Thursday of the First Week of Advent
Oh blessed Advent. One of my favorite times of the Christmas season. Advent invites me to the hopeful substance of this holy season. In my journey to prepare for the coming of the Christ child I receive focus and meaning in my struggle. Advent begins at the tail end of November and I am bolstered by my companions on this journey, the wonderful communion of saints. And Mary, Holy Blessed Mother, after a life of steady preparation humbly answering “yes” to become host and mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, Mary, for your eternal yes.
One important guiding resource on my journey is a beautiful book of sermons and writings by Alfred Delp, S.J., in “Advent of the Heart”. He tells us that Advent is a journey into the holy place of encounter with the living God.
25 years ago in Advent, as a single mother, I prepared my home and began to prepare my young children for a fun Christmas but one with no wrapped packages under the tree. I had already visited my parish food shelf a time or two that month and there simply were no funds to be had after the house payment and utilities bill for the home I struggled to keep. We prepared a list of songs, games and activities that we would enjoy together. My three older sons ages 10, 9 and 6, courageously anticipated a pleasant day of family and fun bravely saying it didn’t matter. My daughters were less aware of the upcoming difference. One of my part-time jobs was at the elementary school my children attended. I received a call to the principal’s office. There I was presented with a certificate to shop for children’s presents for free at the Salvation Army. Imagine the surprise and delight that Christmas morning! We still enjoyed our songs, games and activities. We also enjoyed this generous gift of love from the modern day saints who gave only to share and without expectation of anything in return.
On my journey today I am grateful for my children and their growing families. I am grateful for my livelihood at Saint Thomas and for my friends and colleagues here. In my neighborhood I am surrounded by friends who share life and love in the daily and seasonal activities of life. I am reminded that though single, I am not alone.
Alfred Delp tells us that “in the wretchedness of experiencing our limitations, the golden threads running between Heaven and earth, during the Advent Season reach us and give the world a hint of the abundance to which we are called and capable.”
We are a people of hope and we wait in expectation in this time of Advent. Listen and look expectantly for the still assurance of promise. Rejoice for God is near.
Ann Serdar, Coordinator, Department of Catholic Studies