Pastor’s Pen – November 18, 2022
Of Holidays and Holy Days
As people of faith, we grow in our awareness of the Divine Life living within us by being immersed in sacraments and symbols, sacred songs and stories that call our conscious attention to the spiritual reality they mediate to us. This liturgical consciousness is constituted in part by our rituals of Sunday celebrations and sacred seasons and holy days.
Thanksgiving. That now-secular feast and the inevitable launch of the holiday shopping season will descend upon us this week. Of course we know it is not really secular if we enter into its depth: if we are truly giving thanks, we give the thanks to Someone! – and that Someone is the Divine Source of all life and blessing. I pray that we will all be blessed by the time we spend gathered with family and friends this week.
November. In the Church, November is traditionally the month of remembering our deceased and our participation in the Communion of Saints – but in the U.S., it has also been named Black Catholic History Month. Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee has thought it better to celebrate that history more in sync with the rest of society in February, Black History Month – and take November instead to call our attention to Native American Heritage Month. Please see their articles in this e-Newsletter.
In our church world of sign and symbol, this Sunday we conclude the liturgical year with the feast of Christ under the image of “King of the Universe,” leading into a new annual cycle with the Advent-Christmas season starting the following Sunday. All that is to open our minds and hearts to the coming and presence of the Christ in our human history and in our personal history.
Advent. I would like to introduce our Advent spirituality program, one that will allow everyone to participate easily, even in this time of year that can often be so busy. In this year’s Advent liturgies, the First Reading each of the four Sundays is taken from the writings of the prophet Isaiah, a person of stunning vision and poetry that still conveys to us 2,700 years later some of the most powerful images of hope and promise the human family has ever known. Our path this Advent will follow these Readings with a sort of spiritual journaling.
Each week you’ll receive a special email that will invite you to respond in writing to a few simple reflection questions about the upcoming Sunday’s Reading from Isaiah, questions that will help you to see what wisdom and understanding the prophetic passage evokes in you about your own life in the Spirit. (The questions will also be available for pick-up at each Sunday mass.) Nearer the end of the season, on Wednesday evening, December 14, all will be invited to come together in person at the church, where I will lead us in discussions to share what we have found in our Advent journaling exercises.
St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, was one of the first saints for whom keeping a spiritual journal was a principal aid in his spiritual development. Writing down our spiritual thoughts and reflections can help us to distill and solidify what is being given to us. Reviewing and pondering our notes in subsequent days can strengthen subtle shifts or movements in our consciousness. It can help move us forward on our spiritual way. Even if you aren’t able to come in person on December 14 for our Advent program, you will be able to participate and benefit through the weekly spiritual reflection exercise.
In Advent, the church hears the gospel cry of John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” Our reflective journalling as a parish together can help us to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus, the Christ of all people and all ages, into our own lives today.