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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 20, 1987     The Message
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November 20, 1987

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"4 ==, ,may uppmment, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, November 20, 1987 | /"If we want God to I If hear us when we plead |  like the servant..'.then | t/ we must be equally will- | /,tic ing to listen to our ,, | ,,/J neighbor when he pleads. I,,z (Pope John Paul n in New ]\\;k:' Orleans, ber 1987) t Typically people begin Advent with the feeling that it is ,z already too late. They think it is too late to get ready for Christmas the way they would really like to-- that with so much still undone they'll need luck just to squeak through these frantic weeks. "It's too late for Advent." The words echo disturbingly in one's own mind, like a contradiction in terms. Advent, after all, is not the " I III III ON PILGRIMAGE conclusion of anything. It is the beginning point in the church's year. Can it be too late just to begin -- to get started? But what starts in Advent? Prayer, perhaps. For an unprayer- ful Advent sounds much like a contradiction in terms too. But what is this prayer? Is Ad- vent the time to stand quietly before God? For some people Advent is precisely that. It is a time for quiet, reflective renewal alone or with others. Who doesn't hope for at least some moments like this m a few moments of calm or even solitude that ultimately serve to reconnect people with God, themselves and others? For some, however, a season to stand quietly before God translates readily into a time of self- absorption. Prayer time has a cer- tain ring about it for them -- the ring of time spent alone with one's worries and most over- whelming problems, problems all too apparent in Advent anyway when money seems always in short supply and when the wish that one could make others happy grows more intense. Are some people suspicious of prayer, fearing deep down that it will only lead to greater isolation during a season when they want to make more time for others? The great themes of Advent can be helpful here. Consider the season's expectation of a compas- sionate peacemaker who will now begin to make his way among people. And try to link not only the quiet moments but the season itself with the restoration of peace in situations of all kinds. If the restoration of peace in a certain situation demands that you listen attentively to someone, con- sider the possibility that your listening itself is prayer. Try to link your prayer and your peacemaking. Then prayer will begin to seem less isolating. For prayer's inward glance looks outward too. It may not be too late to discover the link between prayer and the giving -- the self-giving of the weeks around Christmas / . I By Janaan Manternach NC News Service j ulian lived in Norwich, a village in England, more than 500 years ago. Nothing at all is known about Julian's childhood. There is no record of where she was born, who her parents were, where she grew up or even whether Julian was her real name. But what is known about her life reveals a remarkable, fascinating woman. Julian spent her whole adult life in a little cottage attached to the Church of Sts. Julian and Edward in Norwich. Her cottage had only two or three small rooms. Julian lived there all alone. She was not a hermit because hermits usually live far from cities, prefer- ring the desert or mountains. She was an anchoress, a woman who lives alone so she can spend most of her time praying. Julian liked to be near people, but she did not go out into the town. Some people going to church would leave food and money for her. Others came to her with their problems. She listened and shared their pain. Then she helped them find happier ways to live. Julian became well known as a spiritual counselor and people came long distances to talk with her. At 30, Julian became deathly ill. On May 13, 1373, while she was still very sick, she felt the presence of Jesus Christ in the cottage with her. It was a remarkable experience. Julian believed she actually saw Jesus on the cross. At that mo- ment she realized she was no longer sick. She was convinced that Jesus had cured her. During the rest of that day she had 14 more powerful ex- periences of God. She called them "showings." God showed her Mary holding her Son and how Jesus suffered before his death. God gave her a glimpse of the Ho ly Trinity. She came to know bet- ter what God is really like. Julian wrote down everything she saw that day in those unusual experiences. She spent the rest of her life thinking and praying about what God had shown her. The anchoress of Norwich Fifteen years later she wrote a longer description of her show- ings and what she learned from them. Julian believed that God gave her these special insights so she would share them with others. Julian called God a "courteous, loving Lord," whose love em- braces all creation. For her God is love. She wrote that God is like a loving mother as well as a father. No one knows just when Julian died, but it probably was before 1423. People have been reading her two books ever since. Her writings help many Christians learn of God's love. (Ms. Manternach is the author of catechetical works, Scripture stories and original stories for children.) I I  A Special Advent Prayer O [ Together with a parent or an older brother or sister, identify a person [ or a group of people who needs the blessings of Jesus in a special way this Advent -- maybe someone you read about in the newspaper I or saw on the TV news Below, write a short prayer for the person or I group; then out it out Try to say your prayer every day during Advent, I perhaps before dinner or before you go to bed I I I I I What do you think? [] Advent is the season when people begin to prepare for Christmas It Is one of the church's most special seasons. What are some ways people prepare to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas? From the bookshelf Prayer has many definitions. Prayer also takes many forms. It can be an action, as well as words. In First Fast, by Barbara Cohen, two boys named Bernie and Barry make a wager shortly before Yom Kip- pur, the Day of Atonement celebrated by the Jews. The wager Is that if Harry, the youngest, fasts the whole day of Yom Kippur, he Will be allowed to play with Bernie and his friends. Harry succeeds in fasting the whole day, but Bernie neither fasts the whole day nor does he keep his part of the bargain about letting Harry play with him and his friends. But that doesn't matter so much to Harry. What really matters to him is what he has done and that he has kept his end of the wager. (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 838 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y. 10021. 1987. Hardback, $7.95.) I II II