I want to start by thanking God for His many blessings at this time of Advent, and always. I want to say thank you to all of you, my parish family, which for me is an extension of Heaven on earth. I will share that I was very hesitant to say “yes” when asked to write something for the Advent newsletter. It’s not that I didn’t want to contribute, but it’s intimidating to write something others will read, especially if it includes personal feelings about faith. Also, a confession, although I know it’s so important to reflect on and share how much Advent, my church family and God means to me, the reason I actually ended up saying “yes” was because I could not say “no” to our dear sweet Joanne when she asked.
Truthfully, for me, most of the time in years past the real meaning of Advent and Christmas got lost in the preparations such as gift buying, menu planning, parties, shopping to find the perfect gift, being busy “doing good”, etc. Although this year is really, really hard, the forced time at home has allowed for more prayer time and reflection on my faith. Being asked to contribute to this newsletter led me to do some research about Advent and what the church is. Despite these trying times, I am thankful to God for “changing my routine” this year. Rather than just write about what Advent and my church means to me, I decided I should look up what our Catholic faith teaches about “Advent” and “church”. I thought I should reflect on the church’s teachings and prayerfully apply this to my life.
One of the sources I used was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. How educational and exhilarating this activity was. I was reminded that Advent is a time for us to be expectant, hopeful and confident in God and His promises. We don’t need to be afraid or disillusioned even in these troubling times. When looking up references to “church” in the Catechism, I read about the mission of the church and its communion of faith to spread Christ’s kingdom on earth. I feel our parish family at St. Mary’s is a great example of this. My husband and I, although not natives of Florence (and not even Packer fans!) were welcomed with open arms into this parish when we joined 7 years ago. Since that time, we have only grown in our love and gratitude for our parish, Fr. Timothy, and all of you.
Thank you, all. We will hold you in prayer as together we celebrate Advent and Christmas as a parish family.
My name is Lacey Bomberg-Enders, and I’m currently 17 years old and am a senior in high school. I’ve been a member of St. Mary’s Parish my whole life. I was initially introduced to the Catholic faith by my family through my baptismal sacrament. In 2011, I began serving as an altar girl and sometime in middle school, I made the transition from serving into reading at Mass. Being an active member of the church, I take great pride in my faith and each day growing closer in my relationship with God.
Throughout my life, I’ve faced many difficult situations, but my relationship with God and my faith have guided me through them. Although, it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I truly began to understand what it meant to have a strong relationship with God and to trust my life in Him. To elucidate, when I was 12 years old, I experienced, still to this day, the most tormenting challenge of dealing with the sudden loss of my dad from a traumatic brain injury. For a week’s time, my dad was hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit, fighting for his life. During this unimaginable time, my heart, my mind, and my life transformed completely, rather than blaming Jesus for not protecting my dad from this accident and not performing a miracle to save his life, I turned to God to shed light upon my life and guide me through those difficult times. This experience made my relationship with God strengthen and flourish, and I now know that my dad is in an exceedingly better place and I know that one day I will be reunited with him, in the kingdom of heaven. In addition, I know that God, along with my dad, are by my side with every step I take, guiding me on a virtuous path.
In closing, I’d like to share a verse from the Bible that has greatly impacted me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).