Message for the Advent season
My brothers and sisters,
The season of Advent is four weeks long, but only approximately. When Christmas
falls on a Monday, we have an Advent of only twenty-two days. When Christmas
falls on a Sunday, we have an Advent of a full four weeks. Most of us seem to love
Advent and that is one reason for wanting it to be long as possible. There is a
distinct pleasure in looking forward to Christmas. Advent, however, is a season of
expectation not only for the celebration of the birth of Christ, but also for his
return at the end of time. Then Christ will turn the universal kingdom over to his
Father for his honor and glory. The Church has already waited a long while for
that return, and so a lengthy Advent seems appropriate.
And yet the truth that Christ will come again is part of our faith. The first part of
Advent is an anticipation of the second coming, but throughout the entire year in
every Mass we pray to the Father: “Protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful
hope for the coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.”
We can say his coming is threefold. First, he came in the past. The Son of God
came to us and took on our human nature. We did nothing to earn this or to
make this happen. It was God’s own choice because of his great love and because
our great need for the blessings he could bring that he came to us.
The second way he comes to us in the present. He comes in his word, in the
sacraments, in prayer and in the poor. We must be aware of these ways so we can
recognize him and respond to him, listening to his word, letting ourselves be
nourished by the sacraments, taking time to pray, helping those who come our
way who have real needs.
The third way he comes to us is in the future. We do not know when that moment
will arrive or in what manner it will arrive, but it will arrive for all of us. When he
comes knocking on our door may we be ready, may we greet him as a friend and
not as a stranger. May we be watching and alert for his coming.
There some Advent traditions who can help us to stay alert:
First, Advent Candles, the candles are violet, the liturgical color for Advent in the
Church calendar with the exception of the third candle which is rose for Gaudete
Sunday. We light the candles to symbolize the coming of Christ, the light of the
world. You can have an Advent wreath to light a candle each Sunday by praying
for loved ones, and for peace in the world.
Giving Tree: Each year our Church has a giving tree set up in the foyer. Families
are invited to select a paper ornament labeled with child’s age, gender, and
desired gift for a family in our community that needs a little help this holiday
season. Many parishes, schools and non profits have such giving tree during
Advent. It is a good reminder to place focus on those who may not have much
during the season.
Contemplative Prayer: also called silent prayer is the practice of quieting your
thoughts, words and physical movements to simply rest in the love and presence
of God. Start by setting aside 5 to 10 minutes of your day for silent prayer.
Pope Francis reminded us that we carry out God’s work in closeness to him. He
emphasized that the apostolate of the ear is essential to his closeness. We cannot
come close to the Lord unless we listen to him in silence and know his loving
presence among us. In this manner we are able to communicate our faith to
others. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI often reminded us of the importance of
listening to God in silence. It is only in silence that we can appreciate the loving
presence of the Lord. My brothers and sisters, during the season of Advent, we
need to take time to listen to the Lord by listening as he speaks to us in the events
of our lives. As we prepare to enter into the season of Advent, may we listen
more attentively to the presence of God in our daily life. A blessed Advent to all.
Fr Yves Geffrard
Administrator of Notre Dame Catholic Church