Zechariah 1

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Post your INSIGHTS, QUESTIONS, or PRAYERS in the COMMENTS section below. As in previous online recollections, our virtual faith community benefits much from this virtual sharing.

What graces or blessings did you receive as you accompanied Zechariah during this module?

What questions might you have?

What did you learn about Zechariah and/or yourself?

Are you being asked to revive your hopes or to receive your gifts? In what way?

Do you want to share a petition that you would like our virtual community of retreatants to pray for?

The second Advent module is already available, but you need NOT do it now if you don’t have the time or inclination.

Come back tomorrow or any other day when you are ready to meet–and walk with–our next Advent Companion: Joseph. be available next week.

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It is past 4 am on Christmas Eve and it is only now that I am beginning this Advent Recollection. I plan to finish this recollection as a gift to myself.

In the Lenten Pins of Light recollection, I was struggling with my responsibility of taking care of my 94-year old bedridden aunt without any resources left at my disposal. Through it all, God provided for me and my mom as we tried to take care of my aunt and live day by day. Not to say life became easier. The months that followed were absolute hell for me, as the resources dwindled and my responsibilities then included being an unpaid caregiver to my aunt. I couldn’t even tell what day it was anymore, because I slept late in the morning and I slept very little, three to four hours.

Despite everyone’s efforts, my aunt gradually lost her will to live. The day before she passed, she wouldn’t even open her mouth to eat or drink. On the day she passed, she did agree to eating and drinking something. But the intake was very little. My prayers were answered. I got my wish that she pass peacefully in her sleep if there was no hope anymore that she would get well. Again, with the help of God’s instruments, my friends and classmates, some neighbors and one relative, I was able to have her body cremated. She will be interred before year-end.

I was quite emotional while hearing Robbie Williams’ song. While listening to it, I thought about the song being about loved ones who have passed. My mother says an extra rosary apart from our daily rosary and prayers, dedicated to my aunt. We have been left financially devastated by my aunt’s illness, and have yet to recover completely from the physical, emotional and mental suffering and trauma of caring for a loved one. Personally, I don’t know if I am okay 100%. Unlike my mom, I saw my aunt’s body as it entered the crematorium, so in a way, I have the most complete closure. But I cried unexpectedly while listening to a Christmas song, so I don’t know how I will process the grief this time. This is the second death in our family, there’s just me and my mom now.

While reading the passage about Zechariah, I was struck by his initial reaction. He was troubled. I thought, why was he troubled? Until I thought further and realized, that’s how I might react, too. In my life, I have come to associate God with suffering. Trying to follow God isn’t easy and is likely to get you into trouble on this earth. In my imagination, Zechariah was going, “Na naman?! Why me?! ” upon seeing the angel. That’s how I would have reacted.

Thinking about Zechariah, I realized he and I are the same when it comes to dreams. If there’s one thing I realized while dealing with my aunt, it’s that I don’t even know myself anymore. I don’t even know what my dreams and aspirations are. Beyond being a daughter, a niece, a caregiver, all the roles I played with people, sino na ba ako talaga?

A few weeks before my aunt passed, I vowed to myself that as noble as my aunt was – she was a spinster who had devoted everything to the family, who basically forgot her when she was sick and broke – I do not want that kind of life and I will try to build my own life.

The weeks since have been a time to catch up on sleep, and slowly get back on our feet. I had lost my job prior to her getting sick, so now, I am trying to find a new job so we can pay off our debts and salvage what we can.

There is a strange yearning in my heart that I never had before, to meet someone and eventually settle down and try to build a family. I wonder if it’s escapism. It is so hard to be a breadwinner all this time. I actually felt asexual already. Either that or I felt more male than female. I have always felt comfortable being alone, but I never really felt alone and lonely until that time I was taking care of my aunt. In fact, there were times when I, in my insecure state, would ask her, could it still be possible? Who would want someone like me, at this stage? Is it too late? I don’t want to die the way she did, but I don’t want to have a relationship just because I do not wish to be alone. People can be so crazy. They say to spinsters or soon-to-be-spinsters like me to not be too choosy, just have a child so you won’t grow old alone. But I do not want a relationship just for that reason.

Right now, I wonder if this is a dream God has placed in my heart: to meet a good man I could have a relationship with, someone I could build a family with. There appear to be signs that signify that, but I wish to make sure.

In any case, I just wish to end this chapter of my life and begin again. Hopefully, this recollection will help me encounter God. I have an idea what I want, but I still have no idea what’s next. I still feel lost and clueless. But I can feel hope now. Before, life felt like dying everyday. Now, I can begin again. I hope this new chapter will be happy this time.

Ask and you shall receive. HOW come i don’t? Recall the stories in the gospel, the neighbor who wanted to borrow bread for a late night visitor and the woman asking for a favor from the judge. Two times they were rejected. The answer was No! But they persevered in asking. Finally, the neighbor got his bread and the judge favored the woman. So keep on asking. Keep on waiting. Keep on hoping. ?

Sometimes, or most of the time, gifts come with responsibilities. Lord, I am happy and grateful for all your gifts and I pray that you may guide me to responsibly use and take care of the gifts you have given me.

I was smiling while praying. You see, like Zechariah & Elizabeth, my husband and I have given up on having a child. I’m 51 and I find it impossible that I will still bear one. But then, this reading gave me a smile. Maybe not a child (Indeed, I’m really very much like Zechariah), but another gift… I can only hope and wait… I also ask for the grace to be more positive… to be hopeful…

I am a very hypocondriac (nit sure ofnthe spelling. This fear has disable me to enjoy life to the fullest. I am always afraid for disease that everytime I feel something I always think if the worst. Inam even afraid of going for a test and laboratory. I feel like a walking time bomb. This fear has eaten me up. And as I write this I realize that this thing has taken me away from hoping in God’s grace.

Please pray for me. Thank you

everytime i will encounter this reading about zechariah i really have this feeling for him, why would angel gabriel, sort of “punish” him for just asking “how could that happen”. isn’t it very human to doubt? or ask? when extraordinary or incredible things are presented to you to happen? why only zechariah? mary also asked gabriel during the annunciation if how could the thing he announced happen to her, yet the question was not taken against her. did our good Lord played favorites? 🙂 but just the same the Lord is indeed faithful in keeping His promises. 🙂 promises are made to be fulfilled, indeed. 🙂

I eagerly wait for the email notification of the Sunday homilies found here in pins of light every Sunday. I’m an avid follower. It completes my Sunday routine. We use the homilies as reflection points for our regular Bible sharing. Then suddenly, one Sunday in September, the notifications stopped. I wondered what happened. I thought I had accidentally clicked the “unsubscribe” icon. I checked on the actual site. But there were no new homilies. At the start I was worried, then slowly I started to think less about it. Until I gave up hope of searching for answers why… and expected less of the notifications.

Then all of sudden, I received the email notification and the invitation to join the online advent recollection…plus the explanation that the site is undergoing “reconstruction”. It was a huge relief.

It was reviving hope. It was a much needed answered prayer.

Thank you for pins of light. It has inspired countless believers to keep the faith. You have inspired me to keep the faith and revive my hope in a God who journeys with each one of us and who loves us beyond our expectations.

On the other hand, reading through the comments and prayer responses of my fellow online retreatrants gives me a sense of hope that I’m never alone in my struggles in life and that my own struggles are no different with what others experience. Thank you brothers and sisters for sharing your life stories.

Let our online presence be a source of faith for each other. Let us pray for one another. This is our gift.

Thank you Pins of Light for gathering us together.

Dearest Lord,
You have sent me your messengers and like Zechariah I felt unnerved, scared, and doubtful … this gift is unexpected… I have buried and almost forgot about this dream and hope to be a good shepherd to the lost and abandoned sheep. Now, with a grateful heart, I thank you for giving me this gift of mission.

I lost my father, mother and youngest brother in a span of 17 years, and was redundated from work 3 years ago. After what had happened, my self-confidence plunged down and wanted to give up hope after all that I’ve worked hard for just went down the drain. But thanks be to God, His grace and mercy keeps me alive every single day. I pray for more patience and more perseverance to know His will in all things.

dear God, u know the struggles i am going through at this time. pls give me the grace to go beyond the imperfections of my brothers and other family members and the grace to live or relate to them in peace, joy and humility. i know u love them as much as u love me. pls help me not to give up on my family nor on myself. amen.

I would like to ask for prayers that may Our Loving God, heal me of the pains i still had in my heart, reveal to me the hidden pains i may not able to identify, retore me to be whole again so that i may able to see the gift He is giving me, receive it without doubts, and accept it with a cheerful heart using the gift He bestowed on me to bless others more and be an instrument to His plan and Holy Will. Amen.

REVIVING HOPE: For about a decade now, number one in my Bucket List is to step on the land where Jesus walked. About five years ago, I abandoned the hope of fulfilling my wish, because of my advancing age, I am now 81. Reflecting on Zechariah, it appears my hope is alive again.

PRAYER: Lord, give us the gift of Silence, Stillness and Simplicity.

When we had a pulgrimage to Holy Land I volunteered to push the wheelchair of an aged man,a lawyer. In our chat he begun to shed tears because it was the dream of her wife who passed away to go on this pilgrimage…and so even when she’s gone the lawyer fulfilled her wish…and he was so sad.
My reflection just now: God fulfilled her prayers. The wife walks His Holy place called heaven, the husband walked His holy place on earth too. Just trust that God will make a way.

God answers our prayers on His time & choosing. We often receive them & don’t recognize the wonderful gift He has given, like Zachariah. As a senior citizen & retiree, I began to wonder what was the purpose left in my life. This retreat has made me realize that God has given me the gift of experience. I should use this experience to help others, whether it be family members or others. I can reach out or I can wait to be asked. It will depend on the situation. But the Lord has given me this gift & I will find joy in helping others.

Whenever I listen to the news or read articles online, I struggle mightily to hope that things will get better for the Philippines. Why does evil continue to triumph over good? Why is our nation’s soul and moral fibre being torn apart? When will our countrymen/women wake up? Lord, when will the haughty fall? It gets really depressing, especially since I have very young children, and I fear for their welfare, for the kind of Philippines they will inherit. Often it seems that we live in a God-forsaken country. And then Jacob dreams, and realizes that Yahweh is reassuring him: “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go.” Lord, revive my hope and may I respond, as Jacob did: “The Lord is in this place and I did not know it. ”

I have been praying for a better life – one which is not filled with so much pressures from personal and professional struggles. It seems that the desire for financial stability, better contribution from my husband, possibility to do things I cannot do now, are unreachable. I keep on struggling, hoping, working to achieve things that matter more than the things I am doing now. I have not given up, though, but it seems that all my desires remain empty and all my dreams are unfulfilled.

Also, I am also praying, albeit irregularly, for my beloved aunt who, in her twilight years, is abandoned by her daughters. I wrestle with my anger towards my cousins who are bereft of their much-needed love for their mother and my desire to pray that sooner than later, they may be use every single minute of their remaining time to show, in concrete ways, their love for their mother. Moreover, I feel drowned in guilt for refusing to take a responsibility which is not mine – of taking care of my aunt when her children have all the resources needed to love their mother. I too have multiple responsibilities that I have to face.

I pray for stronger hope, faith and trust in the Lord that one day, in the not-so-distant future, I may learn in the real value of patience, faith, hope and love.

thank you for this chance to read, to reflect and pray….Iam undergoing a problem with my workmates….it seems am no longer efficient to work with them or even needed by them. its not that easy to leave my work bec its also my apostolate to serve God in my own little way. thank you for helping me remember the story of Zecharaiah esp at this Advent season .Slmt po.

One other gift to Zechariah was becoming mute until St. John, the Baptist, was born. The temporary disability veils the gift of silence that created sacred space within Zechariah for a more heartfelt contemplation of God working in him and in his life, the way Mary contemplated the events of her life with Jesus, “keeping all these things in her heart.”

While I was reading the scripture, I have been thinking why the angel made Zechariah mute? I have seen your reflection, SGH, and reflected on it, “That silence created a sacred space for a more heartfelt contemplation.” And it made me think of my life right now, where there is so much noise around me, around us. maybe the Lord wants us to be mute, to quiet our hearts sometimes and listen to Him. ?

This is the exact detail that moved me — Zechariah becoming mute. In the past, I have always thought that it was a “punishment” for Zechariah’s lack of faith. But now, it seems to me that the Angel telling Zechariah that “you will become mute” was more of foretelling how Zechariah would react to this visit. To me now, “becoming mute” seems less of a disability and more of a gift — the gift of silence and contemplation that Zechariah entered into in response to God’s (astounding, baffling, disturbing) message to him. It seems that there was only one way for Z to respond, and that was to fall silent in awe. And i agree, this runs parallel to Our Lady “keeping all things in her heart”, which is the posture of contemplative prayer.

Reading through scripture, these words came alive :
…believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time (Luke 1:11:20)

am at a loss for words. So I leave it here.

Thank you for speaking to me, Lord, in this online retreat. Truly, Christ is the reason for this season. His love is constant in all the seasons of our lives. Our family is in the season of loss since the passing of my husband last quarter. I am still in my baby steps of grief journey. It will not be easy especially this season of Advent but I am holding on to God who carried me through it all. He has sent us his angels to watch and protect over us. I pray for healing and hope to conquer our hearts. I pray I will be able to learn to live, plan and dream again though my heart is frozen, numb and tired. Jesus, I trust in You. Let it be done to me according to your will.

The invitation to this recollection and this recollection is the gift! Thank you. God is the One who always calls me/you personally and individually. It seems like I have been wandering for a while. Jacob’s words struck a chord on my heartstrings – one I had heard before: “I am with you and will keep you wherever you go”. . . “the Lord is in this place and I did not know it. ”

It is a blessing to join. Keeping the community in my Advent prayers.

Receiving the blessing of clarity and finding joy in what I have and where I am. Reviving hope and joy in my day-to-day. Reminding myself of the beauty in this chapter and season of my life right now.

I have been married for 4 years now and my husband and I, like Zecchariah and Elizabeth, have always yearned to have a child. We have gone through treatments and workups with the doctor and all of it has been such an emotional roller coaster ride for us with the many disappointments we’ve experienced along the way. At some point I have stopped religiously praying for this miracle and many times I had lost hope. The call to revive this hope really struck me in this module. It is a reminder that it is ok to feel hopeless at times, but that there is more reason to revive that hope because the Lord answers our prayers no matter how long it takes, and that although the wait can be painful at times, the key is to find joy in all the other graces that He has already given us.

I ask for prayers for our little family… that our hope be strengthened when we feel that the odds are not in our favor, that we become more patient in waiting, and that we accept and embrace whatever gifts the Lord provides, whether it be a life with or without a child.

My husband has brought a few friends at Virgen dela Regla a shrine in Cebu. Ask our Lady and she may intercede. Many of thpse he brought here bore a child and one was able to adopt…all of them embracing the gifts of what the Lord gives them. Abandonment to His Divine Providence is key. God bless you po!

This year has been extra challenging for me and our small venture. My salary has been four months delayed since the first quarter of the year. I was not able to go home for 1 and half year, and was not able to spend 2 Christmases with my family because of the financial difficulty. For a single OFW with aging parents, it’s hard not to be home for a holiday. When I booked my flight for December, that was all the money I got. I was hoping for miracle to take place between September and December. I’ve requested for financial aid as my last resort, prayed hard for it, but still I got a NO for an answer. I’m flying home in a week time, but I’m so full of worries on how I’m going to make my parents happy with just my presence. We all know how expensive it is even to stay at home. I’ve thought about not going home anymore for I’m losing hope for any miracles to happen, but my friends keep telling me not to give up on hope…and now this
first day of Advent recollection allows me to reflect on the many times God showed me His mercy and faithfulness.
Thank you Pins of Light. Please include me and my situation in your prayer.


My mother passed away around this time last year. I decided then to allow myself to grieve by sitting still with my loss and setting aside less important things like extracurricular activities. Right now, after having grieved for almost a year, I feel that God is sending me His angels to remind me of the things that I have set aside. His angels are pushing me out of my comfort zone, telling me to look for challenges which may or may not be related to the challenges I have temporarily set aside. Since my mom passed away, I have kept myself in my comfort zone, grieving and learning from the process. I have felt so safe and secure, that stepping out of the comfort zone has become so daunting. I feel that I am strong enough now to step out of the circle and face new challenges and I thank God for giving me that strength.

My husband died suddenly two months ago and I am still grappling with the whys he was taken from us. The grief has been intense and my children and I are feeling so lost. I pray constantly for a deepening and strengthening of faith and hope. These I cannot afford to lose, though many times, I feel so fragile and overwhelmed by the loss we have to endure for the rest of our lives. May our hope be revived in that we will heal and move forward.

I have been through so many ups and downs this past year. More challenges than I care to imagine. I have at times lost hope. Forgotten to pray. Like Zechariah, I thought it was TOO LATE. I was tired of waiting.

I pray for the strengthening of HOPE in my life. I pray for patience in WAITING. I pray for GOD’S GIFTS ans GRACES. I pray that I recognize them.

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