Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Ushers in a New Year

Happy Advent! This morning I was with two other Daughters of St. Paul at a parish north of Boston. We had a beautiful display of books, DVD's and CD's. People were eager to bring home books, especially a new title by Sister Mary Lea Hill, who uses the subtitle "Reflections of a Crabby Mystic" on her new book, "Prayer and You." There were many who purchased a brand new DVD for children called "From Saint to Santa", the true story of St. Nicholas. Contrary to the naysayers, "Yes, there is a real Santa. He is Saint Nicholas." The person behind the Saint and Santa outfits is Father Joseph Marquis a Byzantine priest who is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Livonia, Michigan. With a cheerful, husky voice, Father Joseph transposes himself into a believable Santa. See more about "From Saint to Santa" on our website: This morning I felt invited to spend Advent, the liturgical season which starts today in the company of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Her's was the first Advent--a nine month waiting--as she prepared for the arrival of Jesus' birthday. For Mary, there must have been long stretches of silence as she readied meals, fashioned baby clothes, walked the road to Ain Karim to help her older cousin Elizabeth. Then she and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem in her final stages of pregnancy. Mary was a walking tabernacle hosting Emmanuel, God with us. As Luke's gospel tells us "she pondered in her heart" the events that she experienced. Advent is an invitation for me and you to ponder in our hearts the wonder of the Incarnation: the truth that God took on a real body, "born of a woman", Mary. Today someone told me, "He (Jesus) was just pretending, borrowing a human appearance, right? When he became man?" I gently responded that Jesus was not pretending, not putting on a costume as an actor would, and then discarding it. Jesus Christ is true God and true man. He had a DNA, he became a real member of our race; "Like us in all but sin." It is a wonder, something to ponder. Yes, beyond our deepest imagining. Yet, so very true. Once a spiritual director told me to meditate on the Baptism of Jesus. When he waited in line to be baptized by John the Baptist, no one, not even John at first, recognized him as being set apart from the other men in line. A traditional prayer in the Church recalls the mystery of the Incarnation, we call it The Angelus, from the Latin opening words: Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae. At least once a day, why not pray the Angelus as an Advent practice: The Angel spoke God's message to Mary. And, she conceived of the Holy Spirit. I am the lowly servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word. And the Word became flesh. And lived among us. Let us pray: Lord, pour your grace into our hearts. We to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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