ADVENT 2017: PREPARING OUR HEARTS FOR CHRISTMAS II

ELIZABETH CONCEIVES THE ONE TO PAVE THE WAY FOR JESUS

When the Archangel Gabriel asked Mary for her consent to become the mother of God, he also told how Elizabeth, her cousin in her eighties and barren, conceived and was in her sixth month with a child to be called John. Mary, filled with joy, set out to care for Elizabeth, who lives in the hill country of Judah with her husband Zachariah, a priest.  We learn that Zachariah, at the temple when the Archangel Gabriel gives him the good news, is overcome with fear and refuses to believe it.  When he rejoins his friends outside the Temple, he has lost his speech, and is only making signs.

Mary Arrives To Be With Elizabeth…

…and Elizabeth greets her with great joy, the child within her seeming to understand the significance of the moment.  To Mary she says, “Of all the women you are most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb…Look, the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.  Yes blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” -Luke 1: 43-45

Mary humbly replies “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…” Elizabeth’s words of greeting and Mary’s response become two of the most familiar Catholic prayers, the Hail Mary and The Magnificat.  

A son is born to Elizabeth and Zachariah and on the day of his circumcision they were about to call him Zachariah after his father when Elizabeth intercedes “No, he is to be called John.”…Zachariah asks for a tablet and writes.  “His name is John… and all were astonished.”  At that instance, his power of speech returned and he spoke and praised God.  All who heard of this wondered “What will this child turn out to be?”

Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zachariah speaks a prophesy of his Son “Little child you shall be called Prophet Most High for you will go before the Lord to prepare a way for Him; to give His people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins because of the faithful love of our God…” Luke 1: 57-79

John becomes known as John the Baptist.  As the prophesy foretells, he travels through the Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, gathering many who become the first followers of Jesus.

 

 

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Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas II

 

John the Baptist: Paving the Way for Jesus

At the time of Mary’s visitation by the Archangel Gabriel, he announced that her cousin Elizabeth, in her eighties and barren, conceived a child to be called John.  Mary, filled with joy, set out to care for Elizabeth who lives in the hill country with her husband Zachariah.  Elizabeth is a descendant of Aaron, a high priest whose lineage can be traced to Noah.

When Mary arrives, she’s greeted with great joy, the child within Elizabeth seeming to realize the significance of the moment.  To Mary she says, “Of all the women you are the most blessed and blessed is the fruit of your womb…”  Mary replies “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…”  These words become two of the most familiar prayers in the Catholic Church, the Hail Mary and The Magnificat.

Jesus and John do not meet until thirty years later.  Shortly after, Isaiah delivers this prophesy to Jesus “Look, I am going to send my messenger in front of you, prepare your                                                               way before you.   A voice of one who cries in the desert:  Prepare a way for the Lord, make his paths straight.” Isaiah 40:30

Isaiah speaks of Jesus cousin John, son of Elizabeth, now known as John the Baptist.  As the prophesy foretells, John travels through the Jordan area proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, paving the way for Jesus.

A Treasure of Qualities to Meditate on During Advent                                          

Yahweh’s patience is infinite; it takes 650 years for these covenants to be fulfilled, reinstating mortals Likeness of God lost at “the Fall.”   

(1) Imagine a God so humble and righteous He remains faithful to His laws for the separation of  kingdoms even when it requires His Son to willingly undergo extraordinary conditions to atone for the sins of mortal beings.

(2) In preparation for Advent, we may reflect on one or more of the qualities expressed by those we’ve met in these Advent blogs.  The Infinite patience of Yahweh; the humility and courage of Mary and Joseph; the possibility of seeking creative solutions through your patience, courage and alignment of your will with Jesus.

(3) Look to the arcs created from the Old Testament to these events marking the beginning of the New Testament, e.g. Abraham asked by Yahweh in the Old Testament to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac arcing to Yahweh asking the Son of God to sacrifice Himself to atone for the sins of mortal beings.                         

 

 

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ADVENT 2017: PREPARING OUR HEARTS FOR CHRISTMAS I


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It’s 650 BC. The Prophet Jeremiah sits alone weeping as Yahweh tells him what will occur in 589 BC through the edicts of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon: The city of  Jerusalem is besieged; the Temple burned; and the Tribes of Israel are exiled.  As  Jeremiah laments on these coming tragedies, Yahweh shares this covenant promising to end the repetitious cycles of sin and guilt:

 “The House of Israel will know that true freedom comes with absolution from the transgressions against The Lord.  They will  all know me from the least to the greatest, since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sins to mind.  And this shall be the covenant I will make with the House of Israel.  After these days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts.” -Jeremiah 31: The New Covenant (L) 31-34                                                                                                      

Yahweh refers to the time when through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, they and all their progeny lost their Likeness of God and Divine Justice, virtues guiding mortal’s gift of free will toward righteous decisions (true freedom). In this covenant Yahweh, a loving Father, promises to atone these sins, removing them from His children’s memory.

In the writings of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Saint Thomas Aquinas, we learn how this covenant requires a special course of action. At the creation, Yahweh Himself established a strict separation between the mortal and divine kingdoms, preventing His personal involvement in atoning for these sins.

If Yahweh, Himself cannot atone for mortals, how will this New Covenant through the Prophet Jeremiah be fulfilled?

In His Infinite Wisdom and love for the Children of Israel, Yahweh deems it fitting for God the Son to incarnate as a mortal man to atone for the sins of mortals and erase the memory of these sins from their minds.  Yahweh gains the cooperation of the Son of God who consents as Mary and Joseph did.

Extraordinary Plans Are Fulfilled By Extraordinary People…

…Devout, strong, thoughtful Children of Israel are chosen by Yahweh to carry out the plan for Jesus conception, birth and life: The Virgin Mary; her parents Anne and Joachim; her cousin Elizabeth, husband Zechariah and their son, John, who becomes John the Baptist; Mary Magdalene and her family; and many more we  meet as we follow Jesus on his path to bring us to true freedom.   Our focus in this blog is on Jesus’ grandparents and parents.

Anne and Joachim Become The Parents of Mary Through the Intercession of Yahweh

It takes time to prepare a perfect being to become the mother of Jesus, one without the blemish or inclination to sin.  When time moves near for Jesus conception, Yahweh responds to the longing for a child by  an older devout couple and the Holy Spirit intercedes.  Anne was born in Bethlehem, her husband Joachim, a shepherd  from Jerusalem.  The high priest at the temple rejects Joachim’s sheep as offerings for the burnt ritual because he has no children.

Hearing himself ridiculed, Joachim goes into the desert to pray for a child.  After fasting and praying forty days and nights, an angel of the Lord announces he and Ann will have a child they are to name Mary and dedicate to Yahweh at the Temple of Jerusalem. Joachim is over-joyed. His wife Anne receives the same message as she kneels in her garden praying as Joachim does for a child.  She too is filled with joy and gratitude.

Soon after Mary’s birth, Anne and Joachim take their beloved child to the Temple in Jerusalem and as they promised the angel, dedicate her to Yahweh.  Mary spends much of her childhood at the Temple preparing for a life she could not then imagine. When fourteen years old her parents arrange her betrothal to Joseph, a mature man much older than Mary, known to be devout, righteous and just. Joseph is a widow with several children.  As the 25th great grandson of King David, he fulfils the lineage foretold in the covenant of the Prophet Jeremiah.

The Annunciation To Mary And Joseph

Mary continues living in her parents’ home and sits quietly in the garden when the Archangel Gabriel appears announcing “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with thee.” Mary reflects for some time on the angel’s greeting, leading the angel to explain how she was being asked to conceive and bear a son she must call Jesus.  As he awaits Mary’s reply, he remarks how Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin who is in her eighties and barren, has conceived a son to be called John. Mary responds by asking how her conception can come about, since she’s a virgin.  “The Holy Spirit will cover you with its shadow.  And the child will be holy and will be called Son of God…” Gospel of Luke 1:26-48

Understanding the significance, joy, pain and sorrow of what is asked, Mary humbly replies, “You see before you the Lord’s servant.  Let it happen to me as you have said.” Pope Benedict calls Mary’s yes “the moment when God’s will and Mary’s will align and the young virgin is prepared within for what is known as the virginal birth (both a birth through Mary, who is a virgin, and a conception that does not alter her virginity).”

Of Joseph, chosen by Yahweh as the legal father of Jesus, Pope Benedict tells us in The Infancy Narrative “That Joseph received his message of Mary’s pregnancy in a dream, shows us an essential quality of the man.  Only a man inwardly watchful for the divine, only someone with a real sensitivity to God and His ways, can receive God’s message in this way…From the angel’s words Joseph understands the child Mary carries is the Messiah described in the prophesy of Jeremiah many years before, this Messiah coming from the House of David.”

It takes some time for Joseph to work through this.  A man with a reputation for being fair and just, he first considers sparing Mary from scandal by releasing her from their betrothal.  When Yahweh intercedes, Joseph realizes he is essential to establishing Jesus birthright and influencing the child’s upbringing.  Like Mary, Joseph says yes.

The question often asked is “How can Joseph pass his lineage on to Jesus?”  In the legal custom of the time, a man became a child’s legal father when he presented the child at the temple to be named. When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple for his naming and circumcision ceremonies he receives all the privileges of Joseph’s lineage as one from the House of David.

Next week we’ll introduce Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her husband Zachariah and be reminded how the conception of their son John when they were very elderly is also part of Yahweh’s plan for the Son of God to atone for the sins of mortal beings.

Blessings, Barbarah

P.S.  For more preparations for Christmas, go to: Elevating Holiday Tasks to Rituals Posted November 14, 2010 and Advent 2017: Preparing Our Hearts for Christmas II.

 

The sources used in this blog are: Studying The New Jerusalem Bible, Meditations on the Tarot and Christ and Sophia by Valentin Tomberg with Dr. Gerald Epstein, founder and director of the American Institute for Mental Imagery; Aquinas’s Shorter Summa by Saint Thomas Aquinas; Mary from the Spiritual Theological Series by Pope Benedict XVI; Jesus of Nazareth and The Infancy Narratives by Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI; The Timeline History of the World, Third Millennium Press Limited

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USE IMAGERY TO PREPARE FOR EASTER

Welcome to Barbara’s Blog

Whether you’ve been preparing for Lent — or have just realized that it’s already Holy Week, the Imagery Exercises in the Blog Booklet for Lent offer an opportunity to connect with the Divine in just a few minutes…

You’ll discover the Audio Imagery Exercises  beginning at Carrying the Cross.   Simply click onto each exercise — or read the whole blog.   Whichever you choose, you’ll link yourself with the energies of this sacred season.

Here’s a reminder for using Audio Imagery:

Find yourself a quiet place where you’re not likely to be interrupted.  Sit in a chair where your back is straight, your feet touching the floor.  Place your hands on your lap or on the arms of the chair, whichever is more comfortable.

(1) Click on the Imagery Exercise.  You’ll be instructed to Close your eyes and breathe out three times. Keep your eyes closed naturally; there’s no need to close them tightly.

(2) Take a long, slow inhalation through your nose just to the point when your chest begins to rise; now let the breath out slowly and gently through your mouth.  Repeat this cycle of breathing three times or whatever number of times is indicated.

(3) Keep your eyes closed, and wait for the Imagery instructions begin.  This is followed by 7-10  seconds of silence, where your eyes remain closed as your Imagery develops.  You’ll experience one or more of these responses: see images, hear sounds, feel body sensations.  Keep your eyes closed until you hear Breathe out one time and open your eyes.

(3) Sit quietly for a few minutes, then resume your regular activities — or go on to the next exercise.   

Some Imagers write down or draw their experience. This isn’t necessary, but will give you a chance to review your Lenten Imagery as a whole before Easter.

Blessings for a sacred season!

Barbara

 

 

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SIMPLE RITUALS FOR ADVENT

Updated December 2, 2017

“The Advent season is a time of preparation that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and is also the anniversary of the Lord’s birth on Christmas.

The final days of Advent from December 17 to 24, focus particularly on our preparation for the celebrations of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas.”  From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Advent

Here are a few ideas for Advent — simple activities for moving into the true spirit of the season.  The first is a personal memory that warms my heart every time I think of it.

Seeing Jesus In Many Faces

A framed picture of Santa Clause (St. Nicholas) sits on my desk regardless of the season. With his bright smile and sparkling eyes, it still reminds me,  “Yes, there really is a Santa Clause.”  That Santa’s joyful smile and bright eyes are constant reminders of how we look when carrying the gifts of faith, hope and love into the world.   It was a daily reminder from God saying,  “You can make things happen here: I’m present.”  That energy filled our offices with a  joy remarked on by visitors who heard laughter greeting them as they entered.  Laughter is a sign of hearts open to receiving the energy of God’s presence and sharing it with the world.  It was His presence that made us both joyful and successful.

Perhaps you have a favorite Christmas card that reminds you of Christmas all year long.  If not, I recommend discovering one; It brings great joy every time it comes into sight, reminding us how when the Son of God became man, he regained for us our birthright as beings made in the Likeness of God.

For more on this, go to Advent: Preparing Our Spirits for Christmas I and Advent: Preparing Our Spirits for Christmas II.  

Fill your holidays with joy and laughter.  It’s priceless!

Barbara

Set the Stage by Creating an Advent Wreath

This simple family project can become a weekly reminder that we humbly await the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent Wreath All you need is  a natural evergreen wreath and four candles. Place the wreath on a table and stand the  candles at its center.  The candles may be violet and white or all of either color.  Children love to participate in holiday activities.  Depending on their age, they can help by gathering greens for the wreath, putting it together and placing the candles in holders at the wreath’s center.

On the four Sundays before Christmas (Dec 4, 10, 17 and 24) light the candles, say a short prayer and sing a Christmas carol.  Rituals always have added meaning when refreshments are included.  In the spirit of Advent, these should be simple.  

Caution:  Make sure the candles are completely extinguished before leaving them unattended.  If you have concerns about them, there are “candles” that light without an actual flame, still creating a warm glow. You’ll find  them at most  candle shops.

Creating a Spiral Walk for Adults and Children

Several years ago I shared a beautiful experience with a family who have four daughters.  Their dad built a yurt, a round structure surrounded by temporary walls and a roof to protect people from the weather.  The mom and four girls gathered rocks on their daily walks and marked a path in the shape of an infinity sign inside the yurt.  Guests were invited to join them in “walking the spiral” with lit candles, spreading light out into the world. Those who completed their walk joined those waiting their turn, all humming Silent Night.

Not everyone can undertake such an ambitious activity.   Here are instructions for adults, followed by those for children to participate in this sacred activity without leaving your home.

Note: The open circle is one in which the end point does not meet the beginning, but continues outside of it creating the beginning of a spiral.  The spiral signifies possibilities.

An Imaginal Spiral Walk For Adults:

Have someone slowly read these instructions to you — or record them on your cell phone and play them back, no more than three times a day.

Sit in a comfortable position, feet on the floor, arms in your lap or on the arm rests.  Close your eyes, and breathe out three times (breathing out is a long, slow gentle exhalation through the lips followed by natural breathing.)  With your eyes remaining closed, “See, feel and sense yourself standing at the midpoint of an infinity sign and begin to walk in a counter-clockwise direction.   As you walk, think of something no longer beneficial to your life and let it go.  Continue to imagine yourself walking and when you return to the mid-point, see yourself walking around the remaining loop in a clockwise direction as you see something beneficial come into your life. When you’ve  returned to the mid-point, sit quietly for a minute.  Then breathe out slowly through your mouth one time and open your eyes.

Now for the Children’s Spiral Walk

For children I suggest they walk a single open circle in waking life.  This can be done by tamping down a few inches of snow or marking  the circle with chalk or washable spray paint on a driveway or sidewalk.  Create an entrance/exit in the circle by overlapping the end about a foot above the beginning.  Instruct the children to walk the circle individually, each reaching out their hands and imagining the light of love beaming over the world.  As each child leaves through the open end, have them join the others, as they hum Silent Night.  A hot drink and treat are the perfect ending for this activity.

Children are very creative, so expect to see variations of this.  It’s all perfect in the end.

If you have ideas for Advent/Christmas activities, share them, please.  You can reach me by e-mailing to http://www.fedzie@ptd.net.

Meditate to Enya’s CD And Winter Came, a Classic Released in 2008

This CD is not a collection of traditional carols.  It’s Enya at her best, especially its musical story about the flight of angels on Christmas Eve.  All required of us is to sit back, close our eyes and allow ourselves to be transported by the music.  A wonderful way to hear and sense a bit of what the angels sing on Christmas Eve.

May all the blessings of Christmas shine upon you!

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Barbara Fedoroff

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SYNCHRONICITIES: SEEING IMAGERY AT WORK IN YOUR LIFE

 

WELCOME TO BARBARAH’S BLOG!

The New Education series is a good time to Blog Iconconsider other techniques to support making life changes revealed through our images.  Change is uncomfortable, so we often resist it.

Let’s say that your images show you in a series of short-term sexual relationships that have become unfulfilling.  Soon after, you feel greater fulfillment in an image of you with one who shares your interests, hopes and dreams.  Don’t be surprised if after making the commitment to change, you notice a friend who had been in frequent short-term relationships now is seeking  a long-term commitment.  Or another individual who only wanted “freedom” and is engaged to be married.

At first, we may ignore these synchronicities, often called things that happen by chance. They are, in fact, responses to you commitment to change.   You’ll discover more about synchronicties in a blog posted on August 27, 2010.

Now let’s begin the last group of Imagery exercises in Romantic Love.

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 7

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 8

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 9

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 10

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 11

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 12

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 13

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 14

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 15

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 16

 

Click Below for Audio of Romantic Love Exercise 17

Blessings, Barbarah

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