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.
It happened on a Wednesday evening in October 1975. That was the day I went to my first concert that featured a nationally recognized band. I was a freshman in college and the concert was in an arena that was located near the college campus. The band that played was the Beach Boys. They toured the country that year and performed in 100 concerts throughout the United States.
One of the pictures that I have in my office was taken in 1966, at the wedding of my mom’s younger sister, Mary Ann. There are four people in the picture — me, my two cousins, Harry and Tommy LaHood, and our grandmother, Cecilia (Ceil) LaHood. My cousins and I are standing together with our arms around each other’s shoulders. I’m in the middle, my cousin Harry is to my right, and Tommy is to my left. Grandma Ceil is standing behind us with a smile on her face. She looks like she could have been our Guardian Angel.
A few years ago, I did something that was very unusual. At my daughter Christine’s wedding reception, I got up and told our guests what my five requirements were for a man who wanted to marry one of my daughters. Before I share my five requirements with you, I need to give you some background information.
The recent riots have exposed a reality that those of us who are devout Catholics have always known to be true. What is that reality? That there is an epic battle that has been taking place since the beginning of time. While the battle has involved different types of weapons and different forms of communication, the participants in the battle have always had one thing in common — they have always been separated into two opposing camps.
As we grow older, we get to a point where we realize that if we want to maintain our sanity, we must accept each new challenge that we face as an opportunity for growth. We learn that each time we conquer a new challenge, there’s always going to be a new and greater challenge that we will have to deal with in the future. While each new challenge is always personal in nature, it also sometimes includes one or more of our family members or friends.
Last week, I wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic has created fear, doubt, uncertainty, and feelings of isolation and loneliness for many of the people of our country. I also wrote about Saint Thomas, the apostle who was told by his fellow apostles that they had seen the risen Lord. Upon hearing the claim that they had seen Jesus, Thomas said, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” John 20:25. Thomas was later chastised by Jesus when He told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20:29.
There are several ugly truths about life that most of us ignore. I want to cover two of those ugly truths today. The first is that the path through life is fraught with uncertainty. The second is that by the time we’re mature adults, we have had experience with the first truth, but most of the time, we tuck it away into a deep dark corner of our minds. Then we go on with our lives behaving as though the first truth does not exist.
I’m going to share something with you that I probably should not be sharing. I began writing my weekly Adoration Letter more than 13 years ago. Over the years, I’ve had people express surprise that I’m willing to share so much about my personal life. Most adults who are over the age of 50 are much more private about their personal lives than I am. It has been my experience that if I’m open and honest about my own personal strengths, weaknesses, faults, and experiences, people will be more receptive to what I have to say.