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Moving from darkness to light

Every morning when praying the Canticle of Zechariah (Benedictus), I stop and reflect on this stanza in particular: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

These words offer so much consolation, especially during this pandemic. How my heart, our hearts long for light in the coming days as we hope and pray for an effective vaccine to bring an end to the fear and darkness brought on by COVID-19!

As one liturgical year ends and we embark on another on the First Sunday of Advent, the Scriptures during early Advent continue dwelling on the end time and Christ’s return in glory. It’s only later in the season that our attention is turned toward Christmas and the Incarnation, Jesus coming among us as one with us. The Scripture readings also transition from an emphasis on darkness to light, aligning as it were with increasing daylight heralded by the winter solstice.

There is something profoundly contemplative about these few weeks in December which present us an opportunity to enter into the quiet, resting in God’s presence and love. I invite each of us to engage the Advent season and not rush past it, head-long into Christmas.

Richard Rohr, OFM, wrote in one of his recent daily reflections: “The Kingdom is about union and communion, which means that it is also about mercy, forgiveness, nonviolence, letting go, solidarity, service, and lives of love, patience, and simplicity. Who can doubt that this is the sum and substance of Jesus’ teaching?”

Our task as Christians is to advance God’s Kingdom in our world each and every day. Consider how you could more fully embrace the teachings of Jesus in your life. Perhaps a good new year resolution on the First Sunday of Advent could be a re-commitment to Kingdom work as Fr. Richard describes it.

As disciples of Jesus, may we be more passionate and committed than ever to building God’s Kingdom on planet Earth through acts of mercy, forgiveness, nonviolence, letting go, solidarity, service, love, patience, and simplicity. Since shopping for Christmas presents could be particularly challenging this year, think about gifting others with these blessings instead, at Christmas and throughout the year. These presents don’t need to be gift-wrapped; they only require the wrapping of our mind and heart!

We trust and do believe “the tender compassion of our God … shall break upon us.” In the meantime, the Advent hymn, “Patience, People,” may offer encouragement during this pandemic.

In any case, may your Advent days be blessed with peace!

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Sister Mary Beth Klingel

Sister Mary Beth is currently ministering as the Guest Services Coordinator in Woodhaven, a Retreat and Guest House. In addition to many liturgical involvements, she also is a volunteer visitor in Providence Health Care. Previously she served for 10 years on the SP leadership team general officer on the leadership team of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She has previously served as an elementary school teacher, pastoral minister and director of novices.

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  1. Marsha Speth on November 29, 2020 at 7:30 am

    Thank you, Mary Beth! May we be that tender compassion of God breaking upon our world!

    • S. Connie Kramer on November 29, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Thank you Mary Beth so much for encouraging me to “wrap my mind and heart” around the presents that wait within my inner spirit to be given away this Christmas season.

  2. Joni Luna on November 29, 2020 at 9:14 am

    Nice morning meditation as we move into this Advent 🙏
    Thank you Mary Beth

  3. Barbara Ann Bluntzer SP on November 29, 2020 at 9:59 am

    I loved your words introducing us once again to the spirit of the Advent season. Thank you so much.

    • PAULA DAMIANO, SP on November 29, 2020 at 2:58 pm

      What an inspirational way to welcome Advent. Thank you.

  4. Paula Modaff, SP on November 29, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    You show is a good way to practice Christmas giving all year, Mary Beth. Thank you and happy Advent.

  5. Paula Modaff, SP on November 29, 2020 at 1:13 pm

    Show US, not “is” need to proofread from now on.

  6. Marilyn Kofler, SP on November 29, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you, Mary Beth, for your contemplative call to light up the darkness with the blessings of my favorite liturgical season! In my heart, as in the hearts of our sisters, I yearn for the compassion that will break upon us as we move through these pandemic days of political upheaval, economic unrest, racial divisions, and isolation seemingly without end. Your reflection is just what I needed today!

  7. Dorothy Rasche, SP on November 30, 2020 at 8:21 am

    This form of gift giving reminds me of the time when we (SP’s) gave spiritual gifts to each other and our families in stead of material gifts.

  8. Donna Butler on November 30, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Mary Beth, thank you for this reflection so needed in this time. Advent is one of my favorite seasons. I have been longing for it. On the website, Catholic Women Preach, Sr. Terry Rickard, OP
    shared these words, “Hope is not cancelled.” I think these words fit well with your reflection.

  9. Denise on November 30, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    I love the idea of making a New Year resolution on the first Sunday of Advent. Thanks, Mary Beth, for opening a door to Advent and for your gentle invitation to enter.

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