Each year on the first Sunday of Advent the gospel calls out to us in one way or another to be on the watch, alert, preparing ourselves to welcome the one we will call our Savior.  It is the call also to remind us that yet another year has sped by and we must be ready to take our first steps in the journey of another year.  And how shall we hear the call, what thoughts are in our hearts as we listen to the words to be alert and watchful as we prepare ourselves for the Lord’s coming.

I’m sure all of us thinking first of what this past year has been like, the pandemic, the price it has been for so many, the uncertainty of how we shall cope with it as we move forward.  Well, thanks be to God we have the call of Advent a season of prayer, placing our hope completely in the hands of the Lord.  It has been a very costly year too for so many because of layoffs, the months of what we’ve called the ‘lock downs’, what it has done to our economy.  And, not to mention the year it has been in the political sphere of life.  In the midst of all of this we are called to place our attention on prayer and renewal of heart and soul.

I’ve always loved the season of Advent.  Even as a child when we were taught to make it a time of preparing our hearts, and in school we were given daily reminders of little sacrifices we should to prepare us for Christmas.  As we got older and in our teen years most of us lost the beauty of what Advent was supposed to be and we focused on the coming of Christmas.  The material side of the season took over and we just couldn’t wait for Christmas to come.  I wonder as I think back on those years how much grace of this holy season I lost because of neglect and putting other things in place of what should have had first place.

Well, I invite all of us to look at this new season of Advent grace and in spite of all that has gone on over the past  months and all we have to continue to deal with that let us look deep within ourselves and see where the Lord is in our hearts and renew our relationship with Him.  Put prayer at the center of our Advent days.  If possible come to Mass each day, the prayers of the Advent liturgy are so precious.  At least take some time each day and spend it in prayerful reflection, talking with the Lord asking Him to guide you and bless your family and all your loved ones that they too may be blessed with Advent grace.

The weeks of Advent seem to speed by so we need to use them well.  I read someplace not too long ago that perhaps we might prepare ourselves for Christmas in a simpler way not focusing so much of the material but letting this year look more at the spiritual than the material.

Let me close with this little reflection entitled:  “Encircling Prayer”

Circle me Lord,

     Keep protection near; keep danger afar.

Circle me Lord,

Keep hope within; keep doubt without.

Circle me Lord,

Keep light near; keep darkness afar

Circle me, Lord,

Keep peace within, keep strife without.

Circle me, Lord,

Keep love within, keep hate without.

Amen

A Blessed Advent season to all!

Fr. Walt