Tag Archives: Advent

This Technology Debacle is a Mystery?

OK, I know Jason is not God.  Nevertheless there are similarities between how we had to trust Jason and how I need to trust God.  Jason was here for a couple days and was frequently in the inner bowels of that mysterious little closet holding our computer servers.  He usually came out with a pleasant look on his face which perplexed me a bit.  I’m used to having a clue about what people are up to.  Even in things like auto work with all its computerized parts, usually I am only removed a few steps from some sort of understanding.  Not in this.  He and Mrs. Noble have used more words I’ve never heard before in the past few days than I remember in recent history.  Though I really don’t get it, I trust they are making progress.  And you know what, just before lunch they told us we are almost restored to where we should be.

God does things in each of our lives.  I don’t get it sometimes, He goes into the depths of my life and adjusts things.  Sometimes I don’t like it, I don’t know what he is doing.  He comes out of making adjustments in my life with some sort of look of love on His face, and I am perplexed.  He uses events that I don’t understand.  Though I don’t get it I trust He is making progress.  Sometimes He reveals what He was up to, other times I will need to wait to understand.  In the end, He will not just restore, He will far surpass anything I could imagine.

Thanks, Jason, for the reminder to trust in the Lord.  Mary sure had to trust during that original Advent.  Some things don’t change.  Jesus I trust in You, help us to do so well.

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Presents vs. Presence

When I was a little girl, each Christmas we received one new family game, encouraging us to play something together.  That’s a present that leads to presence.

Presence wins over presents very often.    How many of you that have a child in kindergarten or first grade came to the Christmas program yesterday?  Was it necessary?  Could you have simply told your child that you would have someone tape them singing and would watch it later at home?  Kids love to have someone come watch them…..What a joy to see their beaming faces in person and knowing that they are watching for you to watch?

Watching that program in person was a real treat.  (And I’ve seen lots of Christmas programs!)  I was present to see a couple little ones up front put their whole hearts into the songs.  I was present when “Mary” got up the courage to go back on stage after she had stage fright.  I was present to experience the utter delight of children and parents alike as the students held their elbows to the side for what seemed an eternity before they skyrocketed upward as they sang, “We………………………..WISH you a Merry Christmas!”  You wouldn’t have wanted to miss that program.  Yet, so often there are obstacles to genuine presence with those we love.

070Recently I was talking with a parent who said, “I’m quitting Facebook, I don’t use it much but every time I do, I feel like a rotten spouse and parent.  People only post their “A game” items.  Those don’t happen every hour or even every day.  We see their “A game” and feel like, ‘Aw, gee, I never make those cute little treats for my kids…..etc, etc’“  She said the technology was not helping her in the long run so she was finding ways to step back.  She is working on presence to those closest to her.

I’d like to follow-up with last week’s note and give a few more compelling reasons for stepping back from technology with young children.  Last week we noted the correlation between technology use and a decreased ability to self-regulate and an increase in tantrums and impulsivity.  Further reasons:

2) Delayed physical development likely caused by decreased movement which enhances attention and learning ability.

3) Sleep deprivation fostered by 75% of kids having technology available to them in their rooms.

4) Mental illness, specifically depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, ADD, and a host of others, associated with technology use.    Adolescents are experiencing a similar experience to the mom I spoke to in paragraph 3.  In summary they are led to think, “Look at all the fun things every other kid gets to do and here I sit at home……”  Little do they know what a blessing home is for them.  Kids need to learn to handle boredom.  Figuring out how to stimulate our minds or finding some activity which I enjoy, constitute essential parts of maturation.

I had better stop there as one can only handle so much of the quagmire.

Jesus stepped into our quagmire to pull us out of it.  He also sends grace to help us figure out how to make our way out.  May this Advent bring you the openness of heart to accept these gifts from our loving Father, for which He sent His Son to earth.

Thank you, children for bringing to life the joy of Christmas.  We could see joy and heartfelt love so clearly on your faces!

May His decision to be present among us enable us to be more present to each other in His name.

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The Biggest Surprise at Christmas from the Other Side

Recently someone passed along a short poem about a loved one who had died, and that Christmas in heaven was a good thing, a very good thing.  I couldn’t wait to see the original.  I’ll add it at the end, but it made me think about what it will be like when we see more clearly.  Though I enjoyed the poem, I thought it fell short of what I had hoped for.  When I see from the other side, I’m imagining that I’ll think something like this:

“Are you kidding, “as I gaze upon the magnitude and omnipotence of the Trinity, overwhelmed with his glory, beauty, goodness and love.  “HE did THAT!”  realizing the chasm between the fragile Son Incarnate lying in a feeding trough, as I see the fullness of His majesty , equal to the Eternal Father .  I think the magnitude of the condescension of the Incarnation will strike me with paralyzing amazement  causing me to fall to my knees in delight.  I think the magnitude exceeds the degree my puny little mind can comprehend.  Yet, it seems good to try, lest I yawn in boredom and let my limited human nature keep me from the grace at hand.

Christmas in Heaven (original)

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular please wipe away that tear
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear
But the sounds of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I can’t tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place
Can you just imagine Christmas with our Savior face to face?

I’ll ask him to lift your spirit as I tell you of your love
So, then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful and let your spirit sing
For I am spending Christmas in heaven and I’m walking with the King.
by Wanda Bencke

Blessed Advent to you and Blessed Christmas, also.

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Children Giving

Can 13 year olds change the world?  They certainly can do good which changes things!  This week I heard a testimonial about some faith filled 13-year-olds. It reminded me of some of our own kids. To help prepare for Jesus’ coming, the student council has begun a penny drive for Catholic Relief Services. The children with a little direction from their faculty advisor have put together a simple school wide program.  They have containers in all the classrooms and are encouraging the children to give from the goodness of their heart. The Student Council members went from room to room to tell the children of the program.

In the midst of their presentation they stated that the main reward for giving will be from our Lord for your goodness as well as your own knowledge of having done good to others.  That reflects level D and C motivation, to please the Lord and help us get along well with one another (as opposed to A and B which serve myself only).

Today before school in the courtyard it was good to see many kids clutching their change, some in plastic bags some in bare little hands.  I could see kids showing something to one another, when I went to check it out…..little fists of change.

Missionaries and donations

As two Student Council members were preparing to announce the program to all the children in the school after Mass on Monday, I had an interesting dialogue with one of the girls. We were talking about the good that can be done with a little money in some of the very poor countries.  She told of her sister’s sponsorship of two girls from Guatemala, providing for them on a monthly basis for a number of years.  After several years she was notified that the young women were on their own and no longer in need of the support for education and daily sustenance. This young woman was a little disappointed that they didn’t need her sister’s sponsorship anymore.

When her birthday rolled around she asked her mom if she could sponsor a child of her own. So at the ripe old age of eleven, she adopted the sponsorship of Wadley, a four-year old boy from Haiti, pictured below.  She told of Wadley, who shares her same birthday, with great joy.  She spoke of planning for his birthday and buying things that would be useful to him, little, simple things like pencils, school supplies and stickers. The blessing of giving exuded from this young woman and brings great delight to my heart to see such generosity and joy in living the Gospel as Jesus would have us. Amen Alleluia and thank you for helping me prepare for Jesus coming this Advent

.WadleJoyful Sponsorship

Here’s one more example from beyond our walls, from Matthew Kelly:

Every day I am impressed by the incredible and generous people I meet who are willing to lay down their own lives to re-energize the Church in America. Below is a message from one of the most remarkable people I know who has teamed up with Dynamic Catholic to make history. I am excited to share it with you.-Matthew Kelly
In January 2014, I decided to make history… by helping re-energize the Church in America. At 13 years old some say I am too young, but I knew I could prove them wrong!It started 3 years ago when I would go with my mom to pick my brother up from school. In the car, my mom always played one of Matthew Kelly’s first CDs, and I loved it. A year later, my mom and I started going to daily Mass together, even though it wasn’t always easy to wake up. After Mass I would go to the Adoration Chapel. I think there’s just something amazing about sitting and talking to Jesus about your life.Then, last January, my dad and I went to a Matthew Kelly event. We loved it! I always wanted to help Dynamic Catholic, so when I heard about the Ambassadors Club I signed up to be a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador, committing to a monthly gift of $5.

It sounds strange that a 13-year-old would give away money, but it’s not as hard as you think. I can usually earn $5 per month by serving weddings at my church. From that, I earn enough to make donations.

Some 13-year olds might give money because their parents force them. But in my case, I was the one who really wanted to donate. I like to see exactly what my money goes toward, and I see Dynamic Catholic inspiring many people, old and young, to a deeper love for God. I know that our Church needs some help, and I think that Dynamic Catholic is doing what needs to be done!

 13 year old testimonial!

In Christ’s Love,

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Whose Birthday is It Anyway? These Kids Know!

There was once a land that was backward.  Everything was switched, everything seemed just a little off-kilter.  In this place, the children didn’t play football, they played knee-ball.  Kids did not go to schools; teachers went to homes.   In this unusual place, trees and flowers bloomed in the winter, and lakes froze in the summer.  And in this place, a little guy named Jason had a birthday.

His grandparents came, but he never saw them. His mother baked a birthday cake, but she gave itto the mailman.  All of Jason’s friends gave presents to each other—-not to Jason—-in honor of Jason’s day.  Finally, he’d had all he could take.  Jason got a megaphone, got on his bike, and rode through the main street of town, saying, “Whose birthday is it, anyway? Whose birthday is it, anyway?”

Some folks miss the point of Christmas.  Oh, decorations are displayed.  Parties are attended.  Gifts are bought and exchanged.  But somehow it never dawns on them that it is someone’s birthday.  And that someone is Jesus Christ.  How about you?  Have you missed Christmas because you’ve missed Jesus Christ?  He is God’s gift to you.  Jesus Christ the Savior came to forgive us and cleanse us of all our sin.  And if you know whose birthday it is, what gift do you have for Him this Christmas?  Does the One who has everything have your heart?  Why not give Him that? (source unknown)

The children in the play on Friday knew Whose birthday we celebrate.  We will be reminded again on Tuesday with the play.  May we recall His presence often as we prepare our hearts.  May He be welcome at all our Christmas parties.

Blessed Advent to you all,

Sister Mary Michael, CK

Christmas play

Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus from the Kindergarten – First Grade play

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My Favorite Thing About Being a Sister

Recently during a panel session of a retreat, the question, “What element of your charism is your favorite?” was asked.

Without exception each sister repeated, “Belonging Totally to Jesus”, wait, there was one who answered differently.

She said, “Belonging totally to the King.”  While each answer sounds the same, He blesses each of us uniquely.  He is infinite; He can be totally ours for each of us and be absolutely faithful.  If only we could be as faithful.

Advent calls us to prepare a place for Jesus, to give Him a warm welcome.  He who welcomes us without reserve, asks to be welcomed by us.  He comes as a Babe in order to be approachable.   The relationship is reciprocal; it has to go both ways.  Sometimes I wish He hadn’t done that.  I’d like to say, “Come on, Jesus, overwhelm us with love, You who are all powerful, make it so obvious we have to believe.  That way my dullness and stupidity can’t get in the way.”  Yet He chooses gentleness and comes as a helpless Babe, and let’s my brokenness get in the way.  Rats, to the last part, anyway.

“Lord, help us welcome you well, and help us to enable those around us to do the same.”

Blessed Advent.


Sister Mary Michael

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