Advent is now upon us. It is a time of waiting and a time of preparation for the anniversary of the coming of the Son of God. Instead of making spiritual preparations during Advent, many of us get caught up in the demands of the holiday season. Any extra time we have is spent on the material preparations that have become an annual tradition, such as buying gifts, decorating our homes and work areas, planning parties, and baking treats.
My wife and I took a few days off last week and drove to Branson, Missouri, for a short vacation. It was our third trip to Branson. Our last trip there was more than 15 years ago. One of the reasons we wanted to go to Branson was because we had heard about a Broadway-quality musical show about the life of Jesus that was playing at one of the theaters. The title of the show was Jesus.
Did you know that there’s an old plantation hymn that Catholics traditionally sing in church on Good Friday? The hymn was composed in the 19th century by African American slaves and was first published in 1899 by William Eleazar Barton in his hymnal, Old Plantation Hymns. Here’s the first verse of the hymn:
I graduated from high school in 1975 (45 years ago). The school I attended was in a rural area of Peoria County. Most of the students in the school were from families in which at least one parent worked in a blue-collar job, such as manufacturing or the building trades. I came from one of those families.
Last month, while my 10-year-old granddaughter, Grace Hercik, was playing outside, she fell and broke her arm. Two days before she broke her arm, when my family was together for a birthday party, I told Grace and my other grandchildren about how I broke my leg in 1967. I was the same age as Grace when I broke my leg.
Years ago, a priest friend of mine told me that he had been asked by a married couple to bless their newly built home. He said that the home was “absolutely beautiful” and was equipped with all the latest technology. It had a wireless network throughout the house for computers, TVs, an intercom system, and there was a room that was set aside for a home theater that had been planned for the future.
There’s an emotional roller coaster that people have been on since March of this year. That’s when our country was locked down because of the COVID-19 virus. During the first couple of months of the lockdown, the roller coaster took people down into the depths of uncertainty and doubt. Then it seemed as though it was heading toward what appeared to be a light at the end of a tunnel. But last week, the roller coaster took a sharp turn and catapulted toward a new abyss of fear and uncertainty.