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Advent Thoughts-2012

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Geese in a Snowstorm.
A Story of Salvation
-- Author Unknown

     There was once a man who did not believe in either the virgin birth of Christ nor the spiritual meaning behind it, and was skeptical even about God. He and his family lived in a farm community. His wife was a devout believer and diligently raised her children in the faith. He sometimes gave her a hard time about her belief and mocked her religious observances.
     "It's all nonsense -- why would God lower himself and become a human like us? It's such a ridiculous story," he said.
     One snowy day, she and the children left for church while he stayed home. After they had departed, the winds grew stronger and the snow turned into a blinding snowstorm. He sat down to relax before the fire for the evening.
     Then he heard a loud thump, something hitting against the window... And, still another thump. He looked outside but could not see anything. So he ventured outside for a better view. In the field near his house he saw, of all the strangest things, a flock of geese. They were apparently flying to look for a warmer area down south, but they had been caught in the snowstorm. The storm had become too blinding and violent for the geese to fly or see their way. They were stranded on his farm, with no food or shelter, unable to do more than flutter their wings and fly in aimless circles. He had compassion for them and wanted to help them. He thought to himself, the barn would be a great place for them to stay. It is warm and safe; surely they could spend the night and wait out the storm. So he opened the barn doors for them.
     He waited, watching them, hoping they would notice the open barn and go inside. Nevertheless, they did not notice the barn or realize what it could mean for them. He moved closer toward them to get their attention, but they just moved away from him out of fear.
     He went into the house and came back with some bread, broke it up, and made a bread trail to the barn. They still did not catch on.
     Starting to get frustrated, he went over and tried to shoo them toward the barn. They panicked and scattered into every direction except toward the barn. Nothing he did could get them to go into the barn where there was warmth, safety, and shelter. Feeling totally frustrated, he exclaimed, "Why don't they follow me? Can't they see this is the only place where they can survive the storm? How can I possibly get them into the one place to save them?"
     He thought for a moment and realized that they just would not follow a human. He said to himself, "How can I possibly save them? The only way would be for me to become like those geese. If only I could become like one of them. Then I could save them. They would follow me and I would lead them to safety."
     At that moment, he stopped and considered what he had said. The words reverberated in his mind: If only I could become like one of them, then I could save them. Then, at last, he understood God's heart towards mankind... and he fell on his knees in the snow.


Memory Awakens Hope
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) 1986


     Advent is concerned with that very connection between memory and hope which is so necessary to man.  Adventís intention is to awaken the most profound and basic emotional memory within us, namely, the memory of the God who became a child. This is a healing memory; it brings hope. The purpose of the Churchís year is continually to rehearse her great history of memories, to awaken the heartís memory so that it can discern the star of hope.
     It is the beautiful task of Advent to awaken in all of us memories of goodness and thus to open doors of hope.


Christ is Reborn in the Bethlehems of Our Homes
Father Edward Hays, A Pilgrimís Almanac, p. 196

     Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christís birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
     An old abbot was fond of saying, "The devil is always the most active on the highest feast days."
     The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egosóthe list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.


An Advent Examination
Edward Hays, A Pilgrimís Almanac

     Advent is the perfect time to clear and prepare the Way. Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. By reflection and prayer, by reading and meditation, we can make our hearts a place where a blessing of peace would desire to abide and where the birth of the Prince of Peace might take place.
     Daily we can make an Advent examination. Are there any feelings of discrimination toward race, sex, or religion? Is there a lingering resentment, an unforgiven injury living in our hearts? Do we look down upon others of lesser social standing or educational achievement? Are we generous with the gifts that have been given to us, seeing ourselves as their stewards and not their owners? Are we reverent of others, their ideas and needs, and of creation? These and other questions become Advent lights by which we may search the deep, dark corners of our hearts.