Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Expectations, Preparations and Hope

 The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks 

Last Advent, one of my junior-high-aged Godsons sent out copies of his school photo with a caption and quote on the back.  The heading read, "Got Hope?", and then he added this line from Pope Benedict XVI: "One who has hope lives differently."

So, if you haven't already picked out your Christmas cards, what kind of message will you choose to send?  And how about the mad rush of Christmas shopping (which, thankfully, my wonderful wife handles for our family and friends!):  Do you have some go-to gifts which could help spread the true message of Hope?

Here are a couple ideas for your consideration, as we prepare to celebrate the coming of the Christ child:
  • Fr. Robert Barron's beautiful video series entitled Catholicism is simply one of the best resources for evangelizing ever created; it is dramatic, compelling and profound, as well as visually stunning.
  • Matthew Kelly's new book, The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic, is an accessible and engaging read; it provides practical tips for deepening your life of prayer, for directing your study, for guiding your generosity, and for exploring the call to evangelization.
  • The Monks of Christ in the Desert Monastery have issued a new CD entitled Blessings, Peace and Harmony; this growing Benedictine community--located outside of Abiqu, New Mexico--faithfully chants the complete Liturgy of the Hours each day on behalf of the entire Church, and they support themselves with efforts such as this.
  • A subscription to the monthly publication, Magnificat, would provide the daily Scripture readings for Mass, as well as meditations, Morning and Evening Prayer resources, and additional reflections on beautiful Christian art work.
  • A weekend retreat for a loved one might be the 40 hours of silence and reflection that makes all the difference in 2013; explore Catholic retreat centers in your area (in the Chicago area, the Jesuit's Bellarmine Hall offers an outstanding two day "short course" on the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises).
Whenever we can find ways to share messages and gifts which bring people closer to the beauty and truth of the Christmas reality, we have the chance to fulfill Advent expectations. We have a chance to help others along the path of encountering the Messiah for whom we all, at some level, await. 

One of Isaiah's prophecies we hear during the Advent season describes the Messiah and the fulfillment of God's promises this way (Is 11:1-10)--

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord.

Isaiah assures us that the Messiah will bring about the reign of justice for which the world longs, and he goes on to add: "Then the wolf shall be a guest of the Lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them." 

Keep on preparing the way for the One who gives us reason to live differently!