During this Advent season, it becomes clearer that the excited waiting and anticipation of the arrival of the Christ child, the greatest gift the world has received, never diminishes with age. We all are children again, eagerly awaiting that holy night.
Two significant events in December have left indelible marks upon me. First was the installation of Most Rev. Christian Riesbeck, the 13th bishop of the Saint John Diocese (New Brunswick), formerly auxiliary bishop of Ottawa. Hearing the loud knock on the cathedral door, the subsequent welcoming of this new servant to the diocese, and the celebration of the Eucharist in the old cathedral on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception was poignant. It reminded me of Jesus’ knocking on the door of our hearts; only we are able to open them to Him.
Once the bishop was installed in the presence of the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, several bishops and priests, as well as several Companions of the Cross clergy (members of Bishop Riesbeck’s order), he was the main celebrant of the sacred liturgy. In his homily, he thanked Bishop Robert Harris for his service and his help with the transition (Bishop Harris had always been a constant supporter of the League.) Bishop Riesbeck reminded us that God is still God, who has a master plan, and we need to give Him permission to move us. His Excellency’s complete assurance that Jesus has set us free and is alive and present in our lives to bring hope and peace, so that we may share the joy that this affirms, is so comforting. We now need to model this message to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28). The friendship of Jesus is the great gift we receive—life is richer as a result. Noting that Mary is the star of the new evangelization, she, by her very nature as mother of God, introduced her son to us; we need to do the same—introduce others to Him.
It was a gift to be in Saint John on a rainy Monday, to witness this event on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and in Advent as we impatiently wait for the coming of Jesus again. All of us are children once more at Christmas. Having lit the Gaudete/Rejoice Sunday candle gives us hope Jesus really will come.
Secondly, the master plan of which Bishop Riesbeck spoke came to me fully last week. I learned my son-in-law had been in a head-on collision on his way to work Thursday afternoon between London and St. Thomas, Ontario. As he and his young family ponder the experience of what might have been, as they gave thanks for the gift of his life, as the processing of the event brought tears for many reasons, and as they subsequently mourned the death of the dear soul who hit Andrew, they were reminded of the true meaning of Christmas. God is good, all the time.
Finally, I am in a choir that will form part of a concert on Sunday, the 22nd, in a little country church in the community of my birth. My prayer is that beautiful music will lift the hearts of all who attend, as it has for us 30 women and men. We have been practising under a professional choir director, who has guided and coaxed us to be the best we can be—our gift to the community. It was very generous of them to allow me to join them late in their preparation. I have abundantly received the gift of community from this exercise. Now, if I can only remember most of what Patrick has taught us, I will be making a joyful noise unto the Lord.
Wishing all my dear sisters in the League a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, until next time…