The season of Advent receives scant attention in the world of merchandising. Advent calendars are made available, true enough, but often even they are more focused on the “prize” than on the opportunity to open spiritual doors—one store was selling a cheese-themed version!). Nevertheless, the season that leads to Christmas truly can lead us deeper into relationship with Jesus, if we but accept the invitation. A couple of Tuesdays ago, we held an Advent Wreath Making event, which included the making of wreaths, greeting cards and “The Hidden Jesus” wood plaques to share with parishioners who are unable to come to church for some reason. It was wonderfully low-key, meaning that participants were able to interact with each other, work collaboratively on a project, and not need to consult any techno device to make it enjoyable.
How do I create a context for spiritual renewal during these days? Here are but a few possibilities. There are 24 chapters in the Gospel of Luke. Even though, liturgically we move to the Gospel of Matthew in Year A for most Sunday readings, reading a chapter-a-day of Luke would serve as a beautiful reflection on why Jesus was sent, looking beyond the days leading up to His birth.
This is surely a season of gift-giving. We see the generosity of Saint Mary parishioners, for example, in the response to the annual Giving Tree. What if for every day of Advent, we set aside something we personally possess, in order to give it away—not because we are tired of it, but because the enjoyment it has offered us can be shared with another person.
Is there a gift we have yet to open from the past year? Have I made use of Formed.org, the online portal (almost a Catholic Netflix) that has been extended to us for a whole year by the Diocese of Cleveland? It is still possible to tap into the parish account and to open myself up to its beautiful content in various formats—articles, studies, videos. Can I introduce someone else to this gift?
The following comes from Jordan Adad, by way of the University of Notre Dame Church Life Journal:
Advent is a penitential season and for good reason. Although we live in the end times of the New Covenant, this does not mean that belief is easy or that the acceptance and cooperation with grace is always comfortable and pleasant, as are the soft lights of the Christmas tree or the warmth of an electric blanket, to use Flannery’s (O’Connor) image. The path of Christian discipleship is the only path worth treading, but that does not mean that it is not filled with real, painful struggle and the incessant resistance of our twisted and mangled nature
Even as our Adult Faith Formation Commission prepares for its next Sunday morning/Wednesday evening offering, I invite you to take note of the below additional opportunity for a small group study.
The Gospel Justice Committee is hosting a book discussion group in January and February. Please join us for a discussion of American Prophets: Seven Religious Radicals and Their Struggle for Social and Political Justice, by Albert Raboteau. Each chapter focuses on a 20th century person of faith, including Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. We will meet in the rectory basement at 9:30 on Sundays 1/12 through 2/16. Contact Melissa Burgett (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions. All are welcome.
To view the complete December 1 bulletin, go to: https://www.parishesonline.com/find/st-mary-of-the-immaculate-conception/bulletin/file/Dec%201st%20Bulletin