Catholic Herald staff
The Diocese of Superior is hosting two Advent Days of Reflection in December for those seeking a seasonal dose of spiritual nourishment.
On Friday, Dec. 15, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Osceola, will host the first Advent Day of Reflection, and St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Tomahawk, will host the second event Saturday, Dec. 16.
Both events begin with 9 a.m. registration and conclude at 3 p.m.
Joe Tremblay, adult faith formation coordinator for the Diocese of Green Bay, will give three talks at each event; two talks will focus on prayer, and the third will be on healing.
Advent is “a time of expectation,” Tremblay said. “For some people, it’s a time of joy, getting together with family.” It’s also a time for reconnecting with God – Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly will often go with family members – and he wants to address the value of friendship with God and strengthening it, wherever listeners may be in their spiritual journey.
For others, the holidays can be difficult, a time of loneliness or grief. The need for healing, for those in mourning and anyone struggling with divorce, addiction, unresolved childhood issues or other problems, has been surfacing a lot lately in Tremblay’s work in the diocese, so he chose to include a presentation on the topic.
Prayer, “really just developing that friendship with God through habits,” is his first subject.
“That friendship with God, it covers all our basic needs,” he said.
Among other things, Tremblay will discuss a book, “Finding Our Way Back to God,” on common awakenings in one’s life – sudden realizations of God’s love, the need for God’s help or the desire for a second chance in life, for example – that lead to conversion.
A discussion of Matthew Kelly’s “The Prayer Process,” a book that includes practical tips for praying, will be included in the second talk, which Tremblay said will focus on Scriptures.
“I’ll be talking about how our story, our desires, our disappointments, our interests, are there in Scriptures,” he said. “The drama of human life, the drama of our life, is in Scriptures.”
For example, the psalms capture such ordinary human emotions as feeling abandoned or broken, but there are also happy resolutions. The Book of Genesis contains “every conceivable family dysfunction,” in Tremblay’s words, “all the elements of soap opera. The difference is God is in the soap opera … there are happy endings. The difference is God.”
Healing “is becoming more and more of an issue” in Tremblay’s diocesan ministry. Across the Green Bay diocese’s 157 parishes, a new initiative, Share Prayer, is encouraging the faithful to pray with people, not just for them, and Tremblay is seeing a lot of people with divorces, addictions and other problems who are in need of help.
He gives the example of a couple, married four months, who recently sought marriage counseling. A victim of childhood abuse, the pregnant wife was bringing her pain into her marriage.
“That baggage from her past has not been resolved,” he explained. “She was not healed from that.”
To protect herself, she was putting up walls between her and her husband and, as Tremblay observed, a lot of men turn to pornography if they’re being starved in their marriages.
Emotional baggage can hinder spiritual growth, and those from dysfunctional families only have to do nothing, and make no changes in their own lives, to continue that dysfunction, he added.
Tremblay’s wife had her own trials, until she learned she was not her parents’ mistakes.
“That was very freeing for her,” he said.
Sometimes we treat God more as a disinterested master and less as a friend, but Tremblay wants to emphasize that isn’t the case.
“Our friendship with the Lord has a lot of the drama that ordinary friendship has,” he added. “Sometimes we feel abandoned by Him, sometimes He’s quiet.”
But, through it all, He is there.
“We’re not only going toward heaven,” he affirmed. “God is always our companion in this life, and that’s easy to forget.”
To register for an Advent Day of Reflection, email gro.s1540134229odcil1540134229ohtac1540134229@essu1540134229bg1540134229 or call 715-234-5044. Cost is $30 in advance or $35 at the door; register by Nov. 30 for the advance rate.
Make checks payable to Diocese of Superior and send to: Bishop Hammes Center, P.O. Box 280, Haugen, WI, 54841.