This was the week we had been waiting for, when our front lawn becomes the most beautiful spot in Silver Spring. Wow, are those trees beautiful! I received a number of compliments on them, which is sort of awkward, since I didn’t do anything to make them that way. People feel the need to acknowledge them, I guess, but what say we just give thanks to God?
We could also thank Bishop (then-Msgr.) David Foley, our second pastor here, and whoever was working with him – I think maybe Glenn Hilliard and friends? – back in the late seventies when they planted those trees. I never cease to marvel that there was a group of parishioners who vehemently opposed the plantings, insisting that they would ruin the beauty of the front lawn! I treasure that episode in my heart as a perfect example of parish dynamics, where there will always be a vocal group who suspects the worst and rejects any change.
The splendor of those trees this week has provided a suitably royal garment for the preparation for this weekend’s Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. This ends our liturgical year, and with it our procession through the Gospel of Saint Luke. With Advent next week, we begin again with Year A, and Saint Matthew.
Let me be among the first to warn you that Thanksgiving, which comes this week, is more insidious than usual this year. This is the latest Thanksgiving can ever be, which means next weekend is the First Sunday of Advent, and the Monday everybody comes back to school is December second, at which point Christmas Eve will be three weeks from tomorrow. Don’t everybody panic all at once then, okay?
But before we get into that madness, or any other holiday-based frenzy, even a feeding frenzy, let me invite you to come on Thanksgiving proper, this Thursday, to our Mass that morning at 10:00. While Thanksgiving is not a liturgical holy day, it is a civic holiday dedicated to giving thanks to God, and we as Catholics have a way of doing that better than any other: the holy Eucharist, which is the Great Thanksgiving.
That Mass is always a particular delight, since it is late enough in the day that nobody has to rush to get there, and at a time when nobody has anywhere to rush off to afterward. This morning of waiting (for food or family or football or whatever) is a little island of calm, and a delightful opportunity to pray. When better to unite in grateful prayer than right on the cusp of the changing of all the seasons, meteorological, social and liturgical?
Your presence here might make it easier for someone else to prepare your dinner for you (I will not speculate on the division of labor there), but will certainly put you in delightful company here. It will be clear why a parish is often likened to a family.
Speaking of family, in your charity, I ask especially your prayers for our new music director, Rob Barbarino, whose mother Cheryl died suddenly this week. Please pray for the happy repose of her soul, and for Rob and his family.
It is wonderful to wait for the beauties of nature to reveal themselves in their seasons, but there is greater wonder in store for us who wait upon the Lord. As the last of those red leaves falls, we look together for the coming of the King whose regal splendor passes, and He promises to come in silence and in smallness. We lift our eyes in hope once more, and remind ourselves for whom it is we are waiting.