Advent is a wonderful time of year. But it’s not just about preparing for whatever celebrations we might have on December 25. It’s about preparing for the second coming of Christ. To do this, we remember that we have a savior, and I’m not him.
Burning Out, Finding Balance
Long story short, I’m toast right now. Like so many people, I’m feeling the weight of a world that isn’t the way it should be. Good thing I have a good spiritual director who offered me this important Advent lesson.
The One that Started It All
When you think iconic movies that defined a genre, you have to think Snow White. The first full-length animated movie of all time, not to mention Walt Disney’s first film, it is a landmark work of art that defined cinema for generations.
A Very TikTok Christmas
TikTok is a mess of creativity. Some of it is garbage, some of it is worth discussing. In this week’s Upon Friar Review, Fr. Patrick and I watch some Advent/Christmas themed clips to get into the holiday spirit.
One of the reasons that this newsletter was delayed this week is because I am in Valdosta, GA, right now offering a parish mission. I had the four English masses at the parish, met with the youth group, and will give two evening talks. I would appreciate it if you would keep me in your prayers!
As we live our lives..we should not strive to be perfect Christians..but rather to be and do our very best…each and every day to be Sons and Daughters to our Heavenly Father.
Casey, you change lives daily. As one example of that, I want to tell you that you are about 85-90% of the reason I am currently in the RCIA process to return to the Roman Catholic church. In addition to that, my intention afterward is to join the Secular Franciscan Order. On top of all that, your books, videos, and comments, etc., help me to grow on a daily basis. So, thank you for being you, and doing what you do.
The “I’m giving up” video has helped me accept my limitations. Thank you for sharing with us.
“Snow White and the Seven Re-Releases” gave me great joy, too. I’m pleased that others take animated films and fairy tales seriously in reflecting and impacting culture. As George MacDonald’s fairy tales inspired C.S. Lewis in not only the Narnia books, but The Space Trilogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength), I am inspired to soak in the genre and, Lord willing, write some fairy tales myself to tell Truth, inasmuch as in me lies. Blessings to you.
The following is in communion with Catholic Church teaching, it’s just not pulled together so wonderfully.
God Is Present in All
In keeping with his Franciscan tradition, Father Richard teaches that we can find God’s freely given image in all of creation, beginning with ourselves!
The purpose of prayer and religious seeking is to see the truth about Reality, to see what is. And at the bottom of what is is always goodness. The foundation is always love. Here is a mantra that we might repeat throughout our day: “God’s life is living itself in me. I am aware of life living itself in me.”
We cannot not live in the presence of God. We are totally surrounded by God, even as we read these words. This is not some New Age idea; recall St. Patrick’s (c. 373–c. 463) blessing, “God beneath you, God in front of you, God behind you, God above you, God within you.”
Once I can see the Mystery here, and trust the Mystery even in this piece of clay that I am, then I can also see it in you. We are eventually able to see the divine image within ourselves, in each other, and in all things. Finally, the seeing is one. How we see anything is how we will see everything.
Jesus pushes this seeing to the social edge. Can we recognize the image of Christ in the least of our fellow human beings? That is his only description of the final judgment (see Matthew 25). Nothing about ten commandments, nothing about church attendance—simply a matter of our ability to see. Can we meet Christ in the “nobodies” who can’t play our game of success? In those who cannot reward us in return? When we see the image of God where we are not accustomed to seeing the image of God, then we see with the infinitely tender eyes of God.
Finally, Jesus says we have to love and recognize the divine image even in our enemies (see Matthew 5:44). He teaches what many leaders, spiritual and otherwise, could never demand of their followers: love of the enemy. Logically that makes no sense. Yet soulfully it makes absolute sense, because in terms of the soul, it really is all or nothing. Either we see the divine image in all created things, or we end up not seeing it very well at all. There is a first epiphany, and gradually the circle keeps moving outward, widening its embrace. It is almost the core meaning of a whole and holy life!
The Christian vision is that the whole world is a sacred temple. If that is true, then our enemies are sacred, too. Who else created them but God? The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing. And it doesn’t stop with human beings and enemies and the “least of these.” It moves to frogs and water and weeds. Everything becomes enchanting once we have full sight. One God, one world, one truth, one suffering, and one love (see Ephesians 4:4–6). All we can do is participate and enjoy. I love to ask Christians—why would anyone be afraid of that?