Photo courtesy of Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland

BANGOR — “We run from the quiet and the simple, but that is where God wants to meet us.” 

Over 200 women filled pews, joined by over 150 more on Zoom, in listening to Laura Phelps set the tone for the season ahead during the popular Advent by Candlelight event at St. Mary Church in Bangor on Saturday, Nov. 13.

The free event annually aims to “prepare hearts and homes to receive our Savior before the holidays arrive.” The traditional food, beverages, and table settings were suspended for this year’s edition, the ninth held at St. Paul the Apostle Parish, due to pandemic considerations.

But the message and the meaning remained thanks to Laura, a nationally recognized speaker and the author of two books, “Victorious Secret: Everyday Battles and How To Win Them” and “Sweet Cross: A Marian Guide To Suffering.”

The topic of her presentation was “Advent with Mary: She Who Believed” and the importance of finding a calm and quiet Advent amidst the chaos. A task easier said than done sometimes, admitted Laura, who is the mother of four children.

“If we don’t get quiet, we’re not going to hear Him,” said Laura, who suggested giving the Lord at least five minutes of quiet every day. “Pray the Rosary every day. All Mary does is point us to Him. If we embrace Mary, we embrace simplicity. And simplicity will always lead you to God. Every time.”

And focusing on the center of the season, Jesus, during busy and hectic moments, brings calm.

“(Christmas) is not about the decorations. It’s not about how pretty your house looks or if you got all of the kids in matching outfits to smile at the camera,” she said. “It’s about our Savior. Our Savior who chose to be born so that he could save us from ourselves. He is what we prepare for. Embrace the waiting.”

The laughs were frequent during Laura’s presentations thanks to her humor and relatability, including her advice on how to deal with any depression that springs up after Dec. 25.

“Put your tree back up, sister! We have 12 days of celebration. Nobody parties like the Catholics!” she said. “Get yourself a liturgical calendar. There is a feast for everything!”

The evening began with a blessing from Monsignor Andrew Dubois, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, and was hosted by Tracy Guerrette, a former faith formation director at the parish, which co-sponsored the event along with Vance Gray Wealth Management and The Snowman Group.

To view a list of other events and activities planned at Maine parishes in preparation for the start of Advent, visit www.portlanddiocese.org/advent-parish-events