Halloween is barely over, but my thoughts are on Christmas. I am sure I’m not alone as a mom and grandmother – I’m already starting my lists. But more than the practical aspects of getting ready for a big holiday – my mind is on the Christmas song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”
Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus’ coming is the culmination of God’s promise throughout the ages – He is called Emmanuel and the name means GOD WITH US.
In this time of pandemic and all the disruption that means, I know I need to keep that reality front and center in my mind’s eye. God is with us. The Psalmist tells us: “The Lord is my strength, the strength of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid….” I’m holding on to that truth, that prayer.
In the past several months, I’ve been part of a video series on Catholic Family Minutes distributed through our Diocesan Facebook Page and through our OC Catholic Kids page at evangelizeoc.com. The focus of the series is how we can live and love well using the rhythms, practices, and resource of our Catholic faith.
These rhythms and practices help us to recognize and remember God with us, Emmanuel. Beginning and ending our day with prayer, nurturing our souls with Scripture and sacraments, and “conforming our hearts and minds to the mind of Christ” – these simple steps will help us to live well and love well.
At the heart of this effort is the truth that we are transformed when we spend time with Jesus – when we become filled up by Him. If we are to live in love – especially in a time like this – we must be filled up at the source. Emmanuel. And in turn we then transform the world by responding to His call with love and service. Our call to do this is all the more important now that we are facing the serious ongoing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scripture tells us that we find sustenance in our relationship with Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit in all circumstances. In times of great challenge, we ask the big questions, and they lead us back to our source and our purpose, which is to grow in love – love that is not a feeling, but a practice.
Love as a practice means asking who is in front of us and who we need to attend to, as well as what we need to give them, rather than sitting in our corner and thinking only about ourselves. It could mean baking a loaf of bread for a neighbor or setting out a bowl of lemons at the end of our driveway so that others can share in our bounty.
Living in this way is a fundamental change that takes us outside of ourselves. If we all pledge to find small, meaningful ways to connect with each other, we will find our own lives a lot less lonely and help others to recognize Emmanuel, God with us.
New episodes of Katie Dawson’s Catholic Family Minutes are available on the Diocese of Orange Facebook page every Wednesday at noon. The playlist can be found here: bit.ly/350X5yB