Today we celebrate the GAUDETE of Advent!  In lighting the third candle, the rose-colored one, we are filled with the JOYful realization that our wait is almost over.  Anticipation is an exciting part of any journey.  It allows us to reflect on what (WHO) we are anticipating and gives us the great grace of time to prepare both our homes and our hearts for His arrival.  However, I must admit, that while anticipation is what makes the end of any experience more satisfying, it’s also nice to wake up on this GAUDETE SUNDAY and realize that we are nearing the end of our waiting.  A big part of what makes this time of expectation so special though is how we spend it.

Of course there is always the hustle and bustle of cleaning the house, prepping the food for a variety of social gatherings, and finding just the perfect gift for each person on our list, but far more important is the way we draw nearer to Christ as He draws nearer to us and at the top of that preparation list should be SACRAMENTAL RECONCILIATION.  Why do I mention Reconciliation on this JOYous day?  Because the sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of JOY – for us and for the Father.  Now, if you haven’t been to Reconciliation in a while or aren’t particularly fond of the idea of going, you might be wondering what is so JOYful about telling the priest the ways in which you’ve missed the mark recently (or over the past many years).  

If you’ve ever been in a situation with a friend or family member where one of you has wronged the other in some way, but not yet ‘fessed up and asked forgiveness, then you know what I’m talking about.  It’s uncomfortable and it’s only made worse when we are placed in a position of spending time with them at some social function, like a birthday party.  We usually avoid each other, offering the most basic of pleasantries if we have to talk, and we don’t look forward to spending more time together at the next event.  But, when we look each other in the eye and share what’s on our hearts with sincerity, it changes everything.  Our bonds of love and friendship grow stronger and we often wonder how we ever let things drag on as long as we did; we are filled with a new JOY in our friendship.

The word “reconciliation” means to see eye-to-eye (re: again; con: with; cilia: eyelash) or more literally: to meet again at the eye.  When I go to the sacrament, I am looking God in the eye in the person of the priest and telling Him the ways I have wronged Him since our last meeting of the eyes, because, of course, in this relationship, if someone has wronged someone, it’s ALWAYS going to be me.  Once I’ve done this, sincerely confessed my heart to Jesus – my friend, brother, and bridegroom – our bond grows stronger and deeper and we can again meet eye-to-eye.  If that doesn’t fill me with JOY, I’m not sure what will.

We have many opportunities for Reconciliation in our area over these next couple of weeks and I plan to take advantage of this time, myself.  If you haven’t been to the sacrament in a while, even if it’s been decades, that’s okay!  Jesus is there, excitedly but patiently waiting for you, like the father in the Prodigal Son parable.  There are lots of resources online to help you prepare to go back if it’s been awhile, or just go!  Tell Fr. Chas or whomever you sit down with how long it’s been, whether it’s been five days, five decades, or somewhere in between, and he will JOYfully welcome you home.  I pray for you to be filled with all of the JOY and grace that the Father wants to fill you with in the sacrament, particularly in this Advent season, and ask for you to pray the same for me.  Thanks and see ya in line!