I just returned from a wonderful and quiet week at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama; truly a place that I feel very much at home. The monks are always welcoming as they continue the busy life of running the pre-school and serving in a number of parishes in the Diocese of Birmingham. The highlight of each day was coming together with the monks four times a day to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Unfortunately, the weather was cold and damp most of the week so I was not able to walk the grounds of the Abbey, as I would have liked. Despite the weather, the week was filled with the warmth of the love of God and the Benedictine monks. Thank you God for a great week.
We look forward to Advent as the season that we should be watching and waiting for the Savior, a time of preparation for the Christmas season. As we watch and wait for the coming of Jesus, we may not want to see some of the things that are happening around us as part of the activity of our daily life. We may not want to see them because they are too difficult to see or we may not want to admit, in truth, that we are seeing them. One of those things may be domestic violence.
The experts among us report that domestic violence increases dramatically during the holiday season. Our scripture readings throughout Advent call us to be aware of our surroundings and to keep awake for the coming of Jesus. In a similar vein, we need to be prepared for opportunities to improve ourselves and our world – before God comes. The stress of this anticipation (translated the Christmas season) can put people in a tailspin. Examples of this are doing one or all the following in excess: spending money, eating, drinking, partying, running around, neglecting or acting uncharitably toward family members who cannot or will not behave as they should. Violence is often part of family life when the pace picks up, when emotions are high, when the outside world looks loving and you know your family is not.
Our liturgies very often focus on the family. It is a way to help us prepare in spiritual ways to make our family the ideal. The opportunities to become the “ideal” family are endless, but we have to remember becoming “ideal” is an on-going process. When a family begins to believe that they are the ideal family, I suggest they re-examine their belief. It is always good to consider how you can improve as a family, as a couple, or as an individual. We need to look creatively at how forgiveness, personal favors, and healthy activities can improve our journey to become “ideal” as we await the coming of Christ. If creative ways of improving our family life are part of the routine of life, perhaps it will help avoid violence in our homes.
If you are dealing with domestic violence and do not know where to turn, please feel free to give me a call at the Parish Office. I will do everything I can to help you find a path to a solution.
I recently received a new set of little stories entitled “Children Are Quick” so here is the first one for your humor box: Teacher: Why are you late? Student: Class started before I got here.
Let us continue to pray for peace in our world!
In peace and courage,
PS - Did you do it yet? We are just over halfway to reaching our Catholic Ministry Appeal goal of $203,413. Thank you to those who have made their! Your pledge is important to the life of our local church and to our parish. Please make your gift or pledge this week so we can conclude the Appeal before the Christmas season.