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November 29, 2007 Edition

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'Called to Be Holy': Reflections for Advent

We live today amidst a barrage of images and ideas, none of which are really new. Yet, attempts are being made to make us believe that not only are they true but, even more, we must pay attention to them or we'll somehow miss out - even die.

The truth of the matter is that we are living in a time of tremendous disquietude. Our necessary response as rational persons might then be: "What must be our way of lessening this anxiety and truly re-connecting with God's will for our lives?"

I believe Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has an idea.

'Stop. Listen. Pray.'

If you are experiencing the turbulence of today in a way that causes you to re-imagine life differently, you are NOT alone.

The truth is that we are living in a post-global society where the demands of the day can far outweigh our individual capacity to "upload the data."

We are being called to reflect seriously on our priorities and most certainly, where our attention lies. Do you find yourself unable to pray because you're just too busy or simply feel like your world usurps your freedom to just be? Something's wrong.

Are you ill-equipped to give an answer or any real defense for the faith because other areas of life have demanded too much of your attention? Something's wrong. Can you think of the last time you even gave a thought to why you spend your days the way you do? Stop. Listen. Pray.

We know that it is the spiritual world to which we are ultimately called, to find everlasting life in Jesus Christ: the One through, in, and by which our own bodies become animated by the very Spirit of God.

Archbishop Dolan writes that, "a deep, personal, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the foundation of holiness." He makes clear that it is NOT what we know about Jesus Christ, but that we know him as a person: God-Man. Truly, friends, it is not what we know, but WHO we know. Never before has that appeared so very true!

Prepare for the Lord

At the parish where I serve as coordinator of religious education, we will have a cluster-wide opportunity to read and integrate the practices Archbishop Dolan compiles in Called To Be Holy, giving us a real second-chance to prepare for our Lord's coming through Advent.

Personal prayer, daily Mass, fidelity to the Liturgy of the Hours, spiritual reading, spiritual direction, Confession, and persevering in our call towards holiness, all are elements being re-introduced as we examine our collective conscience knowing full well that we are failing to live up to this "universal call to holiness." We must remember what it's like to wait for our Beloved.

Please join us in your own way to re-examine your life and to re-commit your life to Jesus Christ who, through the Apostle, asks us to "pray without ceasing."

John Smith is coordinator of religious education at St. Ignatius Parish, Mt. Horeb, and St. Mary Parish, Pine Bluff.

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