As you know, in this time of Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, we prepare to welcome our Lord into our hearts. It is a time of reflection, of penance, but also of subdued joy. For some though, it can be a difficult time, particularly when December 25th arrives. The joy of Christmas may be clouded by the burden of loneliness, sickness, or suffering. What should be happy time, is instead a time of darkness and pain. Aware of this, we may want to consider Pope Benedict XVI's prayer intentions for December. His general prayer intention is:
That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help.
Vatican Radio offers an interesting reflection on this intention, returning to the Pontiff's 2008 meeting with the clergy of the Diocese of Bolzano-Bressanone in Italy. Read here
the Holy Father's response to a priest who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.
Also around this time of year, we consider peace. How many Christmas cards, songs, or advertisements stress "peace on earth"? In this preparation of Advent, perhaps we should make an extra effort to cultivate a true peace in our hearts. One way to do this is to be especially open to our Lord and the Gospel. Pope Benedict highlights this in his mission intention:
That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice.
CNS Photo/Paul Haring