December 3, 2015 | Vol.2 | Issue 8

Chaplains' Newsletter
Tis the Season.....
'Twas a day past Thanksgiving and all through the stores
Appeared tinsel and glitter and carols galore.
The stockings were up and the trees all aglow
With lights and toy trains that would circle below.
The first week of Advent, still six weeks away
Meant it still would be TEN weeks before Christmas Day!
But never mind that-get your pic with St. Nick!
You can post it on Facebook with one little click!
On Mastercard! Visa!
On PayPal of course!
In person! Online
You'll avoid a divorce!
To the top of your limit
And to top off it all...
Now spend away, right away
Here at the mall!   
I don't think I was the only person horrified by the early descent of Christmas this year. And the message of the media is constant .... Buy, buy, buy! A successful Christmas is one where consumer sales top the previous years. But I think even the most consumeristic individuals know on some level that this is not what Christmas is about.

As Christians we believe in Advent - a word that means waiting. Advent is, for us, a period of pause, reflection, and recollection. It is in fact meant to be almost the exact opposite of what our culture tells us it is.

Gangham Advent
Gangham Advent

It is important for us to stop, remember and wait as Bishop Robert Barron articulates in this short reflection on Advent.

Fr. Robert Barron on The Spirituality of Advent
Fr. Robert Barron on The Spirituality of Advent

It is a time to wait and reflect. This is the message we must convey to our students. Many of us have Advent calendars and wreaths in our homes, schools and Churches. They mark a time for pause and they help us to be intentional about our waiting time. 

Encourage students to create their own calendars. There are wonderful creative, simple ways to make advent calendars and Pintrest has no shortage of ideas.

This waiting time is not intended to be a time of boredom. It is a time of conversion. We must actively be involved by intentionally preparing our hearts for this season. We can set aside time to pray everyday. There are many prayer books for adults, such as the Blue Book based upon the writings of Bishop Ken Untener or Prayers for ChildrenSome people also choose to do something for Advent, as suggested by an article on Notre Dame, ongoing faith formation for Alumni. In keeping in the spirit of Laudato Si, Josh Noem, the author of Live Smaller with "Laudato Si" suggests that people focus on one of the four dispositions of wonder, generosity, simplicity and building up for the common good (one per week). As educators, it is important for us to give witness to these activities to our students.

Bishop Barron reminds us this in not intended to be a cozy comfy time of prayer. It is electric, exciting and challenging.

Fr. Robert Barron on The Advent Revolution
Fr. Robert Barron on The Advent Revolution

This time to change, this time of conversion, comes from reflecting on the coming of Christ, but not just as a baby. In our Eucharist we profess that Jesus has come, is come and will come again. In fact, during the first two and a half weeks of Advent, the daily readings are almost apocalyptic in their style as we speak about Jesus coming at the end of time. It's not until the last week and a half of Advent that we reflect on the person of Jesus as the incarnation and the implications of that for the way we live.
Jesus coming into our lives is not about a cute little baby that we 'ooh' and 'ahh' over. The incarnation, the Word made flesh, is about God being a tangible reality in our world today - in many, at times unobvious, forms.
Another article written by Fr. Ron Raab, C.S.C. from Sacred Heart parish, Camouflage Christmas, does a wonderful job articulating the ways in which Jesus is camouflaged in our world today. 

When we start to believe that Jesus truly is in our world, it changes the way we think, the way we approach this season of Christmas and beyond. It is less about us, and more about others - and not in a materialistic way. 

Advent Conspiracy
Advent Conspiracy

If we live this belief or conviction seriously, it will impact the way we treat others and the way we welcome others. We recognize Jesus as he comes into our lives disguised as foreigners seeking a life line from another continent: 

RMR: Rick's Rant - Refugees
RMR: Rick's Rant - Refugees

The way we seek to assist women who suffer and are abused in our society and around the globe: 

Kojo 'Easy' Damptey - Broken Promises - In Support of Interval House
Kojo 'Easy' Damptey - Broken Promises - In Support of Interval House

It is from these core values of care, concern and engagement that we, and our students, respond to the gift of creation that God has given us:

CST 101 | Care for God's Creation
CST 101 | Care for God's Creation

It effects the way we respond to the Earth's cry for the poor. While the following video is lengthy, it is definitely suitable for a grade ten and up audience.  It exemplifies the way a number of Canadians have been grappling with the climate crisis for years and the way in which prominent Canadians have responded to the Encyclical Our Common Home.

Laudato Si' A Canadian Response
Laudato Si' A Canadian Response

From this God-centric place we find the desire, and even urgency to help our students understand and grapple with the issues that face our world, and the poorest in the world, as exemplified by two videos by CAFOD. The first is directed to primary age children, and the second to older students.

CAFOD: Laudato Si' animation for children
CAFOD: Laudato Si' animation for children

CAFOD: Laudato Si' animation
CAFOD: Laudato Si' animation

When the human family joins together as one, to stand up and speak for the dignity of all, we can have a huge impact as exemplified in this recently released video by Caritas Internationalis in response to the world wide "One Human Family, Food for All" campaign for 2015.

'One Human Family, Food for All' campaign song video - English
'One Human Family, Food for All' campaign song video - English

Let us pray that we can stand as a human family together this Christmas in solidarity with the suffering and marginalized in our world; to make Christ's coming a reality now and every day. I personally try to live in the hope that Advent calls us to, with the joyful anticipation of Christmas.

Instead of depending on shopping this year,
Perhaps we'll discover the Kingdom is near. 
When we give from our hearts: time and love that renews us
We'll start to find out why the Good Lord would choose us
To rise from our apathy, to make our world right.
Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Wishing you all a safe and blessed Advent and Christmas this year!

Annette Donovan Panchaud
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King's University College
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