Hearing God

Hearing God

“As we live in this season of Advent, awaiting the coming of the Lord, we might examine our hearts to see if they are truly open. Are we open to God speaking to us in the language of everyday events? Are we willing to hear God’s admonitions and to accept God’s guidance, or are we happier to justify our selfish behaviors and chart our own way in life? May the Lord find in us hearts that are open and ready to receive him, whenever and however he chooses to come to us.”

-Br. David Vryhof, “Brother, Gve us a Word,” Society of Saint John the Evangelist, December 10th, 2018. SSJE.org

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This is our daily question. Are we following our will or God’s will? Are we listening to God or are we listening to ourselves and what promotes ourselves and our own self-interest? My experience is it is so hard to know, and I have learned to listen cautiously to those who tell us they know exactly what we are to do. I usually do not know if what I am doing is God’s will until much later.

So, what do we do? We try to put ourselves in position to hear God’s will. This means being silent, practicing spiritual exercises, being in thin places where the spiritual and physical world seem to have only a thin membrane between them, being in community with other spiritual seekers who share experiences, studying scripture and stories of those before us in our own religious traditions, worshipping in community.

My experience also is that when I feel or know the fruit of the spirit after discernment, this is a sign that I am being guiding by the Christ within, the Holy Spirit, the God of our understanding. (Galatians 5:22 love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.)

This is not a walk we do alone. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have been before us and who are now with us to guide us.

Joanna. Joannaseibert.com

December 14

December 14

Remembering the names of children and teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary six years ago on December 14th

“Holding these persons in our broken-open hearts, we are less likely to forget.” “Advent Message for Today,” from St. Mary’s Cathedral, Memphis, December 10, 2018

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jesica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison Wyatt, 6

Rachel Davino, 29 (Teacher)

Dawn Hochsprung, 47 (School Principal)

Nancy Lanza, 52 (Mother of gunman)

Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (Teacher)

Lauren Rousseau, 30 (Teacher)

Mary Sherlach, 56 (School psychologist)

Victoria Soto, 27 (Teacher)

Adam Lanza (shooter)

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” Elie Wiesel

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The “Advent Meditation for Today” from St. Mary’s Cathedral in Memphis listed the names of the children and teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School six years ago. Elie Wiesel, the survivor of the Holocaust, will keep reminding us in his writings which live on after him that remembering those who have died, especially their names, helps us to keep them alive. We are called to keep their memory and the memory of so many others alive to remind us how the control of guns and assault weapons is out of control in our country. These children and their teachers cry out to us to save the lives of the children they will never have.

As we pray for peace this Advent, may we pray for courage and sacrifice and forgiveness and compassion and discernment for answers for this question for our country. May we be guided by what we can learn from so many other countries who have found answers to this issue.

So, what do the children and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School have to do with spiritual direction? The God of love daily calls us to spread the love we learn as we connect to the God within us and God in our neighbor. We know our God grieves with all these children and their families and we are called to connect in some unknown way to their grief as well. Out of our love and grief we are called to honor those who have died by working to prevent such acts of violence. Discernment and action are just as important parts of the spiritual life as prayer and silence and contemplation and forgiveness.

Joanna joannaseibert.com

St. Lucy Day

St. Lucy December 13

“Santa Lucia, thy light is glowing

Through darkest winter night, comfort bestowing.

Dreams float on dreams tonight,

Comes then the morning light,

Santa Lucia, Santa Lucia.” Swedish Children’s Folk Song

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Already today this December 13 in the darkest hours of the morning (2 a.m. to 4 a.m.), in Sweden and Norway the eldest daughter of a family wearing a white gown, a red sash and a crown of lingonberry twigs and seven blazing candles on her head emerges out of the darkness carrying a tray of rich saffron buns and steaming coffee to wake up her family. Every village also has its own Lucy who goes from one farm to the next carrying a torch to light her way, bringing cookies and buns at each house and returning home by day break. The winner of the Nobel peace prize for literature often has the honor of lighting the candles on the head of the Lucy for the city of Stockholm.

Throughout Sweden the feast day of Lucy, is celebrated as a festival of lights with bonfires with incense and candlelight parades. How in the world did this honoring of St. Lucy become so important in Scandinavia when Lucy was a native of Sicily? The tradition of honoring Lucy may have originated in Sweden with Vikings who traveled south on peaceful trading expeditions to Italy and brought back the stories of the early Christian martyr, Lucia.

December 13 presently is almost the shortest day of the year. Somehow the Scandinavians began to honor a young Sicilian girl, Lucy, whose name means “light” at a time during the darkest part of their year. It is all a mystery but the tradition is beautiful.

I especially honor this day because two friends who carried the light of Christ to so many people died on this day seven years apart. Another light bearer who was our great teacher and friend was initially to have major heart surgery today. So, in my own prayers on St. Lucy Day, I remember special friends who have brought light out of darkness to so many, but remembering especially those in my own life who showed me the light in times of darkness.

This is my Advent thought for you to remember today on St. Lucy Day those who brought the light of Christ, the light of God, the light of the Spirit to you.

This is a special tradition that the Scandinavians have given us to remember the light that shines in our darkness. We can also take the tradition to our homes. In the past, our family has often celebrated St. Lucy Day during the second week of Advent with our oldest granddaughter serving buns at an Advent family service. She dresses in white with a red sash and carries a candle as we all say the traditional song above that Lucy sings on her rounds.

Joanna joannaseibert.com