I LOOK FORWARD
Today, as we celebrate the end of the liturgical year in the church, we will now turn our attention to the season of Advent and prepare for the coming of the Lord. The Church helps us to prepare to celebrate Christmas by having the people of God enter into a time of retreat, the Advent season. As a point of reflection we may ask ourselves, Do I look forward to Advent and the time of prayer and reflection it offers? If not, what do I look forward to?
We can tell something about a person when we find out what sorts of things they look forward to. I'm sure we all have relatives and friends who tell us they are looking forward to watching their favorite sports team, or some people look forward to a shopping trip or seeing the latest movie. Some look forward to seeing children and grandchildren. These can all be good things to look forward to.
Let's look at this desire on a deeper and spiritual level. Spiritually, what do we look forward to? Do we look forward to going to Mass, Adoration, or Confession? Or each Sunday, is it an effort to drag myself out of bed to go and worship the Living God? Have I looked forward to spending one hour in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament? Or do I find myself attached to the tv and not able to pry myself from my comfort zone, to go and pray before the Living God? Do I look forward to Confession? Or do I find myself putting off, week after week after week, the opportunity to seek mercy and forgiveness from the Living God, present in the Sacrament of Confession?
As Secular Carmelites, we can examine our conscience by asking some questions about the desires of our heart:
*Do I look forward to the daily period of meditation?
*Do I look forward to praying the Liturgy of the Hours?
*Do I look forward to attending Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist?
*Do I look forward to the next meeting and prepare by studying my formation materials?
*Do I look forward to the days of fast and the celebration of the Carmelite Saints?
*Do I look forward to making Temporary or Final promises?
*Do I look forward to going to Confession?
*Do I look forward to the crosses God will send me for my sanctification?
On a more general examine, we can ask ourselves:
*Do I look forward to helping someone, or performing acts of charity?
*Do I look forward to spending time with my spouse?
*Do I look forward to studying holy Scripture?
*Do I look forward to reconciling with someone I have hurt, or with someone who has offended me?
Each Sunday, at Mass, during the recitation of the Creed, we state, as the Body of Christ, what we look forward to:
" I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come..." Do we really? Do we really look forward to meeting Christ face-to-face? Do we really look forward and desire to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? If we really desired and looked forward to entering into the presence of God, our lives would reflect it. We would be more charitable, we would be more helpful, we would be less selfish, we would look forward to many other things instead of worldly pastimes, to sinful pastimes.
Our world is in great need of prayer, for there are many people who look forward to hurting and even plotting to kill their neighbor. There are people who, each day beat, torture, and starve children and receive pleasure from it. The enemies of the Church want to destroy our churches and kill in the name of God, and they look forward to this with great pleasure. God help us!...what sinful and evil things enter the mind and heart of man!
If we are truly on the road of perfection, we will look forward to the Holy Spirit's work in us to make us holy. If we are truly looking forward to the the life of the world to come, we would be working to see the Kingdom reflected in our lives, now. We would look forward to being merciful instead of being easily offended and holding a grudge. We would look forward to being peacemakers instead of troublemakers. We would truly mourn over our own sins instead of looking for an opportunity to rejoice over the faults of others.
The Saints are the people God gives us as examples. They went through life always looking forward to His coming, always looking forward to the resurrection and the life to come...They always looked for an opportunity to forget themselves and serve their neighbor. But most importantly, they always looked forward to glorifying God in all that they did and to have others do the same.
Let us look forward to the coming of Christ in our lives at each moment of our existence. The time of quiet prayer and reflection in our Advent retreat helps us to be aware that Emmanuel, "God is with us." Let us look forward to meeting him each day and uniting ourselves with him so that we can be holy in thought, word, and deed. Becoming Christlike is what prepares us for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come...
Peace be with you!
Rosemarie of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, ocds