During the Advent and Lenten seasons, we prepare to take all of our students to confession. I will put a short prayer service together that includes a Gospel reading, an examination of conscience, and a short reflection that I give. Preparing and giving a reflection for 2nd – 8th graders is anxiety producing for me: how do I say something worthwhile to that range of ages? What will my focus be? What will be meaningful and help kids prepare for the sacrament? What message will they take with them? I began thinking about what I was going to say for Advent back in August. For months, whenever I would think “what is my focus for the Advent Penance service going to be?” I would come up with nothing and move on to the next thing – I had plenty of time to figure it out!
Fast forward 3 months – Last week I started to enter the panic stage since the prayer service was one week away. I had one little thought – maybe I would focus on St. Joseph? Good, but I just was not really excited about it. Then a thought came to me while I was walking Bailey one day after school – Bailey – she was my idea – she would be my focus for the Advent Prayer reflection coupled with the Gospel passage of Matthew 22: 36-40 – “You shall love the Lord Your God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.”
How did I get to this crazy conclusion? Here is the inspiration I received: Bailey is 14 years old – she is an old girl with arthritis in her back legs and hips and weak kidney function. Her ailments mean that I buy her a specialty food, renew medicines on a regular basis, pay vet bills, and help her up the stairs at night. Sometimes when I get home from work the last thing I want to do is change clothes and go out for a walk, but Bailey always wants to go and so we go. When I am sitting on my couch relaxing with a book or catching up on a recent Grey’s Anatomy or This Is Us episode and Bailey wants to go out, I will get up and take her out. I will do whatever I need to for Bailey no matter the cost or inconvenience.
So, this got me thinking – Love the Lord Your God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Do I do whatever God wants me to do? Do I take time to pray even when I don’t feel like it? Am I patient with people when they are on my nerves – the honest answer is NO – but I will do whatever Bailey wants – whenever she wants it!
Hmmm – something is a little off here – so, my Advent focus is to have a better balance – to be more attentive to God and others – to Love the Lord Your God with all your whole heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. Blessings during this Advent Season! Go Warriors!