Advent is the season during which we prepare to welcome God incarnate into our midst. This includes looking closely at our lives and those of our communities, and taking stock of our willingness to “prepare a way” and make a home for God-with-us. Each moment spent in reflection, each opportunity for prayer, adds a cloth to the cradle which stands ready for the coming of the Lord at Christmas.
It is not only the Lord for whom we must make space and prepare a welcome in our hearts and homes. Advent is a fitting time to reflect on how we do this for others in our families and parish communities. We meet Christ in one another through the Baptism we share and by which we are called beloved sons and daughters of the Father. We recognise in one another the spark of Faith which is to be fanned into flame, shining as a light into the darkness of our world.
Young people from the Archdiocese of Glasgow pilgrimage group relaxing at World Youth Day 2011
The Youth Pastoral Team invites you to consider especially how you do this for the young people in your family and parish. All of us need encouragement, need to be welcomed anew by others into the spaces which are our homes and parishes: young people are no different. All of us need to be challenged, need opportunities to grow in our Faith and share it with others: young people are no different. All of us are called to serve God and one another, discover our vocation and live it out with fidelity to the Gospel: young people are no different. When others, especially young people, are missing, we all lose out.
If today your light is dimmed, your cloths torn, your bonds of communion incomplete or strained, take the opportunity that Advent offers to prepare a way not only for the Lord, but for the young people in your family and parish. Prepare a way – to be surprised, enlivened, challenged, enriched, by the giftedness of young people around you. Ask yourself, and ask them, “how can I make you welcome?” Sometimes all it takes is a smile, an invitation, or a word of encouragement, for young people to be more present with us.
1.5 million young people await the arrival of the Holy Father to the prayer vigil at Cuatro Vientos, World Youth Day 2011
The Youth Pastoral Team is currently engaged in a period of consultation with the whole Archdiocese as to how we do this best, in order to plan effectively for the future of pastoral care of young people through diocesan initiatives. We ourselves have received much encouragement from parishes, schools, and young people alike as we travel around, hearing of their efforts to be more welcoming and open to each other. It is our task to collate these responses and reflect on our specific mission in service to the Archdiocese.
We ask that as you contribute to this discussion you also take the opportunity during Advent to reflect on the welcome you offer as an individual and as a parish. Call out again to prepare a way in the wilderness! Laying cloths of prayer and openness to one another we can offer the Lord a warm cradle in which to lay His head this Christmas.
[This article also appears in the Archdiocesan booklet "Journey through Advent", available from your parish!]