The wonderful season of Advent is well underway! For me, Advent is a time of celebration, hope, and enjoying life while anticipating the celebration of the birth of Our Lord. As I write this article, I am sitting in a quiet house visiting my family in Illinois. I enjoy using the Advent season not only to do the normal “Christmastime” secular activities like buying gifts, but also to refreshing the oft-neglected relationships in my life. I have spent the week catching up with various friends and family members and visiting some of my favorite hometown haunts, remembering the good ol’ days and lamenting how challenging it is to stay in touch give the hustle of modern life.
Lately, this has made me consider my priorities in life. After I began writing this article I came across this article at the National Catholic Register outlining an op-ed article that the Holy Father wrote himself suggesting we all do the same. This reflection has led me to one main discussion point: what is my life all about?
Ahead of this trip back to my family, one of my cousins asked that I “tone down” the religious conversations because it was too weird last year ad the change that I’ve undergone has been jarring to him. It is clear to him that my life is no longer about idly whiling away evenings drinking beers and throwing darts, not to say that I don’t still enjoy either of those things within reason. But his perception of me is changed, and he has basically asked me to change it back. I wrestled with this conversation for quite some time. On one hand, I am blessed that I have a family member that is so close to me to both see this change and point it out to me. It was very difficult to hear that someone so close to me was upset with these changes that have been occurring in my life. On the other hand, I have no doubt that I have made positive choices over the last few years and my actions reflect my deepening faith in a visible and ultimately good way. This is hard for my friends and family to fully understand, especially for those that preferred my previously cavalier attitude and actions.
For Advent this year, I am giving myself the gift of peace. I am choosing to live closer to Christ and the Catholic Church because I believe that this is the best path for me. Ultimately I will have to answer for how I am choosing to live my life and I don’t want to come up short with those answers. I know that many of you wrestle with interpersonal conflict at this time of year, especially when it comes to matters of Faith and family. As our attention turns to celebrating the coming of Christ, I ask you all to heed the Holy Father’s advice and reflect on what the Advent season truly means in your life.
I pray that you all have a blessed and happy Christmas celebration this year!