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Father Muench Says...

Questions to consider this season

December 13, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

It is Advent. My challenge today is to encourage you to find some time amidst the decorating and shopping to renew your relationship with God as we prepare to commemorate the birth of our Savior on Christmas. Advent is a unique gift that our Catholic Church offers us. It is an invitation to pray and allow God to walk with us each day on the road to becoming a saint. This is another preparation for Christmas.

So, I want to share with you what I did on the First Sunday of Advent. I didn’t want to have the people at Mass to think that Advent was spiritually a time to wrestle with sins and failings. I never want any one of them to define themselves by their failings and sins. Our spiritual preparation during Advent is about that lifelong challenge of recognizing who we are and how we can draw closer to God and become more like our Lord Jesus. So, I urge each person I meet to consider this first question as they begin Advent or even as they prepare for Confession: “Am I a good person?” I am hoping that your answer is like mine: “Lord, I am a good person – but.” This is our challenge as we prepare during Advent: Get to know yourself. Are you a good person?

Ages ago, I discovered a series of questions that I thought was a perfect examination of conscience for Advent. This form gives us a proper way to develop our plan to draw closer to God and the way of the Lord Jesus. I must admit that I am uncomfortable with those old lists of sins, rather this newer examination presents us with a plan filled with the challenges for Advent and for confession.

Today I would like to share with you just a few of the questions posed in this examination. Let me begin with the very last one of all. I think that this question will give you an idea of the kind of path this examination wants to lead you. That final question is, “Does my life reflect my love for God?”

Your answer to this may mean that some changes must be made. I must be better than I am.

This truly demands a time of prayer to consider the answer to that question properly. This is not a yes or no question. Be specific. How does your life reflect your love for God or how does your life reflect something else? The real challenge here for you and me is the Great Commandment given us by Jesus – Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, your whole life.

Another of those questions asks us, “Do I actively work on strengthening my relationship with God?”

Here is another of those questions – actually a bit testy for me personally. “Do I let my family and friends know that they are loved no matter what they may do?” I wonder. Do I make it clear to those I truly love and care about by the way I treat them on the good days and the not-so-good days. Such a challenge! How can I make them truly realize that I love them and will stand by them “no matter?” I don’t want to believe that I would ever fail them. This not the usual concern I have during Advent, but it may be the best Christmas present I could ever give them.

Some of these questions are what you would expect, like this one: “Do I ask for forgiveness when I’ve wronged others?” And “Do I forgive others who have hurt me?” When we walk with Jesus, forgiveness is necessarily a big part of the conversation. Does your life reflect Jesus’ readiness to be forgiving.

That is enough for now. Well, one more: “Do I show respect for others?” There are more, but I’ll save them for another time.

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