03 December 2020

Faith Matters - Equilibrium

Article by Mr Brendan Nichols

Faith Matters - Equilibrium

As the year draws to a close many conversations I have had of late have focused on the phrase “I can’t wait for this year to end”

The pandemic has certainly made 2020 a very difficult year and with a vaccine on the horizon it’s natural that our focus falls upon on a world that is ‘normal’. As we begin our journey through Advent our thoughts mirror those we have about the end of the year. During Advent we find it hard to wait for Christmas Day. This year even more so as for many of us we will see our extended family for the first time in almost a year. There is great joy in the celebration of Christmas but Advent reminds us there is joy also found in the waiting.

As I reflect upon Advent I consider the times in my life when I ‘couldn’t wait’. As a young child I truly couldn’t wait for Christmas to come. As a young adult I could not wait for the end of Year 12. As the years went on I could not wait for my wedding day, the birth of my children and my first day at Saint Ignatius College. Today I can’t wait until my youngest son’s last day of primary school at St Thomas – neither can he!

In contemplating this theme, I conclude that I am actually quite an impatient person. Whilst I enjoy meditation and make the most of each day, I have not developed the virtue of patience in full. I think that as you read my reflection it may resonate with your life experience also. Our society forms us into people who are decisive and focused on key events or achievements that mark the end of a journey. Ignatius was like us also. In his early years he ‘could not wait’ for the next battle, his next big win at the tavern or his promotion as a soldier.

As he recuperated Ignatius considered his future and concluded that a pilgrimage was required to achieve his goal of coming to know God and live like the Saints. His story also gives us an insight that at Manresa he became aware of the joy found in waiting. I imagine that between each mystical experience he desired nothing more than to encounter Jesus personally again. But God taught Ignatius that life requires equilibrium. We must always strive for our goal but be patient and enjoy the period of waiting.

This year during Advent we are so focused on the end of 2020 and fresh start that it would be easy to continue our pattern of focusing on the future and not seeking the joy in waiting. Patience is a virtue that needs to be practiced. Although our days are full we can practice patience in being truly present and focusing our attention upon the moment we are living. Even in the busyness of the working day we can still focus our attention on the moment that we are living rather than the task we are completing.

As we seek to develop a balance between the future and joyous waiting we might profit from contemplating the following questions:

• How did Mary and Joseph enter into the period of waiting for the birth of our Emmanuel?

• During their long and arduous journey did the Magi find joy in the journey or did they long for it all to be over?

• Were the shepherds patient in their work or did they focus upon their return to their families?

• How can you practice patience this Advent as we await the coming of Jesus?

As the year draws to an end I pray that you focus on seeking joy in the waiting and that each day becomes more whole as a result. I ‘can’t wait’ until I write to you again at the beginning of a new school year!

Yours in Christ,

Brendan Nicholls  Liturgy Coordinator