Tag Archives: Isaiah

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comfort-and-conviction

Advent 2: Comfort and Conviction

‘Comfort, comfort my people…in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord!’ (IS 40)

The fires of Advent convict us even as they warm us. His light blazes in our darkness, and we, no matter how dull and unresponsive, cannot quench its flames (JN 1:5). How grateful I am for the fire that exposes sin in order to consume it.

Isaiah grants us a glimpse of the fullness of Emmanuel’s love. He promises a double dose of comfort in exchange for our sins then rouses us to wax prophetic and raze everything that stands in the way of His Presence, His holy blaze. How nervy of Isaiah! He fuses the image of a tender Father restoring the sin-weary with the blazing Baptist who tears down mountains and raises valleys to make a way for God. Jesus is that Good Shepherd (40: 1-11). He leads us gently into a baptism of fire (MK 1:8) in order to burn off all that resists love in our lives. He comes to dwell with us, to make us as expansive and generous as He is.

Comfort and conviction express well the tension I feel during Advent. That Jesus came in history and we as the Church give a whole month to reflect on His entry can be the stuff dreams are made of: each of us, no matter how devout, remember the kindness of Christmas. Of course our own histories, safely edited by time, can lull us into a false peace. Advent gives us no such break. These four weeks are as much about fond recollections of the manger as they are about His second coming, which will be as violent and conclusive as His first entry was hidden and humble. Advent proclaims at once: Rejoice, He has come; repent, He is coming. Are you ready?

Lulled into a false peace, a friend of mine woke up a bit when I told him that Advent was all about repentance. He thought it was about a party-hearty countdown to Christmas, complete with a pop-open calendar…‘It’s about preparing your heart for Him, now and when He returns.’

Thinking myself quite noble, I drove home from the encounter and noticed an African-American woman walking alone on the side of the road in 18 degree weather. The Spirit prompted me: ‘Turn around and give her a ride.’ My spirit refused to be discomforted. Later that day, Annette expressed some need for me and I stiffened, quietly resenting a new obstacle in my course.

‘Thank You God for revealing what resists love. As we confess our sins, purge our hearts and console us with almighty mercy. Make us as expansive and generous as You are. May we welcome You and others more fully this Advent.’

hands

False Mercy

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

False Mercy

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 7

The great sins of the world are superficial wounds on My Heart, but the sins of a chosen soul pierce My Heart through and through… (1702)

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness… (Isaiah 5:20-21)

Father, grant us clarity as to what pleases You and what does not. Thank you for the clear witness of Scripture and the Church. Help us to discern ‘blind guides’; most importantly, help us to discern our own tendency to conform the truth to our lusts. We especially pray for Christians caught in lies of their own design. Set them free before it is too late. Let the truth set us free for Mercy.

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com

prayer1

Prisoners of Hope

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

Prisoners of Hope

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 5

‘In spite of everything, Jesus, I trust You in the face of every sentiment which sets itself against hope.’ (14)

‘In the time of my favor, I will answer you; on the day of salvation, I will help you…I will say to the captives, ‘Come out!’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’  (Isaiah 49:8-9)

Who is like You, Father of Mercy? Even our sin is not stronger than Your Mercy. You woo us with a Love sweeter and stronger than any the world offers. In that Love, we cry out for all those who have fallen into waterless pits. We rebuke the enemy of their souls, and ask for Mercy to come quickly to meet them. Release those imprisoned by hope with Your Divine Mercy.

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com

Vilnius square

Faithful Mother for an Adulterous Generation

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

Faithful Mother for an Adulterous Generation

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 3

‘Rejoice, for you are closer to God in His mercy than a baby to its mother’s heart.’ (423)

‘The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all that He has made.’ (Psalm 145:8,9)

‘Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; you are ever before Me.’ (Isaiah 49:15,16)

Humble us, O God, by the tender and mighty nature of Your ‘rachamim’. You feel deeply for our needs, and ache over our afflicted state. Would You move us with the Mercy that moves Your heart? Grant us a share in Your Mercy. May our prayers for the release of Mercy promote healing action. Bring the unfaithful home! Transform them through Your (and our) faithful love.

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com

birthday

No More Angels?

As I begin my 54th year (my birthday was January 13th), I am aware of a tendency to lock into familiar ways and to resist what is peculiar, untested by my experience.

Wisdom? Nah…More likely the hardening of the arteries, the closing of the womb, that menopausal tendency in both men and women to rebuff angels and resist the new life they announce.

I pray for the simple, elastic faith of Mary, Jesus’ mother; I marvel at her response to angel Gabriel. His announcement that she will become the mother of God troubles her, but she believes it. All she wants to know is: ‘How will this come about?’ She trusts God, even though it means yielding to Him at the most personal and vulnerable manner conceivable (pun intended).

I relate more to Zechariah who was also visited by Gabriel. The old man’s response to becoming a father so late in life? Prove it to me! ‘How can I know this?’ Time had clogged his heart valves, gave him a spiritual vasectomy. We know from scripture that religious disciplines and duties had kept Zechariah righteous. Such rituals may have also made him rigid, controlling, suspect of dreams and angels and heavenly babies leaping in wombs and saving the earth.

Religion did not necessarily incline him to new life; you could say that its rules gagged him, rendered him mute, unable to grant God a humble ‘yes’, let alone a song of praise for His sovereign control!

I take note, and consider who will define me more as I age—Mary or Zechariah? Both were afraid of an unfathomable future, but while the old man wanted proof, Mary surrendered, in fear and trembling, trusting that God was good, His will fruitful regardless of its cost.

God is patient and merciful to those like me whose hearts and wombs bear the normal scars of age—unhealed wounds, losses yet to grieve, disappointments that tempt one to unbelief.

It is a new year. Let us pray together on my 54th in the spirit of Isaiah 54, that our youth would be renewed, a marvel of elastic, expectant faith.

“‘Sing, O barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of she who has a husband,’ says the Lord. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen the stakes’…For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is His Name–the Holy One is Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth. ” (Is 54:1,2,5)

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