Reflecting on our Year of Faith — By Fr. Rich, O.P.

FrRichWebOne of the perceived challenges in writing a column on a regular basis is the desire to write something fresh, engaging, entertaining and informative, thought-provoking and accurate; all this in about 600 words. Add the fact that the media is print, and the task is formidable. So, here we go.

The celestial mechanics have conspired to create a short Advent season; the fourth Sunday of Advent morphs into Christmas Eve. There is no fourth week of Advent. This shortened time that we have to prepare for this birth of Christ invites us to be more intentional, more focused on what we plan. Good planning begins with a good idea of what our starting point is. So I would offer that we should take this opportunity to look back at our personal year of faith.

Our Pope began the calendar year with a challenge for each of us to become “artisans of faith,” working for systemic changes that would promote peace and justice. I would suggest that the world at large was not listening. Gun violence, terrorism, and systemic hate dominated our information outlets. That being said, I believe that the “Random Acts of Kindness” category still is able to overwhelmingly outnumber the random acts of hate and violence. Have we been a part of the “Random Acts of Kindness” army? Can we enlist more members; can we be more active and visible?

Our preparations this year will need to acknowledge the change in leadership in our diocese of Jefferson City. February will see a new bishop at the helm of our faith home. FYI — There is a link to a news conference with Bishop Gaydos and Bishop-elect McKnight on our website. It’s a great way to be introduced to our new spiritual leader. Thank you, Bishop Gaydos, for the wonderful support and gentle direction that you have offered in the time that I have been at St. Thomas More. I’ve appreciated your candor and your availability.

As with all changes, this one will need to be experienced. One can conjecture for many hours as to what might be coming to our home. I suggest that the best approach to take is one of openness and invitation. The Holy Spirit is very present in our Church and will be present with Bishop-elect McKnight as he begins a new chapter in his own journey of faith. We are called, by that same Spirit, to hear and respond to those who lead.

So, perhaps, in this Advent season we should prepare ourselves to watch events as they unfold, be prepared to respond to God’s movement in our lives with joy, and get ready to behold the Infant Messiah. Sounds pretty straight forward, right?

Actually, it is just that. Stop and redirect our attention to our prayer, maybe adding Mass attendance to our observance. Make it a point to participate in the sacrament of Reconciliation. In the shopping for Christmas gifts for those we love, find a small, additional gift meant for the organizations that are collecting for those without. As we shop for groceries in preparation for our Christmas feast, think about a few extra non-perishables for the food banks that are always struggling during the holidays.

As with the writing of a column after a long hiatus, the initial challenge is overcoming the inertia that asserts itself. As I come to the end of this literary effort, I challenge each of you to move; begin the process of preparing our hearts, our minds for the Birth. The rewards are joy, satisfaction, and a sense of the presence of God in our lives. Let’s begin!