I never knew until a few months ago that my father’s maternal grandmother died on Christmas Day when he was only two years old. My grandmother’s (understandable) grief kept her from celebrating Christmas Day for almost fifteen years until my father was in high school (dating my mother) and his two little sisters were born, whereby my grandparents decided it was time to experience the joy of Christmas with their children. I do believe for my father, those earlier Christmases formed him for a life‑long abiding faith for all seasons; he came to know Christ is the only Answer!
My father eventually came to know that the Christ Child was the answer not only to sorrows and pains, but to the deepest yearnings of the human heart. This became the reason my father and his father would walk to Mass every Sunday together and, eventually, why my father – even in his teen and college years and as a young husband & father – became a lifelong daily Communicant until he could no longer drive to Mass, or eventually walk at all. He truly knew and believed the Christ Child of Christmas was present fully in the Eucharist he received and Adored daily, that Christ alone is the Answer!
Today, when many Catholic families have slid into a ‘secular’ manner of using Advent toprepare for Christmas with some decorating but more gift shopping, the four weeks of Advent remain an ardent, intentional ‘pause’ for us, a time to slow down; to reflect upon our own life situations; to recognize our pains and sorrows; to even count our losses and begin to consciously turn to the ‘true reason for the Season.’ Christ alone is the Answer!
Advent is a time to foster a growing yearning for Christ, for a holiness and a state-of-grace in our souls which can receive the fullness of the Christ Child, who dwells no longer in a manger, but in us! Truly, our every sadness and loss is only overcome when Jesus Christ reigns in us.
If my father’s childhood Christmases lacked celebration it was a reminder that this Christ Child came into the world to bring the hope of eternal life for the living and the dead. Advent need not be a mourning of loved ones as much as an anticipation of new life, it should be a Season of preparing our lives for a freedom from sin – living in a State of Grace through Confession; to have a mind enlightened by the Truths of our Faith – reading daily from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Holy Scriptures; for a body fit to carry the presence of the Christ Child – perfectly present in the Eucharist.
Today, when we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent and may think we’re already ‘behind’ in our Christmas preparations, we have another way to prepare. Let us take time to put out the traditional Advent Wreath, Crèche, and colored lights, but let us ‘pause’ on the temptation to fill the silence with more gatherings and dwell upon the truth: Christ alone is the Answer!
Little Christina Dangond had many pains and losses, but she knew well that Christ alone is the Answer. She received a Divine inspiration that nothing could ever prevent her from having true Christian hope which allowed her to look past the losses of this world and begin to ‘build the faith’ that now literally brings hope to people around the world.
May this Advent be the best ever and may you – like my Dad, like Christina – tell the whole world that Christ alone is the Answer!
Fr. Ed was ordained to the priesthood in May 2000 for the Archdiocese of Boston. He held three different parish assignments in the Archdiocese from 2000-2010 before his appointment to the Faculty of Saint John’s Seminary, where he was Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation from 2010-2022. Fr. Ed is currently the Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Waltham, MA and Spiritual Director & Liaison for the Office for Homeschooling of the Archdiocese of Boston. He is the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima in the Archdiocese and a perpetually professed member of the Institute of Jesus the Priest of the Pauline Family.