Sunday, December 07, 2014

Advent Week Two

The first week of Advent flew by. I was able to go to Staten Island, New York on Thursday with 17 other Sisters. We traveled on a small bus to be present at our 20th Annual Daughters of St. Paul Benefit Dinner and Concert. Our singing choir Sisters offered 18 numbers selected from very upbeat Christmas-centered songs. Over 900 people were present. Our guest of honor was Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. He received a great welcome. It took him a long time to reach his place at table because of the folks who went to greet him and stopped to pose for selfies with the Cardinal. We Sisters are very grateful to Richard and Lois Nicotra and their hard working staff who host and manage this dinner/concert every year. The venue is their Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island. In his opening remarks, Cardinal Dolan said that the New Testament story of the First Christmas gives inn keepers a bad name. They had said "no room" to Joseph and Mary. The Nicotras have restored the image of a good inn keeper! This morning I attended the 7:30 Mass at a nearby parish. For the following Mass, I stayed at the side entrance which is a large circular, glass encased room. There we had ample space for many tables and display units for our books and media which we were offering the parishioners this morning. During the second Mass, while Sister Susan attended the liturgy, I stayed in the entrance area. A young mother with a 2 year old and a 4 year old boy was trying to pay attention to the Mass, even though her boys were too young to keep still. Much later on a middle aged couple came in with a perky two-year old girl, a child in a cradle-car seat, and two boys all under two years old. The couple were white and three of the children were African American. Only the child in the car seat was still. All three wanted to see everything, inspect all our books and DVD's, run up and down the handicapped ramp, and socialize with the first two boys. When I told the little girl that behind the tables was "Only for big girls," she responded firmly: "I am a big girl!" She was a miniature "big girl" in her bright pink winter outfit, white flower headband, and lamb's wool vest. In Advent we await the coming of Christ at the end of time, and we commemorate Jesus' birthday in Bethlehem of Judea. Jesus was a real baby, who, if he were born in our day, would ride in a car seat rather than a donkey, wear jeans and not a robe, and still keep landing on his bottom as he made baby steps to catch up with the older boys. I was edified when I asked "Mom" and "Dad" if the children were foster children or adopted. The children were both: two, a boy and girl, were already their adopted son and daughter; the other two were still in their care as foster children. I reflected that these parents were nearing retirement age. They could look forward to a restful sunset of life. Yet they had taken on the care of four children who otherwise might be on the street or in a shelter, if not in worse conditions. I thought of Matthew Chapter 25 where Jesus describes the final judgement: "I was hungery and you gave me to eat; naked and you clothed me; sick and you visited me...". What a Christmas gift those two are with their lives. May we learn from them, and pray that those who can do the same will emulate their example and give more children a loving, warm home. Have a blessed second week of Advent.

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