South Texas Catholic (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Vol. 31, No. 43, Ed. 1 Friday, December 2, 1988 Page: 4 of 16
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December 2, 1988—4
Advent at home
By Neil Parent
NC News Service
“Outside of grace at meals, we
don’t seem to be able to pray much as
a family,” said a mother participating
in a parish discussion group.
Understanding heads nodded in agree-
Prayer was the evening’s topic and
the mother’s remarks stirred lively
conversation. It wasn’t long before
amusing stories began to surface about
how one’s own parents had made
heroic attempts at introducing family
prayer, such as the rosary and
novenas, only to have them somehow
self-destruct. Still, the memories of
those occasions appeared warm, even
when they went awry.
Family prayer undoubtedly is dif-
ficult today. The pressures on modern
families are such that they are for-
tunate if they can gather regularly to
say grace at meals. Still, much can be
done particularly when some creative
thought is given to utilizing the
Advent’s arrival offers a good op-
portunity to pray as a family. Fre-
quendy Advent becomes either a
holding pattern for Christmas or it
focuses too narrowly on decorations,
Advent calendars and the like.
The true meaning of Advent is one
of expectation, of longing, of hoping
and praying for the coming of God’s
reign in peace and justice. It is the
dark before the dawn of the Son of
One family I know observes the
feast of St. Nicholas Dec. 6. The
saint’s life is retold by the parents with
special emphasis on him as a gift giver.
The gift giving is described as a
foretaste of the joy and peace that is to
come with the birth of the Messiah.
Thus, all are called to be
“Nicholases”—givers of gifts that help
bring peace and justice. All in the
family are invited to pray for ways
they can be better gift givers to each
other and to those outside the family.
The celebration ends with the ex-
change of small but thoughtful gifts.
Another family uses a special prayer
practice to observe Advent. Early in
the day, the mother in this family
bakes bread. The rich aroma of baking
bread is a signal to all that tonight
before dinner there will be a special
When the family assembles for din-
ner, the parents’ wedding chalice is
first passed around the table empty.
Each person prays into the chalice on
one of the themes of Advent—peace,
justice, hope. The prayers fill the cup
like spiritual drink. Then after
everyone has prayed, grape juice is ad-
ded and the cup is once again passed
and drunk from.
Then the freshly baked bread is
blessed and also passed. Because this
prayer is so tactile, it is particularly ap-
pealing to the younger children.
Another family prayer form for Ad-
vent involves bringing out a globe or
world map and identifying a particular
country or region that especially needs
the healing presence of the Prince of
Peace. The family spends time, either
before meals or at other times, praying
for the people of that area.
A related technique is to have family
members identify and pray about a
person or a group of people whose
situation was reported in the
newspaper and who could benefit from
the blessings of Jesus’ coming.
A family also may choose to view
the evening news together and then
spend a brief time afterward talking
about and praying for people or situa-
tions that need to experience the joy
and peace of Christmas.
Advent can be more than a prelude
to Christmas. Advent prayer helps us
not only prepare for Christ’s coming.
It also can be a means by which we
wait and watch, hopefully, expectant-
ly, with and for others.
Justice—God’s love made visible
1) Baruch 5:1-9
2) Philippians 1:4-6,8-11
3) Luke 3:1-6
By Father William Maestri
The season of Advent and the
general rush toward Christmas are
often wrapped in a yule-tide blanket of
cozy, comfortable religion. We can
pass through this season without too
much discomfort. Unlike Lent with its
ashes, penance, and self-denial, we
associate Advent with positive things
and good feelings. In the modern
spiritual lingo—Advent is a “positive
experience.” It’s over almost before
we know it.
Yet our reading from Baruch does
not invite us to be clothed in the yule-
tide blanket of cozy, comfortable
religion but "in the cloak of justice
from God.” And there is nothing like
justice-talk to throw a damper on our
Even worse is the movement from
justice-talk to justice-action. Perhaps
the problem lies in our understanding
of justice. For on closer inspection we
can see that justice is essential to this
season and the celebration of the com-
ing of Jesus into our heart and history.
We must first of all remove the
negative baggage associated with
justice. When we hear the word justice
our minimalistic calculators go to
work. Justice calls for giving each per-
son his/her due. There is the balancing
of scales and restoring those injured by
daily life and from those who play fast
and loose with the law.
There is a kind of grimness about
our justice-talk. There is a kind of
Puritanical drudgery about justice
which gives the impression that it is
only a duty. There is little zest or pas-
sion associated with justice.
Yet the Bible experiences justice in a
very different way. Justice has little, if
anything, to do with balancing scales
and minimal calculations of fairness.
Justice is generosity. Justice is a pas-
sionate, involved commitment to real
There is about justice an ex-
uberance and abundance which goes
beyond merely giving the other their
basic due. The biblical insight about
justice goes much deeper than simple
entitlement and an even distribution of
scarce resources. Justice draws us into
the way in which God interacts with
us. God’s justice toward us is ex-
perienced in terms of generosity.
To use the justice-imagery of
Baruch we see that God is just and this
justice is generous, glorious, joyful
and life-giving. Jerusalem is to take off
the robe of mourning and misery.
Jerusalem is to ascend the heights and
remember its covenant with God with
great joy. God is going to restore the
people to the land. “For God is
leading Israel in joy by the light of His
glory, with His mercy and justice for
There is no mention of merit or a
bland calculation of what one
deserves. There is an overwhelming
air of joy and delight. Justice is the ex-
perience of God’s generous love made
visible in our lives.
St. Paul writing to the Philippians
continues this theme of God’s justice
as fidelity to His generous love.
Through no merit of their own, God
has blessed the community of Philippi.
The gift of the Gospel has been offered
and accepted in faith. God’s generous
love is not for the moment but endures
into eternity: “He who has begun the
good work in you will carry it through
to completion, right up the day of
God does not simply give us
something and then get busy with
other things. God provides us with all
that we need. And what is more,
God’s generous, just love endures and
labors for our growth.
As the people of the new covenant of
God’s loving generosity (justice), we
are called to be just in a like manner. It
is the season for generosity. Not the
mania giving, getting and rushing
about which is all too common.
Rather, we are called to be inwardly
calm and see the many ways God has
taken the windings of our lives and
made them straight; the rough places
and made them smooth.
We are called to do the same for one
another. We are to be just as our God
is justice. We are to be generous
because our God is generosity and
grace to each of us.
Here’s what’s next.
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Freeman, Robert E. South Texas Catholic (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Vol. 31, No. 43, Ed. 1 Friday, December 2, 1988, newspaper, December 2, 1988; Corpus Christi, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth840486/m1/4/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .