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November 29, 2007 Edition

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Word to Life
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A Prayer in Autumn for Country Living
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Waiting and anticipation: Worth it all

Word to Life 

Jeff Hedglen 

In the fall of 1992, I went to Germany to visit my brother and his family who were stationed at Ramstein Air Base. While there one of their friends, a beautiful German woman named Monika, invited us to dinner. That evening she and I hit it off and ended up spending quite a bit of time together during the rest of my trip.

I returned to Texas wondering what would come of that budding romance. So before the Internet and low-cost, long-distance phone calls, we embarked on a trans-continental relationship. When she came to visit the next spring, I popped the question and she said yes.

First Sunday of Advent
(Sunday, Dec. 2, 2007)
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122:1-9
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

Over the next year we saw each other only once, petitioning the U.S. government then for a fiancée visa. We were told it would be from three to 12 months before we would learn if the visa was granted.

When Monika got on the plane to go home, we had no idea when we would see each other again. But we knew that when that day came it would be the happiest of our lives. However, the wait was excruciating.

The Gospel for the first week of Advent gives some insight into how to handle such situations. Jesus, like the Boy Scout motto, calls us to always be prepared: "Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come." Here the promise of Jesus' return is made, but the when and how has yet to be revealed.

I wish I could wait for Jesus' return with the same intense, focused anticipation I had waiting for Monika to return to Texas. But in the midst of the daily grind it can be hard to keep the Lord's second coming at the forefront of our minds.

Reflection questions

• What are the things you do to prepare for the celebration of Christmas each year?

• What are some things that we can do to stay prepared for the return of Jesus?

To help us, the Church brings us Advent, a season of preparing to celebrate Jesus' coming 2,000 years ago and his promised return in glory.

While I waited for Monika's return, I prepared her way with letters, cards, gifts, and other creative things. These efforts helped keep the connection strong until our glorious reunion. Similarly, Advent with its various celebrations and liturgies commemorating Jesus' initial coming prepares our hearts for his return.

This column is offered in cooperation with the North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.

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This week's readings

Week of December 2 - 8, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007
First Sunday of Advent
Reading I: Is 2:1-5
Reading II: Rom 13:11-14
Gospel: Mt 24:37-44

Monday, December 3, 2007
Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest
Reading I: Is 4:2-6
Gospel: Mt 8:5-11

Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Reading I: Is 11:1-10
Gospel: Lk 10:21-24

Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Reading I: Is 25:6-10a
Gospel: Mt 15:29-37

Thursday, December 6, 2007
Reading I: Is 26:1-6
Gospel: Mt 7:21, 24-27

Friday, December 7, 2007
Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church
Reading I: Is 29:17-24
Gospel: Mt 9:27-31

Saturday, December 8, 2007
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading I: Gn 3:9-15, 20
Reading II: Eph 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38

Pope's Prayer Intentions

December General Intention

Those Suffering from AIDS. That society may care for those stricken with AIDS, especially women and children, and that the Church may help them feel the Lord's love.

December Mission Intention

Asia. That the incarnation of the Son of God may help the peoples of Asia recognize Jesus as God's Envoy, the only Savior of the world.

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A Prayer in Autumn for Country Living

GOOD and generous Lord, You have once more brought the year full circle, through planting and growing and ripening to harvest time, and autumn.

We thank You for the sun and the wind, the rain and the dew, the minerals of the earth and all the plants that grow and all the beasts and birds of farm and field. We marvel at Your wonderful ways of bringing food from the earth for the good of us all.

Dear God, help us to use Your rich gifts as You want us to. Teach us to share them with our neighbors when they are in need. Make us see, in the marvelous succession of seasons and in the growth and ripening of our crops, the merciful, generous hand of Your divine providence.

Help us to realize, too, that if we keep Your commandments and live according to the inspirations of Your grace, we shall also reap a plentiful harvest in the autumn of our lifetime: a harvest that we will be able to enjoy for ever and ever, where no rust can destroy, nor blight spoil any least part of it.


Prayer courtesy of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference

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