I always hope things will slow down in Advent. This desire, if you share it, I think comes from a reminder of how much we all need time and space for preparation, for hope, for light in darkness in the busyness of our lives. Yes, it’s always a struggle to fight the urge to leap forward into the celebration of Christmas and the urge to get caught up in the excess of the secular holiday season.
But somehow, isn’t this the essence of Advent – figuring out how to live in this in-between time when the reign of God is not yet fully upon us? It’s about learning what the life of faith is all about – learning to live in between the assurance of God’s promise to us and the fulfillment of that promise.
I recently read a take on Advent which suggests that this in-between-time should match the intensity of Christmas itself. That God is as much in the waiting as in the arrival. That God is powerfully present in our waiting. The author sets the scene this way:
“The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised the baton . . .
. . . The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment . . .
. . . And if you concentrate on that instant, somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.”
I love this image of the ‘world itself holding its breath’ before the initiative of God. Sometimes, it may feel for us that this waiting time for God to reveal Himself in our lives is interminable. Sometimes our energy wanes and we lose our focus on the energy present in the waiting. But in the pause, in the silence, God is there. With us.
To attune yourself to this time and space for preparation, for hope, for light in darkness, I encourage you to join me in some special offerings during the next four weeks of Advent:
There will be an Advent Meditation Group that meets on Fridays at Resurrection from 2-3pm (please see the bulletin for details, or call me at (609) 390-0664 for further information).
Commencing November 30, the Saint Maximilian Kolbe Book Club will be reading The Infancy Narratives, authored by Pope Benedict. The Book Club meets on Wednesday evenings from 7-8pm in the classroom area at the Church of the Resurrection.
TV star Frank Runyeon will present the 3 1/2 Stories of Christmas on December 11 at 2pm at the Church of the Resurrection. Children and adults will be delighted as all the parts of the Christmas story are tied together for the first time: From the light of Creation to the manger in Bethlehem, from the origin of Saint Nicholas to the secret of the Christmas Angel himself!
The Advent Parish Penance Service will be celebrated at the Church of the Resurrection on Tuesday, December 13, at 7pm
Again, please see the bulletin (or call me) for details about the Parish Giving Trees and Feed the Needy food and gift drives.
At Thanksgiving we pause, even if only in a cursory way (and it often is) to consider what we’re thankful for. Usually we’re more interested in turkey, football and shopping than in the practice of deep gratitude. (Isn’t it odd how on one day we give thanks for all we have, and then the next day we go on a mad shopping rampage?) This Thanksgiving I encourage you to give gratitude a try. Take a moment to think for what you are most deeply grateful. Most people’s lists are kind of short. Family, friends, health, material comforts, our nation, church and pets. That about covers it.
This year I invite you to go deeper. As long as you’re being thankful for something, say, our nation, be thankful for the whole thing, not just your favorite parts or peoples. Consider how our nation truly is greater than the sum of all its parts. Should we not be thankful for all the people, all the kinds of people, all the races all the ages and shapes and lifestyles and perspectives, the heroes and the ones who struggle? Everybody. If you are grateful for your family, give thanks for the whole family tree stretching back to Adam and Eve, even the ‘misfits’. Thank God for them, each one of them, or you wouldn’t be here. If you are grateful for your health, thank God for your body, this amazing creation that may be older and weaker than you wish, but it keeps you alive. Even our aches and pains are a necessary part of this gift.
If you’re really deeply grateful for what you have, you know that it’s a gift. You are aware that you haven’t earned or created it yourself. Your health, your family, your station in life, even the money you’ve “earned” is a gift (plenty of people work hard and no one pays them for it). And you’re grateful for all those who suffered so that you could have it: the underpaid migrants who pick your fruit, the black – lung infected miners who dig the coal that keeps you warm, the people who harvest your coffee beans and your chocolate.
Beware of selfishness masquerading as gratitude. There’s a difference between gratitude and possessiveness. Love does not rejoice at the suffering of others, nor does it seek to keep what we are grateful for to ourselves. (Thank God for my food; too bad for the poor…thank God we get cheap goods, though the people who made them can’t afford them…thank God for oil; too bad for the earth…) If we are truly grateful we are mindful of the whole.
Even as we give thanks for our goods, health, friends and comfort, we are aware of those without. And we are aware not just in thought but in deed. In love, gratitude is not a feeling; it’s an act. We don’t just have thanks; we give thanks.
— My prayer for us all is that our gratitude be more than just a feeling, but something we practice. May you and all those you love have a deeply grateful thanksgiving.
Adult Faith Formation
November 8: The Holy Catholic Church – The Hierarchy, Mary and the Communion of Saints.
November 15: Divine Revelation: Scripture, Tradition, Magisterium
November 22: Salvation History, “The Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting.”
November 29: Sacrament of Initiation – Baptism
December 6: Sacrament of Initiations – Confirmation
December 20: Sacrament of Initiation – Eucharist and Mass
January 10: Sacrament of Vocation – Marriage
January 17: Sacrament of Vocation – Holy Orders
January 24: Sacrament of Healing – Anointing of the Sick
February 7: Sacrament of Healing – Reconciliation
February 28: Sin and Morality, Preparation for Lent
March 7: Prayer – Liturgy
March 21: Tour of the Church – Sacramental’s
March 1 – Ash Wednesday
April 13 – Holy Thursday – Mass of the Lord’s Supper
April 14 – Good Friday – Veneration of the Cross
April 15 – Holy Saturday – Easter Vigil
If you have not already done so, please like us on Facebook:
Whenever you attend an event, tag the photos and check-in to St. Maximilian Kolbe via Facebook. This way, it will allow the science of social media to spread all the great things going on here, and make St. Max “go viral”.