We celebrate the beginning of a secular calendar year with parties, champagne, fireworks and hugs and kisses for our dearest loved ones, but we don’t’ even have an awareness of the beginning of the liturgical year, the Church’s calendar that moves through the secular year with seasons and feast days and marks these with different colored vestments worn for the Eucharistic celebration and music, processions and what we lightly call, “the smells and bells” of Catholicism.
The liturgical year, the Church year, begins with the season of Advent, that special time of twenty-four days leading up to the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin ‘adventus’ meaning “coming”. The dictionary definition is: “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event”. For Old Testament Jews, their ‘advent’ lasted several thousands of years because they awaited the coming of the Messiah, promised to them by God and believed to be the one who would make everything right in their world. They suffered famines, wars, captivity, slavery, wandering aimlessly in the desert for generations, violence, near genocide and many other painful experiences as they awaited the arrival of their ‘savior’. If we can look beyond the commercialization of this beautiful season it affords us an opportunity to prepare ourselves to celebrate the physical coming of Jesus Christ as a man, into this world to begin His journey to Calvary which would redeem mankind from the scourge of original sin and re-open for us the gates of heaven. Advent is a season of great hope for Christians because we not only look forward to the ‘coming’ of Christ, but we also know that because of His coming we have a basis to hope for the glory of His Second Coming. That hope starts with the Nativity, is challenged by the Passion and Death of Christ and is fortified and affirmed in His Resurrection and Ascension. Take the time this year to truly immerse yourself into the celebrations of this season, the Lighting of the Advent wreath, the Christmas Concert by our Adult Choir, the celebration of the Advent Reconciliation Liturgy and the special Eucharistic celebrations on the eve of Christmas and Christmas Day. This is a time to be overly generous to those who have little or nothing, to be caring and concerned about those who are suffering during this season. This is a time to be especially prayerful in thanking God for the extraordinary blessings of your life this past year and in asking Him to continue to bless you and your family and our Parish family in our pursuit of fulfillment of our Mission. Please continue to pray for our ministers and clergy and all the members of this parish who make things happen for all of us! God bless you and may this Advent season be joyful and peaceful in your homes and lives.
Pastor’s Points is a bi-weekly feature about faith, family, and life, from our pastor, Father James Flynn. It is published in our parish bulletins, as well.