Moving Through These Days of Advent.

Advent 2017Most of us have at least one calendar on which to keep track of our commitments. I have to admit that my one and only calendar is on-line, and I always get a little nervous when thinking about what would happen if it ever crashed. So, I occasionally print out a copy just in case!

In the life of the Church, we keep time by the Scripture readings we hear proclaimed at Mass on Sundays. This cycle of readings is called the Liturgical Year. The First Sunday of Advent, which we celebrated this past Sunday, begins a new liturgical year with the four Sundays before Christmas. So, Happy New Year to you! As in every year, this Liturgical Year has a Gospel text that is proclaimed throughout. This year it is Saint Mark’s Gospel, since we are in cycle B.

Advent is a time of expectation, when we prepare our home and our hearts to celebrate the beginning of our Christian faith with the conception and birth of Jesus Christ. It is a season of hope, a time to nurture peace and experience joy in anticipation of the love that is made incarnate in the birth of Christ.

We celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ’s first coming as a baby in Bethlehem, but also for His presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in anticipation of His final coming at the end of time. This year’s celebration of Advent is the shortest that it can possibly be – with the Fourth Sunday of Advent falling on December 24.

As we celebrate the days of Advent we have to admit that the pull of our secular culture and the world around us can create some tension in our lives. Having celebrated Thanksgiving we are now into the “Christmas Season” in our society. It is among the busiest times of the year. There are many wonderful traditions of family, generosity, and celebration at work, at home, and in our family. Christmas decorations surround us at the mall, as we drive the city streets, and in our homes. Christmas songs are playing on the radio and all kinds of “Christmas Specials” are on the television. We could probably take in a Christmas concert weekly. And I’m sure we have all been invited to at least one “Christmas Party” that will take place before Christmas Day. Not to mention the shopping and baking to be done, and dealing with the ever-changing weather!

In the midst of it all, Advent struggles for our attention. It speaks up in the midst of all that is happening around us and asks us to “wake up” to God’s movement and purpose in our lives. Let’s enter into the loving celebrations of this holiday season with our eyes wide open so that we can see and acknowledge the true meaning of the season – the gift of God’s love in Jesus Christ.

I’m going to offer you some suggestions that I believe can help you steer your way through these days of Advent waiting. As with the calendar New Year, Advent is a great time to re-commit to your spiritual resolutions.

Try to participate in daily Mass at your parish – yes, it will take a little extra effort to be there every day, but I can assure you that the grace of participating in daily Mass is well worth the effort. Take the time to reflect on the daily scripture readings, which can be found at the website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Pick up an Advent calendar, at Saint John Bosco they are located at the magazine rack in the Church vestibule, and follow the suggestion that is given for each day. Light the candles of an Advent Wreath every evening and pray for God’s blessing on your family and friends. Go to the interactive Family Advent calendar found at the website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which offers daily reflections and activities. Participate in some Advent or holiday giving program, at Saint John Bosco we are reaching out to the Saint Martin de Porres Center, children in need at Saint Michael Church on Scranton Road, and our homebound and nursing home residents through our “Advent Giving Tree”. Make a weekly Holy Hour at your parish in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Spend some time in silence. Take the time to go to Confession. Saint John Bosco Parish is hosting the Communal Penance Service for the parishes in our cluster on Monday evening, December 18 at 7:00 pm – there will be 8 priests available for individual confessions. Pray a little more each day. You might even consider some of the suggestions of Constance Hull in her article, “Silence in Advent Prepares us for the Joy of Christmas,” at Catholic Exchange.

This Sunday, December 10th at 2:00 pm, Saint John Bosco will gather to pray the Stations of Advent and Christmas. Like the familiar stations or way of the cross that we walk during Lent, we will travel the way to the nativity of Christ. The praying of 14 stations from the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke, will help us to discover the journey to Christmas in a new and fresh way. It promises to be a prayerful experience in art, song, scripture, and prayer.

You are welcome to join us at Saint John Bosco for the Bambinelli Blessing on the Third Sunday of Advent. Bambinelli is plural for the word “Bambinello,” which refers to the “Baby Jesus” in the Nativity scene. You are invited to bring the “Baby Jesus” from your Nativity Scene to the Mass you attend the weekend of December 16th and 17th and receive a blessing alongside our parish Bambinelli.

Having read my suggestions; now add them to your own Advent customs list. Once you have done that, I encourage you to look that list over again and intentionally pick one activity that speaks to your heart and can realistically be done every day. Then, do you best to integrate it into your daily routine between now and Christmas Day. If you do, I can assure you that you will celebrate these Advent days of waiting with a little more peace and a little more joy!

Question – What am I intentionally doing for Advent this year?


December 6th, 2017 |