KATRA: Patient anticipation requires a discerning heart towards God
November 27, 2018
A few years ago a parent shared with me that her young adult son, who has an intellectual disability, advised her at the end of Mass that “we cannot go yet” because they had not sung the Gloria! Her son was correct that the Gloria had not been sung precisely because it was the first Sunday in Advent.
The Gloria is a hymn of praise and adoration that we sing to the Blessed Trinity.
During Advent and Lent, the seasons of penitence, the Church omits the Gloria (and also the Alleluia during Lent) so that we may spend more time in contemplation and prayer, doing reparation for our sins.
Singing the Gloria was something this young man enjoyed and looked forward to at Mass. I enjoy remembering his comment and seeing the beauty in his statement. Is this not how aware we might all strive to be in our spiritual journey?
Knowing that what we are waiting for during Advent ought to be reason enough for all of us to exclaim “we cannot go yet.” God is calling us, especially during Advent, to rest in our knowing of all that is to come! Let us not rush along or wish to leave this moment for it is far too important in our lives. Be still, reflect and prepare.
What is coming is worth all of our attention! Keeping our focus on what we look forward to every day... the Incarnation, the hope that we all need to live holy lives. It’s knowing that only after Jesus’ birth do any of our spiritual lives have meaning; lives that reflect God’s love to His people.
In “Joyful Hope, Meditations for Advent,” Henri Nouwen states, “How much I want to say to you, as Jesus said, ‘Become like children’ (Mt 18:3). Many of us have become so serious and intense, so filled with preoccupations about the future of the world and the Church, so burdened by our own loneliness and isolation, that our hearts are veiled by a dark sadness, preventing us from exuding the peace and joy of God’s children. When our words are full of warnings, our eyes full of fears, our bodies full of unfulfilled needs and our actions full of distrust, we cannot expect ever to create around us a community that shines as a light in the darkness... indeed, many of us have lost touch with our identity as children of God.”
As children of God we are called to let go of the things that bind us, that hold us back from being the “womb of Jesus” — to carry Christ into a broken world with each step we take. Allowing ourselves to be liberated by God’s presence in our lives enables us to embrace the reality of our eternal salvation more clearly. Such clarity rarely comes easily or without sacrifice. Suffering has its benefits, its redemptive powers. Sort of a “no pain, no gain” spirituality. To be clear, God doesn’t intend for us to suffer, but He is present with us in a million large and small ways when we do.
In a spirit of Advent hope might we be still, reflect and prepare to become the people God intended for us to be. His own birth, with all the trials associated with it, points us to His resurrection. Together His birth, death and resurrection illuminate the path to our salvation.
As we wait in joyful hope for Christ’s birth, may we choose to live by the wisdom of Mary Anne Perrone in Advent at Midlife.
I am no longer waiting for a special occasion;
I burn the best candle on ordinary days.
I am no longer waiting for the house to be clean;
I fill it with people who understand that even dust is sacred.
I am no longer waiting for everyone to understand me;
It’s just not their task.
I am no longer waiting for the perfect children;
My children have their own names that burn brightly as any star.
I am no longer waiting for the other shoe to drop;
It already did and I survived.
I am no longer waiting for the time to be right;
The right time is always now.
I am no longer waiting for the mate who will complete me;
I am grateful to be warmly and tenderly held.
I am no longer waiting for a quiet moment;
My heart can be stilled whenever it is called.
I am no longer waiting for the world to be at peace;
I unclench my grasp and breathe peace in and out.
I am no longer waiting to do something great;
Being awake to carry my grain of sand is enough.
I am no longer waiting to be recognized;
I know that I dance in a holy circle.
I am no longer waiting for forgiveness;
I believe, I believe.May our waiting this Advent be with patient anticipation for the birth of Jesus Christ to inspire us ever more to believe in God’s unending love for us.
By the way, the young man who stated “we cannot go yet” because the Gloria had not been sung was turning 25 in a matter of days on the 25th of December. May our lives always sing praises to God as loudly as his does!
Charleen Katra is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.