Advent Hope - A Call to See With New Eyes
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
Once again we embrace the season of Advent. The four weeks before Christmas are moments for preparation; waiting; and hope. As a Catholic Christian Community we are blessed with wonderful readings from the prophets, and John the Baptist's. We build ourselves with the thoughts that the Lord is near.
My Personal Journey
As it is for many, waiting is very difficult challenge for me. I get impatient and I often make rash judgments to end the wait. During my life I have waited many times like waiting for news from doctors’ tests, teachers’ evaluations and for my children’s’ births. In every case, I had periods of time where I let the stress of the waiting take my focus on the real issue.
Advent is a similar struggle for me. I am easily distracted by the culture. In the past few years, I have felt a certain cynicism toward a Christmas season that is mass produced by the retail stores and fed by corporate America. I am stunned by those stores who actually taking the name out of the season to a more politically correct “holiday season,” I have found myself being trapped by the negatives of those who see in the winter holiday season as an opportunity to be profitable.
This year I have embraced a new attitude. Yes, in the midst of my personal assaults on commercialism, the Spirit blessed me with a new insight. Like many, I sit among the white snow capped evergreens of the Midwestern United States and meditate on the miracle of God becoming one like me. I take time to hear the voice crying out my cultural wilderness.
Seeing with New Eyes!
This year, the voice is telling me to re-image my view of commercialism--to see the season with new eyes. So, I now can look at the lights in stores and in neighborhoods and recognize that nativity scenes are still there. In fact, one of the largest coffee stores is selling Advent calendars and I often see the Advent wreath in personal spaces in many offices.
For this married deacon, the Domestic Church still holds a special hope during this season of Advent. I savor the joy of children’s laughter marking off the days on the Advent calendar. Our family favorite was lighting the Advent candles each day with a prayer and singing “Oh Come, Oh Come Emanuel”
Finally, we learned to serve by becoming Advent angels for each other. We put each other’s name in a hat and then secretly did random acts of kindness.
Christ Is Coming (Because of the Confusion and Turmoil)
Those who attempt to muffle Christmas think that they are winning but Christ is still coming. They can’t stop that! Only we can. When we focus away from the Advent rhythm of the season, we lose focus and we are tempted.
Things have indeed changed. But the witness to Incarnation is truly everywhere. Although there are not as many as in the past, there are still thousands in my city. Yes, some people have stopped saying Merry Christmas but they are in the minority.
The change? It is my heart. Once again, I am again letting the Advent season be a season of hope. I can look past those whose attitude is contagious and use the inoculation of daily Mass and prayer to experience the beauty of hope.
Hope is so easily stolen in our lives but as Christian Catholics, it is the season for us to take personal responsibility for bringing hope to others. The poor are still among us and are still hungry. When I give up hope, I join the poor—the poor in Spirit.
Come Lord Jesus, come and bring your season of hope. Anoint all of us to be your messengers!
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- How are you bringing the Advent message of hope to the people you are serving?
- What are your personal obstacles showing other that Advent is a season of preparation; waiting; and hope?
From a Family Perspective:
- Are you bringing the Advent message of hope to your family? Listen to your family’s words and look at their actions. How can you bring hope?
- Select one person in your Domestic Church to be an Advent Angel for. Do something special for them every day—without letting them know who it is.
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
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