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 liturgy of the first two weeks of Advent serves as a kind of transition from the end of the previous liturgical year. Throughout November – and especially in last Sunday’s celebration of the Feast of Christ the King – the Church draws our attention to the second coming of the Lord, and our need to be prepared for His coming. This is a time when the Lord will judge the living and the dead, as we proclaim each Sunday when we recite the Creed. Now, in Advent, our focus shifts to our preparation to celebrate Christ’s first coming. It is good for us to reflect upon both these events, since it was necessary for the Lord to come to us first as a man and our Redeemer in order to prepare us for His coming later as Judge. So, during these first two weeks of Advent, the readings of Scripture at Mass will speak more of His second coming. This should help us to understand and appreciate better the meaning of His first coming, which we will celebrate on December 25.
I mentioned two weeks ago in the bulletin some ways in which we can better prepare ourselves and our families during this Advent season. Let me remind you again that the Christmas season did not start on Friday after Thanksgiving! It is so easy for us to be drawn into the habits and customs of the secular and commercial culture around us. To make this month of Advent truly a time of spiritual preparation demands a certain discipline from us. It won’t be a time of preparation by accident; rather, each of us must choose to adopt an attitude of waiting, watching, and preparing. On a practical level it means decorating our homes with the symbols of Advent – the Advent wreath with the four candles – and delaying the Christmas decorations until we approach the actual Feast of Christmas. It means waiting for Christmas before playing Christmas music in our homes (even though the stores and radio stations will be playing it non-stop). And, of course, it means a more fervent participation in the Liturgy of the Church. Our attentive participation at Mass also serves as a great teacher: we are formed according to the mind of the Church by the Word of God and the celebration of the Liturgy. Throughout Advent please refer to this bulletin for opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance here, and at other area parishes. I also invite you to join me for Solemn Vespers (evening prayer) each Sunday. We begin with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 3pm, with Vespers beginning about 3:30pm, and conclude with Benediction at 4pm. Have a Holy Advent!
May God bless you!