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Rejoice and Be Glad, Part 2 of 2

Matthew Harrison

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Yesterday, I wrote about my trip to Laval, Quebec and began to list five things that we can do to help alleviate the feeling that our faith is a burden. I continue today with items four and five.
Four: The Saints
We're called to be saints, so let's learn about them! These holy men and women offer us a great example – and in Quebec there are so many to follow! As you may have read HERE, Blessed Brother Andre Bessette, is on the cusp of being made a saint. A miracle attributed to his intercession has been approved so it's only a matter of time before we have a Saint Brother Andre. Or what about Blessed François de Laval? He really is a father of the Canadian Church, and help lay the foundation for the faith in Canada and North America. So many other saints and blesseds come to mind: the great victim soul and visionary Blessed Catherine de Saint-Augustin, the lover of families St. Marguerite Bourgeoys, the young and talented pianist Blessed Sister Dina Bélanger, the first Canadian born saint St. Marguerite d'Youville, the “Mother of the Canadian Church” Blessed Marie de l'Incarnation, and there are so many more! These men and women lived on our soil, and they give us an example of virtue, of loving God, of loving our neighbour. They persevered in an extraordinarily difficult time – many of them were starting from scratch as they arrived in New France. We should certainly be praying for their intercession on our behalf, and praying that they watch over our country. As an Advent "project" why not pick one of these Canadian saints, read about him or her. Identify some of their virtues and try to imitate them this season, while praying for their intercession.
Five: Pray... and practice!
Pray for faith, pray for courage, pray for hope. These are all virtues. We often forget faith is a virtue, and it is a gift. We must pray for it! And a virtue is a habit, so we must practice it! Practising it makes it take root.
So how can we practice trust, faith, and hope? Here's a couple of ideas:
Ask God for help in the the little things. I'll tie in the saints to this example. My Mom used to always tell me to pray to St. Anthony when I lose things. But I would be like, “Come on Mom, he's busy enough dealing with real problems from other people, I'm not going to bother him to help him find my keys!” But she reminded me that God wants us to come to him in the little things, even by praying to the saints to intercede on our behalf to find car keys. When God delivers on the little things, it gives us confidence in Him for the big things. Sure enough, St. Anthony has become a very good friend of mine, and never fails me!
Another example: every night before going to bed, thank God for 10 things – it could be as simple as getting a seat on the bus or receiving a compliment. But 10 things, every night. I guarantee you will begin to see more clearly God acting in your life, and you will have a greater trust and hope in Him.
So pray for these virtues, practice them. And also get in a good habit of using the Sacraments – seek the grace, mercy and forgiveness of confession and draw your strength from the Holy Eucharist. Receive Jesus not just on Sundays, but throughout the week whenever possible, and spend some time adoring Him. Also, getting to know him in his word is important – pray Scripture; read the daily Mass readings, dedicate yourself to reading a book of the Bible. Read it slowly, and allow our Lord to speak to you. Also this will give you strength in the face of opposition and difficulty.
Being a Christian today is difficult, but it is not hopeless. In fact, having hope, is an identifiable mark of Christians. During this season of Advent we prepare the way for the Lord who is coming at Christmas. But we also consider the second coming of Jesus. We hope for his coming, and even in difficult times we remember to cling to Him – the one who gave Himself up for us, and who promised to be with us until the end of time.
My thanks go out to all the priests and parishioners at Holy Name of Jesus parish in Laval. It was a pleasure to be part of your parish for a few short days, and I wish all of you a holy and blessed Advent journey!

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