2009: A Book of Grace-Filled Days

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9780829425246: 2009: A Book of Grace-Filled Days

This collection of daily meditations and Scripture readings following the lectionary of the church year is a portal to God’s loving, grace-filled presence in the midst of our busy lives. Each page lists the Scripture readings from the Mass for that day, a quotation from the readings, and a brief reflection to spur meditation, prayer, and self-examination. The book fosters a daily practice of spiritual calm where God is at the center.
2009: A Book of Grace-Filled Days begins with the start of the church year in Advent 2008 and continues through the calendar year 2009. The readings and meditations take note of major feast days, especially significant saints’ commemorations, solemnities, and holidays

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About the Author:

Alice L. Camille is a writer, religious educator with nine years of experience in parish RCIA programs, and the author of Invitation to Catholicism (ACTA, 2001) and God’s Word Is Alive (Bayard, 1998). She has a masterrs in divinity from the Franciscan School of Theology in Berkeley and currently resides in southern California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
Every book is a world.
As a lover of books, I’ve been entering other worlds religiously—yes, religiously—since I was a kid. Before there were movies, television, and the Internet, books supplied the “great escape” for which the human spirit is often secretly yearning. It’s not that the world at large isn’t marvelous in many respects. But each of us contains multitudes, as Walt Whitman wrote in his epic poem, Song of Myself. Sometimes living this one little life just doesn’t give us the room to express all that’s available inside.
The expansiveness that we sense within us is no accident. It’s the best definition I can come up with for the spiritual life. Jesus once described the realm of God as a mansion with many rooms. This is a great image for the spiritual quest as well. Our faith encompasses many riches, like so many rooms to explore and savor. First of all, there’s Story, chief among which is the story of salvation unfolding in the Bible. And there’s a room for the Saints, whose past example and continuing presence provide us with comforting and challenging companionship. We’ve also got a place for Prayer, Public Worship, Church History, and Wise Teaching. We could wander through these rooms for a lifetime and never exhaust their potential for illumination and delight.
This little book provides a path for wandering through those rooms. It’s not a perfect, one-size-fits-all trail, as I’ll be first to admit. Some of us are more naturally inclined to lead with our hearts and others with our heads. Some view the spiritual quest as one of seeking wisdom, knowledge, and understanding—a learning process. Others equate learning with homework, and would rather feel than think their way through to a genuine religious experience. Some of us are frankly in it for the sake of a good story, or a single word or image that will spark us into renewed life. Me personally, I like surprises, and I’m always grateful to anyone who can make me laugh. Even and especially in the realm of religion!
But most of all, when wandering through soul territory, what I’m looking for is a fire-breathing, Pentecostal rousing of the person God created me to be. That’s the person stamped with the likeness of God. I don’t know that woman as well as I might want. I sense her around the corner ­sometimes. When the breath of the Spirit flutters through me in rare moments, I feel my true name being spoken and what might be called my “holy self” rising. So let me say without embarrassment that I want to be holy: what other reason is there to live a Christian life? If you’re reading this book, chances are you want to be a holy person too.
Holiness doesn’t require a halo, folded hands, or an otherworldly preoccupation. But it does involve the action of grace. Grace is a gift from God that we can’t earn but that God earnestly desires to shower down on anyone willing to stand still long enough to get doused. So consider this book an opportunity to stand still together for a few minutes every day this year, to allow the grace of each hour to rain down on us. Please don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. This isn’t spinach; there’s no punitive angle here. Enter the world of this book when you can, for the sake of the adventure into grace. Risk everything you have and everything you are on God’s promises. See what happens. The results could be glorious.

Sunday
November 30
· First Sunday of Advent ·
Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
—Mark 13:35
Time dribbles through our fingers while we wait. Life falls into a holding pattern in checkout lines, on subway platforms, in airports, or in traffic jams. We await payday, test results, or the first glimpse of the one face that matters. We turn toward what’s coming with excitement, dread—and, sometimes, joyful hope. And in Advent,
we do one thing more: we wait watchfully. God will break into time like a thief. What will the holy one find locked in our hearts?
Isaiah 63:16b–17, 19b; 64:2–7
Psalm 80
1 Corinthians 1:3–9
Mark 13:33–37Monday
December 1
Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.
—Isaiah 2:3
After midnight, our small group began the ascent of a mountain on the Sinai Peninsula believed to be the one Moses climbed to meet God. Thirty-three hundred years ago, Moses did it without a guide, a warm coat, or a flashlight. As we climbed, the wind bit hard; I stopped looking over the sheer drop. We made the crest at dawn. Would God be manifest, after our hours of striving? An Arab man sat on top of the mountain, crouched over a fire. “Some tea?” he asked. In English. God was here!
Isaiah 2:1–5
Psalm 122
Matthew 8:5–11Tuesday
December 2
Turning to the disciples in private {Jesus} said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.”
—Luke 10:23
Life is good! From where you are, you can probably see something that would astound prophets and kings of old. Are electric lights gleaming above you? Is food being kept at a carefully calibrated temperature in your fridge? Does a loved one’s face smile at you from a photograph? Still, the greatest blessings are seen only through the eyes of faith: the presence of Jesus in word and sacrament, in suffering and healing, in death and fullness of life.
Isaiah 11:1–10
Psalm 72
Luke 10:21–24Wednesday
December 3
· St. Francis Xavier, priest ·
Even when I walk through a dark valley,
I fear no harm for you are at my side;
your rod and staff give me courage.
—Psalm 23:4
The dark valley haunts us all our lives. Francis Xavier longed to bring the gospel to China, but after
evangelizing India and Malaysia, he died within sight of his heart’s desire. Our mortality may catch up with us before we pay off the house, raise the kids, or fulfill our dreams. The very definition of our humanity may be this: life is over before we’re finished. “Finished” doesn’t matter; it’s “faithful” that we’re after. Fidelity is the greatest legacy we can leave behind.
Isaiah 25:6–10a
Psalm 23
Matthew 15:29–37Thursday
December 4
· St. John of Damascus, priest and doctor of the church ·
The Lord is God and has given us light.
—Psalm 118:27
In the eighth century, iconoclasts destroyed sacred images, believing that the Eucharist alone should represent the divine on earth. John of Damascus argued that images help connect us to the invisible realities of heaven. Have you ever encountered religious art and been captured by the truth you discovered there? Artists participate in the divine activity of creation. Surely God still says, through the artist: “Let there be light.”
Isaiah 26:1–6
Psalm 118
Matthew 7:21, 24–27Friday
December 5
One thing I ask of the Lord;
this I seek:
To dwell in the Lord’s house
all the days of my life,
To gaze on the Lord’s beauty,
to visit his temple.
—Psalm 27:4
Looking for God? Look for beauty. Dante understood this when he wrote The Divine Comedy and described the “Beatific Vision” of God. He borrowed this idea from the psalmist, but also from Exodus. There, in chapter 33, Moses begs to see the God he faithfully serves. God gently refuses—mortal life cannot withstand the sight—but offers instead to reveal “all my beauty.” When we stand in awe of loveliness, we get a glimpse of what Moses saw.
Isaiah 29:17–24
Psalm 27
Matthew 9:27–31Saturday
December 6
· St. Nicholas, bishop ·
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
—Matthew 10:8
Cure the sick? Who wouldn’t unleash such power if they could? I sat with my friend in the oncology unit as he awaited radiation treatment. Surveying a roomful of courageous patients, I fiercely longed for miracles
to sweep down and anoint every head. But all I was able to give my friend was a steady gaze into his suffering and hopeful eyes.
Isaiah 30:19–21, 23–26
Psalm 147
Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6–8Sunday
December 7
· Second Sunday of Advent ·
But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
—2 Peter 3:13
“New” is what we need. The old world is frayed and broken in a lot of places. We mend it from time to time with diplomacy and charity, or prop it up with environmental measures, military threats, and economic incentives. But human history remains the worse for wear. Yet we can’t just throw up our hands and abandon the place. It’s all we’ve got! So we continue to work for justice and peace, all the while praying for that kingdom to come.
Isaiah 40:1–5, 9–11
Psalm 85
2 Peter 3:8–14
Mark 1:1–8Monday
December 8
· The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary ·
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
—Luke 1:30
Mary’s heart was remarkable. Even God fell in love with her! And so have billions of folks since. A Marian sanctuary in Altötting, Bavaria, preserves in silver urns the actual hearts of kings and princes who swore special allegiance to Mary. Probably no one will...

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