Welcome back to all who were away for Thanksgiving break last week! Things were quiet around here from Thursday on and there’s a whole different feel to things here when school is out and the office is closed for a few days. You can hear the hum of traffic on Leesville Rd. and the sound of the low-flying airplanes overhead and other than that, it’s all quiet.

In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, one person spoke about a tradition at his house. When guests arrive, he asks that they leave their smart phones and any other electronic devices in a box by the front door. He does this because he found that otherwise, guests would be texting and checking their phones, even at the dinner table and it took away from the experience of simply being at the table among family and friends.

It all sounded like a good idea to me. Nothing wrong with smart phones, which have added so much good to our lives but sometimes it just seems good to let them sit idle for a time and to leave space for another kind of encounter with the life that is happening around us. It sounds true especially in this season of Advent, a time of year sometimes overlooked as we look ahead to Christmas, and a time of year in which we await the birth of Christ and await as well his coming again. It’s a time of year in which we light a candle every week, a sign of light and hope in a world that more often seems dark and a time of year in which we watch for signs, for glimmers of light, even as the days grow shorter. It’s a time of year that is often obscured amid the clamor of the shopping season and yet it’s a season that speaks to us of a coming light amid the dark winter days.

This weekend you will have met and heard Fr. David Convertino, O.F.M. a visiting friar from our provincial office in New York. Fr. David is preaching at all the masses this weekend in support of three important areas within Holy Name Province: support for projects for the poor; support for education for our friars who are in studies; and support for our sick and retired friars. Fr. David and I go back a long way. He was guardian of the house in Providence, Rhode Island back in the mid 1990s when I was a novice there. He came to visit us in Philadelphia last year and in our tiny kitchen in the house there, cooked up a spectacular Italian dinner for all of us. We lived off the leftovers for days afterwards. It’s been great having him in town these past few days. Please be attentive to his appeal for these three areas. As friars, we continue to be grateful for your ongoing support.

A blessed Advent to all – and remember to light that second Advent candle as we move through these Advent days toward the coming Light.

Fr. Steve