Praised be Jesus Christ!
As you probably already know, this is the first Sunday of Advent which marks the beginning of the new liturgical year. The word ‘Advent’ comes from the Latin adventus meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘approach’ and so the four-week season of Advent is one of longing for the arrival of the Lord. But what many people do not know is that the season of Advent is actually divided into two parts, almost into two “mini-seasons.”
The first half of Advent does not focus on shepherds and mangers; instead it looks to the second coming of Jesus as the Just Judge; and the readings at Mass and in the liturgy of the hours reflect this focus on Christ’s second coming at the end of time. It is only in the second half of the Advent season, starting around the third week of Advent, that the Church shifts its focus to Bethlehem and Jesus’ first coming as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The first half of Advent is marked by a penitential spirit for preparing oneself to meet Jesus, when he comes again in glory and it is from this penitential spirit that we get the liturgical color violet (purple) for Advent. Then on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday (Gaudete meaning joy), there is a shift from the more austere penitential spirit to one of Joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord Jesus on Christmas day. In order to get the most out of this season, it is helpful to exercise some of the practices which the Church offers us during this season. So here are some of the most practical things that we can do to spiritually prepare during Advent.
1. Advent Wreath: One of the most popular ways to celebrate Advent is with an Advent wreath or Advent candleholders. Four candles (three purple and one pink), are used to count down the weeks until Christmas. Each Sunday of Advent one of the candles is lit and special prayers are said. Each Sunday of Advent has a particular theme leading up to the birth of Christ. Read more about the Advent Wreath Tradition and Meaning.
2. Advent Devotional Reading: daily devotional reading is one of the best ways to spiritually prepare yourself for Christmas. Here at Blessed Sacrament we are blessed to be able to off er a good Advent and Christmas companion booklet for free.
3. Our Advent Penance Service: Confession is an important part of preparing room for the coming of Christ into our hearts. Our parish Penance Service will be on Sunday December 20th at 7:00pm—mark your calendar!
4. Almsgiving: This is the season of giving, and good deeds and acts of Charity have always been an important part of preparation for Christmas. The season of Advent is a great time to practice spiritual and corporeal works of mercy, especially during this Jubilee Year of Mercy.
5. Parish Holy Hours: Every Sunday during Advent we will have a parish Holy Hour from 5:00-6:00pm. This Holy Hour will include Vespers, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and there will be confessions available. One of the great benefits of doing a Holy Hour together is that our voices are united and joined together in prayer as one people. I hope that you are able to participate in some or all of what our parish has to off er during this great season and my you have the best Advent of your life!
In Christ through Mary,
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