I was listening to a Christian music station the other evening as I was leaving the parish and heard the radio host speaking about Advent as a time to prepare and compared this time of preparation to the sport of fencing. He said that the initial posture in fencing has each opponent state to each other : “En Guarde” before engaging in battle. I had trouble at first making the connection with Advent but after thinking about it I realized that fencing takes a lot of preparation, focus, patience and waiting for the right moment to strike. One thing I would change in the analogy is that instead of holding swords, we hold candles, since candles help us see in the darkness as we wait in anticipation for the true light to come. You may ask, how can I focus on preparing the way for the Lord when the world, politics, and even the Christmas crunch are closing in on all sides of me? The answer is silence, deafening silence. Turn off the noise and chaos in the world, the news, the shopping mania, the shrinking of time and pray! Pray for Peace!

True peace will help us to be ‘En Guarde’, to focus on patient waiting in anticipation for Jesus Christ, our King, to be born into our hearts.

This anticipation and preparation is hope, and our hope this season is primarily for heaven. Our hope can extend to earth, by spreading the kingdom of God in the here and now to the downtrodden, the poor, the sick, the hungry, those that are dying and the alienated. For those of you who have generously donated presents to the Giving Tree or turkeys for Thanksgiving or hams and food items this Advent, have like Christ, brought hope to many households, men, women and children alike. Your silent efforts have made this world better than it was. The Lord is so close to each of us and we, as the People of God we are called to be “En Guarde,” to focus, to lift high our candles of hope for the world to see, as a brilliant sign of salvation. May the Lord bless each of you richly this week and: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:12-13)