How Does the Christmas Story Relate to Us in 2020? 

Dear family,
 
Enclosed find a study I did for a group on Saturday I belong to. I thought others might be blessed by it and want to participate or share with others. There are no right or wrong answers. It is intended to get us thinking about the true meaning of Christmas for each one of us today. Hope you all enjoy and feel free to share and discuss with others all that is shared here. Comments always welcomed
 
Brother Lawrence Damien
 
 
1. The Annunciation
 
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
 
Summation
 
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she will become pregnant and bear a child Jesus who would be great, the Son of the Highest and ruler and an inheritor of the throne of David and a ruler of an everlasting kingdom with no end. This would happen because the Holy Spirit would come upon Mary. She accepts and agrees to God's will for her.
 
Comment
 
"Mary showed complete trust in God by agreeing to be used as an instrument in his plan of salvation. She trusted him in spite of her nothingness because she knew he who is mighty could do great things in her and through her. Once she said "yes" to him, she never doubted. She was just a young woman, but she belonged to God and nothing nor anyone could separate her from him." – St. Teresa of Calcutta
 
Food For Thought
 
I doubt many people have had a visitation from an angel nor had one deliver a message to them in the flesh as Mary had. She was frightened at first then moved to trust and acceptance.
 
A. How would you react if something similar happened to you?
 
B. What do you think of Mary's reaction and response?
 
C. What does this story say to you and how does it help in your understanding of the Christmas story?
 
 

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The Song of the Land

Dear family,

During this Advent season as we approach the coming Christmas season I have been drawn to thinking about and contemplating land, Mother Earth, nature, my cat Mowgli. Especially the song they sing to me and the words of wisdom they speak to me. It's a song of life, of going on, of new things to explore and discover, a song of sameness, calmness and yet changes. It's about being malleable, pliable, able to change and be shaped to be something beautiful, strong and firm so I can't be blown over.

This song has many voices, many who sing it to me, never ending always leading onward. There is the song of Mowgli with its one word meow which I as his daddy get to try and interpret is he hungry, does he want attention, does he want to be petted or have his back rubbed? Maybe it is a dirty litter box he wants cleaned and is staging a protest about? Perhaps it's his "girlfriend" Ripley the neighbor cat who he thinks he is madly in love with that he is pining for. The meow of hope that she will appear, then an excitement as he calls to her to come talk with him, and total dejection when she usually ignores and he goes wild with despair until he finally lets daddy comfort him, pet him, hold him and tell its all ok before he takes off to a place to relax and nap. However the song of Mowgli is not that really. Instead it's a song of calmness that no matters what's going on I don't have to react. If I do then have my meltdowns then forget about it and move on. He, like myself, likes to lie and look at nature as I do.

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What Can We Learn From An Adulterous Woman

What Can We Learn From An Adulterous Woman?

Dear family.

For several weeks now I have been stuck meditating and thinking about the woman caught in the act of adultery by religious leaders looking for a way to find fault with Jesus. The story is found in the Gospel of John chapter 8:2-10. Jesus had spent the night on the Mount of Olives and has just arrived at the temple. Jesus begins teaching the people there. While this is going on the scribes and Pharisee’s bring a woman allegedly caught in the act of adultery. They are looking to test Jesus so they have something to accuse him of. They think they have the perfect trap to ensnare Jesus and give them something to condemn him for. If he says stone her then he is a legalist and makes a lie out of all the talk about love, forgiveness that he has been preaching. One the other hand if he says let her go he has broken the Law of Moses, ignored the sin of the woman and become a law breaker which would give the religious leaders many grounds for finding fault with Jesus and condemning him. So they think they have him either way.

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Is Changing Your Name Biblical?

Dear Family,

Many when joining a monastic community change their name as I myself did. Why do we do this? What is the meaning of it?  Is it something the Catholic Church dreamed up or is there a biblical basis for the practice?  In my last post I shared how I changed my name and why.  The following for those who are interested is the biblical foundation for the practice. I pray you all enjoy and comments welcomed.

1.  Woman to Eve

The first time we see someone changing their name in the Bible is in the Garden of Eden. Initially when Adam is introduced to the one who God made for him he says,
 
"This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of a man."1
 

At this point she is simply known as someone who was taken from man/Adam. Then after the fall but before they are evicted from the garden Adam changes his mind and gives the woman a new name.

 "And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living."2
 
At this point as far as we know Eve has had no children and may not even have a clue as to what childbearing is about.  So in this case I believe it is to give her a vision of what she was to be and to give her, her own separate identity.  Now instead of just being known as someone taken from her husband, she is known as Eve, the mother of all living. In Hebrew, the name means life-giver and that was what she was.  Over the years she would give birth to many sons and daughters who reproduce, covering the whole earth.3
 

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Am I a Racist?

Dear family

In the last few months during the having to be shut in due to the Coronavirus I have had a lot of time for reflection and contemplation on various aspects of my life and how well I may be doing in seeking to be more like Christ and fulfilling the ministry he has called me to and my calling as a monastic. This particularly in light of recent events the killing of innocent black men in Minneapolis, St, Louis and elsewhere and the riots and protests that have take place all over the world in reaction to and in support of the protestors. I support the protestors and believe in justice for the families of those killed and the punishment to the full extent of the law of those responsible for the killings. Yet I am white and therefore in the eyes of some automatically racist. So what is the truth?

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Going Down The Mountain to The Valley to Confront Life

Dear family
Here is my next chapter. Hope you are enjoying this and comments welcomed.
Brother Lawrence Damien Cos
 
Down The Mountain To The Valley To Confront Life
(Chapter 2)
In our last chapter we were on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses, Elijah, Jesus and God. What an experience that must have been. An experience where one would like to remain enjoying the high they may have been on, the memories of that great event, basking in the afterglow of that moment but alas it can’t be. Instead they have to come down the mountain to the valley below where life is lived and pandemonium reigns supreme. Though the view may be great from the mountain top nothing much generally grows there and very few people live there. It’s down in the valley that most people live, where life is confronted and dealt with, and where the temptations, trials, tests and battles of life are fought and either lost or won. Quite often it can seem to be a place of frustration, weakness and where everything that can go wrong does. Our intentions may be good but no matter how much we try we just don’t seem to get it and evil seems to be laughing at us as we stand there powerless and seemingly helpless. That is the situation Jesus, Peter, James and John encounter when they arrive at the bottom of the mountain everything is in an uproar.

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Going With Jesus To The Resurrection

Dear family

Enclosed a draft of a new book I am considering writing and a draft of the first chapter of what I believe will be many more to come hopefully. Interested in getting reaction to what I have to say and as always all comments welcomed. Look forward to hearing back from you all.

Brother Lawrence Damien Cos

Introduction

During the Lenten season we are called to follow Jesus through the stages of rejection, trial and condemnation, Calvary, the tomb and finally to participation in his resurrection and ascension and all that means. However what is it all really about especially for us in the 21st century? Is it just about some historical event or is there something we are supposed to be getting from this that can change us and our world? In that regard where does this all begin? Where do the first hints of the impending death and resurrection of Jesus first surface? What are the circumstances under which the idea is presented and who are the participants to this conversation concerning the ultimate fate of Jesus? Finally what is their reaction to the news that Jesus would die? The answers to these questions I believe help Jesus define and fulfill his mission. For us today it I believe shows us what Lent is truly about and what life in general should be about. Follow with me as we look at this further.

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Can We Hear God’s Voice and Yield to It?

Dear family

Today March 25 we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation i.e. when Gabriel appears to Mary to tell she would become pregnant and a son to be called Jesus. So its nine months to Christmas and no, no one actually knows when the annunciation actually happened. Its celebrated now because Jesus birth is celebrated on December 25. However the church here is not worried about when these events may have happened but what they represent and speak to us now. So what does the annunciation have to say to us in the 21st century? Follow me as I try to answer that question.

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Lord Make Me Beautiful

“To be like Jesus,

To be like Jesus,

All I ask is to be like Him,

Through all life’s journey,

From earth to glory,

All I ask is to be like Him.”

 

Dear Family

Back in my Evangelical days I used to sing the above song a lot. Then would come the trials, tests etc. and it seemed that was never going to happen. Seemingly it seemed I was in a tomb all my dreams and visions dead and myself not doing much better. I think many of us have at times desired to be like Jesus, or perhaps like St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta or one of the other saints or holy people who have passed before us as examples for us to emulate and try to follow as best we can. We pray, we fast, we seek God, we learn his Word, we contemplate and meditate and perhaps even go on retreats yet nothing seems to change and it seems we are at a standstill going nowhere fast. We are going through the motions, making a lot of commotion, but there doesn’t seem to be any locomotion or very little at best. We want to hurry up the process but instead we move along at a snail’s pace if at all. It seems we are stuck in neutral and wondering where is God in all this?

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The Apocalypse Is Happening Now. Will We Hear Its Message?

Dear family

Continuing on Lenten journey today I am reflecting on the Book of Revelation and what it may mean for those of us now in the age of Coronavirus. In my evangelical days I saw the Book of Revelation as pointing to the last days just prior to the return of Christ to this earth to establish his kingdom. I saw it pointing to a time of wars, nuclear holocaust, and destruction of earth as we know it now and all in all as a bad time I didn't want to be around for and definitely hoped that I would be ready to be "raptured" out at any moment so I would miss the great tribulation I believed was coming. I have for many years now been changing my views and coming to see God as love who always act in love and with our best interests at heart, As this pandemic has struck worldwide and find myself under quarantine in my home the first thing that strikes me is this happens right in the season of Lent which is a penitential season of self examination, making things right, so we can be ready for the resurrected Christ, the power of Pentecost to be able to live a extraordinary life in ordinary times. As I consider this I come to see Revelation in a whole new light. I have come to see it not as a book of terror but as a book of hope. A book whose message if listened to can lead to a new age of life, healing and the reign of God and God's peace over all the earth.

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10 Biblical Reasons Why The Church Should Support Gays

Dear family.

In a few months, in June, those in the LGBTQ community will be celebrating Pride month, and our pride in who we are. Many from within the LGBTQ culture, as well as straight Christians, look to their faith for answers on what this all means, whether one can be gay or LGBTQ and Christian, and how to engage our world in an increasingly pro-LGBTQ culture.

Many Christians believe that homosexuality and anything else close to it is immoral, which has lead to a long history between the church and LGBTQ people that is fraught with tension, pain and sometimes violence.  Those who believe that homosexuality is a sin often point to several well-known Scripture passages from the Old and New Testaments.  Most of the Christian debate about human sexuality has centered on interpretation and emphasis of these passages, however, are they right?  Is there another understanding that can help guide LGBTQ people in their understanding of the Bible, and how God truly sees them?  There are so-called "clobber" verses which are used by those who believe homosexuality is wrong. However, is their interpretation and understanding correct?  It may surprise some to find out that these clobber passages aren't the only Scriptures that can guide faithful Christians as we seek to have a godly understanding of sexual and gender identity and orientation.

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Ten Commitments to Compassionate Christian Living

Dear Family

I was surfing on the internet and came across what were called "Living Humanist Values : The Ten Commitments." They are based on the Ten Commandments found in the Bible but taken from a humanist standpoint and non religious platform. While I do not endorse Humanism necessarily I think the article makes some good points which can be equally to those of us seeking the Compassionate Christ and to follow that image. In that respect I offer it here along with my thoughts on it for us to consider and if we like might want to consider doing some if not all in our lives. It is not to be considered laws or rules that we have to obey but signs that can help us on our way to becoming more like Christ. Join me now in what I hope will be an exciting adventure for us all.

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Why Do We Celebrate the Feast of Saint Michael and all Angels

Dear Family,

On September 29, in the Roman Catholic Church, Episcopal/Anglican Church, and many other church traditions, we will celebrate the Feast Of Saint Michael and all Angels.  So why does the church have this celebration?

First, to remind us that we have spirits we can call on, to help us through this life.  The word angel means messenger, so angels are messengers of God to us.

As the writer of Hebrews reminds us, angels are ministering spirits sent to minister to those who are heirs of salvation.[1] So we have them here to call upon and have them assist us.  However the church doesn't stop there, as it also recognizes on this day, the rank of Archangels, namely Saint Michael the Archangel, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael.  So who are these characters, and why does the church choose to honor them today?  Furthermore what does it all mean for us in the 21st century?  Come with me as we explore further and answer that question.

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Over a Half Century and What Have I Learned?

Dear Family,

This past May I celebrated my 71st birthday and in October I will celebrate 53 years in ministry which is cool.  So what have I learned in all that time? Am I smarter now than I was then? Actually no.  I have gotten dumber in one respect.  In my teens and early 20's I thought I had all the answers and was ready to change the world.  Now I am amazed at how much I don't know and how more there is for me to discover and learn.  Yet on the other hand I think I have learned a few things along the way that I would like to share here.  I pray you all will enjoy this and find it helpful.

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What is God’s View of Compassion?

Read chapter 1 "A Passion For Compassion" first

Chapter 2 

"…and none of the condemned things are to be found in your hands. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors- 18because you obey the LORD your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes." (Deuteronomy 13:17:18 NIV)

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A Passion for Compassion

INTRODUCTION

Recently many of my friends and I have been discussing compassion and the compassionate Christ. What is it, what would it look like are questions we have asked ourselves and discussed with each other. One important issue we need to address and think about is how do we bring the reality of a compassionate Christ into our world and let it change it for the better. It is good to think about it, talk, get ideas but that is not enough. If all we do is dream about what may be possible nothing will ever change. We need to put feet to our prayers, our thoughts, ideas and so forth. We need to have a passion for compassion.

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What Can We Learn From St Mary, The Mother Of Jesus?

What can we learn from St. Mary the Mother of Jesus that can apply to us today? Is she relevant to us today? Does she have anything to say to us now that will help us today? Recently I have been studying about Mary and trying to understand, venerate and honor her properly. The following is a study I believe God gave me on the subject.

1. ACCEPTANCE OF THE WILL OF GOD FOR HER

"Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word". (St. Luke 1:38 New American Bible St. Joseph Edition)

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What is Solitude and How Can We Practice it?

Dear family

As I believe most of you know I am a monk and a member of a monastic community called "The Community of Solitude". So what is solitude? It is my belief that the whole universal church is called to spend periods of time in solitude seeking God and yet for me and other monastics this has a special call and meaning. So let's dig a bit and see what we can find that may help us all in our seeking God and coming to understand God's will for us and the journey we are on to Jesus and eternity.

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What Does it Mean to Receive Jesus?

Sixteen years ago at Thanksgiving 2002 I began a journey that would ultimately take me from the Evangelicalism of my younger years to my becoming a Catholic in 2008 which I still am. During that time as a man dedicated to following the "Word" and Jesus I have had a problem and wrestled over seemingly contradictory means of what it means to be a Christian and how to be one. Evangelicals would say accept Jesus as your personal savior and you're saved. However I see in places like Matthew 25 where Jesus teaches it's by our works that we will be judged and our eternal destiny decided. Many might say the Bible contradicts itself and this is one of these contradictions. However I am inclined to believe there are no contradictions in the Bible simply things I do not understand. The following then is a result of praying, seeking answers and trying to understand what the Bible is saying and seeking reconciliation between seemingly to opposing points of view. Its represents sixteen years of seeking and is presented here as my views at the moment and as food for thought that we might wish to consider.

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Is Zionism Christian?

Recently the US under president Trump moved the its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in Israel sparking a lot of concern, consternation and violence by those opposed to the move mainly Arabs. Part of the problem as I see it is something called Zionism and the belief on the part of many that we have to back Israel 100% right or wrong as this is what God requires. This lead to a promise made in 1917 to the Jews of a promised home land. After World War II in 1948 without consulting the people then living there (Palestinians) the United Nations arbitrarily decided to create the nation of Israel. The Palestinians living in this land were moved into refugee camps with a promise they would also be given a home land of their own. That promise was never kept and the Palestinians remain in refugees camp leading too all the current problems there in the Gaza Strip and in the Occupied Territories. However is this what God wants? Is God solely on the side of Israel? Do Christians have to support Israel blindly because God allegedly does? Is Zionism of God?

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