Let go, my mantra for 2010.
It’s December 5 and that pang of guilt flooded over me as I realized that I didn’t live up to my expectations, again. My husband recently told me that a friend warned him not to marry a Catholic. He was cautioned that he would not be able to live with someone who camped out in the state of guilt. Luckily, my husband did not heed the warning and we’ve been happily married thirty-one years, and he’s never made me go camping.
As luck would have it, our readings today at Mass centered around “letting go” of our greedy little selves and preparing to accept God in this season of Advent. Advent is a time of formation and we forget to slow down to ready ourselves spiritually in the frenzy of the holiday. I welcome this focus and today’s homily would set me on my way of looking more deeply at how to “let go.”
As we sang the processional, I was eager to see who would be saying Mass today. We recently experienced a “letting go” in our parish. The Catholic Church “moves” their priests around every so often. Just as a parish builds a deep relationship with their spiritual leader, the Catholic Church pulls the rug out from underneath them and makes them start anew. This happens about every seven years or so. This time, not only did we lose our lively parish priest, but our beloved assistant. Fr. Henri was also sent packing. He hails from the Congo but speaks English with a French accent. When Fr. Henri first came, we had a few weeks of concentrated deciphering, but we easily fell in love with his wit and gentleness and passion for Christ. Now we are starting over after having being forced to let go once again.
The United States is a missionary country for the Catholic Church. We do not have enough priests to cover our needs within the U.S., so the Church sends priests from other countries to help out. Our new assistant priest is from Spain. I really enjoy the cultural diversity this offers, but it does take an adjustment period learning to atune our ears to a French or Vietnamese or a very heavy Spanish accent.
Today it was Fr. Armando from Spain who led the cavalcade. Fr. Armando is a happy soul with a great love of God. Don’t ever tell him that I am just now able to listen to him and not immediately be transported across the ocean to a little town in Great Britain called Torquay. Fr. Armando is the spitting image of Manuel of Fawlty Towers fame. For the first few weeks following his arrival, at any moment, I expected John Cleese to come marching up to the altar, grab Fr. Armando by the ear and drag him down the aisle, not letting go until they were out the door.
Letting go. It is thanks to Fr. Armando and his passion that I am now beginning to understand how to “let go”. God is here right now and Advent must always be in our hearts, not just once a year in December when we can’t think straight with all the blinking lights and early morning sales and ho, ho, hos. Even though the great mystics have always proclaimed this, I now realize that I must live in the present. This is what it means to let go. Looking at the past, I hold on to memories of what once was. Looking to the future, I hold on to hopes or fears that may never be. So I must live in the present. I must revel in being alive and cherish what God has given me right here and right now. I can only be in one place at one time and that place is the present. If I am fully present, there is nothing to let go of.
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl, is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” Albert Einstein
December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)