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Spirituality

Listen to the unexpected

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Blessed Fra Angelico produced various depictions of today's Gospel story of the Annunciation. Although the 15th-century Dominican painter created significant variations on the same scene, it is said that he never retouched his paintings because, like the iconographers of Eastern Christianity, he believed that he produced them under divine inspiration; thus, they should not be changed.

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Everything is a gift from God. Be thankful, and you will be joyful

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I think it's possible to be a little bit frustrated when we first hear the message from St. Paul this morning: "Rejoice! Again, I say rejoice!" See, be filled with joy. Most of us probably have discovered that being joyful isn't something you can suddenly be by sort of pushing a button. You know, if you're really discouraged and frustrated and upset and things are going badly, how do you suddenly be joyful?

Enlivened by joy

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When all the graced visionaries have prophesied, when the healers have soothed every pain, when all the fettered are set free, when the naked and the shamed are clothed with justice and dignity (Isaiah), one will come among us -- one in whom hope and healing, freedom and salvation will find their most eloquent expression (John). He is the one for whom we wait with joy (1 Thessalonians). On this, the third Sunday of Advent, Isaiah, Paul and the two Johns (the evangelist and the Baptizer) call the assembly to cultivate that joy and allow it to sustain us. Ours is good news.

Preview: God is always new

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Several years ago, I was a senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center working on questions in science and religion. One day, the program manager appeared at my door and asked if I wanted some boxes of notes that had been taking up space in his office. The notes happened to be those of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and he did not know what to do with them. Woodstock had inherited the notes from Nicole Schmitz-Moorman, whose father, Karl Schmitz-Moorman, inherited the notes after Teilhard's death. Karl bequeathed the notes to his daughter, who, in turn, donated them to Woodstock.

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