this Advent. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you surface what has been deeply wounded or lost in your life. Ask Gods reconciling Love to cover and transform it. Let the Good Shepherd re-discover the lost sheep in your ministry. How will you pour out your precious blood into the lives of all you encounter? Reflection by: Sister Ann Clare Hendel, C.PP.S. (OFallon, Missouri)

Second Wednesday of Advent December 7, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 40: 25-31; Psalm 103; Matthew 11: 28-30 Faith and hope in a God of strength gives cause for our spirits to soar as on eagles wings. This thought takes the monotony out of life and energizes us in the present moment. The psalmist rightly expresses the faith filled soul: Bless the Lord O my soul; and all my being bless his holy name (Ps 103: 1). The Lord himself said: Come to me all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you (Mt 11: 28). The going to the Lord is quite simple as we take time daily for quiet prayer. When we go to him for our solace, we often find life less burdensome and sometimes find refreshment of body, mind, and spirit. This refreshment leads the soul to experience his or her human dignity by allowing himself or herself to be touched and cared for by the living God. This experience leads one out of oneself and ones petty wants into an awareness of others needs. In the Fatherhood of God the soul finds interconnectedness with all other creatures as with brothers and sisters in the same family. The Precious Blood of Jesus, as daily received into our bodies, can become the connecting bond among all races, cultures and tongues. What can I do to show bondedness with someone of a different culture? Can I become more alert to the needs of others and less preoccupied with my own? Reflection by: Sister Ritamary Bulach, C.PP.S and Sister Mary Ann Schiller, C.PP.S. (Dayton, Ohio)

Second Thursday in Advent December 8, 2011

Readings: Genesis 3: 9-15, 20; Psalm 98; Ephesians 1: 2-6, 11-12; Luke 1: 26-38 Feast of the Immaculate Conception Come, Holy One of God.

Mary was told by the angel that the one to be born of her is the Holy One. Holy means to be apart from the rest of creation. A few years ago I made a private retreat in Italy at Santa Felice in Giano, Italy. It was St. Gaspars get away from the city of Rome. I experienced the atmosphere for HOLINESS there. While there I reflected on the meaning on which Gaspar wanted to found our community, not in vows, but in the bond of His Precious Blood. He took Jesus words in Johns Gospel, chapter 15, new Law, Love one another as I love you. Greater love than this no one has than that he lay his life down for a friend. Jesus came into the world to save it by laying down His life on the cross, shedding all His blood. The Holy One came to teach us how to love, how to be holy, not by laws but in Gods Love. Devotion to Mary, the Woman of the Covenant, teaches us how to let go. Her entire life was one Yes to the Holiness of God Who is Love. Advent is the time to let go of the world to allow the Holiness of God to come to us, especially in entering into the Blood of Jesus through the frequenting of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and say: Come, Jesus, Holy One of God. Reflection by: Rev. Peter Chiodo, C.PP.S. (Cincinnati Province)

Second Friday of Advent December 9, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 48: 17-19; Psalm 1; Matthew 11: 16-19 The Jesus in Matthews Gospel is constantly confronting the religious authorities. Today we find him in the marketplace; a popular place for people to meet, to bargain, to sell produce, the unemployed came to look for hire, and for children to play. He used the image of the children playing to talk about this generation. Children made up their games and did everything they could to make games happen. They played the flute and no one danced. They sang a dirge and no one mourned. There was a conflict over Johns ministry and Jesus ministry. Neither of them gave that generation the message that they wanted to hear. Sometimes we play a flute and no one joins. We sing our dirges and no one mourns. This periscope might leave us with these questions? What kinds of games are we inviting others to join? Are they healthy, dysfunctional, manipulative or creative games? What happens when no one joins our games? Do we play manipulative games with others in our relationships, communication and ministry? Do we expect people to play according to our rules? In Isaiah we hear the comforting words: I am the Lord your God. The promise to the Israelite people and to us is that Yahweh will direct us in all our ways. No game playing. God does not play games with us. As in the psalm, we will walk like those who have wise counsel, like trees planted by streams of water, yielding fruit. Yahweh watches over those with right relationships. Reflection by: Sister Therese Anne Kiefer, ASC (United States Region)

Second Saturday of Advent - December 10, 2011

Readings: Sirach 48: 1-4, 9-11; Psalm 80: Matthew 17: 9a, 10-13

Today it is Elias the prophet who is showcased. He is the one (among many) who was to preview the coming of the Messiah. In Sirach, we hear of his bringing down fire, not once but three times and of his being taken up in the whirlwind, to return only when the auspicious time was upon those who were faithful enough to recognize him. Do we recognize his real meaning these days? Matthew recounts that teaching moment of Christ when he opens his disciples eyes to the real encounter with Elias in the present-day person of John the Baptist, who is the central figure of our Advent reflections. And so he should be, for he is the one that introduces Jesus to the entire world: not just as a man, but as the lamb of God. There should be no uncertainty about the declaration and what it means, yet in the hearts of men there is wariness and perhaps even invincible ignorance. Isnt that same kind of attitude apparent even now? Do we really see Jesus as that true Lamb who takes away all sin and on whom we can rely? We say it with our lips but, like the frightened traveler who runs to the insurance counter before a flight, do we sometimes hedge our bets a bit by holding back our complete trust and undivided loyalty to His word and promise. Arent we, at times, like the doubting Thomas that needed physical proof; that had to see the wounds and touch the places of hurt? Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face, and we shall be saved. The words of todays psalm urge us to be aware of what needs to be done in our lives. When we can do that turn to Him in complete confidence and trust we surely will have a place at the manger. Reflection by: Rev. Gary M. Luiz C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)

Third Sunday of Advent December 11, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28 The third Sunday in Advent is not called Joyful for nothing. The old Gaudete Sunday is full of joy, announcements and proclamations of Gods love and vindication because of faithfulness, not only by our God but in response to our own faith and trust. Here is the reward of goodness shown in all the scriptures for today. St. Paul practically screams it. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing...give thanks. It is a veritable maelstrom of happiness and vindication of our faith in His mercy and love. The Baptist in the Gospel cries out, I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord as Isaiah the prophet said. Don't look for me but rather He who is to come after me. What a wonderful sentiment for our own spiritual lives. We should always, just as John, be reflectors of Christs joyfulness and care. This is indeed the apex of our Advent longing, to be introducers of Christ and His way to all we meet. Honestly, can we say we have done that recently? Too many times we want to grab the glory, make sure that we get some credit; after all, arent we using Gods gifts to us to build up the kingdom? Surely we are, yet there is no greater good than to point away from ourselves, to the Maker and Master Giver of all goodness.

That is true goodness, that is what makes this Season so special. It is a time of rejoicing and acclamation in the One who has set us free and shown us, through his own example, His power and loyalty, his care and gift. As the psalm today reminds us, he has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. Indeed, Mercy is ours this day as we recall his proclamation of Glory. Reflection by: Rev. Gary M. Luiz C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)

Third Monday of Advent December 12, 2011

Readings: Zechariah 2: 14-17; Psalm: Judith 13; Luke 1: 26-47 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Over the centuries of time, long lists of names and titles have been given to Mary, the mother of Jesus. But none is more endearing to the people of the Americas than Our Lady of Guadalupe. Midway through the season of Advent, a season of hope and expectation, the Church dedicates this day to celebrate the hope and promise given to a poor, downtrodden people when a young maiden appeared to a native Indian, Juan Diego, near a small village outside of Mexico City. Our Lady of Guadalupe was sent by God to speak for and to the oppressed, to proclaim Gods acceptance of all peoples. The native American Indians of the 16th century who had endured suffering and hardship at the hands of the Spaniard occupation received from our Lady a powerful reminder of their dignity before God. Her image, imprinted so vividly on Juan Diegos garment, was a Native American maiden dressed like an Aztec princess, clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet. God was visiting his people and raising the lowly ones to high places. (Luke 1: 52) The presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe gives us inspiration and courage to be people of gospel justice and peace. Motivated by our spirituality of the Blood of Christ, we are called to identify with the poor and oppressed people of our times. Through Our Lady of Guadalupes intercession, may we rededicate ourselves to our mission: In a spirit of joy, we strive to serve all people, especially the poor, with care and compassion, hope and hospitality. (Kansas City Province Mission Statement) Reflection by: Rev. John Wolf, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)

Third Tuesday of Advent December 13, 2011

Readings: Zephaniah 3: 1-2, 9-13; Psalm 34; Matthew 21: 28-32 The first reading puts us in touch with the kingdom of Christ, which has come and is to come. The heirs of that kingdom shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them. The figure of the sacrificial Lamb that was slain, and Whose blood purchased this peace and security,

comes to mind. Indeed, the bringing of offerings from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and as far as the recesses of the North brings to mind every tribe and tongue, people and nation. (Rev 5) Psalm 34 is the song of the heirs to the kingdom. It praises the Lord, who rescues the just. It reminds us once again of our source of strength and confidence. The Gospel brings to mind the birth of that kingdom. It is set in a vineyard, where the grape is tended and its blood harvested. It speaks of Jesus authority to the chief priests and elders of the people of his time, but it also speaks to us personally. As heirs to this vineyard, we are invited to take part in this harvest. The symbolism for us as members of the Precious Blood family is many-dimensioned. But it is for each of us personally to examine the readiness and the ways we answer this invitation. Today is the feast of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr. In the Nordic countries, now in the darkness of the winter solstice, her day is celebrated by Protestants and Catholics alike. Her name, which means light, is a reminder of the Light to come. How do the readings of today give hope to those who wait in darkness? Reflection by: Sister Theresa Jezl, C.PP.S. (OFallon, Missouri)

Third Wednesday of Advent December 14, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 45: 6-8, 18, 21-25; Psalm 85; Luke 7: 18-23 Advent is a season of joyful expectation and celebration of Christ's coming. Our God is coming soon! Let us be watchful and alert! The main theme in Isaiah emphasizes the fact that, even though Jesus affirms earthly authority, God is the supreme King over all gods and nations. Gods claims are absolute! In Psalm 85 we learn that Gods favor is neither automatic nor indiscriminate. Only those who fear the Lord can hope for salvation. You touch with joy, graces and blessings, hearts that are open to you! We hear what God proclaims by listening to the Word then living according to that Word. We hope to see the blossoming of kindness, truth, justice and peace in our own lives. In the reading from Luke, John had imaged the Messiah to be a strict judge, a mighty ruler, one who would baptize with fire! But Jesus came as a messenger of joy, a Servant of God, to preach the Gospel to the poor, to reconcile the human race and unite it with God. Jesus words were a challenge to John as they are to all of us to rid ourselves of preconceived notions of how God should act and for whom! By practicing our Precious Blood Spirituality, we, too, follow Jesus teachings and works by our own solidarity with all those who suffer in our world. We read the signs of our times and respond as people of reconciliation and renewal.

Lord, help us to be watchful, alert and ready until your Son is revealed in all His glory!! Reflection by: Sister Eileen Monnin, C.PP.S. (Dayton, Ohio)

Third Thursday of Advent December 15, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 54: 1-10; Psalm 30; Luke 7: 24-30 This third week of Advent began with Gaudete Sunday which celebrates the nearness of the Lords coming. The Epistle incites us to rejoice and prepare for the Savior with prayers and thanksgiving, while the Gospel warns us that the Lamb of God is in our midst, though it might not, at first, be evident. But get ready! The Incarnation of Light is on the horizon in spite of the backdrop of darkness. Fortunately this darkness is pregnant with hope. In terms of imagery, did you know that black is probably the most ancient color, the primal birthsource from which everything emerges? It is the great canvass against which beauty becomes visible. It withholds presence; it resists the beam of eye-light and it deepens the sense of mystery. In fact, black occurs when an object is absorbing all of the colored wavelengths. This is why nothing is reflected back, the same as the effects of sin. Light, on the other hand, traditionally represents Christ and reconciliation. Curiously, though, the appearance and definition of white is made possible by the presence of darkness. Think about the soft light that shines upon earth from the moonlight. The white light of the moon is infinitely gentle with the dark, guiding the rhythm of tides and the red rhythm of the blood. Held with such nobility in the dome of night, it offers an ever-ebbing & flowing journey of light. And over the course of a month, its light of faith grows until it becomes a full circle of subtle illumination, at ease with the singularity of the dark, but faithful to the courage of individual forms which it visits and holds in outline everywhere. Where does the Light of Christ need to more fully emerge in your life? Reflection by: Rev. Kevin Scalf, C.PP.S. (Cincinnati Province)

Third Friday of Advent December 16, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 56: 1-3, 6-8; Psalm 67; John 5: 33-36 Isaiahs words call the Israelites to a radical inclusiveness that stretches them beyond mere words to attitudes of justice which embrace even the foreigner and the eunuchs. Anyone drawing near to Yahweh in a covenant relationship is welcome. Gods house of prayer will be for ALL people.

This message of radical inclusion, reconciliation, is at the heart of our Precious Blood spirituality. We, too, speak words of reconciliation. Do they resonate deeper within us? Are our houses of prayer for ALL Gods people? Are they places of welcome and reconciliation? The recent Tsunamis expanded the boundaries of our hearts as people responded to the devastation of peoples lives and the horrific destruction of our earth. These boundaries were challenged as we remember and look back at the hurricanes of Katrina and Rita which broke through our comfortableness and called us to do more than pray for those who lost everything. Not only did the people of the United States respond but other foreign nations and countries offered aid, almost before the United States responded. The reading from Isaiah concludes: It is the Lord Yahweh who speaks, who gathers the outcasts of Israel: there are others I will gather besides those already gathered. In the embrace of God there are no boundaries; all are welcomed, included, reconciled in the Blood of Jesus who broke down the boundaries even more, spreading wider the embrace of God and calling us to lives of reconciliation and welcome. Deepening the Word within us: During these nine days before Christs coming, how will I break through my own personal boundaries to welcome, include, reconcile? Reflection by: Sister Barbara Smith, ASC (United States Region)

Third Saturday of Advent December 17, 2011

Readings: Genesis 49: 2, 8-10; Psalm 72; Matthew 1: 1-17 Our readings today deal with family history. In Genesis, we witness the gathering of Jacobs sons to whom he relays the future, that they and their descendents shall achieve greatness as a witness to their faith. Specifically, he speaks of Judah whose scepter shall remain with him as he receives the obedience of the nations. The Gospel, the genealogy of Jesus, recounts the forty-two generations from the time of Abraham to Jesus. The unbroken line reminds us of the lineage back to the beginning of time and the enduring plan that continues to be revealed even to the present time. Family histories can be fun. They remind us of where we came from and give us a chance to analyze the characters in our family past. But more significantly, they ground us and remind us that we are part of a continuum. It also gives us a place to be and a place from which to go forth. It reminds us of the roots from which we have developed and gives us the courage to continue along the right path. That is the message for today: that we come from a long line of faith-filled characters and have the knowledge to go ahead with our lives. Firmly grounded in the knowledge of the One who calls us to do great things for Him, we continue to witness in His name. As todays psalm says, May His name be blessed forever, as long as the sun his name shall remain. Reflection by: Rev. Gary M. Luiz C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)

Fourth Sunday of Advent December 18, 2011

Readings: 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 16: 25-27; Luke 1: 26-38 Few Old Testament readings are more famous or important than 2 Samuel 7. Here we find the promise of a Messiah mentioned for the first time. Yet the mention is more oblique than clear. Nathan the prophet says: I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. The Lord also reveals to you that he will establish a home for you. This is a wonderful reading of hope and a perfect reading for Advent. Through trials and persecutions, which the Jewish people were enduring, God says that a redeemer is coming, a Messiah is promised. Time passes. Of course most people had either forgotten the promise or had developed their idea of what the Messiah was to be like. When Jesus came, most people were not looking or not ready for the message that Jesus brought. This is still a timely reading for Advent. We are either not looking for the ways in which Jesus comes to us or we are not ready for the message. We would rather listen to our own message, perhaps an easier message, than the challenges Jesus makes to us. The gospel is the Annunciation, from Gabriel to Mary. Mary is to be the mother of the promised Messiah. Her response is one of the great lines in the scriptures: Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. If we ever needed a refrain for our life, here it is. God bless you. Reflection by: Rev. James Urbanic, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)

Fourth Monday of Advent December 19, 2011

Readings: Judges 13: 2-7; 24-25a; Psalm 71; Luke 1: 5-25 William Barclay writes: It was in Gods house that Gods message came to Zachariah. In Shaws play, Saint Joan, Joan hears voices from God. The Dauphine is annoyed. Oh your voices, your voices, he said, Why dont the voices come to me? I am king not you. They do come to you, said Joan, but you do not hear them. When the angelus rings you cross yourself and have done with it; but if you prayed from your heart, and listened to the thrilling of the bells in the air after they stop ringing, you would hear the voices as well as I do. Joan gave herself the chance to hear Gods voice. Zechariah was in the Temple waiting on God. Gods voice comes to

those who listen for it as Zechariah did in Gods house. The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke The story also states that Zechariah had difficulty believing Gods announcement and he was therefore rendered mute. I dont see Zechariahs muteness as a lack of faith. He had just been given the news that his heart most desired the answer to his prayers. He was responding in the most normal of ways he was dumbstruck and asking how could this be and why now? All very normal questions. This is not a lack of faith but a man making sure he was not dreaming. It is most important that Zechariah was prepared to hear Gods promise. His prayer was not just words; despite the many years Zechariah had been praying for the same thing, he was not just saying words without hope. His heart was filled with faith and hope and so he remained open to conversation with God. Thus when that conversation happened he heard it loud and clear. So clearly, he was stunned to the point of disbelief. So often the needs of those with whom I work feel overwhelming without an end in sight; progress is slow if any can be seen at all; when I take a couple of steps forward it seems that Im retracing those steps the next week. Zechariahs willingness to remain in conversation with God despite not receiving an answer to his prayer speaks to me of my need to remain faithful in my prayer. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, may our prayer today be that we have open hearts, minds and spirits to hear the wonderful news God bestows on us. Reflection by: Rev. Joseph Bathke, C.PP.S. (Kansas City Province)

Fourth Tuesday of Advent December 20, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 7: 10-14; Psalm 24; Luke 1: 26-38 I believe that it is spring within me, I feel that spring is awakening. I feel it in my whole body and soul. It is an effort to behave normally. I don't know what to read, what to write, what to do; I only know that I am longing. (Diary of Anne Frank) Longing! That word summarizes the whole of Advent. Not just waiting - but longing! A sinful world had been experiencing that longing for thousands of years; such was the endurance of that longing! Ahaz was invited to ask for a sign from Yahweh from the deepest depths or from the heights; (1st reading) such were the dimensions of that longing! Who will ascend the mountain of the Lord? (Psalm 24) The earth was ready to reply to that longing! And finally, Mary, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said; such is the incarnation of that longing - in flesh and blood! But someone else was longing also, with a longing that was infinite God the Father. Perhaps mankind had tried the patience of God (1st Reading) to the point of futile resistance on Gods part. The time had come - the time is NOW!

That precious body and blood growing in Mary calls those of us committed to that saving mystery to a very special longing one that is enduring, deep, standing in readiness, YES! Where is my longing? How can I intensify my longing between now and Christmas? Reflection by: Sister Luanna Brucks, C.PP.S. (O'Fallon, Missouri)

Fourth Wednesday of Advent December 21, 2011

Readings: Song of Songs 2: 8-14; Psalm 33; Luke 1: 39-45 Marys reply to the angel was, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as He wills. It doesnt say that Mary was praying at the time of the angels appearance. There are many unexpected moments when I sense Gods presence. It can happen at home, at work, while driving or any where at any time. Take a few moments to think of times when you experienced that the Lord was there with you. Mary did not keep her joy to herself but went to share the good news with her cousin Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Marys greeting the child within her leaped with joy. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to Mary, You believed that God would do what he said; that is why he has given you this wonderful blessing. How is my faith? Do I believe that God has done and will do great things in me? What are some of the blessings that God has given to me because of my belief in him? How do I show my thanks to God for sending His Son to be born on Christmas and later shedding every drop of His Precious Blood for me? Do I value being a member of a Precious Blood Community? Lord, I thank you for the many gifts you have given to me. I commit them to you. Take and transform them so that your kingdom can shine brightly here on earth. Come, Lord Jesus, Come Reflection by: Sister Ermelinda Burgei, C.PP.S. (Dayton C.PP.S)

1Fourth Thursday of Advent, December 22, 2011

Readings: 1 Samuel 1: 24-28; Psalm 1 Samuel 2; Luke 1: 46-56 My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus! As the Advent season quickly nears its conclusion, I take these moments to reflect on the greatest gift one could ever receive: that of yourself, My Lord and My God, celebrated daily as You, dearest Jesus, come to me and to each person whom you grace with your abundant love. Today I pray with Hannah My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior. These are the inspiring words of that jubilant woman who once was so depressed that she dared to bargain with you, her Lord and God. Lo, you heard her cries just as you hear mine, and you blessed her with the overwhelming gift of an only son whom she gave back to you. Your gift

became her gift to all of Israel, as the young Samuel grew to be the wise one who would anoint the future kings of Israel. How can I make a return to the Lord for all that the Lord has given me? I will pray with Hannah and with Mary that I may have the courage to give back the gift of life that you have given to me, my dearest Lord. In the darkness of this Advent Thursday, I once again pray Marys humble song of hope, her Magnificat, which is so familiar to those who pray it with all the Church each evening. Its contrasting verses of proud and humble, wealthy and lowly, well fed and hungry provide vibrant images which keep me focused on the real reason for this season of joyful anticipation. Lord, help me to center my thoughts, my words, and my actions on Your greatness incarnate within me. Like those brave, generous women whove gone before me, may their humble example inspire me and all who contemplate their lives to move forward with selfless generosity. In the words of St. Gaspar: We are to give thanks to God for choosing us to serve him in some way; at the same time we say: If God were not to help me, what could I do? Letter #1940 Reflection by: Margaret Saliga, Companion (Cincinnati Province)

Fourth Friday of Advent December 23, 2011

Readings: Malachi 3: 1-4, 23-14; Psalm 25; Luke 1: 57-66 Today the prophet Malachi tells us that the Lord God will indeed send my messenger to prepare the way before me. Luke tells us the story of the birth of John the Baptist, whose birth and circumcision caused people to ask, What, then, will this child be? for surely the hand of the Lord was with him. Two days remain until Christmas for us: two days of expectation, of dreaming of what might be, of concerns about what might happen as we prepare for Christmas Day. Have we listened as the prophets in our lives have revealed to us the way of the Lord for us in our particular circumstances? Have we seen the hand of the Lord in our lives? As we make our final preparations for Christmas Day, let us make our own the prayer from the psalm for today: Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are my God and Savior. Who are the prophets in my life? What have they told me? What is the hand of the Lord showing me during this Advent season? Reflection by: Sister Clare Boehmer, ASC (United States Region)

Fourth Saturday of Advent December 24, 2011

Readings: 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Psalm 89; Luke 1: 67-79

Your throne shall stand firm forever. These words from our first reading addressed to King David sum up our Advent season. All is about to be fulfilled. The Gospel recounts that wonderful canticle of Zechariah, the father of the Baptist, whose scales fall from his eyes the moment he proclaims the name of he who will bring about the Kingdom as he proclaims Jesus as the Lamb of God. To shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet into the way of peace. More beautiful, more meaningful, more glorious words and sentiments are harder to find in the Scriptures. We are to live in the joy of his love for us. As I grew up I watched my father go to work to a job he just loved. I always said to myself, I want to be able to do that when I grow up. Well, I have. To be a Christian, believing as we do in Gods promises to us, means that we get up every day and venture out into a world where we are needed and where we make a difference and where we feel His presence. It is a job that we just love. Merry Christmas! Reflection by: Rev. Gary M. Luiz C.PP.S. (Atlantic Province)

Christmas Day December 25, 2011

Readings: Isaiah 62: 11-12; Psalm 97; Titus 3: 4-7; Luke 2: 15-20 Today is Christmas! Christs coming brings the gift of PEACE. Peace comes when enemies are reconciled, when family ties that have been broken are mended, when countries can lay down their weapons and sit at table with their enemies, and when we can be reconciled among each other and within ourselves. The angels greeted Christs coming with Glory to God in the highest, and peace to all people on earth. In every part of our world today, people long for peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Holy Land, Liberia, Sudan, Peru, Bolivia, the United States, to name a few. Even in our own hearts there lies a searching for peace. These longings for peace remind us that Christs coming is yet unfulfilled, and Christmas is still a contradiction. Over two thousand years since his birth, the Christ of Peace, reflected in Lukes gospel, desires to live on in us and in our world. Today as you read the newspaper or watch the news coverage, pause. Be in touch with the longing for peace within your own heart and within so many places in our world today. Pray that the coming of the Christ of Peace will close the gap between the Sacred and all of creation. This Christmas let us continue the mission of the One who offers Peace. Reflection by: Sister Mary Whited, C.PP.S. (Deceased) (OFallon, Missouri)