November 26, 2011 – Patience Is Indeed A Virtue

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday.  It was certainly a good day – the weather was great, the food was good, and the football games were awesome.  God is certainly good.

But I don’t know if any experience can compare to what happened yesterday.  I have expressed my desire before that I needed an excuse to take the plunge and purchase a flat-screen TV.  There were of course some good deals as part of the “Black Friday” specials, but my desire was not so strong that I was going to get in line at 9:00 on the evening of Thanksgiving just to snag a buy.  In other words, my life may not be the most exciting, but I do still have a life.  Anyway, on a whim I thought I would swing in to the local Wal-Mart on my lunch break yesterday just to see if there was anything left.  I didn’t think there would be, but I wouldn’t be out of anything to go and check.  Well, lo and behold, I walk through the automatic sliding door and it was like walking through the pearly gates (OK, it wasn’t that dramatic, but I’m going for effect here).  There were still TV’s galore that were advertised in the Black Friday ad.  So my reasons for getting this blog out a day late are that number 1, I was still feeling the effects of the tryptophan yesterday (and whatever chemicals are in sweet potatoes, cranberries, etc.), and number 2, I spent the evening mesmerized by the clear picture and sound of my new TV.  In this case, patience certainly did pay off.

We of course now live in a society that seeks instant gratification.  We don’t want to have to wait for things.  We call our prescriptions in to the drugstore so we don’t have to wait for the pharmacist to get them ready.  We become upset when there are more than 2 people ahead of us in line at the grocery store.  We want a computer that will perform our functions even faster than the one we have (guilty).  As I’m typing this I also have the Today show on, and they were talking about second marriages.  Not only do about half of first-time marriages fail, but about two-thirds of all second time marriages fail.  Again, if we don’t get that instant gratification, we move on instead of waiting to see if there is a payoff down the road.   And of course we want God to instantly provide us everything we ask and pray for.

This philosophy goes against what the season of  Advent is really all about.  When I was a kid it seemed that the fun part of Christmas was the anticipation – what is in the box under the tree?  Was I good enough for Santa Claus to come again this year (well of course I was, lol).  Now it seems that the decorations are up for so long and the carols have been sung for so long before Christmas even comes, that what should be a day of rejoicing and renewal has become an anti-climax in a way. 

I think the season of Advent is a reminder to us that the best things we experience are those that involve anticipation, those things that involve preparation, those things that involve reflection.  This weekend we of course will begin saying the Mass of the revised 3rd edition of the Roman Missal.  I still am hearing rumblings of people who are wondering why there has to be a change, and wouldn’t it be better to just leave things the way they are.  Well, it would certainly be easier to leave things as is, but would it be as meaningful?  This 3rd revision has allowed me to attend workshops and study sessions about the Missal and the Mass itself, and I have learned a great deal about why we do the things we do during Mass and how what we pray at Mass is so heavily based on Scripture.  

I’m not saying that the secular influence of doing so many Christmas activities before Christmas even arrives has taken our Christmas away, but I think you could make the argument that it has taken some of our Advent experience away.  Our observance of Advent is a preparation not only for our celebration of Jesus’ coming to earth at Christmas, but is also a time to remember that we need to prepare for Jesus’ second coming, a time in which we do not know the day or the hour.  As the people in the Old Testament who were waiting for the coming of the Messiah, we need to be on constant watch for the coming of our Savior, and realize that the greatest reward it still yet to come.

There are many good Advent resources on the internet, but a couple of the better ones I have found are on a site called www.bustedhalo.com.  It is geared toward younger adults, but there are interesting things for everyone.  First of all, they produced a two-minute video which shows the meaning of Advent   You can view that video below:

Also, they provide a “surprise” Advent calendar which you can view by clicking this link:  http://bustedhalo.com/features/advent-calendar-2011.

There have been many headlines and instances this past year in which our culture and our policy makers have tried to influence our ability to worship as we see fit and to not allow us to practice our faith in the workplace and in social settings.  It is up to us to let others know the real meaning of Advent, and not to let our season of preparation be taken away.

Finally, as Pope John Paul II reminded us on many occasions, “do not be afraid” as we begin the new translation of the Mass this weekend.  If you blurt out “And Also With You” instead of “And With Your Spirit”, you won’t be alone.  Follow the cards in the pews as best you can and it will become easier as the weeks and months go by.  Have a meaningful Advent, and have a great week.  Peace.

 

 

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