The Thanksgiving and the Christmas seasons are fast approaching. This is a time for putting up Christmas decorations, gathering with family and friends, singing Christmas carols, sharing a wonderful meal, giving, and receiving gifts, sharing stories of past holidays and relatives and friends who may not be with us this holiday season. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a time for sharing.
It has been a difficult few years dealing with the Covid pandemic, and for the people in Ukraine, constant gunfire, missiles, destruction, and death. Thanksgiving and Christmas are also a time for sharing.
This is a time to gather and remember, but how often do we recall what God has given us. God gave us his son Jesus, who walked with and taught his disciples, shared meals with them, and then made the journey to his cross, death, and then glorious resurrection. It is so easy to forget these stories and events, even though we hear excerpts from them each Sunday, and for many of us, each weekday too.
The Norbertine priests at Daylesford Abbey hear and remember these stories each day, from Sacred Scripture at daily Mass, through Lectio Divina, and living and working with others who have discovered and continue to share the amazing reality of these stories of Jesus, his friends, and followers.
The Norbertine priests do not only remember the stories, but they also put the stories into action as they are involved in many different ministries. They work in two parishes sharing the Good News of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. They help parishioners in celebrating the new life of Baptism and funerals too, new life on earth and new life in heaven. One of the parishes they work in is Saint Norbert Parish in Paoli.
This parish community aspires to become: one in Christ, as a community of disciples, who listen attentively for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and who lovingly embrace Jesus present in the poor, the alienated, and the spiritually hungry. Norbertine priests also work at Saint Gabriel Parish in South Philadelphia. Daylesford Abbey also have men who serve part-time at several other parishes. Each weekend and many weekdays, priests from the Abbey help with Masses and confessions at area parishes.
They work with displaced people experiencing homelessness, and individuals and families who are hungry and poor. Jesus of Nazareth fed the hungry, multiplying loaves and fishes to feed those who had followed him.
The Norbertine priests work with migrants and refugees in the Bethesda project. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with their newborn son Jesus, were refugees too, fleeing from the wrath of Herod and arriving in Bethlehem. They did not arrive in golden carriages, staying in the finest lodging, but found a cave in Bethlehem where their son Jesus was born, in a cold cave amid animals.
The Norbertine Stephen ministry is one on one Christ centered care, for those going through challenging times. No one is untouched. At some point in life, everyone faces loss or periods of crisis, transition, or difficulty.
During these times people can receive great benefit from a caring relationship with someone who will has been trained to listen, as well as empathize, pray with and for them, and encourage them with Christ’s love and care. Jesus too shared one on one. Remember the Woman at the Well, and the story of Mary and Martha.
Jesus was a storyteller. Throngs of people came to hear him speak, and this ministry of speaking and sharing the Good News continues with the homilies of the Daylesford Abbey priests, special presentations at the Spirituality Center, and the AbbeyCast podcast presentations.
Here is a link to the AbbeyCast podcast by Frater Jeff Himes, O. Praem.
Sacred Scripture reminds us of the throngs who came to hear Jesus speak, and when they were hungry and there was no food, Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes. The disciples then shared this food with the people and gathered many baskets of leftovers too.
The Norbertine priests continue this work of sharing food, especially to three groups. First, they collect non-perishable food each Sunday at our Mass that is then delivered to St. Gabriel’s Food Cupboard, part of the Coalition Against Hunger.
The food cupboard is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and clients can visit monthly. Handicapped Access is available and prepackaged bags or boxes of food is provided.
Second, they provide support for the homeless through their ministry at Bethesda Project, both in collecting and delivering casseroles each month and with a special collection throughout Lent and Holy Week.
Third, they support Mission Santa Maria as it ministers to the migrant community in Chester County, both with monthly deliveries of non-perishable food as well as a special collection throughout Advent.
As you gather for Thanksgiving and to celebrate the feast of the Nativity, consider exploring how these holidays/holydays are linked with what Jesus did, and how this work continues today. Gifts will be present- the gift of good food, family and friends, friendly sharing and conversation, and the gift of Jesus too., present in the bread and wine truly become his Body and Blood. How will you share Jesus’ gift with others?
Curious? Want to read and learn more? Go to https://daylesford.org/vocations/ and you can even watch a video by copying and pasting this link. https://youtu.be/Uw-IMfpCwR4 Also take some time for prayer. “Be still and know that I am God.”
May God be with you in your vacation, your holiday/holyday celebrations, your vocation, and your search!