Mid-afternoon Saturday, Steven asked, “So where would you like to go for Mass?”
My response was quick.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) beckoned, so we arrived early enough for me to photograph the altar.
How delightful to see a priest conversing with a woman outside the south church entrance as we drove up.
“Are we going in that way?” I asked, motioning toward the priest donned in purple.
“No, let’s go this way. It’s closer,” Steven said, already making his way across the parking lot.
Opening the door, we were totally taken aback. Father Darryl was waiting for us!
How did he do that? we wondered, eyeballing each other with stifled amusement and disbelief. Who is this man that he can be there and here so effortlessly?
“I remember you,” Father Darryl said, extending his hand to shake Steven’s. “I haven’t seen you since the men’s ACTS retreat.” Then he asked us to carry the Advent candle in the opening procession. “Will you do it?”
Steven and I, still grinning from dumbfoundedness, didn’t respond quickly enough.
“It’s not difficult,” Father Darryl insisted, telling us what was expected.
“Sure!” I smiled.
But how did he know we’d say yes? And what else did God have in mind?
Wholly immersed in the ritual before Mass, I observed every little movement through perfectly timed photographs that only my third eye, sans Coolpix, could capture.
From the confident, knowing hands that filled the incense cup in the wreath’s center to the graceful, attentive hands that received the candle, every moment was recorded mind, heart, and soul. In the swirling incense permeating the air, I instinctively affirmed as heartfelt traditions renewed Father’s prayers, the altar server’s lighting of the candle, and all blessings bestowed not just for the Advent season, but for our continued faith journey as a married couple, too.
Happy anniversary, darling!
Prayers from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
God of a thousand years and the blink of a millisecond, grant me the willingness to cast aside the demands of this world, now in the days of these weeks before Christmas, that my heart may be humbled to receive more fully the gift of the Christ-child and my life enlarged to await more hopefully the return of my Savior and Judge. Amen (Rev. Dr. Cathy Brall).
Almighty God, it is truly good to spend time in your house praising your name. We give you thanks that you do not stand far off, but that you enter into our suffering. Teach us to be advocates for peace in this restless world, in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen (K. J. Norris).
Precious Lord, it is with great humility that we turn our attention from the demands of this season to focus on you. We need you, we trust you, we hope in you. Let your steadfast love be upon us. It is in your most holy name that we pray these words. You, the alpha and the omega, from ages unto ages. Amen (Dr. Michelle Keane Domeisen).
Come, holy savior, Jesus Christ, God with us. How we need you! If our night is dark, shine all the more with the radiance of your light. Amen
(Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner).
Lord God, the well waters of poverty are rising around us while a select few sit on the perimeters with full water buckets in their hands, poised to add to the misery of others. Grant relief to the suffering and the hearts of those inflicting pain. Remind us all of why it was that you came. Amen
(Rev. Dr. John Welch).
O God, you “are enthroned forever, and your name endures to all generations.” But our days are “like an evening shadow.” Therefore, we lay before you our every weakness— the brevity of our lives are but signs of our failure to live as your people. We trust ourselves to you, O God; and we pray that, by your grace, we might live securely in your presence now and forevermore. Amen (Psalm 102:12, 11; Rev. Dr. Jerome F. D. Creach).
Lord, we thank you for the wonder of this season. We thank you that you are our refuge and strength, and we ask you to help us follow you even when it is difficult. Amen (Rev. Derek Davenport).
November 28, 2016
From the gospel we learn the happy news of our salvation. Learning it, we rejoice in it. We behold God’s glory, and we glorify him. Let us rise to the high places, to the sublime part of ourselves; let us rise above ourselves to seek God in himself and, with the angels, to rejoice in his great glory (Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Meditations for Advent).
“The joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives” (Russell M. Nelson).
November 29, 2016
The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace (St. Charles Borromeo).
December 3, 2016
Where do you look for your life? Forward or behind? May the Lord grant you the grace to leave things behind, even those which you consider precious in this life; and may he allow you to look ahead, where Christ is waiting for you for a glorious meeting that will open the gates of eternity
(Gus Encino, Aleteia).
Links of interest… Advent: announcing the coming / anticipation & hope / daily prayers / four attitudes / history / maybe you’re doing it wrong / O antiphons (retreat – soothing balm) / our hope not in this world / passion for the possible / preparing our hearts / real meaning of Christmas lights / season (forgotten repentance) / seven counter-cultural ways / time for greater silence & prayer / tradition / what is / when it’s not yet Christmas / wreath (about – history – prayers – symbolism)… Awake from your sleep… Faith is not a philosophy, but an encounter with Jesus Christ… Homilies: Christ is the solution / lighting candles in the dark / recipe for readiness… OLPH: facebook / Mass times / website… Pittsburgh Theological Seminary: Advent & Lent devotionals… Reflections of family & faith (videos)… Six ways to tune out distraction & be more attentive… Want to know what God wants from you? Try total immersion…
WP posts… Advent prayers… Blue heaven… Christmas blessings… Christmas year ’round… Church time blues… For all time… Letter to Santa… Oh, happy day… On being Christian… Our Lady… Promise of hope… Santo Niño… Second looks… Sweet Jesus… Thanksgiving prayers… Twelve candles… Undeniable familiarity