Dear Friends in Christ:
Next Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year! So here is my annual reminder to slow down and prepare your hearts for Jesus. The way to have a beautiful Christmas is to have a holy Advent. Like Lent, Advent is a penitential season. We are to prepare for the coming of Jesus at the end of time and secondarily we prepare for the celebration of Christmas by first calling to mind and repenting of our sins. Hence the purple vestments. Advent is also a season of joy, but a joy that comes from growing holier and closer to the Lord. It is a season of preparation and renewal of our hearts. During this season, we are to actively pray more and prepare ourselves not just for the coming of Christmas, but for the coming of Jesus. Take a little time to read the readings from 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 come and give you the gift of Himself in His Holy Word and in the Sacrament of His body and blood. We have Mass three times a day Mon-Fri during Advent at 9:00 a.m., 12:10 noon and 7:00 p.m. 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 are at 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 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 prayer 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 you are sending a card. When you send out cards, make them holy cards. I strongly encourage you to send out religious cards that have a spiritual message not merely winter landscapes, snowmen or pictures of candy canes. This is our holy season, so use this as an opportunity to spread the beautiful message of Christ. Remember to invite people to come to Christmas Mass, but also remember to bring them to Advent Mass too. Share the story of our salvation with children. Do not assume that they know what Christmas is about. In many schools and in many homes, Christmas is just a holiday, it is about toys, food, festivities and football. Sadly, for too many, no mention is made of what is behind the season or the day. 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 Christmas as opposed to the confused hype of the season that distorts the beautiful story of the nativity of Jesus. I have heard non-Christians and even some ill-informed Christians retell 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 gospel!
Lastly, remember to come to confession. We will have confession 20 minutes before each weekday mass in Advent. That is confessions three times a day Monday through Friday, plus the regular Saturday times. 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. The closer we get to Christmas, lines can be long and priests are few, so patience, understanding and sacrifice are needed. So please try to come early. 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 rather than the fleeting joy of something under the tree.
The best way to have a beautiful Christmas is to have a holy Advent.
In pace Christi,