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Friday, November 25, 2016

What are You Doing for Advent?

Advent Wreath

  When Lent begins we often get asked, "What are you doing for Lent?"  We respond be telling of the things we are giving up as well as the positive actions we are taken.  I would like to suggest that the same question be asked for Advent, though the answer should be much different.

   In Lent we focus on our personal conversion as we prepare to celebrate the Death and Resurrection of Christ.  We give up things that lead us to sin or that stand in the way of following the Lord more closely.

  Advent is different. It is the time not only to prepare for the celebration of the Lord's birth, but to prepare for the coming of the Kingdom of God. How do we go about that?

  At the end of the Church's liturgical year and at it's beginning in Advent we are invited to focus on the end times, on the coming of God's reign in its fullness.  We are reminded that we do not know the day or the hour, that we must always be ready.  We are also invited to wait for these times in hope, not in gloom and doom, as the realization of all of God's promises and all of humanity's hopes.

   Practically then what are we to do? 

1.  Realize that even now the Kingdom of God is among us, not yet in its fullness, but among us nonetheless.  With all of the negative news around us, with all of the divisiveness brought about by our recent election it is easy to get mired in negativity.  Perhaps part of an Advent penance would be to daily look for signs of the Kingdom among us.  There are countless stories of forgiveness, of differences being overcome, of extraordinary kindness being granted, of harmony between races and religions.  The mainstream media don't highlight these, but they are there.  Look for these things daily, thank God for them and say "They Kingdom come!"

2.  Try to be an instrument of the coming of the Kingdom.  Strive to be a light in the darkness.  Reach out to someone or some group that feels alienated or marginalized.  Work for justice where there is injustice.  Be a peacemaker where there is violence.  This may be on a grand scale or within your own circle of family and friends.

3.  Don't give into cynicism.  This is one of the most unchristian of virtues. Remember that we "wait in blessed hope for the coming of the Savior, that in God's time All will be well.

4.  None of us can help but getting swept up in the secular, commercial celebration of the holidays, but take time to prepare your heart for celebrating the birth of our Lord. Hold back a bit on getting up decorations as a reminder that Advent is a time of waiting, waiting for the birth of Jesus to be celebrated, and waiting for His coming.

    So what are you doing for Advent?

   

 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Blessed Are The Peacemkers

  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.  (Mt. 5:9).  This particular beatitude was certainly lived by St. Francis of Assisi whether it was meeting the Muslim Sultan during the crusades or making peace between the mayor and the bishop in Assisi.  Being a peacemaker is at the heart of being a Franciscan.  It is also a call that is difficult to live out today, but I am going to give it a try.

   On Tuesday we are going to elect a president. Like many of you I will not be happy with either candidate. Those on the losing side may be tempted to anger, reprisal and violence.   Those on the   winning side may be tempted to gloat and take it out on the opposition.  Others may be tempted to give in to despair.  I pray that neither of the above options is exercised.  I address here neither Mr. Trump, not Mrs. Clinton.  I doubt that either of them care what I think.  I address you, the readers of this blog, and whomever you may share this with.

  What to do?  Here are some suggestions.

  1.  Don't insult or disown your friends and acquaintances who voted for the other candidate.  Avoid saying "How could you?" or "He/she's evil." Rather suggest that we discuss together how we can move forward.

   2.  No matter how disappointed and you are with the winner (Yes, there is reason to feel that way no matter who wins.) try to find something that you can get behind, even if it is just a few things.

   3.  Contact both the new president-elect and you representatives in Congress and plead with them to find a path that enables them to work together.  We have had several years of deadlock.  We have to get past this.

   4.  Above all pray, pray and pray some more for the healing of our nation.

    5.  Any further suggestions that you have that do not involve hostility will be most welcome as comments or e-mail responses to this blog post. Since the blog will go on to Facebook be free to give respectful suggestions there.