theROCK

Give Hope

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The first week of Advent asks us  to ponder the virtue of hope. Are you looking for a way to give hope in preparation for Jesus? Try this.

In the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
Jesus wants us to prepare the way for his coming, for there are so many blocks in the way of his becoming all in all for us. Give him whatever he takes and take from him whatever he gives with a big smile.
Be a cause of joy to others.
Speak well of everybody
Smile at all you meet.
Deliberately make three acts of loving kindness every day.
Confess any sin against charity.
If you offend anyone - even a small child - ask forgiveness before going to bed.
Read about, meditate on, and speak of this love.

Advent Preparations

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One of my favorite memories as a child was the two days after Thanksgiving. Of course I was off from school, but this was also the time when the Christmas tree went up and lights were put on the house. There are certain ornaments, even to this day, that my mom leaves for me to put on the tree - mainly the Packer ornaments! For many of us, we are going into "Christmas mode". I'm sure decorations are going up and family events are being planned. These are all wonderful things because as Andy Williams sings, "It's the most wonderful time of year!"

Through all these joys, we have to remember that this is the beginning of the Advent season, not the Christmas season. These next four weeks are a time a preparation, not only to welcome guests into our home, but also Jesus himself into our hearts. In the middle of all the busyness, we must recall why we're doing all of this in the first place. Perhaps this year something won't be as perfect as you'd like. Maybe you didn't have time to make that one extra side dish because you took a break to pray. Maybe there's a few decorations that didn't make it up this year because you came to Mass or Reconciliation instead. I promise you that time spent preparing your heart will make you far happier on Christmas morning than any decoration.

Together, as a family, may we prepare our hearts well this Advent, so that we can join the choir of angels on Christmas morning singing, "Glory to God in the highest!"

Everyday Discipleship

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While I am now an empty nester, I remember very clearly when my children were in grade school. I was teaching fourth grade and working really hard at being a "good mom". I had great role models in my mother and my grandmother, for what it looks like to blend work and home. While both these things were my vocation, I was always wanting to do more in the church. I wanted to lector, be a Eucharistic minister, serve the poor in the various meal programs, and the list goes on and on. There was only so much of me to go around! My children needed me first, the children I served needed me second, and then I had to choose.

In sharing my frustration with one of my co-workers a long time ago, he wisely reminded me that I was being a disciple in raising my family. I was being a disciple by teaching my children, and the children I taught, to know, love, and serve Jesus. I was being a disciple by doing what I could with the time I had. He reminded me that when my life changed, so would how I served God's people.

Being a disciple also meant that I needed to take time to feed my soul - a person cannot give what they do not have. I now look at it as I need to be Martha but also Mary.

Our catechism says that as followers of Jesus, our goal is to know, love, and serve Him. How are you doing that? What is an obstacle you face? What is St. Dominic doing to help you? What would you need from your Church to assist you, if anything? I look forward to learning.

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