The Advent season begins today with a firm instruction from the Gospel of Mathew 24:37-44 to stay awake and not be caught unprepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. This year's four-week season of Advent is a twenty-eight-day period of preparation for the two-comings of Jesus into our life and world:
"Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ's Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight (Universal Norms, 39).
We must continually long for his coming by being always prepared, "Therefore, stay awake!" How do we prepare for the two arrivals of Jesus? We often think of his first coming, which we commemorate at Christmas, but we cannot afford to ignore his yet-to-be second appearance in the future. Hence we have to be watchful. We have made some provisions to help us get into the mode and attitude of watchfulness in this busy and culturally commercialized time. Don't get caught up in the culture of "busyness." Stay awake and focused on the real purpose of the season.
You received a "What Am I Doing for Advent This Year? " booklet and an "Advent with Hallow" prayer aid. These are my gifts to you to get you going. Other spiritual supports include the parish Advent penance service on December 16, Worship Night on December 17, and Advent Journey of Hope musical parish mission by Mark Forrest on December 18. These trio-spiritual events are part of the parish's efforts to keep us in watchful mode. We also need to take note of the Advent Wreath lighting. I intend that praying with the Advent Wreath extends to the domestic-home church. We hope each family makes the symbolic rite part of their family life to prepare them spiritually for the arrival of Christ.
Let's be joyful and hopeful as we await the coming of Jesus at Mass.
With joyful hope,
Fr. Bernard, OP