Advent greetings on this frosty Monday morn' here in the Midwest.
I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was a good one. Mine was filled with great food, family, and friends. So grateful for all God has rained down.
I loved singing the Advent hymns at Mass yesterday: O Come, O Come Emmanuel, The King Shall Come, and Lord of All Hopefulness. The homilist invited us to take time during Advent to dedicate ourselves to a real season of deep spiritual preparation for the celebration of Christmas. Trying to take that to heart can be a challenge in this busy season, but try I will.
Once again, I find myself looking to Pope Francis for inspiration in these days of expectant longing. A photo caught my eye this morning. This was taken during Francis' trip to Turkey last week. I hope to get to Turkey in 2015. This depicts Francis bowing and asking for a blessing from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
Fifty years ago, Blessed Paul VI and the then-patriarch Athenagoras inaugurated a dialogue about the re-unification of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Last week's meeting solidified that process with declarations of a "no turning back" stance. What struck me most was the two leaders talking about the reality that unification already exists in the persecutions of and the killing of Christians in the Middle East. We Christians here in the United States, for the most part sheltered as we are from religious persecution, need to feel deeply for our brothers and sisters who have been driven from their homes and towns and who are being martyred daily.
As the candles of our Advent wreaths are lit each day, let us pray for these sisters and brothers who suffer so much. As the wax of those candles melt, let us also pray that hearts hardened by misguided religious zeal will melt and become hearts softened with love, care, and respect, bringing an end to these senseless persecutions.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.