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Advent: Learning to Listen

 Patty Chang, CSJ

Graphic of Advent wreath with the first candle lit

We spend a lot of our time talking or thinking about what we want to say next that we overlook a critical, life-changing step…LISTENING.

Advent is a time of hopeful anticipation as it precedes Christmas. If we allow it, Advent can be a transformative time, when we make the conscious choice to be still to open our eyes, ears and heart to see, hear and experience God in the lives of those we encounter, in creation, in our own very self.

November paves the way for a more reflective and challenging Advent season. It’s a month of remembrance and gratitude as we celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. On November 2nd, the Carondelet Sisters in Los Angeles gathered in person and virtually to remember our sisters and associates who have passed since the beginning of the pandemic. As the names scrolled down the screen, we were asked to remember their beauty and laughter, the joy and love they shared with us. I listened to their voices from the depths of my memory to find the one valuable lesson each person had to share with me. What a gift and an invaluable practice!

A couple of weeks ago, I tuned into a Hallmark movie “Christmas Angel,” a story of a penitent billionaire who turns into a Secret Santa in his reformed life.  Realizing that he is terminally ill, he finds a young woman to carry on in his footsteps as Secret Santa.  He teaches her how to really listen, to listen from the heart, to observe and see the struggles endured by others. It required sitting, being still, and opening her eyes and heart to what was right before her.  I was moved by this message and recalled the value of deep listening and inner reflectiveness.

Let’s spend this Advent season developing, strengthening and utilizing our listening skills.

Christmas is around the corner and shopping for that perfect gift is foremost in our minds. Taking the time to listen to the gift recipient, what would be meaningful to him/her is a way of gathering the needed information to find that priceless gift. The gift we give this Christmas can be a listening ear, spending quality time and doing something special for the other.  Recently, I was moved by the Working Mom commercial depicting a single mom caring for her teenage son.  Realizing that there isn’t enough time in his mother’s day to do everything, he surprises her by cleaning up the house, washing and folding the laundry, and decorating the Christmas tree.

All the wisdom figures in my life echo the same message…the only thing that matters in life is how we love and the compassion we share with others, two key things needed to heal this broken world of ours.  Listening is a key factor in transforming all relationships.

Make a difference in your life by listening with your heart to what God and others are truly saying, what’s important to them.  Let’s spend this Advent season developing, strengthening and utilizing our listening skills.

Category: Reflections

2 thoughts on “Advent: Learning to Listen”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you for sharing this reflection. I am doing the same thing… reflecting on what the Sisters shared with me, and listening to those who matter to me. We are all here to help each other and bring joy to each other.

  2. Avatar

    Patty, Thanks for your insightful reflection. So many good memories came to mind while reading it…..the wonderful week we spent in Honolulu during our retreat
    together….along with the delicious meals you provided each day.
    Hoping you are well and life is good.

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The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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