My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In the season of Advent we wait in anticipation for many blessings soon to come. The bells at Mass and the Gloria are omitted and the liturgies are a bit more subdued, especially in contrast to the noise and haste of shopping and Christmas parties. We look forward to the beauty of the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Masses and of course celebrations with singing, good food and the warmth of family and friends. When Joseph and Mary were anticipating the birth of the Christ Child, Israel was crying out to God for deliverance from Roman oppression and they were longing for the coming of the Messiah, the King who would establish peace on earth. They were longing for a deliverer who would force the Romans to leave and re-establish the Kingdom of God. My favorite Advent song is O come O come Emmanuel which speaks to our longing for the second coming of Christ to establish peace on earth. At the same time, it makes us aware that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. Christ was born for us in Bethlehem and returned to the Father leaving us his Church led by the Apostles and the Holy Spirit who makes Christ truly present in us and to us through the Sacraments.
We may not recognize this Holy Longing in the depths of our soul. St. Augustine said of this longing, “Lord, we are made for You and our hearts are restless, until they rest in You.” What are you longing for this Advent? In 2005, I was longing painfully to be called to seminary, so I could satisfy my restless longing to be ordained a priest. God gives us grace, which make you and I like a pen in the hands of God writing beautiful messages of love, healing and friendship to those that God places in our path. When we cooperate with the will of God to use us to make Christ present in the world, we experience profound peace and satisfaction. This is because the meaning and purpose of human life is to know, love and serve God. When we put our love of God and others into action we satisfy the deepest longing in our hearts.
We must learn what God wants of us. What movement is in your heart as we approach the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child? When we discover what part God is calling us to play in the plan of salvation, we must imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph in saying yes to what God wants for us. Even if it is something small like washing church linens or taking up the collection, God wishes to bless us and make us a blessing to others through our actions.
I know of three men, who were thought too limited in health and intelligence to be of any great service to the Church. The three became saints through their lowliness. St. Jean Vianney, the Cure of Ars brought a great conversion to thousands of sinners across France despite being in a small rural village. St. André Bessette, a Holy Cross Brother was made porter or doorman and he worked thousands of miracles of healing and caused the Basilica of St. Joseph to be built in Montreal. St. Fr. Solanus Casey, a Capuchin, was also made porter in Detroit, so he had contact with many people as they came into church and was responsible for thousands of healings. God wants to do great things through us and especially through the least of us who are humble, but holy in prayer and generous in manifesting God’s love and mercy.
My longing this Advent is to be the instrument of God’s mercy to every Catholic in our parishes, see the conversion of sinners and a Church on fire with love.
Happy Advent, Fr. Paul