Advent Present – Mary Did You Know? Pentatonix

Advent Present – Mary Did You Know? Pentatonix

The questions in this song remind me the amazing faith of Mary and the complexity of that simple, “Your will be done!”  I don’t like songs like “Sing of Mary Pure and Simple”  I don’t see her as simple.  She is an amazing model of faith in the midst of uncertainty.

I figured this would be a great song to think about while we get ready to end Advent and smack right into Christmas!

Have an Amazing 4th Sunday of Advent!

REJOICE! Gaudete! 3rd Sunday of Advent, Be Thankful!

REJOICE! Gaudete! 3rd Sunday of Advent, Be Thankful!

Priests should wear pink and the reading remind us of many of the same things as the previous weeks with one very important difference.  Gaudete translates to rejoice and we need to remember to rejoice in all things, but Paul gives us another insight.   At  reading from Thessalonians calls us to be thankful in all circumstances.  Can we even be thankful in all things?

How many times to we ride an elevator, drive between point A and B, order food all without trouble.  I have no idea as a pastor, how many times the elevators at St. Pius X go up and down, but I do know that as soon as one of them is out, my phone starts going off.  Are we thankful for the days without traffic, or for the elevators that show up as expected or food orders that are correct?  Most of us just move on, but when anything goes wrong we remember it, we seem more inclined to react when things don’t go well.  What if we look at things more substantial.  Our heart beats over 100,000 times in 24 hours, do we give thanks for that?  We breath over 30,000 times a day, do we give thanks for that?  Yet if one of those two stop, we stop!

Paul calls us to be thankful in all things.  I had a friend in the seminary who returned one fall with a camel with a 24 on it.  When asked he would tell you that if a camel can go 24 days with out water, he could go 24 hours w/o a drink.  He would tell people he was a grateful recovering alcoholic.  That struck me as very wrong when he first said it.  But he would explain all he had learned through recovery that he wouldn’t have learned otherwise and he was grateful.

Are we thankful in all circumstances?  Most of us have to answer that with a no.  We are not thankful for tests of our faith and the challenges in life, but we should be.  Paul is telling us that we need to be.   So how do we do that?

I think there are three ways we have to approach this:

In our thoughts.  Our thinking determines much of who and what we are.  A high producing REALTOR that I know, would walk neighborhoods and get multiple listings in an hour.  She believed people wanted and needed her to sell their house, her attitude/thinking made her much more productive than almost any other agent.

Do we start our days alive, excited and full of energy?  Are we the Good morning God type, or the good God morning person?  Our thinking rules the day!

Socially is important too.  Those we hang out with change us and in some ways control our thinking.  How was Pooh so happy with Eeyore around?  Those around us can bring us up or down.  We need to be around those that we are either bringing to the faith or those helping us in our faith.  We need to be around those excited for each day!

Finally, Spiritually.  In the old days we would ask if people used God as a Dictionary or just when needed.  Today we could say use God like Google, only going there when we were in need.  When we are sick, are we thankful?  Are we thankful when things go wrong for the opportunity to learn and excel?  Do we see God in all things and all people?

Days left this Advent!

Can we use this last week to work on the above?  I don’t think we have a choice.  Our God entered the world as humbly as conceivable so that we might believe.  We now need to prepare this Advent so that on Christmas we can have that experience of the Word Incarnate that will deepen our faith and deepen our desire to be the presence of that Word to all we encounter, both in good times and in tough times.

As Paul tells us, we have to be Thankful in all circumstances!

The Jews Missed the Messiah! (According to Christians)

The Jews Missed the Messiah! (According to Christians)

Why Advent?  We have been listening to Christmas Carols in stores for months.  Churches have Christmas lights and Trees already up and decorated.  Why bother with a three week season this year?  Ponder this: The Jews Missed the Messiah!  (According to Christians)  But by our faith, the Jews, missed Him after generations and generations, of preparation.  Read the start of the Gospel of Matthew to confirm all the generations that they prepared.

I get tagged on Facebook with all the places that are celebrating Christmas.  Teachers and staff are quickly stopping their Christmas music when I show up.  I grew up and in house where advent was a wreath and we had advent calendars, but the prayer we prayed before we opened the window was, “let us remember as we pray this CHRISTMAS game that it was a night so long ago, that baby Jesus came.”  Well it is half and half.  My mom would have the house fully decorated for Thanksgiving so that we could enjoy it.

Every room, even bathrooms, had something Christmasy and she had what seemed like hundreds of different nativity sets, ornaments from all of our travels, it was spectacular.  Dad made it so that Christmas music started while we did the Thanksgiving dinner dishes.  The part that made me the most crazy was that Christmas evening my Mom was already planning on taking it all down.  She was tired of it.  My dad’s battle was to leave the main Nativity scene up long enough for the Wise Guys to show up at Epiphany.

Why Advent?

I sometimes want to say, OH HECK WITH IT, do what you want.  But I can’t, it is too important.  Listen to the prophecies.  Think about all the preparation the Jews had for the exact Messiah foretold to them for all these generations.  By skipping Advent and diving into Christmas, are we robbing ourselves of the season we need the most?

I look at our world and think most people don’t get it.  As I look at my life, I realize in many aspects, I am still struggling to get it.  If we got it, we wouldn’t let our friends sit at home, we wouldn’t passively attend Mass or any church.  We would be unstoppable.

Advent is a season to focus on preparation.  We are giving this season, to focus on what we do daily to be prepared.  Can we afford to take this for granted?  There was a book many years ago The Inconvenient Truth and although I have no idea what it was about or if I ever even read it, the title strikes me this Advent.

Our Inconvenient Truth

By Baptism we are called to evangelize.  I fear we are falling into the same trap as the Jews.  We become complacent.  We go to church, we tithe, we do all the things we are supposed to, just like the scribes, pharisees and Sadducees.

Question to help us focus on Advent:

Are we dealing with everyone in our lives as a creation of God?  Even the wonderful people cutting us off in traffic or “stealing” our parking places?

What would I do if this were my last day? (answer should be nothing, I’m ready) (it isn’t for most of us)

Who do I need to drag into church?

Do I spend enough time everyday with God?

If God appears before me, will I recognize that as my God?  (don’t be too sure, many Jews missed Jesus)

As the readings challenge us, Wake UP!  The time is at hand!  Even if the second coming isn’t close, the world is in desperate need of Christians on fire with their faith!

San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo-Youth Connection

San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo-Youth Connection

As many of you know, I have spent years volunteering with the Horse Show Committee.   I announce and have driving just about every piece of commitment there.  It was a huge commitment that I can’t do and be pastor at the same time.  Although I thought about quitting many times as it is a huge investment of my time, every-time I see the scholarships given and the kids helped, I get drawn back in to help.

the last few years, I have helped with the Youth Connection.  A good friend of mine runs this program that gives our youth service hours and experience of the “back end” of the stock show portion of the event.

When this started and I was announcing they asked if I would take some of the kids while announcing and were silly enough to ask my what category of volunteer I wanted.  Being me, and to be as obnoxious I said, I really don’t care, but cheerleaders would be nice.  My friend was clear that I would not be getting cheerleaders.  She comes up to my the first day I got volunteers and I could tell by the look on her face that I had done something wrong.  Well turns out that the only students that wanted anywhere near a microphone were the cheerleaders.  I have met some amazing young people through this program.  Kids that actually were probably better announcers than I was, as they understood what they were talking about and could add real color, not just humor to what they were saying.

Wanting to stay involved, I asked what I could do for Youth Connection without all the hours.  They have asked me to raise some money to offset the cost, so more money can go into scholarships.

For a big enough sponsorship we can get you a banner at the connection office in the horse arena.   (there are some restrictions due to other advertisers.)  The biggest part is helping out the kids.  Please don’t call the number on form directly without talking to me.

Please send all forms to me:

Fr. Pat O’Brien

St. Pius X

3303 Urban Crest

San Antonio, TX 78209

Advent – A season of Waiting…

Advent – A season of Waiting…

Last week I emphasized the preparing aspect of Advent,  the weekend readings also showed it is a time of waiting.  As in preparing, we don’t like waiting either.  What is a season of Waiting?  For one, our life is a season of waiting.  We know we will die and we are waiting.

Usually we get frustrated at waiting.  Little ones, and sometimes not so little ones, are always wondering, “How many days till Christmas?” or “How many days till school is out?”  As I kid I would say, “I wish tomorrow was Christmas!”  My dad would always say, never wish your life away.  When we are in traffic, is it ever a good thing?  Do we pick the longest line at the store?  Not most of us, we don’t like to wait.  Do we get frustrated at the commercials now on YouTube?  I’ve wondered if they put them there just to get me to pay.  Well, did they?  I don’t observe most of us waiting well!

How do I get to head of the line?

Unfortunately, I think we are inclined to get frustrated at time spend waiting.  I love to read.  Before becoming pastor at St. Pius X, I was reading/listening too over 100 books a year.  I did this by always having a book with me.  In a doctors office, in line even, or even shopping, I could listen/read.  I learned to make that time productive, but I don’t think that really captures what advent is about.

In business I would read lots of book about being productive and understanding people.  I loved when Malcolm Gladwell would have a new book as his view on the word is simply amazing.  Now I read for mostly fun and some Church stuff, but don’t read nearly enough.  Part of the reason, is that I have taken my morning reading time and made it prayer time.  Prayer for me helps me understand Advent.

When I take quiet time int he morning, I rarely have great revelations.  Rarely does God clearly speak to me.  By I start with a few intentions, a few always for St. Pius X and for those on my prayer list and then get quiet.  I spend 15 to 20 minutes just in Gods presence keeping my mind clear for God to work.   I see the results of my prayer throughout the day, or week.  There are times that from the end of the Gospel to the time I start preaching, I have a different message than I prepared.  When I trust that different message, it is much more amazing than what I had come up with on my own.

We are a people in waiting

From the Earliest Christians we are a people waiting for the second coming.  It could be today.  Our lives could end today.  Waiting isn’t just the time before an event, it is a time of preparation.  See last weeks blog.  This time for us is to learn to use our time wisely.  The Gospel is filled with stories of those waiting wisely and those not.  The virgins as the wedding feast most recently.

So for Advent, how do we wait?

  1.  What are we doing to evangelize?
  2. How are we spreading the word?
  3. Do our lives reflect Gospel values?
  4. Do all those in our lives know us as Christians?

Most of us when being honest can do better on all the above points.  This is the season to make those evaluations, to really take this waiting time and make something off it.

The above is represented well in the phrase attributed, but not probably said by St. Francis

Preach the Gospel always, and if you must, use words.