December 14, 2022
Dear Friends in Christ,
We are in the midst of the Advent season. It is a time of hope as we prepare to celebrate anew the birth of Christ. It is a time of joyful expectation as we await the glorious coming of our Savior, the conqueror of sin and death. My hope for you and indeed for myself is that we will make the most of the wonderful season and that we will use this time as an opportunity to prepare our hearts to experience more deeply the peace that Jesus came to bring.
These weeks before Christmas are often experienced quite differently. For some, they are a time of busyness, with days filled with shopping, pre-Christmas gatherings and decorating the house. For students, this is a time focused on preparing for final exams and for the youngest among us, there is the joy and anticipation of the gifts of Christmas morning. It is important for us to remember, that for some, the approach of Christmas is a time of sadness. In the midst of so many celebrations, loneliness, poverty, addiction and other forms of suffering are accentuated. Whether we await the coming of Christmas with joy or sorrow, the Season of Advent can speak to our hearts.
This is possible only if we make ourselves available to receive the graces of this season. One of the best ways to do this is to allow time for stillness and for prayer. Stillness is not easy to find, especially in our noisy, busy culture. For those who are undergoing interior struggle, silence can be quite frightening. At times, we may feel well prepared to meet the Lord in prayer and to engage with him and at other times, we may shy away and even try to avoid the still small whisper of his voice. You and I can be afraid of what he might say to us but the Lord speaks to his people of peace, not as the world gives, but as he alone can give.
Peace is not merely the absence of conflict nor suffering in our lives, but it is the joy of knowing we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and that we are truly beloved in his sight. It is the peace we experience when we reflect God’s love back to him in prayer and radiate that love to those around us. It is the peace and joy of loving God above all things and loving our neighbor as God first loved us. When we open our hearts to the peace that Christ gives us, we begin to discern the meaning and purpose of the struggles and challenges we experience in our daily lives. Our whole life is filled with a sense of meaning. God brought us into this world to share in his life and reflect his love in some unique and unrepeatable day.
There is probably way too much on your “to-do” list already, but allow me to offer 2 modest suggestions. First, invite Jesus into your day by saying a simple prayer of the earliest Christian, “Come, Lord Jesus!” In midst of whatever we are doing, on any given day at any given time, especially those busy and difficult moments just pause and say, “Come, Lord Jesus!” This is a wonderful way of inviting the Lord into your heart and into your home.
Second, the Lord does come to us in Holy Mass, when the Scriptures are read, it is Christ who speaks to us. When we receive Holy Communion, we receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Jesus gives himself to us in love. One of the greatest gifts we can give to family and friends is to invite them to share in Jesus’ gift of self. This is the way we can all draw as close as possible to the Lord who came to save us and who will come again at the end of time.
Every time we turn to him with all our hearts, our God rejoices in us. If you have trouble finding him, look for the quiet moments.
The Season of Advent is short; it passes quickly. Mary teaches us how to await the Lord and how to welcome him into our hearts in the grace of the Holy Spirit. May we, like her, open our hearts to welcome the Lord as he comes. Come, Lord Jesus!
Faithfully in Christ,
Most Reverend William E. Lori
Archbishop of Baltimore