Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: November 30, 2020

“It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open the doors of hope.” – Pope Benedict XVI

And so, it has begun! We are in Advent, despite also being in the midst of a growing pandemic. God comes to remind us of the value of that small Child that will soon grace our manger.

Brother Sean’s sister is a physician and resides in Florida with her family and two dogs, Ru and Angel. A few weeks ago, Ru was tragically killed in her own driveway as a delivery driver never saw her approach the van. It has been a tragedy, and as you can imagine, emotions are full. Yesterday, Sean’s mother told him how every day since Ru’s death, Angel goes to the corner of the property, almost a half a mile away, down the long driveway to where the ‘invisible fence’ begins to keep her safe, and there she sits. All day for over 12 hours; she sits waiting for Ru to come home.

I often feel that God is much like Angel. He embraces us when we leave this earth and return to Him, like Ru, but He also waits at ‘the end of that long driveway’ for us to return to Him; to feel His presence and respond.

At Saint Miriam, we honor this fundamental tenet that no life is beyond God and every life is precious to God. That is why we honor every liturgical season in a variety of ways to add significance and to bring its glory fully into our parish life together. In the Season of Advent, we place a beautiful rendition of our Blessed Mother while with Child by artist Richard Roy at our entrance. This serves as a reminder that we are now fully in the preparation stage for joy yet to come!

We also have a beautiful Advent Wreath and each year we change out the candles and invite the Assembly to participate in its lighting each week. These efforts are  a beautiful way to represent, and to exercise, the priesthood of all believers. The Advent Wreath becomes a central focus of liturgy this year. This year we have also incorporated the sorrow and fear we are experiencing with the current world health emergency. The beauty of our wreath has always been very symbolic, and perhaps this year, even more so.

You see, our wreath may seem like many others. First, it is circular. Circles have no beginning and no end; the circular shape of the Advent Wreath is used to symbolize God the Father and eternal life. Our wreath, too, like many others, holds four candles, which are lit over the four weeks of Advent. The light of these flame is a visual reminder that Christ is “The Light of the World” (ref. John 8:12). But, at Saint Miriam, we also directly make the needed and often lost connection between Advent and Lent with a circular form that is replete with thorns. After all, there is no joy without salvation and that comes with Christ’s greatest gift: God’s willingness to save us from ourselves. The link between the hardwood of the cradle and hardwood of the cross leads us, beckons us, to come and be still.

Perhaps it is there where we will find the greatest gift of this holy season: being more still. Allowing God to move and us remaining patient and caring of others. Advent comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’.

This Advent season will be very different from all the others we’ve experienced. Those familiar Advent themes of longing for God and waiting in hope take on a special meaning for us in the midst of the storm that surrounds us. As always, God is perhaps giving us a special opportunity this year to grow deeper in hope and stronger in the embrace of God’s love. The question we need to ask is, ‘are we willing to be still’ long enough as to not miss it?

One Response to “Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: November 30, 2020”

  1. Mary Anne ciasullo says:

    The belief that life is a circle is Buddhist also. Life goes on and on, what goes around come around, never ending and for all eternity. Dogs are family and always difficult to loose. But i believe we will see them ALL over the rainbow bridge cause as Native Americans believe, all of gods creation have souls,.

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