Watching and Waiting in Chaotic Times

A reflection for the first Sunday in Advent

By Sr. Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH
President, Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

Readings:

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/112920.cfm

 

Our Advent season opens with Jesus saying to his disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert!”  Again, at the end of our Gospel reading Jesus says, “What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”   Watch for what?  Watch for who?  This Advent season is like no other as we live in this time of Covid-19 with great unrest and division in our country and in the world.  We wait for healing, we wait for peace, we wait for a vaccine.  We focus our Advent waiting and watching on the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.  In faith, we trust that Emmanuel God is with us.  In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians we are reminded of the grace of God given to us in Christ Jesus.  We are reminded that as we wait, we are not lacking in any spiritual gift.  We have all that we need to prepare.  This time of Advent – this time before Christmas, we are given the invitation to deepen our awareness of God’s love for us and for all the world.  Just as Mary prepared for the birth of Jesus, we are invited to ready that space within us for something new to be born.  As we wait to welcome the Light of the world, we are called to be light for the world.  What does that mean in your life?  What would a deeper awareness of God’s love look like in your life?

 

We know that we come to discover our selves in and through our relationships.  Advent is an opportunity to take some time, to make some space in our busy lives to sit in quiet and deepen our relationship with God.  Tell God what it is you hope for, ask God to help you let go of whatever keeps you from loving with an open heart.  Confide your fears and concerns to God who loves and cares for you more than you can imagine.  Become aware of who you are becoming during this Advent season, not just about what you are doing.  As you wait, you may want to invite Mary and/or Joseph to wait with you.  Try to imagine their preparation, their hopes and dreams, their fears and concerns.

 

We pray, ‘Come Lord Jesus, come into our waiting, keep us alert and watching as we awaken anew to your presence within us and all around us.  Thank you for this time and may we use it to deepen our commitment to follow you and be instruments of your peace.’

 

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Encounter

By Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, MHSH

 

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

 

The birth of Christ into the world was not one filled with the comforts one would expect.

The evening was cold and in some ways empty of joyous celebration – at least to the eyes of onlookers. The child came into the world with much love from his parents and with the air of mystery in their hearts.

 The infant Jesus’ birthing was bringing many gifts to the world. The gifts could not be wrapped, but instead would grow as Jesus would and be given to all who opened their hearts.

 Jesus is the loving gift of God to the world. The very son of God became small in the taking on of our flesh. Jesus in his humanity would feel our pain, grief, hunger and more. This child Jesus, born into the world, was given in love and was destined to teach us how to love.

All who would encounter Jesus would find they are loved completely without conditions and such loving would bring about transformation to many wounded hearts.

Jesus Christ, the infant born to us this day with a heart full of God’s love for each person, is the Christmas Encounter fully alive. There is no greater gift.

Christmas Blessings!

A Reflection for Christmas by Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH President

shepherdsThe Shepherds said to one another, “Let us go then to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in a manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what they had been told by the shepherds….The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.

–Luke 2:15-18; 20

 Like the Shepherds, we, too, are to make known the message – The Good News of Jesus. It is in our words of charity and in our deeds of love. Jesus is present in our actions, words and charity.

God is peace; let us ask our God to help us be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.

–Pope Frances

 We remember that God was revealed in Glory through Jesus and continues to bring wonder, joy, hope, compassion, understanding, blessings and Love—the love that is born in each of us every day and dwells among us.

The Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart wish you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

 

Las Posadas

By Sister Sonia-Marie Fernández, MHSH

In Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and some parts of Central America, a wonderful Christmas tradition—“Las Posadas”—is celebrated during the nine days before Christmas. The name “Las Posadas” literally means “the inns, shelter, or lodgings.”

It is a re-enactment symbolizing the Biblical journey that Joseph and Mary took to find shelter as they traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem before the birth of the Christ child, Jesus. It goes from December 16 to 24 each year. Its origin is debatable; some say Las Posadas began in Spain and others believe it originated in Mexico. Nonetheless, it is now becoming popular in the United States, especially in Hispanic neighborhoods.

The Las Posadas celebration is different in individual areas, but all have the same common theme of re-enacting the nativity. In the United States it is difficult for an entire town to observe Las Posadas, so it usually is done in individual neighborhoods or on certain streets. But, in some areas there are very large celebrations that are open to the public and visitors are welcomed.

It begins with a group of neighbors and friends who visit each other’s homes, re-enacting Mary and Joseph’s search for a place to spend the night. The processions can be held in churches or in the streets. The participants carry lit candles and a child dressed as an angel usually leads the procession. Other children pull a wagon that has a nativity scene in it.

At St. Gabriel in Windsor Mill, Maryland, my parish, we have children dressed as Mary and Joseph and they carry images of Mary and Joseph as they knock on doors asking for lodging. A choir of pilgrims (parishioners) stays outside with Mary and Joseph “singing” for lodging.  Another choir is at the home of the family who has volunteered to host the night; the other homes visited have responded that “there is no room.”  Finally, after some pleading, Mary and Joseph are admitted to the host home.

In some locations, the word “posadas” is synonymous with “parties” (fiesta). These fiestas are given every night for nine nights during the celebration leading up to Christmas Day. In my parish we have a piñata every night, with bags of gifts for the children and a light supper for all the pilgrims.

On the ninth day—Christmas Eve—everyone gathers at a specific house where Mary and Joseph’s search for lodging is recreated at the door of each room. Then, on the stroke of midnight, the hostess of the house leads Mary and Joseph to a table that has been prepared. Images of Mary and Joseph are placed on this table and the feasting begins.

An essential part of the Las Posadas party is a piñata for the children. This piñata is usually in the shape of a star to represent the one that guided the three kings on their search to find Jesus.

The last piñata of the Christmas season is broken on Christmas Eve when the people dress the image of the baby Jesus in satin clothes and place him in a manger; they sing songs to help him sleep.  Then, they continue the celebration for another several hours.

Reflection: Are we letting Jesus into our hearts and sharing “the good news” during this Christmas season?