Advent and Christmas
January 10, 2020
My home parish – St. Edmund’s in North Vancouver – experienced a bit of a ‘shuffle’ this past summer. Our long standing priest of almost 10 years was reassigned to a parish in Calgary in August and in early in September we welcomed a new pastor, Father Steny. Although I thoroughly enjoyed and miss our former pastor, our new priest’s homilies have really challenged my thinking. Advent, in particular, has taken on a bit of a new meaning for me this year. While I have always considered it to be the harbinger of renewed hope and the expectation of great things to com, it was something that Father Steny said during his homily on the first Sunday of Advent just a few weeks ago that has truly personalized the season for me.
As a teacher and educator I use the notion of hitting the ‘reset button’ or re-calibrating goals and expectations each and every time we begin a new school year (or a new term). You’ve seen me write this in the past and I will say the very same again in this message to families. It is a very natural way to think for those involved in teaching and learning – to know that we always have the opportunity to do different tomorrow than we did today. Until recently, however, I had never fully considered that the period leading up to Christmas allows us to do similarly from a spiritual perspective. As one liturgical year wraps up and we begin a new one where, hope, peace, joy, and love help prepare us for the celebration of the birth of our Lord. It is also a perfect opportunity for me to re-calibrate my spiritual compass.
For all of those associated with STMC, Advent is a period that serves to reminds all of us of the hope we harbour for our families, friends, and those we encounter in our life. It also reminds us our wish for peace on earth – for a better tomorrow for ourselves and everyone, everywhere. It reminds us of the joy associated with knowing that we can all be a better version of ourselves tomorrow than we are today. And it also serves to reminds us of the real love that we are all able share when we have the courage to stand to stand in solidarity with those marginalized with poverty and injustice, and when we celebrate the value and dignity of each person.
At the school level, this holy of seasons coincides with the period immediately following our fall Parent-Teacher Interviews and the distribution of our Term 1 Report Cards. It is a time where students and our staff are able to re-calibrate the academic GPS that we have independently set for ourselves before we hit ‘pause’ and head off for our Christmas Holidays. Students that were able to get off to a good start are able to readjust the benchmarks and goals that they established at the beginning of the school year to see where further improvements can be made. Equally important, it also affords those that have not had the start that they had hoped for to be able to wipe the slate off and begin anew.
The impending Christmas Holidays is the tonic that many need at this point in the school year. It is a chance for all of us to reconnect with those people and those things we love most. It also affords us a chance to rest-up and recharge our energies for that long stretch of hard work that we all know awaits from early January through to the middle of March.
On behalf of the STMC staff I would like to wish all of our families a joy-filled and blessed Advent and Christmas. May God keep you and guide you!