Living Through Seasons of Waiting – Advent 2023


When we anticipate something before experiencing it, we often find much greater enjoyment in the experience. God works through seasons of waiting to bring great joy to our lives.

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Reflective Study Guide Questions

“He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them,”

Rev. 21:3

1. Fr. Gale relates how his second trip to Rome was more enjoyable because he had been joyfully anticipating it for months. Have you ever anticipated a big event in your life? How did the anticipation affect your experience?

2. In order to be able to anticipate Heaven, we need to be able to recognize our poverty here on earth. How can you work on growing more aware of your poverty on earth, in anticipation of spending eternity with God in Heaven?

3. Jesus revealed to St. Catherine of Sienna that the holy relationships we have with others on earth will find deeper fulfillment in Heaven. How can this knowledge help you grow to a greater appreciation of your relationship with others right now?

4.  God loves to shower us with good things and blessings. What are some of the blessings He has put into your life? How can you grow in appreciation of His goodness to you both in these blessings and in the joy He has prepared for you in Heaven?

Text: Living Through Seasons of Waiting

Hey friends, Father Gale. Let’s pray.

Opening Prayer

Lord, we invite you into this Advent season. This time of longing, this time of joy, for we anticipate your arrival at Christmas, indeed, but we also anticipate even more your arrival into our heart and into our lives every day, with every grace, with the Eucharist, with the joy we receive from following you. Lord, we bless you and we adore you. We pray all of this through your most holy name. Amen. The name of the Father, Son, the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What Can We Learn From Waiting?

Today’s topic, friends, what can we learn about seasons of waiting in our lives, especially, what can we learn about those seasons of waiting from Advent. As we are now all in the midst of this beautiful Advent retreat, it is appropriate to reflect upon what we can learn from this which we are now experiencing.

How are we meant to live out this season of waiting, this Advent? I don’t know if you knew this or not, folks, but as I record this, next Tuesday, the weather here in Kansas where I live, it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to be a beautiful day next Tuesday. And you know what? The fact that next Tuesday’s going to be beautiful. It makes my today beautiful. Even the hope and the anticipation of what the weather will be days from now, it gives me joy right now, right here, thinking upon the goodness of that day.

I don’t know, maybe as you watch this, you’re in Southern California or somewhere as such, where you don’t experience weather like we have it here in Kansas. One day it could be 10 degrees, and the next day, 70, right? We say in Kansas that if you don’t like the weather, wait an hour because it’s always changing.

And so for us, we understand what it means to wait, this season of longing, hoping for spring to come at the end of a very cold winter, or for a beautiful autumn to arrive after a scorching hot summer. This season of waiting is a normal experience for us. And I think it brings something to our experience of life and our experience of the Lord.

A Visit to Rome

I’m not sure if any of you have ever had the beautiful opportunity to travel to Rome, but I’ve had the chance, twice, in my life. The first time, I simply kind of just fell into it. Just one day I wasn’t in Rome, and the next day I was. I mean, not necessarily. I was a part of a pilgrimage that our diocese was taking to Rome, and the bishop invited me to go along. He said, “It might be good for you to come along. There’s some of your friends who are going to be traveling on the pilgrimage. It’d be great for them to be able to travel with you. If you can get the time off, we would love to have you as a part of this pilgrimage.” I said yes. They bought my ticket. I didn’t take the time to prepare. I didn’t study Rome. I knew Rome. I’d heard of Rome. But I wasn’t anticipating it at a very high level. I knew which day I was leaving to hop on a plane to fly over the Atlantic so as to get to Europe and then to arrive in Rome. But I didn’t think much more of it.

It was a glorious, glorious eight days in the Eternal City, I think, is what they call Rome, the Eternal City. And they were eight of my best days. Loved it. Every bit of it. The beauty. Everything about Rome. It spoke to me. I was so happy to be there. Fast forward, about five years, and I made my second trip to Rome.

The second trip to Rome was far better than the first. Now don’t get me wrong, those eight days that I spent in Rome that first time, well, they were just as good as the second trip. It wasn’t my time in Rome the second time around that made it better, but it was the weeks and the months leading up to my second trip heading to Rome. I don’t know if that makes sense to you or not, but it was the anticipation that added to the joy of being there. The longing for Rome that added to the journey to Rome. Three months prior, I’m thinking about St. Peter’s Basilica, praying in the presence of the tomb of John Paul II.

Two weeks prior, I’m thinking, what’s the weather going to be like? How’s the gelato going to taste? The anticipation added to the experience. And I think that that is something that we can learn even here in Advent, if we do Advent correctly. If we live as we should in this, our very own season of waiting that we are encountering as we speak. The reality is, is that when we can walk towards something with longing, then we have the opportunity to enjoy it all the more.

A Family Vacation

Maybe one last example. My parents when I was growing up, at one point, my dad, he took a different job, and that job, it didn’t go as well as we had hoped. And so in fact, financially, the family, we were struggling a bit. We were struggling. I remember heading into the eighth grade, and I prayed, I prayed very hard that summer, that we would be able to go on a family vacation. Mom and dad were saying, “I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s going to be possible. I know that we go on vacation every summer, son, but times are tough right now. We may not be able to go.”

And I loved vacation so much that I prayed. I prayed like crazy, probably in my first 15 years of life, I never prayed as hard as I prayed so that we could go on vacation. And lo and behold, the Lord helped us out. We were able to throw together a vacation. It wasn’t the most extravagant vacation ever. We just headed one state over. We went to Colorado, to the beautiful mountains of Colorado, with me and my sisters, and my mom, and my dad. And it was amazing. So there was the sense of longing here on my trip to Colorado, this vacation. Yes, indeed. Hoping for it.

Hoping, because it wasn’t a guarantee. I was hoping to have this opportunity to be with my family who I love. To be able to spend time in a beautiful place on vacation, doing fun things, going up to a mountain and feeding chipmunks. I still have photos of me feeding chipmunks that summer. The joy of it all.

But you see, I prayed like crazy, hoping that my desire would be fulfilled, hoping that my desire would be fulfilled. And so the question, how are we meant to live out Advent? Well, I think it’s similar to how we are meant to live life. Because, truly, all of life here on earth is just an extended season of Advent. A holy longing. Awaiting for and anticipation of something more, and yet, a praying for something more, something greater. I think there’s an important thing to pay attention to. A couple components that go into this.

Recognize Your Own Poverty

First and foremost, we have to be able to recognize our own poverty here on earth. That summer before we made a family vacation to Colorado, well, I was able to see the poverty in a very real way. Like, we’re struggling financially. We may not be able to go on vacation. We weren’t where we needed to be, but we prayed for something better. And the Lord indeed provided. We recognized our poverty.

It’s funny because, you know, maybe the first trip that I took to Rome, I’m living here in Kansas, and I think everything is great, but it’s really a bit silly to think that Kansas is as beautiful as Rome. It has its own appeal. Please come visit. We would love you here in the great state of Kansas. But Rome. Rome. And so for me to recognize that there is indeed something more to encounter, the beauty of the churches. We have great churches in Kansas, but nothing like the beautiful basilicas of Rome. And just simply to walk into those churches, to have our hearts and our minds raised to God, a holy longing to get there, to see that.

The gelato, far better than any ice cream I’m going to find in Kansas. I can promise you. Roman gelato. Merci. Don’t get me started. And so the first trip, I didn’t recognize my poverty. The second trip, most definitely, I did. I did. A friend, my old spiritual director, he used to laugh about an atheist friend of his. It was an atheist friend who would say this regularly. And I’m not sure where he first heard it, but he said, “Why do I need God when I have electricity? I already have everything I need.” And then he’d wink at my friend.

The spiritual director, the priest who was also his friend. I think that’s a pretty small way of looking at life. Why would I need God? I have electricity. I can watch television. I have climate to control. Everything I have is handed to me and I am satisfied. It’s a small way of looking at life, but I think there’s plenty of people on earth who encounter that. Let us cast that aside. Let us recognize our poverty, and let us rejoice that we truly can long for something more. Whether it’s merely this Christmas in which we recognize the birth of our Lord and our Savior, or if it’s something so much more than even just that recognition, but the realization of Him being truly in our presence as we leave this world and enter into heaven.

Jesus’ Message to Catherine of Siena

And so first and foremost, I say, yes, embrace your poverty, secondarily, don’t be afraid to long for something better, something greater. I just want to leave you with two things. As we think about this life in which we live, and we then ponder that where we are headed, for isn’t that the life of a Christian to walk with joy, giving thanks for every gift that we have received here on earth, yet knowing indeed that there is something more.

Read to you this. A revelation. Jesus himself to Catherine of Siena in the 1300s. Speaking of the glories of heaven, here’s what he told her. He said, “The union with and the love of God that we begin in this life, and that grow as the spiritual journey progresses, that relationship will be gloriously manifested and perfected in heaven.”

Gloriously manifested and perfected in heaven. And so indeed, we will have the beatific vision. We will see God, and it will be something we can’t even imagine. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the human heart ever even fathomed what He has ready for those of us who love Him. It’s amazing. But the Father continues. “And so also, will the union and love that we have had with one another in this life be gloriously manifested and perfected in heaven.”

The particular relationships get this. Sometimes we miss this. The particular relationships we have had here on earth insofar as they were in Christ will actually increase in depths of intimacy and love in heaven. Friendships and marriages, and relationships we have had here on earth will truly prove to be forever. I have that right here, just taped into this book that I use when I celebrate funerals. What a glorious thing, when we lose someone we love, to know that that’s not the end, and that heaven is real.

What Are We Doing This Advent?

And so what are we doing this Advent? What are we doing this Advent? Yes, we’re longing for Christmas. We’re learning about those periods in our life when we are waiting for something. And for each of you, who knows what that might be. But I bet if you just took a little bit of time, you’d find in your heart what it is that you’re waiting for, even now. And there is a joy in the anticipation of a truly being so, for our God is a God who loves to give, to shower us with blessings. And in the end, we long to be with Him, and to be with our loved ones forever and ever in heaven.

That’s what we’re doing this Advent. What is it that we hear the Book of Revelation? “He will dwell with his people and his people will dwell with Him. And every tear shall be wiped away.” Every tear shall be wiped away.

My friends, let us longingly look toward this Christmas. Let us wait with anticipation for those good things that he desires to give us, and let us rejoice again, and again, and again, at the very thought of being with him and those we love in heaven. Let’s pray.

Closing Prayer

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lord God, we turn to you and we rejoice in you, for you call us near and you love us, and we praise you for that. Continue to call us home so that we may see you, and never ever be parted from you. We pray this through your most Holy Name. Amen. The Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Amen.

About Fr. Gale Hammerschmidt

Fr. Gale Hammerschmidt was born and raised in Hays, Kansas and graduated from Thomas More Prep/Marian High School. He then attended Kansas State University where he received a degree in secondary education. Fr. Gale spent nine years in Manhattan, KS at Msgr. Luckey Jr. High School as a history teacher and football, basketball, and track coach.

From 2005-2012, Fr. Gale studied at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, CO. In 2012, Fr. Gale was ordained a priest and is currently the pastor of St. Isidore’s Catholic Student Center at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. Prior to this assignment, he served as a priest in Junction City, KS, and at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Salina, KS.  Fr. Gale has served as a high school chaplain and vocation director for the Diocese of Salina. He is also the founder of the Prayer and Action summer mission program that has now spread to numerous dioceses throughout the country.

You can find Fr. Gale: on his Facebook pageInstagram, and through his Church’s website.