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 for the coming of the Lord. 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 fruitful participation in the Liturgy of the Church. (Please check the Advent Calendar included with my Advent Pastoral Letter for the complete Mass and Penance schedule.) Advent is a season of grace, and an opportunity to grow in your faith. Make good use of it!
May God bless you!