Advent season begins the new liturgical year. It is a New Year within our Christian worship timeline. Like the Gregorian calendar New Year day on January 1, the season of Advent offers us the possibility of looking backward and forward at the same time. Like the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, Janus, with faces in the back and front, signifying a look back into the past year and ahead into the new one, Advent season allows us to look at how we have acted in the past and how we plan to walk right in the new year. It is about beginning following a profound reflection on the past we left behind. This act in itself, a look back, helps us to prepare for a better walk into the future. We make preparations based on our experiences in the past. As we prepare for the Adventus- the coming of Christ in glory, let us look back into our past actions, identify the ones lacking in charity, regret them and renounce them and make amends by promising God a new beginning rooted in love.
As we prepare for Christmas by buying gifts and writing greeting cards, we make sure we don’t leave anyone dear to us behind. In the same way, let us make sure we don’t forget the sins we want to leave behind. Preparing the way of the Lord as we hear from Prophet Isaiah (40) and Evangelist Mark (1) this Sunday demands we look back to our sinful actions to hate those actions and repenting of them. To do this productively, we need to approach Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation. Please do make a good confession during your Advent preparations for Christmas. Just as you took extra care to decorate your homes, buy and wrap gifts, write and mail Christmas cards, making sure all is done well, adopt the same approach to cleaning up your soul of sin in preparation for the coming of Jesus into your life.
As part of our preparation, we can learn a lot from the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Immaculate Conception is our inspiration in preparing the way for Christ in our life by getting rid of sin. This day of obligation, which falls on Tuesday, calls us to distance ourselves from sin by seeking the Immaculate Conception’s intercession. The Church describes her privileges of being without sin in the following words:
"No sin would touch her so that she would be a fitting and worthy vessel of the Son of God. The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the virginal conception and the birth of Christ, but rather to Mary's being conceived without inheriting Original Sin." (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, 142-143).
Opportunities to go to confession to be without sin and its consequences are available on Saturdays from 3-3:45 pm; 9:30-10:10:15 am on Sundays of Advent, Thursdays from 5:30 – 6 and 6:30-7:00 pm. I will announce additional days as needed for confessions in the days ahead. You may also schedule a family or individual confessions during office hours by calling the office.
May you have a rewarding Advent preparation for Christmas.
Fr. Bernard, OP