Today, the First Sunday of Advent, inaugurates the new Church year. The Church, in Her liturgy, expresses what we believe. So, it makes good sense that we begin with preparations to celebrate the Lord’s first coming. The problem with observing this season of Advent is that the rest of the culture is celebrating Christmas already! There are even Christian churches that begin decorating their churches for Christmas and singing Christmas hymns by the beginning of December. I suppose some of this is understandable – we just can’t wait for Christmas! We want to start celebrating now. But the Church wisely observes Advent with a spirit of watchfulness and anticipation. In our church you will notice it by the presence of subdued decorations and the Advent wreath (the four candles marking the four weeks of Advent). The music will be the familiar Advent hymns, which help us prepare for Christ’s coming. I strongly encourage you to observe the Advent season in your own homes. Don’t put up the Christmas decorations yet! Or, perhaps you may mark the passage of Advent by putting up the Christmas decorations gradually – one every day until your home is completely decorated by Christmas Eve. Put a small Advent wreath in your home where it can be seen by the whole family (on the dining room table, perhaps). You can mark the progress of Advent in your home as you light an additional candle each Sunday of the season. And, most importantly, you can use this Advent season to deepen your spiritual life by more faithful reception of the Sacraments. (You should have received my Advent Letter along with the Parish Advent Calendar listing the Mass and Penance schedule.) Advent is a season of grace and an opportunity to grow in your faith. Make good use of it!
Many families make an accounting of their charitable giving before the end of a calendar year for, among other reasons, possible tax implications. I hope you will consider placing your parish towards the top of that list. And, of course, I still encourage and welcome pledges to the Diocesan Annual Appeal. My thanks to all who have contributed to the DAA!
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller