"Young Religious ought to enter blogs and correct the opinions of the youth, showing them the true Jesus" - Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar for Rome

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What can I bring Him?

What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man, I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him, give my heart?

(From Christina Rossetti's In the Bleak Midwinter)
St. Francis, we know, was a great lover of Christmas!
We know he was interceding for us - obtaining many Christmas graces.
When I think of that first Christmas, I am struck by the littleness of the greatest event of history. In the town of Bethlehem, in a stable, surrounded by farm animals (living near a dairy farm, we have an inkling what this entails!), Our Savior was born of the Virgin Mary.  Good St. Joseph begged for lodging but there was no room at the inn. The swaddling clothes, the star, the angels' Gloria, the announcement to the humble shepherds...each detail blows my mind! 

I am struck as well by all that must have been passing through Our Lady's heart. I wonder if she thought of the angel's gentle invitation and her own response of love..."YES, Be It Done As You Have Said..." And the Word was made flesh. 

The Christmas Gospel is proclaimed during Matins
This was our first Christmas in the new Chapel. Our very dear friend and spiritual father, Fr. Fred Adamson, celebrated the Mass at Night. Knowing that the winding, dark, rough dirt roads leading to our remote desert dwelling pose some travel inconvenience, we did not expect more than a handful of people at the Christmas Eve Night Mass. As we prayed Matins before Mass, I kept hearing the chapel doors open...again and again. Shortly before Mass began, I snuck a peak behind me...and was quite floored to see a beautiful crowd of people. This was witnessed again as Mass began and we sang Adeste Fideles...and a CHORUS of voices joined in on the refrain: Venite adoremus, O Come, Let Us Adore Him... 

With our Chapel filled with people, I cannot help but believe that Our Lady allowed me to share a bit of her own surprise when the shepherds appeared at the entrance of the little cave that housed the Redeemer of the world.  They had come to adore her Newborn Son.
My Lord and My God

For some reason memories of the past 7 years flooded my mind on that beautiful night.  I thought of when we received, from the Lord, that gentle invitation to begin a new foundation of PCPAs in Phoenix, AZ.  I thought of our questions and of our eventual response of love.  I also thought of how easy it would have been to NOT say "YES".  I thought of how easy it would have been to turn back at any given point in the journey.  The uncertainty, the struggles, the colossal planning, and bills, and our own poverty - yes, there were times that beginning this foundation seemed next to impossible.  There were times that building Our Lady of Solitude seemed way too big...with us being way too small. 

And yet, here we are - Christmas 2011 - with a beautiful new Chapel filled with people...welcoming into our midst the Babe of Bethlehem.  On Christmas Eve, Tonopah felt like another Bethlehem, the lights on the dome of our Chapel like the Star that settled above the crib, and our congregation like the shepherds that came to adore.
One of my favorite Christmas movies is the classic Jimmy Stewart, It's a Wonderful Life.  I believe it was the message of this movie that I experienced this Christmas Eve.  It's a message that we all need to take to heart, whether we are beginning a new Foundation, or a new family, or just living out our little life in a little way.  Our YES makes a difference.  Our YES echoes the great YES of Our Lady at the Annunciation.  Our YES to God brings Him anew to the Bethlehem of our souls through grace.  

The Sisters and I wish you all a very Merry and Wonderful Christmas...


Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Sisters! What an inspiring blog! I can't believe it has been 7 years for you. Truly miracles happen when we just say yes, no matter how daunting it may seem. Sharing your journey through pictures and stories is so inspiring. It makes saying yes in all of our little worlds more valuable as we all help spread "Peace on Earth"! Thanks for your yes!

Cindi from WI said...

Thank you for sharing your Christmas with us, Sisters. Up here in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin it makes me feel much closer to you. Hopefully my long-awaited trip to Phoenix will happen this spring. Can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Wow-has it really been SEVEN years since you arrived in Arizona? And look how far you've come!

Beautiful reflections for Christmas, dear Sisters! How I wish I had the money to come out there and visit!

And how nice it was that you had a crowd in your chapel for Midnight Mass!

Here's hoping that you will come closer to breaking ground for your future monastery in 2012!

Barb in NY

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Sisters!
Thanks for sharing your Christmas experience. It's really inspiring! A very beautiful chapel!

-Stephen Jon from the Philippines

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas!! May the sweet little Jesus bless you in this holy season and always! 7 years??? Wow!