"Be not afraid." That was the theme of my column in the December issue of the Catholic Courier.
I wrote it in recognition of the fact that life these days can be scary for many people. Economic uncertainty. Children in poverty. Violence in the streets. Bruised or broken relationships. Lack of clear purpose. A search for meaning that seems fruitless.
My intent was not to frighten or to depress. It was rather to encourage and invite readers in this Advent season to be attentive to the Lord’s invitation to place our trust in him, to believe deeply and truly that the Lord is always with us — never more powerfully than when we struggle with pain or struggle with darkness of life.
It has been my intention, not always well-realized, to make a good effort to slow down a bit during Advent, to take a little extra time for prayer, to strive each day to reflect on what’s happening in my life, to understand what God is asking of me, to ask for the heart to respond generously to whatever that request might be.
When I can, by God’s grace, come to the kind of quiet attentiveness, good things always happen. There is a sense of peace that comes from quiet listening. Fears and anxieties that can so easily beset me lose their grip on my capacity to choose life. Problems that loomed large seem smaller. Events or words that annoy when I am stretched too far often morph into opportunities to heal or build relationships.
You can fairly ask why, if all of that is true, I have not done better during these beginning days of Advent? Or more: If such quiet prayer helps so much during Advent, why don’t you do it all year round?
The truth is that I do try — at least in some fashion — to be prayerful and attentive through daily life. It also is the truth that my effort is not always as honest and generous as it should be. I suppose that is why I am so very grateful for Advent’s invitation to remember the wonders of God’s faithful love so perfectly available to us in the compassionate Christ. Advent is a restart time. It’s a new beginning.
If you in any way feel the need for a fresh start or renewal of any kind, I encourage you to find a way each day — even for just a few moments — to stop and ask the Lord to renew the living spring of life within you. Don’t be afraid. Remember the Lord’s desire that we have his joy and that our joy be complete.
I hope that we can continue to support one another in prayer in this holy season.
Peace to all.