Prepare for the Coming of the Lord

I hope and pray that you and your families had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  After five weekends on the road, I was able to spend the holiday and the weekend at home.  My brother Eugene and his children and grandchildren came to visit and we enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving Dinner together.  On the Sunday after Thanksgiving holiday, I was with our priests in Wheeling for the first of four gatherings I have for them around the Diocese during the Advent Season.  It is always a wonderful time for me to be with our priests and enjoy their company.  It also gives me the chance to thank each of them for the wonderful work they do in our parishes, with our people and their families, forming such beautiful communities of faith. In this Advent Season, our liturgical world changes as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. This is without a doubt one of the busiest times of the year, and it can be daunting as we think of all the things we should do for others and ourselves. It is also a critical time of year in our faith experience, which we must put near the top of our list of priorities. There are many opportunities to engage in prayer and work with others accomplishing good things together. We all know that it can be a very materialistic world, so it takes a focused effort of mind and heart to try to direct our attention to the wonderful grace that is occurring around us. Within families and work experiences, we must set a direction for ourselves to seek out what is good and share it with others: a smile should come to our faces much easier at this time of year and we can easily be more gracious to those around us. Somethings we are anxious to teach others, but there are opportunities to teach ourselves as well: We are never too old to learn. I believe the Advent Season allows us greater incentive to do good things and be happy while we make others happy. There are also many occasions to turn to prayer as an instinctive expression of our love of God and his Son Jesus Christ. I know that there are very busy priests and parishioners out there, working hard in this Season of Advent to prepare for Christmas. I know how demanding this world can be on you. My prayer is that your personal lives will experience the Love of God in a special way and you will have a real personal sense of what we are all about as real Christians and truly enjoy the life God has given us. I pray that the richness of your prayer life is accompanying on your way through Advent and into the Christmas Season. Advent is a great time to reflect on the world around us in spiritual terms. May you and your families enjoy this wonderful time of Advent and greet Christmas together, with joy filling your hearts and your homes. And, especially at this time of year, please remember the poor, especially poor families with children and those families still recovering from the summer floods, and offer both your prayers and some work of mercy for their benefit.