Advent 1: Keep Watch and Pray

Lincoln’s Log 12-2-12
“Be vigilant at all times…”
(Lk. 21:36)
This is the time of year when the church issues a wake up call to all disciples. The nights are getting longer. It is getting harder and harder to get out of bed each morning. And the church cries out like an annoying alarm clock “wake up!” I don’t know about you, but I want to roll over and hit the snooze button. Staying spiritually awake in the midst of the darkness that surrounds us is an incredible challenge.
But as disciples, we are called to be vigilant. Like sentries on guard duty, we stay awake through the darkness and watch for signs of trouble. We also long for the dawn when our watch will end.
What do we do while we watch? We pray. Praying keeps us spiritually awake and tuned into the Spirit so that we know what we are looking for in the darkness.
This Advent I would encourage you to deepen your life of prayer. Stay awake, be vigilant, and pray. We are offering a wonderful tool to help you pray this Advent. The resource “Give Us This Day” is available in the church entryway. I have been praying with this resource for quite some time now. The morning prayer, readings from Mass, and evening prayer are great at helping to establish a simple daily routine of prayer that is tuned to the prayer of the church. The reflections and other resources are invaluable. It is some of the best spiritual reading available in a small package, perfect for a few minutes while you wait in line or for your computer to catch up..
At St. Rose we will be praying Morning Prayer from the Give Us This Day resource every weekday at 7:30am. I would encourage each of you to take advantage of this resource and this time for prayer.
May this Advent help us stay awake in the dark and keep watch together through prayer.
Lincoln A. Wood

The Kingdom of Truth

Lincoln’s Log 11-25-12
“Christ has dominion over all creatures, a dominion not seized by violence nor usurped, but his by essence and by nature.”
Cyril of Alexandria
Pilate said to Jesus, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”
Jn. 18:37
What a strange answer… 
Today we celebrate the feast of Jesus Christ the King. It is a relatively recent feast for the universal church, instituted by Pius XI in 1925. It is a feast which marks clarifies where our ultimate loyalty as Christians belongs. We are members of a nation, but fundamentally we are members of the Kingdom of God and Christ is our King. As we end the liturgical year, we celebrate the kingship of Christ. Jesus is Lord!
So why doesn’t Jesus come right out and say, “Yes, I am a King!” Why the complicated answer?
I believe Jesus is trying to redefine what it means to be a king. Jesus is not like Caesar (the king Pilate would have compared him too). Jesus knows that most kingdoms are based on conquest and violence. Power is usually held through the use of force. “Might makes right” is the rule for most kingdoms.
Jesus’ kingdom is different. Jesus’ Kingdom is based on the force of truth. Right has its own might. The power of truth may be hard to perceive. Truth’s power is quiet. It is a power that liberates rather than dominates. Truth can appear fragile, but its power subtly overcomes the world. Jesus is the truth. He witnesses to the truth. His is a Kingdom of Truth. 
Jesus’ strange answer to Pilate’s question in today’s Gospel challenges us to see how His Kingdom is different than the kingdoms of the world. May we always live as citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom.
Lincoln A. Wood

End of the World

Lincoln’s Log 11-18-12
“But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
(Mk. 13:32)
“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” Charles Schultz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip
The Gospel this weekend led me to an internet search for “end of the world.” The number and variety of explanations of when the world we end is remarkable. There was page after page of websites devoted to explaining when and how the world will end. It seems that we will never get tired of speculating on what the end will be like. Whether we live in fear of December 21, 2012 or follow Isaac Newton’s purported prediction that the world will end in 2060, it seems that speculation about how the world as we know it will end is alive and well.
Yet the Gospel this week is pretty clear. “No one knows… only the Father.”
All of our speculation takes us nowhere. Speculation cannot free us from fear, as much as we wish it could. That the world will end is apparent. When and how it will end we do not (and cannot) know. Grasping at straws and incredible explanations may give us a sense of control, but that control is an illusion. The future is not within our control.
Yet our faith does tell us that while we cannot know what the future holds, we can know that the Lord is there, waiting for us. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but [Jesus’] words will not pass away.” We are not in control, but the good news is that God is. There is nothing to fear.
As we face the unknown future together, let’s trust in the love and mercy of God. In this we can be certain.
Lincoln A. Wood

Praying for the Dead

Lincoln’s Log 11-11-12
“Therefore he [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” (2 Mac 12:45)
“Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.”
St. John Chrysostom
This week we celebrated the feast of All Soul’s day, a day when we pray for all those who have died. At our parishes we have “Remembering Services” and spend time thinking about our loss, our mortality, and our eternal destiny.
Why do we pray for the dead? On one level, it is simply instinct. When someone we love has died, we miss them and long to talk to them. There is a void in our soul. Something is missing and we are incomplete, so we reach out with our thoughts and words to connect with the person who is gone.
Sometimes we are afraid. The reality of death comes home to us when we are confronted personally by the death of someone we love. This fear can move us to cry out to God. We don’t know exactly what happens after death. It is a mystery to us so we try to reach out beyond the mystery and connect.
On a purely human level, fear and loss lead us to pray for the dead.
But there is more to it than that. There is more than psychology. The fundamental reason that Catholics pray for the dead is because of love. We know that “neither death, nor life, nor any other creature will be able to separate us fro the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38). Love conquers all. Death does not have the power to end a relationship of love.
Just as we would pray for someone during their lifetime, we can pray for them after death. We are motivated by love. The mystery of death is conquered by the mystery of love.
This month, as we continue to pray for the dead in a special way, let’s always remember that it is love’s victory over death that is at the root of all of our prayers for the dead.
Lincoln A. Wood