Every traveler has had the experience while still far from home on a cold night. Along the road, we pass a home where light streams forth. A party must be going on, for cars surround the house and people fill it. We feel a certain pang in passing, because we long especially at that time for warmth, friendship, festivity. We look forward with heightened anticipation toward our own destinations, tables and families at the end of the journey.
The “O Antiphons” are ancient, liturgical prayers for the last days of the Advent season, December 17-24. Drawn from Scripture, they evoke deep yearnings for a home of eternal peace, a person we can barely imagine. Ask most people what they long for at this season of the year and they are quick to reply, “More time. More money. Great gifts for self and others. Feasting, beauty, rest.” All are good goals, but somewhat shallow. Most folks could easily survive Christmas with one less gift, one less glass of eggnog. The quick answer fails to tap the deeper longings, to name a happiness beyond trinkets, to be loved in a way for which we ache at a level beyond words.
The “O Antiphons” call from this level, filled with a human longing that transcends countries and centuries. In these ancient prayers lie seeds that might flower in new ways, adapted to contemporary realities.
We rejoice in he-who-is-to-come not only because of his greatness, but because he makes us great, not only because he is the light of the world, but because he tells us, “You are the light of the world.” Surrounded by anxieties, we shout with confidence that Christ is King—now and always, here and everywhere, defying the doomsayers.
Like any other prayers, these “O” calls reaching to the divine can be placed in new contexts, chanted not only in monastic choirs, sung not only in the popular hymn “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” but also in our hearts.
# KathyCoffey, American Catholic
My wife and I went shopping today for a couple of Adirondack chairs. We are moving into our “new to us home” next week but won’t have our furniture until the first of the year. So, we decided to buy some nice outdoor chairs and use them until our indoor stuff arrives. The problem is that no one’s selling outside furniture this time year. The first day of winter is tomorrow and spring seems so very far away.
As we were shopping today I had the same sense I’ve had since this holiday season began. Everyone around me seems to be in one season and I’m in another. This has been a year full of change, adjustment, shock and acceptance. I told Beth, before we went shopping today, that this was one year I won’t mind ending. Since the first of the year I feel like the world’s moving faster than me and I’m playing catch up. <Sigh>
It’s hard to be in one season while others are in another but trying to force a change is like trying to make spring come quicker. The seasons get here when they get here and until then you sit, wait and believe they’re on their way.
Advent… is above all the “sacrament” of the Presence of God in the world and in time in His Incarnate Word, in His Kingdom, above all His presence in our own lives as our Savior.
It is necessaria praesentia Christi, the necessity of our finding Christ the Savior here and now among us.
Seasons of Celebration, p. 64
Being still is very difficult especially this time year. It seems everyone is running and if you’re not in a hurry you must be doing something wrong.
I told my wife this morning I am ready “to get my hermit on!” to stop, embrace quiet, settle into stillness, just be and nothing more. It’s been a crazy week, a hectic season, a chaotic couple of months and I am looking forward to stopping, breathing, releasing.
I haven’t done any Christmas shopping, haven’t had time. The pressure of Christmas, especially this year is heavy upon me. The thought of battling crowds, enduring the noise, expending energy I don’t have, overwhelms me.
The concept of grace, at least in part, is that all we need is available to us presently. Grace says we cannot earn, buy, be worthy, coerce, or manipulate, we just simply accept the gift. Sometimes grace seems incredibly difficult to find, maybe it’s because grace has already found us.
I was shot yesterday!…and stabbed!…well more accurately I got a flu shot but I did have a piece of metal stuck in my arm.
I didn’t want to go. I don’t like needles and I particularly don’t care for them when they’re being plunged into my arm! But, as the old saying goes; often “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The nurse was nice and it didn’t hurt nearly as much as anticipated. When she was finished she told me to hang around for a bit to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction. I thought; “now you tell me?!?! After you stick me?!?!?” “What kind of reaction?” I asked. “Face flushing, heart palpitations, sweating, vomiting” she recited dryly. “Whoa!” I said to her, “and if I start having these?” “Just let me know.” She replied. “I’ll be screaming your name!” was my response. I wondered if I was getting a flu shot or treatment for Ebola. A few moments later all was good, no reaction and I went on my way.
I’ve thought about the needle, the shot, the possible reaction and the hopes of not getting the flu this year. There are risks involved with living. Trying to do the right thing can be taken wrong. Being a good person means bad people might take advantage of you. Often it seems each positive produces a negative result. So what do we do? I believe we take the risk. I would rather try to make things better than live in fear of the worst.
My stress ball bear buddy died yesterday. It was terrible. One moment I’m squeezing away and the next…”pshhhhhhhh.” It was deflated, crumpled, deformed and seemingly useless. One of the things I like about my defunct bear is that it lights up. When you bang it on the desk, drop it on the floor, squeeze just right, it flashes all sorts of pretty colors. Very cool and very calming. After the shock of losing my stress buddy wore off I bopped it with my hand and it still lit up. A few minutes later it had even recovered most of its shape. So, now he sits on my desk and watches me stress squeeze other things. I can’t treat it as I once did, carelessly grasping, clenching, rough handling.
Too often there are people in our lives who we treat badly, roughly, taking out our frustration and anxieties. We might even think they can handle it until one day we watch them deflate under the pressure. If we’re fortunate the light of their spirit isn’t snuffed out and we then make the decision to continue to treat them in a hurtful, selfish way or love and cherish them as the treasured gift and bearers of light they are…
Talking on the phone today I noticed the gauge…again…it’s been on since Monday but I had successfully ignored it and then, sitting at a stop light, it moved below the E. Yikes! I held my breath and when the light turned green I ever so lightly pressed the gas pedal. Of course the next stop light turned red and the traffic in front of me crawled. “Come on!” When I arrived at the gas station all the pumps had vehicles parked in front of them. “You gotta be kidding me!” Finally an open spot, I pulled up, started pumping gas and exhaled a huge sigh of relief. While standing there I thought to myself; “What silliness this anxiety you’re experiencing. If you would’ve filled up the tank when the light came on you’d be in a much better head-space.”
Too often in our lives we ignore the warning signs, those indicators that we need to stop, fill up, take a moment to replenish, refill, reflect. Being wise and mindful is to be aware that we were not made to keep going and going and going. Sooner of later we choose to stop or keep running on empty.