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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Meeting God in the present this Advent

By Bishop David Ricken | December 2, 2020

Editor’s note: This column is based on Bishop Ricken’s homily from the televised Mass for the First Sunday of Advent — Nov. 29, 2020.

Brothers and sisters, 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know it had to be very different with smaller numbers in the house. Perhaps you joined people virtually by sharing dessert or having a toast before the meal started. I hope that you were all at least able to pray together before you ate, to thank God for all his blessings on you, your family, your parish, our church and upon our nation in particular, as Thanksgiving is, indeed, a national holiday when we thank God for all of our blessings.

I don’t know about you, but we’ve been through so much in the last six months that my mind often gets boggled. I have had to learn adaptability and flexibility, and all of us have to learn those values or we won’t survive. Things are just not the way they used to be, and it kind of aggravates us, doesn’t it? But coming to peace with that is very critical for the near and the long-term future. In the meantime, let us live gratefully in the present moment. 

As I have said many times in the past few years, living with our mind always on the future produces fear and anxiety. Living with your thoughts on bad things from the past only produces regret, discouragement and depression. The only place that God truly lives is in the ever-present now. He lives now — in the present moment. And if we want to find that place of peace, all we have to do is be aware of his presence in the moment. 

This is what Advent is all about, finding God in the present moment. It’s about waiting actively and being alert. It’s about seeing God’s actions all around you. It reminds me of the old Simon & Garfunkel song that can be adapted to Advent:

Slow down, you move too fast

You got to make this Advent last.

Just tripping down the rosary beads,

Praying along and feeling holy.

Ba ba ba bum bum bum bum, feeling holy.

Ba ba ba bum bum bum bum, feeling holy.


So, during Advent, I would encourage you to do two things a week, one for your personal prayer life, and one to reach out to somebody else. It doesn’t have to be something grand and glorious. Often it’s the little things that make a difference: a telephone call, an email message — reaching out to somebody who might be all alone. 

I think particularly of our seniors in nursing homes who can’t have visitors anymore, except through the glass. Some of them are suffering a lot. Pray for our nurses and our doctors who are exhausted. Think of them when you want to be in a situation with too many people. That’s an act of charity, that’s an act of love.

So this Advent, let’s all do more acts of love. Be prayerful and commit yourself to waiting actively and alertly on the Lord. I will be praying for each of you that this time of waiting for the coming of Jesus will be a time of grace and peace in your lives. May God bless each of you this Advent! 

Follow Bishop Ricken on Twitter, @BpDavidRicken.

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