Advent is a season when we prepare for the annual celebration of the Nativity of Our Savior. It is also a time when we prepare for the Second Coming of Our Savior and Lord. When I think of preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, I often reflect on how expectant parents prepare for the birth of a child into their lives. When parents find out that a child has been conceived they cannot hurry up the process. They have to wait for nine months for their child to be born. The waiting is filled with expectations for their child. As they wait, they begin to prepare for the reception of the baby into their lives and home. They begin to prepare room for the baby, a nursery is made or sleeping arrangements in a family are rearranged. They also have to begin to prepare for the changes that they will face personally. After the birth of their child they will have to be ever alert and attentive; watching out for the needs of their newborn. Their time will be less their own, their lives will now be lived in service of a fragile human being.
As they pray and hope that the baby will be healthy and be born safely into this world, they experience and watch the child developing in its mother’s womb. As they watch and wait, they often wonder will I be a good Mother, will I be a good Father? As the waiting draws to a close as the day of birth draws near, a full realization dawns upon them. The birth of our child is just the beginning! We are looking at a lifetime of being parents! A task that looks overwhelming! They pray to God for the grace to be good parents.
In faith I believe that God answers the prayers of fearful parents as they look at the road of life that lies before them. I believe that day by day God will provide the grace for parents and for each one of us who asks for God’s help in prayer. Why? Because God’s love is everlasting. Out of God’s love for us he sent us His only Son. Jesus’ birth into our world marked the beginning of a fragile human life. But it would be a life of service, a life of love for us all, and a life that would end on the cross as sacrifice for our sins. But, the death of the Child of God was just the beginning! His Resurrection would give a Second Birth to all who believe and follow Him!
Jesus calls us to a lifetime of service as His disciples. A task that can seem at times to be as overwhelming as parenthood, may we remember to prayerfully ask for the grace we need day by day to be his disciples. As we watch and wait for His Second Coming may we always remember His love for us is everlasting.
During Advent we are called to prepare our hearts and minds to receive our Savior. Taking time for daily prayer and time to reflect on God’s Word in the scriptures can help us to be open to the love that God has in store for us. This year we are offering two aids to help us with daily prayer and reflection. One is The Little Blue Book, which is a daily prayer book for the season of Advent/Christmas. The other is a prayer book for the whole Year of Mercy which begins on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This resource is entitled, “Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion.” It deals with the theme of the Mercy of God each day of the week by using different sources. Each Sunday poetry is used to contemplate the gift of mercy. On Mondays there are meditations on mercy from the saints and spiritual masters. Tuesdays there are examples of the lives of the saints. Wednesday includes teachings of the Catholic Church on mercy. Thursday we find stories and testimonies of people who have followed the path of mercy. Fridays there are reflections on passages from scripture that show the mercy of God, and on each Saturday there are devotions and prayers to help us experience the mercy of God. As we journey through Advent and the Christmas season and continue on through the Year of Mercy, I encourage you to deepen your efforts at personal daily prayer The more we speak to God in prayer and listen to God with our hearts the more we will recognize and experience the miracle of God’s Mercy in Jesus Christ.
God bless you, Father Bill