Twice a month the staff of St. Gregory the Great Church send out a spiritual reflection to all parishioners for whom we have an e-mail address. What follows are the most recent of these reflections. If you would like to have your name added to our e-mail reflection list, please e-mail us at email@example.com, and we will add your name to our listing.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – AMY ALZNAUER – DECEMBER 4
I worry about time going by almost every day. My children are getting older, my son suddenly and inexplicably taller than me; my parents are getting older, too, my dear father turning 80 on December 4; and I, myself, my husband, my friends all getting older. I look around and things have changed – people I once cherished are no longer with us, there are new faces everywhere, a world in flux.
In the face of such relentless, unstoppable change, it would be easy to fall into the despair of this beautiful little poem by Ezra Pound:
And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.
This is the reason I was so shocked and grateful when I first encountered the liturgical year. It was right here at St. Gregory the Great in 2004, before I was even Catholic. That first Advent was literally the first time I had ever waited for the Christ Child to come. But even still, even when everything was entirely new for me, I could sense that Advent was different. Time felt heavier, more expansive, less likely to flit away and never come back.
Abraham Joshua Heschel talks about how the Sabbath opens up what he beautifully calls a palace or cathedral within time, a holy place in which we no long experience the onslaught of time, but rather step into God’s time and find solace and rest.
Advent feels like Heschel’s Sabbath to me, not something that will come and go and eventually be forgotten, but a stronghold, a realm to be entered and encountered again and again. Here, within Advent, we realize that we aren’t living only in a world that is racing past, but also in another world, which manages to stand its ground.
Within this Sabbath world, this Advent world, my son can grow taller, my father turn 80, people come and go, and things slip by, and I can experience all these things without despair, my feet in the steady grass, because lo, the Christ Child is coming again, the one who has gathered and will gather all our time, and nothing is lost.
A GRACE OF THANKSGIVING - THANKSGIVING DAY
O Holy One, we join with our nation in giving thanks: not for power, wealth, or arms, for these are our sad burdens we inflict upon ourselves and the world. Rather, we thank you, O God, for a spirit of justice that now and again will shape our decision-making, for the beauty and fullness of our land, our earth and our universe.
Most especially, O God, we are grateful:
For those who are an example to us, and those who show us how life ought to be lived;
For those who are an inspiration to us, and who fill us with the desire to make of life a noble thing;
For those who are a comfort to us when life has hurt us;
For those who are a strength to us, and in whose company we feel fit to tackle any task;
For those who have by their words or by their writings influenced us for good;
For those whose love and care, service and understanding, we so often take for granted;
For those who give us loyal friendship and for those who love us unconditionally;
And for all that is unspoken in our hearts accept our thanksgiving that we make through your Spirit in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from the St. Gregory the Great Parish Staff.