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Loving Work Book Giveaway Winner

pick-a-book-winnerWe have a winner – Jean Fleck’s name was chosen out of the hat! Congrats to Jean! More book reviews and giveaways will appear soon.

Thank you!

Invitations for Advent 2012

Over at my home parish, we offer Advent Reflections on the parish blog. We hope that one and all will consider subscribing to them as part of your Advent prayer, we welcome everyone to pray with us.

If you wish to contribute to our reflections, please say so in the comments or send me an email. We welcome all contributors who might submit posts for consideration and publication. If you are interested please contact me first and we will work on the details. You do not need to be a parishioner, so if you are inspired, please get in touch.

Beginning on Tuesday, December 4, we will offer Taize evening prayer in Advent; all are welcome. We gather at 7pm at St. Edward the Confessor on Clifton Park Center Road, in Clifton Park, NY. If you wish to reserve one short hour a week for song, prayer and a contemplative prayer environment, please join us. Our music ministry offers us rich gifts, we hear a reflection, as we enter the quiet waiting that Advent promises.

Thank you and blessings of Advent to you!

Loving Work – a book review and giveaway

(I wrote this for my Times Union blog, but I am posting it here as well!)

My own story goes like this… One day I was sitting in my big office in Manhattan. It was not a corner office, but that was fine by me. I had a lot of room, a big desk and credenza, a bookcase, and even a small table where I could hold meetings for a few of us. I was living the dream! Sort of, anyway!

Five years later I sit in a very different office. For starters, it is in the midst of a busy parish rectory, with the phone ringing off the hook, the priest calling out for this or that, people needing mass cards, comfort, solace – or perhaps just a gas card to get to their low wage part time job.

Let me be clear – I did not hate my old job, in fact, I loved many things about it, especially the people the people that I worked with. However, in my new job, despite the lack of prestige, pay and privacy, I could not be happier. I am loving work. And loving work is also what I do, because the work of the church is to love. This makes me one very lucky person!

Spiritual director, campus minister, and author Mike Hayes explores this kind of transformation – and how others might set about doing the same thing, in his latest book, Loving Work, A spiritual guide to finding the work we love and bringing love to the work we do. (Orbis, $16.00, 120 pp.) For Hayes, it is not just about loving what you do, but it is about being who you are – and that includes bringing loving into the work that you choose to do.

In full disclosure, Mike is a friend, and I was asked to provide a cover blurb, which I will restate here. After reading the book I said, “Some books are kept for a long time, because they nourish the soul or they are practical guides… Mike Hayes offers us both things with great wisdom in a book that you will want to keep.

Infused with sound Ignatian spirituality, warmth, wisdom, humor and a tremendous amount of insight, this book offers a way forward to better work – and a much better life. Whether pointing to practical details and planning, or focusing on our relationship with God, we are shown the value of the importance of seeking work that feeds the soul, as well as work that creates our living. What struck me most is the no-nonsense approach that Hayes’ employs, which is direct, yet incredibly human at the same time. His experiences in business, spiritual direction, and campus ministry are all pressed into excellent use in this book.

One of my favorite chapters is called, “If You Could Be Anything.” Sparing no details, Hayes discusses his own crisis of the heart with clarity. Despite his successful (and longed for) career in radio broadcasting, something is just missing. No stranger to the world of faith, his two worlds begin to align as he explores his own “anything.” The results have led him to where he is today.

These are tough times, and getting a new job is not all that easy. And perhaps that is what makes this book more important than ever. If we can’t really achieve what we thought was our dream, perhaps that should truly compel us to discern and claim what our true work might be. Risky? Sure. But if we don’t try, how do we ever know the greatness that we are called to?

This is not some reference book to pick off of a shelf and give to a job seeker. This is a book for seekers who seek not only work, but their hearts desire as well, which is an essential path to wholeness and integrity. It is about work that is more than what you”do” or what you “get” for it, and more about what you give and how you live in the world.

And that is what is at the heart of this fine book. As we come to know God, as we come to know ourselves, we are called to find and to live the very work that will make our hearts sing. It is better for us and infinitely better for the world when we enter the world of loving work. This fine book will make a great gift for yourself or for others as we enter gift buying season – or any time, and I highly recommend it.

Want to win a copy of this book? Please leave a comment on the blog before 11:30pm on Wednesday, November 28, 2012, eastern time. Your name will go into a drawing. Good luck!

Monday Musing

Advent begins this coming weekend. I always have a hard time with this last week of the liturgical year. The crash-bang-boom of the apocalyptic readings from the Book of Revelation and Gospels that sound like we are headed towards Good Friday and not Advent.

It makes me want to rush past it on some bullet train of prayer that blurs my view of what is out there.

The irony of course is that like a child waiting for Christmas, I am rushing into the future without living in the present. Advent is not simply some superhighway that gets you to December 25, it is its own essential time. It is a time of quiet, patient, waiting. Of waiting for what is to come, not waiting to “do” something.

I’m thinking about how we live in a time that values productivity as a way to profit, managing well, success and power. Being in constant motion is some kind of postmodern virtue that may get you rewarded with time off.  Don’t get caught being still, slacker!

And I’m thinking of our God who seems anything but interested in any such kind of things.

Saturday Song

This Sunday is the last of our liturgical year, Christ the King. Next Sunday we begin a new year with Advent.

Forget shopping, consider hope – part 2

It is 6am on Black Friday… I wonder how many people are out shopping. I wonder why people are shopping. Sure, I saw the sales circulars – lots of “doorbuster” deals.

Why bust the door? To spend money to save money? I’m not so sure that I follow that.

All I can think about right now is hope. And not just any hope, it is specific. I am thinking of Hopeworks ‘N Camden. We all live where we live, we all have local charities. As with my shopping, I try to support charities, like merchants, who are local. You see, sometimes we must, like with our shopping, look further afield for some reason.

These crosses are put up for each Camden murder victim. There are a lot of crosses. And ever growing.

Let’s talk about Camden, NJ for a moment. It is known as the most dangerous city in the country. Did you know that the murder rate in Camden is off the charts? Not the achievement one would hope for. More than half the children of Camden live below poverty. More. Than. Half. And the police force – well, that is just one big hot mess. Drug use? Gangs and cartels run rampant.

Let’s get back to hope. HOPE. More specifically, Hopeworks ‘N Camden. This is a remarkable organization in a challenging city. When I think of Black Friday in Camden, I’m thinking that most people there do not have the luxury – either cash or freedom-wise – to go shopping at 5am for a “doorbuster.” In fact a “doorbuster” in Camden, might mean weapons and death.

Sorry to be so dramatic, but hope requires drama sometimes. Especially when it it real and not some TV show that you can turn off.

Here is my Black Friday “shopping” offer for you. It will cost you $10. Can you swing that? For some of us $10 is a lot more than it is for others. When I think about how many people read this blog, I think that there must be a few who can spare the $10. And when I think of the Christian virtues of hope and service, I think that the $10 can come from our need and not just our surplus. (Cue Widow’s Mite Gospel…)

For $10 you can donate money to Hopeworks and be entered to win AMC Movie Passes for a year. Free movies for one year. For two people. When you consider that it costs $10 or more to get into the movies, you can see what a deal this is!

Now pity us poor Albany-folk, who are AMC-less… However, some of you live elsewhere, no doubt awash in AMC theatres. I can think of so many people that I know that would enjoy a gift of free movies in some AMC-ish place.

When you consider your shopping plans today, please consider taking $10 of it, and donating to this great cause. Whether you win the movie tickets or not, somebody wins. Most of us are feeling bloated from yesterday’s huge turkey dinner. Most of us don’t even want to leave the house today.

Then don’t leave. Have your own doorbuster special by doing this. Bust open the door of hope, Hopeworks ‘N Camden specifically. There are a lot of you out there. I’m counting on you to chip in.

Forget shopping, consider hope, donate hope, give hope on this Black Friday. And make it a day of light!

THANK YOU EVERYONE!

(If you don’t want to be in the drawing, you can simply donate to Hopeworks at this link.)

Forget shopping, consider hope

Interestingly enough, most people seem to be rejecting the notion of Black Thursday and Black Friday. Yet, I am sure that the stores will be busy.

Two things come to mind for me.

1 – Almost all of the talk of “family values,” speaks to sexual morality. Now morality is important, but for me, “family values” are something else.

What about families that live under the constant economic strain of contemporary life? And families that live amidst violence? And families that have members who won’t have much of a Thanksgiving because they have to leave Thanksgiving early, or miss it altogether, so that they can get to their low paid, part time retail job?

What family value is upheld there? A work ethic, yes – but at what cost?

2 – To that point about poverty, how do we connect our own mania to shop and shop and shop, and people who simply cannot afford to buy their kids one single toy? Why do we tend to see them as morally failed and ourselves as morally superior?

I’ll be back on Friday with a “shopping alternative” for you – one that has some hope attached to it.

We have a winner!

The winner of the book giveway is Erin, who lives in the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for visiting the blog Erin and know that your book will arrive soon!

Thanks to one and all for participating!

Monday Musing – Gratitude Edition

Later this week we will celebrate two things. One should be obvious; on Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving. We’ll get to the second in a moment.

Most Mondays, this post self-publishes, because I have written it before and set a timer that puts it on the blog. (Sorry to ruin the thought of me sitting here in my pajamas with my hair sticking straight up in the air, sleep still in my eyes, as I toil away! Oh wait, that is what you are getting today!) In all seriousness, that is how it works.

Today I am sitting here, writing fresh – mostly because I was away in NYC all weekend and I had not planned my timing very well. But that’s OK, because I am reminded of the gratitude that I feel for an amazing weekend.

When I was in New York, I got to meet some of the other authors of the book, Hungry and You Fed Me, Homilies and Reflections for Cycle C. I can’t tell you how exciting that was, and how grateful I am to actually be IN a book, especially a book like that, and to meet so many esteemed people of faith and vision.  I also got to do a lot of other things and see people that I love while in the city, it was wonderful. Thank you God! (See photos)

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What are you grateful for as we begin the week in which Thanksgiving falls? And for whom do you pray?

I think about the people who lost so much – loved ones, their homes or cars, their livelihoods – all due to Hurricane Sandy. My prayers for them as they navigate this season, perhaps finding it hard to feel thankful for much.

I am grateful to have spent Thanksgiving in Israel in 2004, and I am heartbroken as the violence rages on there, both from Hamas rockets and the Israeli response. It is a very small country, so a rocket from across the border would be something akin to someone in Burnt Hills trying to hit our church in Glenville with a rocket. The other side of the equation is that that it also means that Israel is responding with tremendous firepower, a short distance away and with great force.

God have mercy.

Again, who do you pray for? What are you grateful for?

And what else do we celebrate this week?

The final Sunday of the liturgical year! Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King. We are deep into readings that are apocalyptic in nature, sometimes hard to read, listen to, or understand. I am always surprised when I meet fellow Roman Catholics who understand what they hear in the Book of Revelations in a literal way. There is so much historical, Scriptural, and theological context to what we come to know in this book of the Bible. The end is coming, but God calls us to a deeper understanding of what that means.

We also know that Advent is coming – a time of great promise and hope. Advent truly is the time of the “darkest days before the dawn.”

I don’t know about you, but I love Advent, and I do not really think about Christmas too much until we get closer to it.

So this week I invite us all to remember that we are God’s beloved children, that we are always in the presence of our God, whether we realize it or not, and that God is with us in the darkest moments, and that God is the dawn as well. My prayers of gratitude are like a flashlight, illuminating the pathway to the greatest Light of all – Jesus Christ. That thought makes me most grateful of all.

Amen!

*Two Things*
1 – If you would like to buy a copy of Hungry and You Fed Me, please let me know. I have some in the parish office. If you are a reader from afar, let me know, I can get a copy to you. Or you can visit that website. All self-promotion aside, it is a prayerful and rich volume that will accompany you through Year C. It also makes a wonderful gift!

2- Brother Mickey McGrath is coming to Immaculate in less than two weeks! Please mark your calendars to come on either Thursday night at 7pm on November 29, or at 9am on Friday November 30. If you want to win a copy of one of his books, please see this blog post from the other day. I have extended the deadline to Tuesday morning, November 20, at 7am eastern. Leave a comment and you will be entered into a drawing to win a book!

Light & Beauty – book reviews, contest, Brother Mickey appearance!

Saved by Beauty and This Little Light – the November book review and book giveaway series continues!

I’ll begin this review of two books with the end in mind… If you are making a list so that someone may check it twice, I suggest that you ask for both books. Seriously – ask for both books! You will not regret this, even if it feels a bit over the top. Let me tell you why…

There will be pure joy upon giving and receiving such things, there will be no standing in long lines to return things that you don’t want, and no suffering the potential shame of re-gifting the wrong gift to the wrong person. Go ahead, attach this review to your wish list! And if you are looking for gifts for someone else, try using this as your shopping list. (Book giveway contest info at the end of the post, along with info about upcoming appearances by Brother Mickey!)

Today I Continue reading

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