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It's been a busy weekend, full of Advent celebrations.  My community met yesterday for a morning of reflection, prayer, and calendar coordinating, and then in the afternoon we put up and decorated our Christmas tree!  Baby Jesus made a brief debut in the creche (oops!) before being put back in the incubator (i.e. drawer) until Christmas.  The house is lovely and festive.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent.  I love this feast -- the sense of anticipation and joy at the coming of the Christ Child.  Many of my Sisters went to mass together this morning (we often go our own ways), and we had nearly two pews full!  I truly love that communal experience of liturgy and prayer together.

I was privileged to hear a talk this morning by Paul Coutinho, S.J., about Advent and darkness.  His spirituality is such an interesting blend of Catholic Christianity and Eastern traditions.  There are many things that resonated with me from his talk, but I think the most important is the assertion that we need to be more attentive to the love others show for us.  He says that we are quite good at loving those around us (though, with some exceptions, I'm sure).  But that it is often harder for us to accept the love offered to us.  For whatever reason -- maybe we feel unworthy of it, unloveable -- receiving the love of others is challenging.  He gave the example of a small child recognizing the sadness of her mother.  The mother's first thought is that the child shouldn't worry about her, but that she must always be caring for the child.  It may be hard, but rather than denying her own sadness, she should accept the comfort offered by the child.

Gracious God, on this day of rejoicing in anticipation of the coming of Christ, help us to receive the love you offer with open hearts.  May we recognize our own worthiness of love.  Allow your love to flow through us, that we might share it with all we meet.  Amen.


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