By Patricia Arthur R.N., M.S.G.L.
Advent, it seems as though we were here not so very long ago. Oh how the days fly by; this gift of life not deserved but given freely by our most loving and generous heavenly Father, is much too short. As I begin this post, I do so my dear brother and sister grandparents; who like I, have children fallen away from the Faith. These children and grandchildren are like sheep who have no Shepherd. They have no concept of their heritage in faith or their religious roots. They simply don't know; what they don't know!
This is where my circumstances enter the picture. I was raised as a Methodist and did not convert to Catholicism until my oldest son was 10 years old. The relationship I had with my Mother...if anything was strengthened with my conversion. I did things with Mom at her Church and she did things with me at my Church, we had long discussions about the differences in our respective beliefs. I came to really “know” my Mother through the openness she and I shared in these discussions and I believe she came to know me in a more intimate way as well. Not only this, but I came to a much deeper awareness of the love and respect, God commanded me to show her out of love for Him. I came to understand if I could not love and honor the parents I could see, it was impossible to love the God I could not see. I began to understand how my relationship with my mother and even my deceased father had a direct parallel relationship to my spiritual life.
Being a convert to Catholicism the wonderful ancient Christian customs for the season of Advent were not something I was aware of as I was raising my children and it saddens me I did not have the opportunity to pass them on to my sons. But in keeping my heart, mind and soul open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit I am implementing these and other spiritually deep and rich traditions as the Lord guides me in spiritual maturation in my pilgrim journey on earth.
So what does any of this have to do with the holy season of Advent and the title to this blog post? The answer in a word - everything. Now let me explain how I see this fitting into my vocation as a Catholic mother and grandmother, in my particular circumstances.
Advent is a period of prayer in preparation for the coming of Christmas...the birth of Christ and in a deeper sense the preparation of the second coming of Our Lord, at our passing from this world into eternal life. We wait in joyful hope for both the celebration of Our Lord's birth and for our heavenly reward. This type of hope is confident that what is desired will certainly be attained. It is a hope that implies a desire, which seeks and pursues some future good that is not yet possessed. This hope recognizes that the object wanted is not easily obtained and that it requires effort to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way. This hope recognizes we are sinners and are unworthy without the Mercy and Goodness of our Lord who moves us to prayer, repentance and conversion. This hope requires perseverance and patience.
Advent is a time to humbly reflect upon who we are and who God is; to recommit ourselves to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him with our whole heart, with our whole soul, and with all our mind and strength. If we are truly in love with Him we will naturally be inclined toward simple obedience to Our Lord as evidenced by conformity to the teachings of His Holy Catholic Church.
Patient, humble, simple obedience...these are the key elements to helping our children. They are the key elements in allowing our Lord to work through us; and Mary is our perfect example of patient, humble, simple obedience.