This Advent, wait with Mary for the coming of Christ

David Cooley, Messenger Contributor.

The Immaculate Conception is a beautiful solemnity that the Church celebrates each year on December 8. On this day we commemorate the fact that Mary was graced with sinless perfection from the first instant of her existence, in view of the merits of her son Jesus Christ, in light of her predestination to be his Mother. It’s rather fitting that this feast day takes place in the season of Advent, because during that season the mind and heart of the Church are drawing us in to ponder the Blessed Mother.

We first meet Mary not as the Queen of Heaven that she was destined to become, but as a young, meek virgin in the early chapters of the Gospel of Luke. While Scripture doesn’t say it explicitly, it’s fair to assume that she was a very young girl with hopes and dreams of her own. But, one thing we do know for sure is that she was completely devoted to God and her faith was her most prized possession. When it was made clear to her that God’s will was different from her own plans, she doesn’t hesitate. Mary has nothing to offer the Lord but herself; he asks for nothing else, and she holds nothing back.

This year we can all relate to having to let go of our plans. I remember at this time last year, and even earlier, I was making lots of grand plans for 2020. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do at the time. But, of course, looking back now, it’s hard not to laugh a very non-humorous laugh at that. Now, right before the big holiday season, things are getting grim again and even more plans will be falling through. Perhaps we are on the verge of a long, dark winter. In some ways the early sunsets and the frigid air seem more painful this year than ever before.

Yet, this can be a moment of grace for us, too. We must realize that we are not in control and that we are anxiously waiting. We are waiting for this pandemic to be over. We are waiting to hug our family and friends again. We are waiting for the spring of new life. We are waiting for things to just be better. But, most importantly, we are waiting for our Lord. You see, we are not much different than ancient Israel. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that there will be signs, and that God is with us.

Mary was waiting for the Messiah long before the annunciation. But after the angel visited her she actually carried Jesus in her womb for nine months. That’s hard to imagine. Ask any first-time mother what those nine months are like and they’ll tell you it’s nerve-racking. Yes there is excitement, but it’s hindered by anxieties and an almost unbearable anticipation of an uncertain future. You wait and you wait for someone you can’t see but you know is there. And yet this waiting is not idle; there is a lot to be done.

Those nine months for Mary were not idle either. On par with her character, she doesn’t focus on her own needs at all, but goes with haste to the hill country because her elderly cousin is pregnant and might be in need of help. In many ways this symbolizes the idea that while we are all waiting for something great — the kingdom of God — it is, at the same time, already here.

For us, Advent is a season of contemplation, humility, silence and growth. If we practice these virtues in the way that was shown to us by Our Lady, our experience will be like hers. If Christ is growing in us and we pray without ceasing, we will be at peace because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it Jesus is forming himself. We must align our will with his and go “in haste” to wherever our circumstances compel us. Why? Because that’s where he wants us to be; more to the point, that’s where he wants to be.

The ancient Israelites were God’s people, called to be intimate with God and obedient to his law. Mary, the daughter of Zion — the Immaculate Conception — is the fullest expression of intimacy with the Lord. When we prepare ourselves properly and unite our will with God’s will, we, too, share an intimate union with the Lord — even as we await his coming. Advent is our graced time of preparation. This year, no matter how dark things get or how alone we feel, let us stand firm contemplating the coming of the Lord; let us remain meek and humble; let us search for answers in the silence of prayer; and let the love of Christ grow within us so much so that when we go out into the world others will be stirred by his presence.

Bishop Roger Foys will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8, at 10 a.m. The Mass will be live-streamed for those viewing at home, and can be found at covcathedral.com.

Grocery giveaways for Thanksgiving

Messenger Staff Report

As in years past, the people of the Diocese of Covington through its parishes, schools and organizations made Thanksgiving special for those who were unable to provide holiday meals for themselves. Mary Rose Mission, Florence; Parish Kitchen, Covington and Rose Garden Mission, Covington were among those who extended their generosity to provide their neighbors with all the trimmings for a Thanksgiving meal.

The Parish Kitchen in Covington, sponsored by Catholic Charities, distributed Thanksgiving groceries, Nov. 23, to those in need of supplies to furnish their Thanksgiving table. Father Michael Grady, parochial vicar, St. Augustine Parish, Covington, blessed the food and supplies at Parish Kitchen prior to distribution to families.

The Franciscan Daughters of Mary and supporters provided a Thanksgiving feast and more to approximately 550 families, Nov. 24. The distribution was held at the Rose Garden Mission, Covington.

Payroll/Staff Accountant

The Finance Office of the Diocese of Covington seeks candidates for the full-time position of Payroll/Staff Accountant. Responsibilities include accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash receipts, and general ledger, as well as maintenance of various spreadsheets, databases, and reconciliations. Payroll responsibilities involve assisting with data entry. A practical knowledge of basic bookkeeping principles and practices is essential, and other necessary requirements include experience with Microsoft Word and Excel. Qualified candidates should send a resume, cover letter, and at least five references by email ([email protected]), fax (859/392-1589), or mail to Stephen Koplyay, SPHR; Diocese of Covington; 1125 Madison Avenue; Covington, KY 41011-3115.

Fifth grade teacher – Saint Agnes School

Saint Agnes School, a K-8 school in Fort Wright, Kentucky is currently seeking a fifth-grade teacher for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. This individual is responsible for creating engaging and interactive lessons for Math, ELA, and Social Studies.  Other beneficial attributes include strong classroom management, integration of technology, and a willingness to collaborate.  This is a full-time, contracted teaching position.  Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and references to Principal Erin Redleski at [email protected] and to Judy Pieper, assistant principal, at [email protected].