I have fond memories of living out the Advent Season as a child. I was excited to share Advent with my children and continue to intentionally live out this beautiful season in my home today. The Advent Wreath takes center stage, time is spent on spiritual reading, Advent music is played, baking is done and the finished goods stored in the freezer. Christmas decorations are kept to a minimum and come out gradually and the Christmas tree is put up only a few days before Christmas.
Great and wonderful are all your works, Lord, mighty God! – Revelation 15:3
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Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “This feast commemorates the dedication of the church of St. Mary, built in Jerusalem near the site of the Temple. Additionally, with Christians of the East, the Latin Church also remembers on this day the tradition according to which Mary as a small child, was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple” (The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume IV, p. 1572).
Chucuito is the name of the remote rural parish in the Andes Mountains of Southern Peru, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, where I was assigned as a deacon, before being ordained a priest. I thank God for how my 3 years there as a young priest formed me in profound ways. My first Feast of All Souls there was an amazing experience.
“I am not a saint. I am not a saint!” “Please do not get me wrong, I am no saint either!” These common expressions tell of a popular perception of saints. They speak of an understanding of saints as men and women who are perfect in everything and as people who live an out-of-this-world life. This perception is not accurate. While there are saints who live in heaven, there are also saints on earth trying their best to live out the gospel.
“Why is this night different from all other nights?” asks the child as his family celebrates the Passover supper, as all observant Jewish families have done each year for 3300 years –since Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. This is not merely a common remembering; each Jewish person at the supper is to take the event as present, as a personal experience of the liberation. This is a way of remembering is that is woven into the Holy Scriptures: as God’s saving works are remembered, they indeed become present to us. God continues to save His people. In the Old Testament, the ritual of the Passover is the most intense example of this kind of remembrance.