…WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO ABOUT IT?!?
This past liturgical year has been an exciting one with the Archbishop publishing his pastoral letter “Unleash the Gospel” and Solanus Casey being beatified. New things are happening! This weekend we begin a new liturgical year and enter into the rich and ancient four-week season of Advent. Like Blessed Solanus said, “we need to thank God ahead of time.” We should do this for all of the exciting things God will accomplish in us! Unfortunately though, for many American Christians, Advent passes virtually unnoticed because their celebration of “Christmas” starts with “Black Friday” and continues as a secular and intensely commercial feast. But! the time of Advent offers us an opportunity to dive deeply into a counter-cultural time of quiet reflection – a space of hopeful and patient waiting and discernment about how God’s incarnation has meaning and is at work in our world today.
As “Unleash the Gospel” reminds us, the purpose of our life is to grow continually in intimate relationship with God. The only way to do that is by striving to follow Jesus Christ closely and imitate him. Following Jesus Christ means we must accept his invitation to give him total lordship over everything in our lives and rely on the Holy Spirit to work in and through us at all times.
How do we prevent getting caught up in secularism? Advent is known as the “little Lent” and is therefore a time for penitential practices. But like so many incomplete New Year’s resolutions from the past, nothing will change unless we have a plan on how we are to grow as a disciple of Jesus! Some suggestions: A) Pray every day. Be concrete, and set up a set time EVERYDAY to spend listening to our Lord. B) Study the faith. Begin by reading the Archbishop’s pastoral letter. It is on line and easy to access. C) Engage in parish life and serve others’ needs. We are always in need of volunteers in our cluster to work in the food pantry, stuff envelopes, etc. Call the office and find out where your gifts fit.
The Archbishop’s letter says we are to undergo a “missionary conversion”, such that every person at every level of the Church is sent to be a joyful missionary disciple. That means everyone, no bystanders! To help with this, answer this question: “What am I going to do for those who are separated from God and the Church?” In your daily prayer ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind someone in your life who is no longer coming to church. Write the person’s name on a piece of paper and answer these additional questions: How will you pray for him/her? How can you share your faith with him/her? What could you invite him/her to that would get them more comfortable in returning home? How could you accompany him/her on their journey to Christ? After you decide on some creative answers to those questions: GO DO IT!
As Archbishop Vigneron ends his letter: “Not only the destination but the journey itself is reason for encouragement and joy in the transformative power of the Gospel.”
Happy New Year!
God Bless, Fr. J.J.