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from fathers desk

My Dear Family,

This Sunday is Gaudete (Rejoice!) Sunday, when rose colored vestments are preferred. When the Church assigns violet, the liturgical spirit is more intense and preparatory, even penitential. But both intense seasons (Lent and Advent) have a light-hearted Sunday - the rose-colored one, when violet is mixed with white.

The Church is an adept student of humanity. She knows well our human condition and that we need to coast, to have a “cheat day,” to relax before we once again apply pressure. So, today in our Message Series “Are You Prepared?” we focus on having patience and perseverance in our preparation. (That’s a lot of p’s!)

Sometimes when I let off the gas in my personal life, I stall. A day away from exercise, prayer, or another virtue I am striving to build, becomes two and then a week. My long-term progress is thwarted by a vacation from the routine. Still, a balance and even tension emerges between the “relentless pursuit of perfection” and the whimsical “don’t worry, be happy.” The Church sets for her children a constancy that ought to include some light-heartedness. Saint Theresa of Jesus prayed, Lord deliver us from sour-faced saints!

Even as we are invited to lighten our intensity, the scriptures advise constancy: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus,” (1 Ths 5:16). So even as we take a breath before the final two weeks of Advent, we ought to be rejoicing and praying at all times. One of the best tactics for transforming our whole day and life into a prayer is to give thanks at every moment. Whatever comes our way, we say “Thank you, Jesus!” This is a challenging prayer to keep at the ready.

Fr. Henri Nouwen (great spiritual writer, highly recommended) reflects in The Path of Waiting Path of Waiting Path of Waiting, “A waiting person is a patient person. The word ‘patience’ means that willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Impatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go elsewhere. The moment is empty. But patient people dare to stay where they are. Patient living means to live actively in the present and wait there. Waiting, then, is not passive. It involves nurturing the moment, as a mother nurtures the child that is growing in her womb.” Advent is more a season of receptive preparation, waiting with attention and love for the coming of the Lord, than it is a month of self-improvement. And that waiting carries with it the challenges of both vigilance and patience.

During the pandemic this combination is a palpable part of our daily existence. We are encouraged to remain watchful and yet not impatient, attentive and focused but calm. This attitude reminds me of my time at defensive end. Third down, hard count. Gotta be ready to go… and fast. All muscles tensed like a spring, and yet in that cocked and ready position, focused and waiting for the movement of the ball. My coach would drill us: focus on nothing but the movement of the ball, then spring on them like leopards!

Next week we will meet someone who embodies the patient and receptive waiting for which we strive!

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Wilson