Thank you to the 95 parishioners who attended our parish meeting after Masses the weekend of November 13th and 14th (the November 21st bulletin had to be submitted before the 13th, so I couldn’t put this thank you in last week). A short report of the meeting will be in the December Parish Press, which will be mailed and posted this week.
Advent begins with our liturgical celebrations this weekend. Advent is a season of hope, in that we are asked to reflect on the reality that our salvation is at hand. Over and over our Advent readings will present to us that, in the middle of disastrous situations, God will come to the rescue. Our first reading says it very clearly: The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah. In those days, in that time, I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure. Safety and security in the middle of the dangers of this world! Of course, that safety and security is our Lord Jesus Christ, whose first coming we will celebrate at Christmas.
For us, personally, it means that God wants to help us; he wants us to be safe and secure. But we have to let him. Perhaps the first step is to be aware of what we need, so that we can ask for the help we need. That is why quiet, reflective time is so important. That is why the Church gives us the seasons of Advent and Lent, inviting us to be more aware of the areas in which we need to grow.
Once we know where we need to grow, we can ask God for help and he will give it to us. But it is sort of like a boomerang in the sense that it comes back to us as our responsibility to plan how we can grow. God will help, but we have to do our part and use his help to change and grow. Let me give an example. Suppose I realize that I am losing my temper and treating someone badly. I ask God to help me be more patient with that person. God will help, but I need to cooperate by working to change how I react. That might be by reflecting on what it is specifically that sets me off and why that bothers me. Maybe it will be strategizing how I can get control of myself before reacting (e.g., by counting to 10 before saying anything).
The point is this: God will give us the graces we need, but we have to work and cooperate to bring about the necessary changes.
Our lives tend to get busier and busier as Christmas approaches. I invite us to carve out time to reflect on how we are doing at allowing Christ and His graces to enter our lives. Our evening of reflection and adoration this Tuesday at 7:00 pm is a special opportunity, as will be our communal penance service on Monday, December 13th at 7:00 pm. Please take advantage of both. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Good friends are like stars; you don't always see them, but you know they are always there.