Welcome to Advent!
When you walk into church today you will notice that a few things are different as we enter into the liturgical season of Advent. Advent is that precious and sacred time that prepares us for our celebration of Christmas. It is also the start of a new liturgical year for our Church. This year, we will travel through the gospel readings taken from St. Luke.
At Mass you will notice that we have gone from the color of green that is used during the season of Ordinary Time to vestments and decorations with a blueish purple tone. An Advent wreath with candles is placed near the altar to symbolically mark out our four-week journey to the special celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Even the songs we sing highlight the fact that this is a time of expectation and being prepared for what is about to come.
I like the Advent season and I know that I need the Advent season. Advent keeps me spiritually focused and grounded. It offers me an inner peace, especially when life can get real nutty at this time of year.
This is the time of the year when our daily schedules become more packed with things that need to get done. Our daily list of "things to do" gets longer and longer. We can easily run to multiple places on a given day and come home exhausted from all our travels. There will be days when we fall into bed with our minds and bellies stuffed and overloaded.
I believe how we get to December 25th is just as important as our actual celebration on Christmas Day. I don't want to sound like the sarcastic Scrooge, but if we get to Christmas Day all frazzled and frustrated, then we did Advent all wrong.
Our Advent theme this year is, “The Lord is Near. God’s Mercy is Upon Us." This Advent will be special for Catholics around the world knowing that Pope Francis has designated a Year of Mercy to begin on December 8th when we celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The good news that we hold onto this Advent is the fact that God loves us. Yes, God loved us so much that God gave us the gift of his Son. God wanted to be near us in the best way possible. This is what Christmas is all about. May we allow Jesus to get close to us this Advent and allow him to lead us to God’s great love and mercy. In order for this to happen we have to give him the time and space.
I love the words of St. Paul in the second reading today that comprise a heartfelt prayer and an earnest plea; which makes for a perfect spiritual goal for Advent. “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.” May the love we receive from God, be the gift that we are able share with others
The Gift of Prayer
This is a season filled with gift-giving. We will go far to find the right gift for the right person. Sometimes we pray that it fits; that they like it; and that it doesn't end up as "regifting" and passed along to the next person.
Give yourself a gift this Advent -the gift of prayer. Allow yourself the time to not just catch your breath, but reflect and rest in the presence of God's love. It can be a great opportunity for renewal.
Consider attending morning Mass during the weeks of Advent. Prayer is a great way to begin your day. The scripture readings for this season are filled with lots of hope and a ton of promise.
The Word Is Mercy
Fr. Larry McBrady will be offering an Advent Day of Prayer on Saturday morning, December 12th at St. Joseph Parish Center, from 8:45 am to 12:00 noon. Fr. Larry is a gifted and experienced spiritual director. You will enjoy his presentations. Set aside the time for yourself to reflect on God’s loving presence in your life. Please register on-line if you plan to attend the Day of Prayer so that we can plan accordingly for the day.
We are grateful for the women and men who serve at our Saturday morning Parish Food Pantry. This is a busy time of year for them as we reach out to those in need. Our Food Pantry is in need of clothing, especially during these winter months. Donations can be made online or to either of the parish offices during the week. We thank you for your generosity and support.