From the Tee Box

A Blog by Father Trey Nelson

"GOD IS EVER FAITHFUL..."

Tuesday of the Second Week of Advent: The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

I attended college at the University of Saint Thomas in Houston, all the while living at Saint Mary’s Seminary. At that time, Saint Mary’s was an institute of discernment and formation for men at both the collegiate and graduate school level. This was my first time to ever live away from home. My 4 years there were some of the best in my life. I have nothing but fond memories. One of those memories is of our annual celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. My time in Texas was my first exposure to the Hispanic culture. This included religious ritual, music, and, of course, food! All of these came together in an exciting way every year on December 12, the feast day itself. We celebrated a special Mass, followed by a festive meal. What I remember the most, however, is the image of luminaries all over the seminary property. As the sun would set and evening came upon us, it was truly a beautiful sight.

I have personally always found this day to be one of the most inspiring celebrations of Mary. It, along with the unique and beautiful character of the Hispanic Catholic culture, help me to truly appreciate Mary’s role as intercessor. I read in a reflection earlier this morning that, during one of her interactions with Blessed Juan Diego, Mary said, “…am I not here, I who am your mother?” Mary was and is the bearer of God’s message. It is a message of fidelity to us and constant protection, the reminder that God is ever with us.

FOR REFLECTION: Who are the people who bring light and hope to my life?

"GET UP AND WALK AGAIN..."

Monday of the Second Week of Advent

I read somewhere recently that the reason Jesus ministered to the paralytic’s spiritual needs before performing the physical miracle was to remind all those present that they too were in need of healing. He did eventually heal him physically, saying, “…get up, pick up your mat, and walk…” but not without first forgiving him of his sins.

All of us would probably openly acknowledge that we need forgiveness. We would probably have no difficulty saying this. Will we go the next step, however? Will we do what needs to be done to seek healing of the unresolved sin in in our life? This season, while not as “penitential” as Lent, does invite us to seek to be born anew. Without being too hard on ourselves, without being scrupulous about it, we are urged to do whatever needs to be done in order to experience forgiveness. Perhaps we are in need of the sacrament of reconciliation. Or maybe we need to forgive or ask forgiveness of another person. Whatever the case may be, this can be a time to let go of what weighs us down.

Better yet, in looking to the scene in today’s Gospel, we can experience again what it means to be loosened up from our infirmities. Whenever we experience forgiveness in any form, we experience Jesus Christ saying to us, “…get up and walk again…”

FOR REFLECTION: For what might I need to be forgiven, and who might I need to forgive?

"ACCORDING TO YOUR WILL..."

Friday of the First Week of Advent: Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

In all of my years here at Saint Jude, I’ve never looked out through the windows of church to see snow falling while celebrating Mass. As I prayed the words today, I found myself at the same time continuing to look through the massive windows of our narthex. I thought that the snow had stopped, but it started falling again, more so than before. Although we are in the season of Advent and today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, I recalled the words of Isaiah 1:18, “…come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool.”

For other parts of the country, what we saw when we woke up this morning wouldn’t really amount to much, when it comes to snow. For us, however, it was beautiful. Our property here is completely covered with a blanket of white. “Enjoy the moment, rest in the moment,” I hear God telling me. I am thinking too, however, about what things will look like when it all melts away. My guess is, it will be pretty messy and probably even sloppy in some places. What a reminder of our relationship with God.

Whenever we celebrate a feast in honor of Mary, we always come back to the virtue of trust, and her ability to constantly throughout her entire life trust in God’s will and care. Our invitation today, perhaps, is to trust that, while we are obviously not always free from sin, God will indeed wipe us clean, again and again. Truly, there will be moments when spiritually we feel like we do when we look out at the snow this morning, and there will be moments when we find ourselves standing in the messiness of our sin. When that happens, all that is asked of us is a sincere heart. We know that God “…will set things right again…”

FOR REFLECTION: Can I trust that God will completely wipe away the wrongs that I have done?