Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This may seem a little early, but I want to wish everyone a blessed new year! As Advent begins this weekend, our Church enters a new year of grace. The cycle restarts, transitioning from the end of time and Christ the King, to the time before Christ’s coming. We take time to reflect on the three comings of Christ – his coming at the end of time, his coming to each of us here and now (especially in the Eucharist), and his coming in the past at the Nativity.
So our focus is on preparing for Christ’s arrival, reflecting on what it means to live in the darkness of a world without him, that we may truly long for him. Sadly, our world skips this season and seems to jump right into Christmas, but one of the great gifts of our faith is that we take time to feel Christ’s absence, so we may appreciate his presence all the more. We fast, we deny ourselves, we enter a time of saying ‘no’ to the things of the world, recognizing that they will never make us happy, so that when Christ comes, we can actually enjoy them. We’re able to see that only he makes life joyful, and everything else is just an added bonus that brightens the journey.
I would like to invite all of us, then, to try and go against the tide, and make this season truly one of prayer and preparation. Here are some possible ways to do that:
1. This weekend we are having a “reverse collection,” where we will be handing out cards which explain how to register for FORMED.org (the Catholic Netflix). This is a great place to find enriching material for parishioners of all ages.
2. On Mondays we have adoration from 12:30-8PM. Maybe we can stop in for even a few moments to spend time with our Lord and invite him into our lives.
3. Let’s think of some small sacrifices we can make. As much as we can enjoy Christmas parties, maybe we don’t indulge as much outside of them, fasting from certain foods, music, or technology. Maybe that even gives us a little more time to pray or more resources to share with the poor.
4. On December 12th and 13th two dynamic young priests will be visiting our parish to offer reflections for the season. This will certainly be a great opportunity to learn and grow.
5. Beside our regularly scheduled times, on Monday, December 17th, we will have confessions from 12:30-8PM. There is no better way to prepare our hearts for Christ than to cleanse them of those sins, big or small, which weigh us down. If you have any hesitation, please know that the priests of this parish want nothing more than to help you through the process and share that gift of God’s mercy.
These are only a few ways to make the Advent season a blessed one. Even though we can feel bogged down by all the other preparations – shopping and wrapping and cooking – let’s try to make God a priority. Let’s take time to remember today that our spiritual preparation is the most important, because it makes us ready for the greatest gift we can ever receive: Jesus Christ.
Yours in Christ,