My dear brothers and sisters, the community of Saint Francis of Assisi, it has been for me an enormous privilege to be part of this faith community since August 2016. Thanks for your support and prayers. We are coming to the end of this liturgical year (Cycle C). During our “Year of Mercy” we have been blessed by our merciful and loving Father in many ways.

In a couple weeks we will begin Advent, the preparation for Christmas. Our new “Cycle A” begins with Advent. Our evening Mass on Nov. 26 will be opening a new year of grace. The colors, the scriptures, and the signs will help us to prepare the way of the Lord. The official color for the season of Advent is violet.

Advent is a time of hope. My favorite Advent picture is Mary in front of her cousin Elizabeth, as this is the best Advent time representation. Without the Virgin Mary, this time is a wasted time. The Virgin Mary has brought us our Salvation. Saint Mary and Saint Elizabeth, they were face to face, shaking their hands, both filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary was pregnant; our hope, our Messiah, Jesus was in her womb. Saint Elizabeth was pregnant, too. The prophet John the Baptist was in her womb. They lived their Advent with hope. The Lord was with them. Only when the Lord is in our midst can we live a real Advent.

As Mark Seale in the ‘Spirit of Advent‘ reminds us, “Humans beings cannot live without hope. So essential is this to human life… To be without hope, to have nothing to live for, is to surrender to death in despair. Mary and Elizabeth recognized the new situation; they served as models for the Church in discerning the presence of our Savior in the world.”

Let us invite the Lord to be with us this Advent. When we walk beside him, he makes our way and our life stress-free. May this Advent season help us to stay in touch with our faith in God’s love and alert to God’s intervention in our daily lives. Advent helps us to be watchful for Christ’s future return. Advent recalls the past acts of God, to help us look to the future with hope.

Advent is a time of hope. Maranatha! “Come, Lord Jesus, come!” Bless this faith community and their families. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This story was written by Fr. Raul Martinez Lopez, Parochial Vicar of St. Francis from summer 2016 – summer 2017. This story was originally published in December 2016 Edition of The St. Francis Grapevine, our parish newsletter.