Advent is nearly upon us. Are you ready? Here is a brief article on this topic, which I wrote for last week’s bulletin at St. Barnabas:
“Liturgical New Year” is just two weeks away – November 30th is the First Sunday of Advent.
Our highly commercialized culture makes it extremely difficult for us to live the season of Advent the way the Church intends. It is a penitential season. That is why the priest wears purple vestments. That is why there is also one Sunday, near the end, with “rose” (pink) colored vestments: to remind us that we should be joyful in the midst of penance, which is not an end in itself – and also to tell us that the time of penitential preparation will soon give way to celebration. We Catholics fast before we feast!
Today, instead, the message from our popular culture is only to feast. From “pumpkin spice” to “holiday cheer”, the period of roughly September to January can be summed up with a single word: INDULGE!
But Catholics have never been known to ride the wave of changing fashions. We have an identity all our own, and it is timeless. And that particular identity, which includes times of penance and times of feasting, is meant to prepare us for the timeless – for eternity.
So, how will your observance of Advent prepare you for the Feast of Christmas? In the midst of all of the anticipated Christmas celebrations (such as… our parish party on December 14!), how will you use the time of November 30 to December 24 to prepare for the real celebration of Christmas, which goes from the night of December 24 until January 11? (The Christmas season traditionally ends on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which in 2015 is Sunday, January 11.)
One possibility is to read daily from the Advent Companion booklets that will soon be made available. What about some extra time of prayer each day? What about giving up a food that you like (as we often do in Lent)? There are many little things that we could do. And not only will doing them help us to grow in discipline and holiness, but they will also make the Feast of Christmas all the more meaningful.
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