Over the course of the last two weeks, I’ve been to several schools that were having Reconciliation Services for Advent and individual confessions were part of the service…..I was struck by a thought while doing this ministry over the last two weeks. Advent for me is always a time to ponder, to patiently expect and prepare one’s heart for the coming Christmas season….a reminder of the coming of Christ in the future and also the patient expectation of receiving Christ into one’s being. I always think of the term….”lying in wait” when it comes to Advent, but this year a twist was added to this meaning….I was very surprised while listening to the students to hear them “confess” to lying….whether it be to their parents, friends, and teachers. They certainly were not happy that they were doing this but it seemed as though it was always the convenient way out of an unwanted predicament. “Lying in wait” took on a whole different meaning for me as I spoke to these students about Advent being a time to “make straight our paths” and seek the truth in accepting Jesus into their lives.
They understood what I was saying but also said that it was difficult for them in a world that demanded so much from them to always be honest and wait patiently for the right answers to come to them….we chatted about what Advent could mean to them – a time to set things straight with the Lord and with others. I began to think that a person in Formation in religious life could have the same dilemma….how to wait patiently for the Lord to direct his or her actions, being true to themselves and to their communities….I was reminted of that classic scene from the movie “The Nun’s Story” where the Mother General is addressing the postulants right before the reception of the habit and entering the novitiate that they must always seek to be truthful in their discernment of God’s will…..she told them that they could lie or cheat their sisters and even themselves but they can never hide the truth from God.
Advent is certainly a time for all of us to be mindful of this truth uttered by Mother General in the movie…it is a time that we can use wisely by making straight our own paths in discerning God’s call to us….to not run away from the truth but to seek it and go after it in peaceful and patient expectation of finding and doing God’s will in our life…all of us are being FORMED daily in God’s truth and it is always best not to lie about it…..after all, the truth always comes out in the end anyway. I came away from these services with a new appreciation of the Advent season and I guess I would change my phrasing from “lying in expectation” to “laying in expectation ” seeking the truth and living the truth of God’s call to love and joy in my life….I hope and pray your Advent season enables you to do the same in forming your response to God in your life….may it always ring free and true….