CIESIELSKI: Advent - Aging’s perspective on preparedness

November 28, 2023

Two pastors on a fishing trip were staking a sign at the side of a country road that read, “The End is Near! Turn around now before it’s too late!” A passing motorist sped by, shouting out his window, “You religious nuts!” From the curve ahead, they heard screeching tires and a big splash. One pastor turned to the other and asked: “Do you think maybe our sign should just say, “Bridge Out”?

What kind of message would help you to pay attention and respond more readily this Advent?

The message of the Advent season essentially echoes what Jesus told His disciples 2,000 years ago — that as we recall with joy the saving action of God’s love for us through the birth of Jesus, we are called to integrate His love into our lives as we await His second coming. Jesus used multiple metaphors to help us remain vigilant and prepare us to be ready to enter the heavenly Kingdom — having our lamps lit, not knowing the hour of the Bridegroom’s coming, wearing the appropriate wedding garment for the banquet, safeguarding our “homes” from the wiles of the ever-watching thief lest we let down our guard for his attack. (Lk 12:35-48)

Aging, too, offers us a certain wisdom or perspective for preparing ourselves during the Advent season. Older adults have experienced the fragileness and vulnerability of life with unexpected losses of loved ones or misfortunes. They know the meaning of mortality and the finiteness of human existence. They will say, “Be generous because you can’t take your money with you! Forgive! Be patient! Let by-gones be by-gones! Time is short.”

The Reverend Ronald Rolheiser, in his book Sacred Fire, captures this essence when he advises us to “stand where you are supposed to be standing, and let God provide the rest.” Simply put, in everything you do, love to the fullest. This was St. Therese of Lisieux’s Little Way that shaped her path to holiness. Being prepared is Jesus’ invitation to being a warm, peaceful, faithful, kind, forgiving and compassionate person with our loved ones and to all who cross our paths each day because life is short and unpredictable.

The Office of Aging is celebrating Senior Recognition Days in November and December in each of its three senior senates. The events serve to recognize outstanding examples of seniors’ community service. At the same time, it reminds each of us to carry out the unique mission of service God has intended for us:

  • Being a caregiver to a loved one;
  • Reaching out to a homebound parishioner;
  • Making rosaries to be shared with those in hospitals or youth;
  • Baking goods for a parish fundraiser;
  • Providing Christmas packages for seafarers or the homeless; and
  • Bringing a smile, prayer, or word of encouragement to a stranger.

And praying that God will use our loving intentions and acts to work all things for His glory as He builds His Kingdom of love and peace through us. If we use this Advent to live as good stewards, we will be properly dressed for the eternal heavenly wedding feast and be confident when we meet God face-to-face. 

Mark Ciesielski is a consultant for the Office of Aging Ministry.

(OSV News photo)