What is Christ waiting for? Us. Then what are we waiting for?

This holy season [of Advent] teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of His contemporaries; His power has still to be communicated to us all. We shall share His power, if, through holy faith and the Sacraments, we willingly accept the grace Christ earned for us, and live by that grace and in obedience to Christ. The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to His presence He will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with Him the riches of His grace.
— St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584), tireless Bishop of Milan during the tumultuous Catholic Reformation
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St. Charles Borromeo had a vast diocese to shepherd and lead into renewal according to the directives of the Council of Trent, but he began by setting right the ‘parish of his own soul’ realizing that he would have nothing to give if he did not set his heart on God in meditation, explaining that only “in meditation [can] we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others”.  Fr. Hagan recently pointed out to me the example of St. Charles, having watched an episode focusing on his life and sanctity available for free on the FORMED.ORG platform as part of the series on the Saints of the Catholic Reformation: “True Reformers”. (Perhaps you could consider dialing it up as some Advent entertainment, edification and encouragement!  The online streaming content is really astounding.  Check it out by logging in with our parish access code PBGWTD at www.formed.org).  [If you have had trouble accessing Formed before we discovered a previous typo. Sorry!]

St. Charles was onto something profound. Christ’s coming is not so much in the distant future as it is ‘imminent’ or ‘ever-present’ to the extent to which we remove obstacles.  One of the most profound and efficacious ways we do that is to seek the Sacrament of Penance and root out our rebellious attitudes, our pride, and our moral failures in thought, word, in what we have done and in what we have failed to do.

Beyond our abundant regular confession times on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and our general availability for confessions by appointment, there will also be a special Advent ‘Evening of Penance’ on Wednesday, December 20th from 4-10 pm at Holy Cross Church with two or more confessors available throughout and quiet exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.  Let us remove all obstacles to His fuller coming. Next week’s bulletin will include some practical ways to prepare well for the grace of this sacrament.

It has been noted that there is a vast difference in the experience of waiting for a person than waiting for an event. The former is an encounter with someone rather than sitting, waiting for something to take place, which can be exceedingly tedious - especially for people such as myself with a limited supply of patience.  Many of us have had the experience of waiting reluctantly in a confessional line as if we were only waiting for some perfunctory transaction of sins in exchange for a penance.  This is only part of what happens; only one view of the gift of Sacramental Absolution which is on offer.

How beautiful to consider that the Lord is waiting more fervently for us than we are for Him. In other words, it is only our reluctance that holds us back from the grace He readily offers.  He waits for us. What are we waiting for?  St. John the Baptist’s preaching of repentance meets the rough terrain of our hearts and brings with it the power to make straight the way of the Lord.

United in praying with and for you all in this Holy Season, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Fr. Howe

PS: A few additional comments: In addition to the gratitude recently offered Janice Godlewski for her generous service to our parish, there are a few others who have recently moved on who should be likewise profusely thanked. At Fr. Simonson’s celebratory Mass I made it a point to thank our dedicated St. Clement secretary, Lorie Archambault, and longtime organist and musician, Ruth Bills. Additionally, Corrine “Sunny” Wojciak-Perry who played through the years at St. Anthony of Padua and more recently at St. Hedwig for the 10 am Mass has decided to retire.  I am grateful to these and all of our musicians who do so much to enrich and elevate our worship of God on Sundays and other liturgical occasions.