Prepare the Way

Ah, Advent.  A season of joyful expectation, waiting to remember once again the birth of Jesus, our Messiah.  This year, Advent begins the weekend after Thanksgiving, and on the surface, it gives us some added quiet time to move into the season.  Unfortunately, if you turned on the news this weekend, you might have been confronted with the shopping craziness that marks the secular side of these days leading up to Christmas.  Where was the joyful expectation?  The emphasis wasn’t on Jesus, but rather on expecting the best bargain, the latest gadget we just have to have, and spending money we don’t have. 

We need to recapture the desire to prepare the way of the Lord.  To prayerfully prepare our hearts and minds to receive Him, a great place to turn is the Scriptures.  You can find the story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospels (Matthew 1:18-2:12; Luke 2:1-20).  I know you’ve heard/read the stories many times over the years, but make the effort again this Advent.  Find a quiet place, relax and read.  Contemplate the scene.  Imagine yourself watching it all take place in real time, right before your eyes.

Reconnect with the miracle of Jesus’ birth.  As we move through this holy season of Advent, remember: It’s all about Jesus.


The Saints Among US

In the Catholic Church, November 1st is celebrated as the Feast of All Saints, when we remember the many saints who have gone before us, now praying for us, and who provide us with a wonderful witness of holy living. 

What seems like a lifetime ago, I was a college student working on a Master’s Degree in Theology.  The chapel at St. Mary’s was beautiful, and the wall behind the altar was completely covered by a painting of what we would call The Communion of Saints, which included a multitude of canonized saints.  At the bottom of the painting, the artist painted rich, flowing curtains in between columns. 

One All Saint’s Day, I heard a Franciscan priest preach a wonderful homily, which I remember to this day.  Fr. Gary began by speaking about all the saints in the painting that were familiar to us in the pews.  There was St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. Francis, just to name a few.  Yes, we all wanted to be like them, courageous, holy, even saintly.  But they, like us, were also human, often falling, striving to get back up, hoping to finish the race well and win the prize. 

But what Fr. Gary focused on that day wasn’t the depicted saints, but it was the curtains that he preached about.  “See that last curtain over there,” he asked.  “I think my Uncle George is behind that curtain.”  “And I just bet my friend and mentor” (Father so and so) “is behind that one.”  Fr. Gary wanted to remind us that we have people living saintly lives all around us, people who are not only striving to live holy lives, but actually doing it. 

Just this morning my own pastor mentioned this in his homily, speaking of various people in our community how just might one day be canonized saints.  He reminded us that each and every one of us is called to be a saint.  Imagine what our world would be like if we all worked on our holiness each day.  Heaven on earth comes to mind. 

“All you holy men and women, pray for us.”