A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘anticipation

In December, our society promotes excess and charity all at once.

On the one hand, we have all forms of advertising encouraging us to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” all the wonderful items stores have in stock for the holiday season, ranging from food and décor items to gifts for others to things we should treat ourselves to.

On the other hand, in this season of giving, we’re encouraged to give to those less fortunate—to contribute to food banks and food hampers, to charities that support families or the homeless or that target a particular disease, or to international aid organizations, for example. In short, we’re asked to give in a way that shows love not only for our family and friends but also for our neighbours, wherever they may be.

Giving to others gives us the chance to show generosity, thoughtfulness and creativity. I love giving people just what they wanted and surprising them with thoughtful gifts, homemade or not. But that giving should not put us into credit-card debt or mean we’re knee-deep in wrapping paper on Christmas morning.

And we can bring together giving to others and giving to charity: we can give someone the opportunity to provide a microloan or the gift of livestock, school supplies, medical care, and so on, to someone in another country through an international aid organization. Or we can make a donation to a charity in honour of that person.

As we plan our family and charitable giving, we need to remember—as our priest reminded us during his homily yesterday—that we should not become so caught up in our material preparations for Christmas that we forget about our spiritual preparations. So we read in The Confirmed Catholic’s Companion: A Guide to Abundant Living by Mary Kathleen Glavich, SND:

It’s hard to live the four weeks of Advent as they are intended—as a season of quiet joy and anticipation. During Advent we ponder the comings of Jesus in history (Bethlehem), in mystery (everyday in the Eucharist), and in majesty (at the end of time).

As we journey through Advent, I pray that, more than giving and receiving gifts, we would anticipate celebrating Jesus’ coming to us as an infant born to take away our sins and spend time seeking God, who reminds us in Jeremiah 29:13-14*, “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, I will be found by you, says the LORD. . .”

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

(F)or behold, the winter is past,

the rain is over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth,

the time of pruning has come,

and the voice of the turtledove

is heard in our land.

(Song of Solomon: 2:11-12, Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition)

With its grimy snow and slush slowly melting to reveal mud and dormant grass, March is not my favourite month.

But I like the idea of taking out my running shoes and putting away winter boots that look like Rescue Heroes footwear. And the start of spring makes me look forward to seeing the flowers I’ve planted poke through the soil at the end of April. (Well, this is Ottawa, so I’d better err on the side of caution and say the middle of May.)

Anticipation makes things more enjoyable. Like when you look forward to eating some good chocolate at the end of Lent and finally savour that melt-in-your-mouth candy.

At this time last year, my husband and I were anticipating joining the Church and receiving Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil, after months of RCIA preparation. Not only did I have the joy of receiving the Eucharist at Easter, but I also felt a new sense of belonging as many people told us how happy they were for us.

I’m more involved in the life of the parish now: I’m a lector (I’ll be reading at the Easter Vigil) and I’m helping out with First Eucharist. This year, I’ll see the anticipation in the faces of our RCIA candidates at Easter and the excitement of the Grade 2 children as they prepare to receive the Eucharist for the first time in the weeks that follow, and the joy all of them will take in participating fully in the Mass.

But what comes after the Easter Vigil or First Eucharist?

I hope that anticipation gives way to joy at being able to receive the Eucharist, where Jesus is truly present. I hope people would choose to take an active role in their parish by volunteering, supporting parish initiatives and attending social functions. I hope faith would be part of their daily lives and not something saved for Sundays.

I pray that we would look forward to welcoming the newest members of the Church at Easter and encourage the children celebrating First Eucharist—and that God would guide the cardinals as they prepare to choose the new head of the Church.

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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