Brothers and sisters: Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name.”
Recently, I was cleaning my dresser when I found a little ten-bead “stairway to heaven” rosary. I have two of them – a red one I received just around the time of my conversion, and a blue one, made for me by my now husband. These two rosaries have followed me since they came into my possession and haven’t let me go. I have lost and found them in the most unfindable places. Each time they pop up, they evoke memories and nostalgia – thoughts of my “former days.”
This time, as the beads rolled over my fingers, I felt wistful. The original recipient of those rosaries seems distant from the person I am today. The former, if not a bit naive, was on fire for the Lord, full of hope and big dreams.
Call it a coming of age story, or simply meeting the reality of the vicissitudes of life, but as time wears on, we change. Life can seem to take on a mind of its own, pulling us in directions or places we might not have imagined. All to be expected, of course, but not without affecting our person.
Timeworn crosses, and those to come, have the potential to make us either better or bitter people. To avoid the latter, we must hold on to something that will anchor us when the ride gets rough. For me, there is something those little rosaries represent that gives me comfort every time they find me. I don’t long to be the person I once was, but I know the hope of my former days is invaluable. What has happened in my life since then has only made me realize how precious and priceless that hope is.
How appropriate that in Advent we remember to hold on to what gives us hope. We look for the light in the darkness. We lean into what was written for our benefit in generations past, in the scriptures and in the Word. As we do so, we find encouragement that will help us be steadfast in welcoming what comes our way. And we recall, again and again, whose we are, where we are going, and what promises the Lord has made to us.
“The virtue of hope responds to the aspiration to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; [...] it keeps man from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens up his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude. Buoyed up by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity.” 1818, Catechism of the Catholic Church