Dear Friends in Christ,

It is Advent!  So here is my annual reminder to slow down and prepare your hearts for Jesus.  We have all had a rough couple of years with the COVID pandemic.  We need some joy!  The way to have a beautiful and joyful Christmas is to have a holy Advent.  Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season.  We prepare for the coming of Jesus at the end of time and celebrate his coming in the flesh on Christmas by first calling to mind and repenting of our sins.  Hence, the violet vestments.

Advent is also a season of joy.  The joy of Advent is not from seasonal festivities but comes from growing holier and closer to the Lord.  Advent is a season of preparation and renewal of our hearts.  During this season, we are to pray more and prepare ourselves for Jesus.  Take a little time to read the Scripture passages for daily Mass (they are listed in the Bulletin each week).  If you can come to daily Mass, treat yourself to this wonderful gift.  Jesus wants to give you the gift of Himself in His Holy Word and in the Sacrament of His body and blood.   If you cannot come to Mass, come to Adoration or Liturgy of the Hours.  Eucharistic Adoration is 24/7 in the Adoration Chapel and the Liturgy of the Hours is at 6:30 a.m. and p.m.  Let God give you something to handle the extra stress of this time of year.

As you go through your gift list, make a prayer list too.  Pray for everyone on your gift list and give them the gift of your prayers for these next four weeks of Advent.  Pray for their specific needs.  As you write your Christmas cards, say a little prayer for each person to whom you are sending a card.  When you send out cards, make them holy cards.  I strongly recommend that you send out religious cards that have a spiritual message and not merely winter landscapes, snowmen, or pictures of candy canes.  This is our holy season; use it as an opportunity to spread the beautiful message of Christ’s birth.  Remember to invite people to come to Christmas Mass, but also remember to bring them to Advent Mass as well.  

Advent is also a time to share the story of our salvation with children.  Do not assume that people know what Christmas is about.  In many schools and in many households, Christmas is just a holiday.  This great feast of faith has been reduced to toys, food, festivities, and football.   The forces of this world have been very successful at excluding God from society and Christ from Christmas!  For too many, what is behind the season and the day is unknown.  If you have non-Christian friends and family, do not be embarrassed to tell them the story of Jesus’ birth.  You may be surprised at how many will welcome the true message of the beautiful story of the nativity of Jesus.  I have heard non-Christians and even some ill-formed Christians tell incredible narratives that include Jesus, the three wise men, Rudolf the red nose reindeer and Santa all mixed together.  Sad, but true.  Don’t assume that everyone knows what Christmas is about; share the beauty of the Gospel with them!

Lastly, remember to come to Confession.  Jesus was born and came into the world to conquer sin and death not to give us a holiday.  Come to Confession and let Jesus forgive you and give you His divine grace and mercy.  For this too, be prepared.  Lines are long and priests are few, so patience, understanding and sacrifice are needed.  Prepare for Confession by making a good examination of conscience.  Review the Ten Commandments and the Precepts of the Church.  Come early and pray for more priests and pray for those in line with you.  Pray for more converts and pray for those away from the Church.  Pray that many will come home to the Church this Advent and Christmas and receive the wonderful gift of a renewed faith!  Pray that they may have the lasting joy of Jesus in their lives.                  

Have a Holy Advent and a Holy Christmas!

In pace Christi,

Fr. Troy