Thursday, December 3, 2015
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
I sat in my office at a retreat house, listening to a woman telling me her story of alcoholism and drug addiction. She described her childhood as being one of abuse and chaos. She got trapped in her addiction early in high school. Her adult years were filled with drinking and taking drugs, moving in and out of intimate relationships, and trying to raise three children in the midst of the insanity of the disease. Five years ago she had made the decision to turn her life over to God, and since then she has stayed clear of the world of drugs and alcohol. Now on a Twelve Step retreat, she is filled with sorrow over her past; the tears stream down her face as she pours out the details of her past. After she leaves the room, I am left with only one impression: there in front of me had been one beautiful person. I would forget much of what she said, but her humility and sincere desire to love God and her children and all those she hurt would lead me to feel honored to have been a witness to her story.
During this week, on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Church will begin a Jubilee year, the Year of Mercy. As we journey through the coming weeks and months, we are invited to consider the mercy that God has shown us and to show that mercy to all people. If we can picture the worst things we have ever done, and then imagine God standing at our side with an arm around us and speaking gently to us, then we will know what the mercy of God feels like. If we can compassionately reveal that kind of mercy to others, they, too, will know God in a new way and will come to understand how beautiful they are.
Embarking on the Jubilee year, let us do what this season of Advent calls us to do. Let us prepare the way of the Lord.
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