The waiting is nearly over; Christ is almost here! Today we started preparing the house as Mary and Joseph prepared the stable and the manger for their little child to be born… stringing lights, decorating trees, putting up Nativity murals, displaying crèche sets—without the baby Jesus, of course! (After the Midnight Mass, the sisters happily float around the house, placing Jesus between Joseph and his Mother so all can adore his glory!) There is a quiet excitement in the house, a “prayerful glee” as everyone prepares for the great event of the Incarnation. Join us in prayer as we usher in the joy of our salvation!
As we approach Christmas, I like to think of all the people who were approaching the stable at Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. For me, they’re a microcosm of all people who, whether they know it or not, are seeking Christ and who are being called by him.
Some in the Christmas story followed the star, but Mary and Joseph knew where they were going. They were simply travelling towards the town, obeying a secular authority to be counted in the census: the circumstances of their lives dictated their journey. But in a sense they were also travelling towards the unknown: would there be a place for them to stay in Bethlelem? Surely God would provide.
The shepherds – poor, local, presumably Jewish – were just going about their business: keeping watch over their flocks at night, as St. Luke tells us. After the birth of Jesus, they begin their journey to the stable, following the star, where they discover One whom they hadn’t even dreamed of searching for a day earlier.
And finally, the Magi, those mysterious “Wise Men” who are the opposite of the shepherds: they come from a long way away, are Gentiles, and are evidently well-to-do, if they can afford to travel such a distance and offer such gifts as gold, frankincense and myrrh. Look at them in this brilliant stained glass window from Canterbury. They’re definitely not using Mapquest! But by following this star, and evading the wicked King Herod, they arrive at their destination. I wonder if they were a little shocked at first to find this poor family, temporarily housed in a stable. God is a God of surprises!
May our hearts always be fixed on Christ, whatever path we’re on in life!
In this beautiful season of Advent, the Church encourages us to watch and wait eagerly for the coming of Christ. Not only do we prepare for the commemoration of His birth at Christmas, but we are also called to seek His presence here and now. With the eyes of faith we are able to see the stunning reality of His constant presence, and we begin to realize it is God who is always waiting for us – waiting for us to turn to Him.
What better time to ask ourselves how to seek God, to ask what our vocation might be? Fr. Stefano Manelli, FI, helps us to keep the eternal realities before our eyes in the midst of a season with many distractions:
“Young people who read this, consider yourselves. Do not be dazzled by the lure of creatures of by thoughtless impulses and feelings. Look ahead, look to the far future, think of eternity. ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and then suffer the loss of his own soul?’ (Mt. 16:26) One indication you have of a calling is to appreciate the value of the soul you must save and sanctify, by going wherever you could best be assured your spiritual life would grow and mature to the full stature of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:13).”
Welcome to our new Vocations Blog! It seems fitting to us that our first post is on the Feast of St. Andrew, the “Protoclete,” Greek for “the first called.” The Gospel tell us that Our Lord saw Andrew and his brother Peter casting a net into the sea, and he said to them, “Come and follow me; I will make you into fishers of men. And they dropped their nets immediately, and followed him” (Matthew 4:19-20). How perfect for our first post!
The idea for this blog came from the young women who have attended our Monastic Experience Weekend, who suggested that we have something specifically addressed to young men and women our age. (The seniors in the community are turning this project over to the younger generation!) We hope to post quotations and insights on vocations, as well as community news from our perch. But we also hope that this blog will be a help to anyone who reads it, because all of us – single, married, religious – are called to follow Jesus.
The older members of the community talk about a day in 1979, back when they were our age. October 1, 1979, to be exact. They all piled into a bus and drove into Boston. It was pouring rain, but nobody minded. Pope (now Saint!) John Paul II was in the USA, and he was celebrating Mass on Boston Common. His homily made a deep impression on them, and we’d like to end with some of his words:
And, as a last word to all of you who listen to me tonight, I would say this : the reason for my mission, for my journey, through the United States is to tell you, to tell everyone—young and old alike—to say to everyone in the name of Christ: “Come and follow me !”
Follow Christ! You who are married: share your love and your burdens with each other; respect the human dignity of your spouse; accept joyfully the life that God gives through you; make your marriage stable and secure for your children’s sake.
Follow Christ! You who are single or who are preparing for marriage. Follow Christ! You who are young or old. Follow Christ! You who are sick or aging; who are suffering or in pain. You who feel the need for healing, the need for love, the need for a friend—follow Christ!
If you’d like to read the full homily, here’s the link. And, even better, if you’d like to actually hear St. John Paul giving the homily in his powerful voice all those years ago, you can watch it here. The part of the speech we included here is at the beginning of the clip. And don’t miss the umbrellas!