REFLECTION: In this time of Advent, this time of waiting, spend quiet time with God

Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

The important words for us to remember today to take away with us as we leave this celebration: “Be alert and watch, for you don’t know when the time will come. What I say to you, I say to all. Stay alert.” Now when Mark — or the community of Mark who recorded this Gospel — recorded those words, he and the other disciples, the community of Jesus, fully expected that at almost any time in the very near future would be the end, and Jesus would return in glory and bring all of creation into the fullness of God’s reign.

lights-fire-candlesSo, the same thing was true of St. Paul in writing to the church at Corinth. Paul was urging them to be faithful, continue to develop the gifts that you have received, because the Lord is going to return very soon. About 2,000 years later, it hasn’t happened as they expected — that it would come very quickly, the return of Jesus in glory.

So we are still waiting, and that’s what this Advent season is about. It’s staying vigilant, being alert to the coming of Jesus. And of course, we, like those disciples, what Jesus said about himself, we don’t know when that final coming will happen. But there are many other ways in which Jesus, God, comes into our life if we stay awake, if we stay alert….

To read this entire article, click here.

VIDEO: Pax Christi USA’s SOA speaker, Padre Melo, at the Ignatian Famly Teach-in last month

from the Ignatian Solidarity Network

NOTE: Below is a video taken at the Ignatian Family Teach-In in Washington, D.C. The video is of Padre Melo who spoke at Pax Christi USA’s gathering at the School of the Americas two weeks ago.

Rev. Ismael Moreno Coto, S.J., popularly known as Padre Melo, is a Jesuit priest and human rights activist in his native Honduras. He directs Radio Progreso (radio station) and E.R.I.C, The Team for Reflection, Research and Communication, whose work encompasses: grassroots radio programming; training on human rights, community organizing, and empowerment; the formation of leadership committed to social change; and aiding migrant families.

Padre Melo’s broadcast station, Radio Progreso, shut down by the military around the time of the June 2009 coup, has been occupied several times since. During this same time, over 50 journalist and social commentators have been murdered in Honduras, and many more have been kidnapped, tortured, or suffered death threats.

In April 2014, one of the Radio Progreso team members, Carlos Mejia, was brutally murdered. In a press conference following the tragic event, Melo stated at a press conference that 16 ERIC/Radio Progeso employees, including Mejia, have received significant death threats since the 2009 Honduran coup. Fr. Moreno has also previously testified before the U.S. Congress at the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission regarding the human rights situation in Honduras and the fear he and his staff and others in the journalism sector experience.

ADVENT 2014: Reflection for Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12

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by Rev. Ray East

Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab | Luke 1:26-38 or 1:39-47

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev 12:1)

Our Lady of GuadalupeWe Advent peacemakers cannot overestimate the importance of Our Lady of Guadalupe to those who are poor, oppressed, or imprisoned. From the family without papers in Alabama to the landless campesinos in Chiapas to the former gang member in an overcrowded California prison, we all seek protection under her tilma or mantle. Of the Lectionary options, I suggest Revelation 11:19—12:10. John the Evangelist’s description of the sun-clothed, star-crowned mother is miraculously mirrored in the image on Juan Diego’s yucca tilma. Also read aloud the first gospel selection, Luke 1:26-38. Every meeting San Juan Diego had with the beautiful lady is a distant echo of that saving exchange between Archangel Gabriel and the Virgin Mary. Rising before dawn this day with millions of “Guadalupanas,” let us together listen as “la Morenita”—the brown-hued, Expectant Queen—whispers, “Am I not your Mother too?”

Have you felt the healing, loving care of Our Lady of Guadalupe?

Can you identify with the plight of those who desperately seek her protection?

*This reflection originally appeared in Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet, Unshakeable Belief: Advent 2013.

INVITATION: Join Pax Christi in the Holy Land in May 2015

Pax Christi International World Assembly &
Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation Pilgrimage

May 10-23, 2015

pci-hcef-bethlehem-smallPlease join other Pax Christi USA members for a unique experience of attending the Pax Christi International (PCI) World Assembly in Bethlehem from the evening of May 13th to the morning of May 17th in Bethlehem.  Before and after the PCI conference, be part of a Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) Living Stones pilgrimage which will take you to many of the places where Jesus and his disciples walked as well as providing the opportunity to meet Living Stone Christian (as well as Muslim and Jewish) peacemakers in the Holy Land and find out more about how we can help them in their march to peace and justice in our time!

For an informational packet which includes the itinerary of the trip, click here.

Please send any questions you have about the trip to pilgrimage@hcef.org.

Please send in your application and deposit check as soon as possible. There are only 40 spots available for this pilgrimage. Join with many other PCUSA peacemakers from around the country and meet with Pax Christi leaders from countries around the world!

The trip includes airfare to and from Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., all lodging costs and three meals per day, as well as ground transportation and entry fees into various Holy Land sites. Incidental expenses and tips for the bus driver and tour guide will be the only extra expenses.

We will fly on Turkish Airlines, which in 2014 was voted the best airline in Europe for the fourth consecutive year. We will meet with many Holy Land Christians whose families go back to the time of Christ (and before)!

This pilgrimage will combine our spiritual heritage with increased knowledge of the conflicts in this region, which affect the whole Middle East and the world, and explore ways we can help resolve this conflict.

The first 40 people to provide their down payment will be included on this trip. Please do not miss this two-week adventure!  There may not be one like it during any of our lifetimes!

For the informational packet and itinerary of the trip, please click here.

As Catholics from the United States, we need to learn more about the on-going conflicts in the Middle East and help our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in the Holy Land (while there are still some there!). We owe it to all of the people of Israel and the occupied territories to walk in solidarity with them and help them secure justice for all!

Visit Bethlehem, East Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho, Hebron and many other sites on the West Bank.

Download the itinerary, including the registration form by clicking here.

Whether or not you can make the trip for any reason, please let any family and friends who might be interested know about this trip! If you would like, please provide us with their names and e-mail addresses and we will send them a personal invitation to take part in this life-changing trip.

ADVENT 2014: Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, December 14

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by Adrienne Alexander

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11 | 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 | John 1:6-8, 19-28

He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1:23)

This Gospel passage is particularly profound because of the messenger. Remember, John the Baptist lived in the wilderness and looks like it, probably smells like it. He is not refined, but God is using him to testify that Jesus is God. So naturally, the approach of the religious elite is to question John the Baptist’s authority and gauge his ambition.

A friend once told me that the marginalized have the most informed view of the world. That should not be a surprise because throughout the Bible God uses imperfect figures, those on the outskirts of society, to deliver messages or otherwise reveal God’s work. And yet, it is human to find ourselves dismissing people whom we don’t view as legitimate. I can think of examples of state legislators who made the news by discrediting workers who testified in favor of a minimum wage increase as being unqualified to speak on an economic issue.

As we prepare for Christmas, let us do our best to develop John the Baptist’s clarity of mission. And let us pray continually that the Holy Spirit would guide us so that our hearts will be open to God’s message, even when the messenger may look different from us.

In your world, who are the voices from the wilderness?

*This reflection is from this year’s Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet,Waking Up to God in Our Midst: Reflections for Advent 2014. The booklet is still available for purchase as a download by clicking here.

ADVENT 2014: Reflection for Human Rights Day, Second Wednesday of Advent, December 10

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by Shannen Dee Williams, Ph.D.

Isaiah 40:25-31 | Matthew 11:28-30

Our God is God from of old, creator of the ends of the earth.
God does not faint or grow weary, and God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
God gives power to the faint, abundant strength to the weak. (Is 40:28-29)

Today’s reading from Isaiah serves as a powerful reminder of the awesome and strengthening power of faith in the most difficult of times. Founding members of the National Black Sisters’ Conference, who fought tirelessly to rid the Catholic Church of racism and sexism in the late sixties and seventies, used to greet one another with the following exchange:

First Sister: Do you have the strength, Sister?
Second Sister: I do, if you do.
Together in Unison: Then, we’re strong!

Many of these sisters had desegregated the nation’s historically white Catholic sisterhoods as teenagers and endured years of racial isolation and discrimination in their orders. Many had been forced to degrade their racial heritage, and some had even been forced to profess their vows and live separately from their white counterparts during their training years. Many also had their ministries severely limited because their counterparts refused to live with them on an equal basis or because the communities in which their congregations labored fiercely opposed the presence of black nuns.

Yet, the will of God and the call to serve Jesus Christ is always stronger than racism, sexism, and any corruption of Catholic social teaching that seeks to justify oppression and systematically exclude people of color from the full life of the universal Church.

Today, as we continue in our Advent preparations, let us rejoice in the awesome power of God who has brought us all this far!

Do I have the faith and strength to challenge discrimination and oppression wherever I see it, especially within my Church?

Do I trust God’s plan for my life, especially in the most trying times?

*This reflection is from this year’s Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet, Waking Up to God in Our Midst: Reflections for Advent 2014. The booklet is still available for purchase as a download by clicking here.