Dream of Saint Joseph

4th Sunday in Advent

by Father Brian J. Soliven on Sunday December 22, 2019

God is coming, without fanfare, pomp or highfalutin pageantry. He comes simply. Are you ready?

The Pastor's Prayer Journal

Pastor’s Prayer Journal

            In the 6th grade, my mother began an irritating routine. After she got off from work, she would come home and ask me to come with her to pray at our local parish church, St. Joseph. She wanted me to keep her company, more than anything. Sitting in a large, empty church, in the middle of the afternoon, can be scary. Every time she would ask, I would sigh in frustration, “Again!” All I wanted to do was play video games after a hard day of school memorizing multiplication tables and American presidents. But my mother had mastered the “mother look”, the look that terrorizes the hearts of children the world-over. In other words, I always went to church with her in those afternoons.

            Once we arrived, we took of our familiar pews. She’d go to the very front and I, of course, somewhere in the back by the large windows. Sitting in the sunlight, made the church seem more mysterious for some reason, as if God listened to my prayers more. I’d utter one Our Father and one Hail Mary and call it a day. But my mother was in much deeper conversation. She would kneel there in the pew, her hands clasped firmly together; her eyes locked intensely on at the crucified Jesus on the cross. Tears always streamed down her face. I never heard a word she said but I knew her heart was speaking to God about something important. Even though I would have rather been at home in front of the television, those moments with my mother were special ones. It was as if we shared some sort of spiritual secret that connected, mother and son, son and mother.

            Years later after my own conversion and deepening of my Catholic faith as a young man, her example would come searing back in my imagination. I too began to sneak away to pray in empty churches, pouring my heart out. My mother did not realize it at the time but she planted a seed in my 6th grade heart through her simple example. Jesus was real. He is real. He’s here. It was these hours of prayer spent in the presence of the Lord that sustained through 8 years of seminary formation and what keeps the love of God alive in my heart even until now. As everyone knows, life can get extremely heavy sometimes. So heavy in fact, its hard to breath. It is especially in these moments when I walk into our beautiful little Holy Family parish in Portola, stare and Jesus hanging on the cross. It’s hard to believe that he listens. It is in these dark moments that the full weight of Christianity becomes radiant. This is why Jesus comes to earth! 

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means "God is with us." (From our Gospel reading this Sunday)