Today is the first Sunday of Advent; the beginning of our preparation for the Christ-Child. And as we do most years, we sang ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ at Mass this morning. That beautiful and mournful and hopeful hymn that has always been part of my life touched my heart in a new way this year.
O come, O come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel; that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear
Lonely exile. LONELY EXILE. LONELY EXILE! Those two words kept reverberating in my head. And that’s how I felt (how I feel). In lonely exile here. Our Church has been so busy lately defining what it means to be a Catholic Christian that I feel marginalized.
If you vote for this person you CAN’T really be Catholic; if you support women’s ordination you CAN’T really be Catholic; if you love and support gay families you CAN’T really be Catholic; if you don’t walk in lock step with the Bishops then you CAN’T really be Catholic.
And so I’m an exile. I refuse to exclude; to hate; to judge; to deny love to those who may not follow ALL the rules.
I’ve decided to join the other ‘lonely exiles’ in prayer this Advent season. I will pray for (and with) others in my Church who may feel disenfranchised; who feel left out; shut out; and alone. We may be silenced but our silent prayers cannot be stopped. And we are companions on the journey. God alone listens to our hearts and responds.
O come, Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all humankind; Bid thou our sad divisions cease, And be thyself our Prince of Peace.