O thou who clothe the lilies,
And feed the birds of the sky,
And lead the lamb to the pasture
And our hearts to the water side.
Who multiplied the loaves and fishes
And converted the water into wine,
Come and be at our table
As Guest and Giver to dine.
Whether you are religious or not, this time of year is fraught with transitions that cause us to reflect upon how far we have come to be here and where we are going. Daylight savings is a good reminder that we are flung around the sun in ways both arbitrary and seasonal. On the eastern seaboard of North America we greet the waning sun gratefully in the mornings but are acutely aware of its dimming earlier and earlier come the night.
We are entering a time when daylight is scarce and darkness has come closer to us. We are more sophisticated with keeping the cold and dark at bay with our indoor heating and electricity. Yet, we note the changes of the season upon the trees and our summer gardens turned to ground. We look ahead beyond the Fall to the dead of winter, but also to a New Year.
It is with similar Catholic stirrings that we take this general sentiment and see in it the mapping of our futures. A month which is ushered in with ghosts and goblins begging door to door for tricks or treats also calls to mind the holy men and women who have gone before us along with all the souls of the departed. With this bounty, we join others to bring a harvest to table in Thanksgiving (and this year to light the lights of Hannukah), only to be followed by the beginning of Advent—our New Year in the Church, our Great Season of Hope in the Coming of the Lord.
These repetitions of Seasons are different even though they happen every year. My daughter was a Superhero the last two years. But this year she was a witch. And there were a lot of witches and princesses this past year.
Fried Thanksgiving Turkey one night might be followed with fried Hannukah latkes the next night for us. And the group of religious Inquirers (including my daughter) who I will bring to the entrance of the Church this Advent will experience an age old Rite of Acceptance that we’ve only recently rediscovered over the last few decades at our parish. But for this group this year, it is their time in History to be accepted into the Order of Catechumens and meet a parish community to whom God in the fullness of time loved so much that His Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
A number of my friends on Facebook either have birthdays this month or have new additions (or first beginnings) to their families. It is with great joy and hope that they see the undimmed light of Word made Flesh or experience the endurance of promises spread out over a lifetime. Many have taken to the spirit of Thanksgiving to spend each day this month making special note of what they are thankful for: their lives, their parents, siblings, their children. The list goes on and on.
In a similar post, Fr. James Martin, SJ in one of his recent meditations asked that we reflect simply on one moment of the day when we experienced the presence of God in our lives and to focus on that. I wrote in response: “Went to zoo with my daughter. Crossing the street in the morning she looked for my hand to hold. Coming home, she walked next to me across the intersection. God be there!”
I am thankful for the privilege I’ve been given to be a parent accompanying my child and a member of the church who journeys with Inquirers and Catechumens who come to believe and celebrate the sacraments of the Easter Season.
May all who wander this season in search of tricks, treats, food and warmth, find themselves welcomed into a lasting community. May a place be set for them at the Table. May this season brings us closer, so that our hearts burn within us. God be there!
Copyright 2013 Jay Cuasay
About the Author
Jay Cuasay is a freelance writer on religion, interfaith relations, and culture. A post-Vatican II Catholic father with a Jewish spouse, he is deeply influenced by Christian mysticism and Zen Buddhism. He was a regular columnist on Catholicism for examiner.com and a moderator and contributor to several groups on LinkedIn. His LTEs on film and Jewish Catholic relations have been published in America and Commonweal. Jay ministered to English and Spanish families at a Franciscan parish for 13 years. He can be reached at TribePlatypus.com.