Monthly Archives: November 2021

Advent, Monday of the 1st Week

“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
    to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
    and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
    and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2)

The Prophet Isaiah invites us to climb the Lord’s mountain, to enter the house of God, that he may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths. We begin the Advent season.

When Isaiah issued that invitation in 8th century Jerusalem, Assyrian armies were rumbling into Palestine heading for Jerusalem to destroy it. People listening to Isaiah must have said “What’s he talking about? Can’t he see what’s at the door?”

But the prophet insists God will instruct us in his ways that we may walk in his paths. Yes, even now, God is instructing us. And his message is not to hide because the Assyrian armies are coming; save yourselves!  Rather God says get ready for the days that are coming when “ they will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks and there will be no wars any more.” God’s peaceable kingdom is coming.

The prophet’s outrageous promises appear in wonderful imagery throughout Advent. There will be a cloud by day and a fire by night over this holy mountain. From a place of fear the mountain becomes a place of delight. Children play around a cobra’s den, the lamb and the lion lie down together, the poor become rich, a great banquet feeds them all. The mountain makes an exodus from fear to delight.

Wonderful imagery for solid institutions today, like churches and nations, that are paralyzed today by fear and confusion. Wonderful imagery for us who, like the shepherds at Bethlehem may stand today fearful in the dark. 

The Assyrians must have had the equivalent of Roman centurions as the backbone of their armies. Military analysts said of them “If you got to them, you got the army.” Powerful men, loyal soldiers, but they could tell their troops “Lay down your swords and spears,” and they would do it.

The Roman centurion in today’s gospel represent those powerful forces. He comes humbly before Jesus:  “Lord, I am not worthy that you should  come under my roof, but say the word and my servant will be healed.” He comes with a faith not found in Israel.

The Messiah touches the proud and the strong, our gospel reminds us. No one. even a centurion, is beyond the reach of his mercy.

Advent is a time of hope, a daring hope that’s not just about surviving. It’s about much more. Jesus Christ instructs us in this time and shows us the path to take. He’s knocking at the door, an Advent prayer reminds us. He invites us to work for the coming of God’s kingdom. He has come to lead us there.

Advent Prayers

How should we pray in Advent? One suggestion: Look at the psalm responses to the scriptural readings during the season.. Here’s one from the Mass for the 1st Sunday:

“ To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Make your ways known to me, O Lord;
   teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
   for you are God my savior,
   and for you I wait all the day. “

Advent’s a teaching time, and God is our teacher and guide. 

The Advent prayers are prayers to make our own. Here’s part of the 1st Preface for Advent:

“We give you thanks, Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord, For he assumed at his first coming the lowliness of human flesh and so fulfilled the design you formed long ago, and opened for us the way to eternal salvation that, when he comes again in glory and majesty and all is at last made manifest, we who watch for that day  may inherit the great promise In which we now dare to hope.”

God’s daring plan calls for daring hope from us.

Here’s part of the 2nd Preface for Advent                                   

“We give you thanks, Father, almighty and eternal God, through Christ our Lord,For all the oracles of the prophets foretold him, the Virgin Mother longed for himwith love beyond all telling. John the Baptist sang of his coming and proclaimed his presence when he came. It is by his gift that already we rejoice at the mystery of his Nativity so that he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise.”

We share with the prophets, Mary, and John the Baptist, who rejoiced in the gift they were given, Jesus Christ. 

Collect, Monday, First Week of Advent

Keep us alert, we pray, O Lord our God, as we await the advent of Christ your Son, so that, when he comes and knocks, he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise. Who lives and reigns…

Prayer after Communion 

Replenished by the food of spiritual nourishment we humbly beseech you, O Lord, that, through our partaking in this mystery you may teach us to judge wisely the things of earth and to hold firm to the things of heaven.

Prayer after Communion

May these mysteries  in which we have participated, profit us, we pray for even now, as we walk amid passing things you teach us by them to love the things of heavenand to hold fast to what endures. Through Christ our Lord.

1st WEEK OF ADVENT: November 29-December 5 Readings and Feasts

The Prophet Isaiah

NOVEMBER 29 Mon Advent Weekday Is 2:1-5/Mt 8:5-1

30 Tue Saint Andrew, Apostle Feast Rom 10:9-18/Mt 4:18-22

DECEMBER 1 Wed Advent Weekday Is 25:6-10a/Mt 15:29-37

2 Thu Advent Weekday Is 26:1-6/Mt 7:21, 24-27 

3 Fri Saint Francis Xavier, Priest Memorial Is 29:17-24/Mt 9:27-31 

4 Sat Advent Weekday [Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church]

Is 30:19-21, 23-26/Mt 9:35—10:1, 5a, 6-8 

5 SUN SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT Bar 5:1-9/Phil 1:4-6, 8-11/Lk 3:1-6

Our lectionary’s readings for Advent invite us into this beautiful season leading to the Birth of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Isaiah, speaking for the generations before Jesus who waited for his coming, accounts for almost half of Advent’s Old Testament readings. We hear his voice this first week.

Usually Advent opens, either on Sunday or Monday, with Isaiah’s message that all nations will stream to God’s mountain and listen for God’s instruction. “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.” Wars are over; the fragmentation destroying humanity comes to an end. It’s a message of universal salvation. Not only are we as individuals called, but all nations, all creatures, all creation is called. ( Isaiah 2:1-5 ) The reading is also read every Monday during Advent at morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours.

For Isaiah, the mountain of the Lord, where the Jewish temple stood in Jerusalem, is a place of revelation. All nations will banquet on that mountain (Monday). It’s the rock where people dwell in safety, where children play around the cobra’s den, and the lion and the lamb lie down together. (Tuesday) There the poor will triumph (Thursday), the blind will see (Friday). The Teacher will come to guide all there.(Saturday) Isaiah’s poetic imagery, embracing all creation in the readings for the 1st week of Advent, is striking in its beauty.

We need to hear God’s promise from Isaiah, especially now, as an antidote for our present fears. We wonder today about the future of our world, weak and fragmented. We’re concerned for ourselves, our future, our personal security. Advent brings the promise God to us all.

The gospels in this first week point to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies in Jesus Christ. The Roman centurion humbly approaching Jesus in Capernaum (Monday) represents all the nations that will come to him. Jesus feeds a multitude on the mountain.(Wednesday) He affirms that his kingdom will be built on rock.(Thursday) He gives sight to blind men. (Friday) He sends his disciples to call the lost sheep. (Saturday) 

Many of our Advent readings are taken from Matthew’s Gospel, which portrays Jesus teaching on a mountain (Isaiah’s favorite symbol) and working great miracles that benefit all who come. Jesus is the new temple, the new Presence of God, Emmanuel, God with us.                  


Clay Feet

As the church year ends we read from the Book of Daniel and the apocalyptic sections of St. Luke’s gospel about the future, the day of the Lord, when the kingdom of God finally comes and humanity and creation itself reach the goal intended by God from the beginning.

But we’re used to normal lives, like that described in Luke’s gospel. Like those in the days of Noah and the days of Lot we prefer “eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building.” (Luke 17, 26-30)

This week’s readings make us uneasy, because they point to a future not normal at all: “wars and insurrections, nation rising against nation, powerful earthquakes, famines, plagues, awesome sights and mighty signs in the sky”  And there’s persecution besides.(Luke 21, 7-28)  Not easy to accept..

Yes, Jesus promises not a hair of our head will be harmed,  we will have the strength to endure whatever happens, we’ll be able to give testimony,  we will have the wisdom to understand it all. But still,..

Then, there’s Daniel….

The Book of Daniel recalls King Nebuchadnezzar training Daniel and three other young Jewish exiles in Babylon to serve as his advisors. The king has a lot to do and he needs a brain trust to help him see where he’s been and where he’s going. People in charge always need advisors.

Daniel gives Nebuchadnezzar an unexpected picture of the future. His kingdom will come to an end and other empires take its place. Like all great political powers, his empire has clay feet; it will collapse and fall to the ground. The only kingdom that endures is God’s kingdom, a stone hewn from a mountain.

Daniel wasn’t afraid to present the king with reality. Is that what we learn from him? God works through reality, even wars, earthquakes, famines, plagues, persecutions. Yet, the kingdom of God will come, no matter what. So don’t be afraid of the future.

Some people may have thought Daniel was dreaming. He was really looking at reality. Some people think faith is dreaming, but it isn’t.

“When these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21, 28) Look up with faith.

Do Your Job!

We celebrated the feast of Christ the King last Sunday. It’s hard to think of Christ as King in a world where kings are few. Most governments are governed by ordinary people, not kings. Royal families, where they exist, have mainly ceremonial roles.

Yet, Jesus Christ is king, and what’s more we share in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet and king. (Catholic Catechism 1546) We’re all priests, prophets and kings by our baptism. “We’re a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people set apart,” (1 Peter 2,5)

How are we kings? Adam, our first parent, may suggest what kind of king we should be. There he is in the illustration from the Book of Genesis above, given kingly powers by God. In the garden, the symbol of the created world, he names the animals and is given care over God’s creation.

Psalms, like Psalm 8 (Saturday Morning, week 2), remind us that’s our role.
When I see the heavens, the work of your hands,
The moon and the stars that you arranged,
What are we that you keep us in mind,,
Mortal as we are that you care for us.

Yet you have made us little less than gods,
With glory and honor you crown us,
You have give us power over the works of your hand,
Put all things under our feet.”

Today’s lectionary readings from Daniel and Luke’s Gospel (Friday) can give the impression that the created world is going to be torn apart and discarded when God’s kingdom comes. But that’s not so. Creation itself awaits the promise of resurrection.

We have been given kingly care over creation. Let’s not forget it. We’re not here to save ourselves. The purpose of our life is not to escape from this world. We’re to care for creation and to make it ready for God’s kingdom.

We need to do our job.

Bless the Lord, All You Works of the Lord

The Liturgy of the Hours, the prayer of the church, offers a rich feast of psalms, canticles and readings from scripture for morning and evening prayer. Prayers of the three young men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, from the Book of Daniel 3, 14f are frequently  found  in the church’s morning prayers.

The three young men were bound and thrown into a fiery furnace by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar because they won’t worship a golden idol he set up. But the fire doesn’t destroy them,  “Unfettered and unhurt” they walk freely in the fire, protected by an angel. They’re unharmed, saved by their faith in God.

The young men in the furnace belonged to a Jewish community in exile, with no priest, prophet or leader, no temple to offer sacrifice, but they willingly shouldered the world they lived in, which had become a fiery furnace.

They have sins and mistakes of their own, but the young men believe in God who promised offspring like the stars in the sky and the sands of the sea. “We follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and seek your face. Do not put us to shame.”

A good prayer for days and a world that become a fiery furnace. With  hope in God’s promises, trusting and uncomplaining, we can walk freely in the fire too, “unfettered and unhurt.” Azariah’s (Abednego) prayer for mercy. is found on Tuesday morning Week IV.

The second prayer from the Book of Daniel is long prayer that’s the canticle for Sunday morning in the 1st and 3rd weeks of the Liturgy of the Hours (Daniel 3, 51-90). A shorter form of the canticle is found in Sunday morning prayer for the 2nd and 4th weeks. (Daniel 3,54-57)

It’s a prayer of thanksgiving. When King Nebuchadnezzar saw the three young men walking unharmed in the fiery furnace he ordered the furnace heated seven times stronger than before. “But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace, and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it. The fire in no way touched them or caused them pain or harm. Then these three in the furnace sang with one voice, glorifying and blessing God:
“Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever.
Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,
You heavens, bless the Lord,
All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord.
Sun and moon, bless the Lord;
Stars of heaven, bless the Lord;
Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;
All you winds, bless the Lord;
Fire and heat, bless the Lord;
Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
Dew and rain, bless the Lord;

Frost and chill, bless the Lord;

Ice and snow, bless the Lord;

Nights and days, bless the Lord;

Light and darkness, bless the Lord;

Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord;

Let the earth bless the Lord,

Mountains and hills, bless the Lord;

Everything growing on earth, bless the Lord;

O Israel, bless the Lord;

Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;

Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord;

Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;

Holy men of humble of heart, bless the Lord;

Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
For he has delivered us from Sheol,
and saved us from the power of death;
He has freed us from the raging flame
and delivered us from the fire.” (Daniel 3, 51-90))

This is a resurrection prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving. We pray the canticle from Daniel on Sunday because it is the Lord’s day, the day of his resurrection. We’re not the only ones promised resurrection. All creation has that promise, and so we call all creation to bless the Lord.

The three young men and their prayer in the fiery furnace was a story early Christians greatly admired. They frequently placed the representation of the three young men in the catacombs as a reminder that God hears us in the fiery furnace, whether it’s the fiery furnace of  life or of death. God not only promise us life. God promise all creation resurrection and life.

A Little Boy’s Small Gifts

“When my mother would bring me as a little girl to the Buddhist temple in Korea, she would tell me to bring along some bread for the holy man there; he would be hungry,” my good friend Duk Soon Fwang told me not long ago. 

“When I became a Catholic, I found the story of the little boy who brought bread and fish to Jesus my favorite story. I have always wanted to paint that story. The little boy has no name. I wonder if his mother told him the same thing my mother told me. He could be me.”

During a recent visit, Duk Soon was working on the painting and she told me she wanted to show Jesus with his hand blessing the little boy but wasn’t sure. Maybe she could do what the painters of icons do, I suggested. Jesus’ hand, with the two index fingers joined together showed he is God and man, and his three other fingers indicating the Trinity.

The little boy is blessed by Jesus, human and divine, and by the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God blesses the small gifts we bring. 

Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to give thanks for the small gifts. God blesses them.  Remember the little boy.

The Last Days

We began this week with the Feast of Christ the King and now all week we’re reading from the Old and New Testament about the last days. We share the kingly power of Jesus. We shouldn’t forget that as we read about a world turned upside down, floods, earthquakes, plagues and famines, when “awesome sights and signs will come from the sky.” (Luke 21,11) Who can survive?

Our readings sometimes refer to actual historic events experienced by Jesus and his disciples, like the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. As we look at our times, with its wars, political strife and increasing stores of nuclear weapons, we can be afraid..

Our days can seem like the last days. Even our personal experiences can lead us to believe that. I heard someone say awhile ago he thought the world ended when his marriage broke up. It took him years to get over it.


It’s no accident the Feast of Christ the King opens this week. By baptism we share in the kingly, priestly and prophetic power of Jesus. It’s not enough  just to hold on. We should face these days bravely, Jesus says.They’re a time to give testimony. Don’t worry about what words to say or what you are going to do:  “I myself shall give you a wisdom that all your adversaries will not be able to refute.” Don’t worry, “not a hair of your head will be destroyed.”

Don’t forget, though, as our reading from St. Luke for the Feast of Christ the King reminded us, Jesus was king, priest and prophet on Calvary.

November 22-28: Feasts and Readings


NOVEMBER 22 Mon Saint Cecilia, Virgin Martyr Memorial Dn 1:1-6, 8-20/Lk 21:1-4

23 Tue Weekday [Saint Clement I, Pope and Martyr; Saint Columban, Abbot; USA: Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, Priest and Martyr] Dn 2:31-45/Lk 21:5-11

24 Wed Saint Andrew Dũng-Lạc, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs Memorial

Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28/Lk 21:12-19

25 Thu Weekday USA: Thanksgiving Day] Dn 6:12-28/Lk 21:20-28

26 Fri Weekday Dn 7:2-14/Lk 21:29-33

27 Sat Weekday [BVM] Dn 7:15-27/Lk 21:34-36


Jer 33:14-16/1 Thes 3:12—4:2/Lk 21:25-28, 34-36

Thursday is ThanksgivingDay in the USA, a day we spend at home with family and friends. The readings for most of this week, from the Book of Daniel and the Gospel of Luke, describe a world turned upside down. Hardly readings for enjoying a family feast in the security of your home.

Three martyrs also are remembered this week.

But faith embraces a world upset and a world secure.

Next week Advent begins. Christ comes.