Dear Friends in Christ:
New beginnings can be exhilarating or frightening and sometimes both. We are now in a time of new beginnings as we enter the season of Advent. Advent of course is the penitential season of preparation for the coming of the Lord. The first three weeks of Advent are to help us focus and prepare for the 2nd coming of Jesus at the end of time. The Fourth Week of Advent is to help us prepare to celebrate the 1st coming of the Messiah by his incarnation and nativity. What is your disposition about Jesus’ Second Coming? Are you excited, frightened, anxious, hopeful or disinterested? What is your attitude about celebrating the birth of the Messiah, (The Anointed One – The Christ)? Does it fill your heart with joy and gladness or is it a burden of too many things to accomplish on your “to-do list”?
As a penitential season, we have these weeks to reflect on our actions, attitudes and life. We have a chance to concentrate on those aspects of our lives that are in need of cleansing, correction or improvement. Just as we clean and prepare our homes to make them ready for the coming holiday, we need to do the same with our hearts and souls in preparation for the coming of Jesus. In other words, how we live our lives determines how we will live in eternal life! How we spiritually prepare in Advent helps us spiritually to celebrate Christmas. Our failure to prepare our hearts for Jesus diminishes our lives and reduces lives and our celebration of Christmas to the value of torn, used and discarded wrapping paper. Who wants that?
Here are some Advent suggestions to prepare for both the Second Coming and the celebration of the First Coming: Read a little bit of God’s Holy Word, the Sacred Scriptures each day. The Mass readings are in the bulletin and on the website and are easily accessible online. Pray the Psalms or read and study a little of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah, especially Isaiah and the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Meditate on the nativity narratives of the gospels. If you do not already do so, pray your rosary every day, especially with your family. The Joyful Mysteries are especially appropriate this time of year. If you and your spouse have never prayed the rosary together, try it! Get an Advent Wreath for your home and light the candles and offer the prayers with each family member taking a part. Obtain an Advent Calendar for the family. Come to daily Mass. We are offering additional Masses during Advent with a 12:10 noon Mass Mon-Fri., in addition to our regular weekday Masses. Make it a point to come to a daily Mass at least once a week during Advent. Go to Confession. In addition to the three nights of Confession the week before Christmas and the Saturday Confessions, we have Confessions before every weekday Mass. Don’t wait until the last minute – come and bring the whole family. Let your offering to the Lord be a humbled and contrite heart that has been washed clean by God’s mercy and grace. Offer a sacrifice during Advent. Giving up something is not restricted only for Lent. Offer a spiritual sacrifice during Advent of fasting, abstinence or almsgiving. Simplify your life. For many of us, the floods have forced us to do that already. But look and see what things and activities are cluttering your days and stealing your time and attention. Sometimes less really is more! Likewise when we hold back a little, it can greatly enhance our joy of celebration. Invite someone who has been away from the church or the practice of the faith to come to Mass with you – not just for Christmas, but for Advent as well! Help them prepare their hearts for Jesus! Use Christmas cards to share the joy and truth of the gospel message and not merely as sentiments of ”Season’s Greetings”. Pray for everyone to whom you send a card and from whom you receive a card.
Advent is a time of New Beginnings. Are you ready?
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately