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During Advent seek a legacy of love in this year touched by tragedy

It was Christmas Eve, 1918, and Grace Darling Seibold was distracted. Her son, George, had written regularly since his assignment with the British Royal Flying Corp, but four months had passed without a letter. The postman approached carrying a package. Would it be from George? Anticipation turned to grief as Grace read, “Effects of Deceased Officer, 1st Lt. George Vaughn Seibold.” There was no other information. Grace volunteered at hospitals hoping that George lay unidentified. It was until months later that she learned George had died over France Aug. 26, 1918. Sewn on the service flag hanging in her window was a blue star, symbolic of a family member in the service. She covered the blue fabric because she was now a “Gold Star Mother.”

Tragedy touched our hearts this fall. How do we seek peace during sorrow?

We plunged into darkness on a bright September morn this year. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Only by illumination from the Light of the World can we travel unknown paths without fear. Advent’s Divine Office opens by saying, “Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.” Set aside time to let the warm glow of God’s love penetrate your darkness and be open to the Good News.

How can a family enjoy celebrating the coming of the Prince of Peace?

Evaluate your Advent and Christmas activities. What activities do family members anticipate with joy? Are traditions performed out of habit? Do some activities burden one family member in particular? Make a conscious choice to engage in activities that draw your family closer to God.

“A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…” What kind of weariness do you feel?

As we sing “O’ Holy Night,” we acknowledge the weary longing for our Savior and the thrill His birth brings. But how often do we “fall on our knees,” not in adoration but in sheer exhaustion? Are Advent preparations leading to a physical weariness based on acquiring gifts or planning celebrations? Perhaps there are small but loving gestures that would be more meaningful to loved ones.

Grace Seibold’s grief for her son led her to found the American Gold Star Mothers. The group’s motto is, “Our Legacy: Out of Tragedy Were We Formed, Out of Love We Continue.” In more than 200 chapters today, women continue to comfort one another while caring for veterans hospitalized far from their own families. During this Advent season, seek the legacy of love that your family can offer in a year touched by tragedy.