Friday, November 29, 2013

Season of Advent, Prepare for the Lord!

Today we begin the season of Advent, actually New Year’s Day of the Church Year. It is a season that brings back fond memories of childhood practices: lighting the Advent wreath each day at dinnertime, putting straws in a manger after performing an act of charity, making gifts for each family member, putting out shoes on St. Nicholas’ Eve to find them full of goodies in the morning, praying the Advent prayer “Hail and Blessed”...(found below)  Traditionally, Advent is a time, when like St. John the Baptist, we prepare a way for the Lord. We give ourselves the chance to see the presence of God to commune with Him, to discover His plan for us.

Each season of the Church year brings with it a special grace for us. Just as on holidays we often make time to visit with friends and relatives, God wants to visit us and give us the grace of the season? Each day of Advent spend some time in prayer before Our Lord in the Eucharist and together search for answers.

If Advent is just a time of consumerism, we have missed the boat. The greatest gift, the one and only gift of Christmas is Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer. Jesus is the gift that God wants to give us this Advent. He is always willing to give, but it is up to us to unwrap the Father’s gift to behold His face. We can do this by using Advent to renew and deepen our relationship with God.

Advent is the time to step back and reflect on such questions as “What is my relationship with Jesus Christ?” How does this relationship color every aspect of my life?” "Am I just a follower of Jesus, or am I really His disciple?"  There is so much persecution of Christians going on in our world today, even in subtle ways. But if we were on trial simply for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?

At the same time, Advent is a time of joy and expectation. Our God is coming to save us. As a newlywed couple anticipates the birth of their first child, there are many things they must attend to. However, with the million and one details the thought of their expected child is never far from their mind. It makes me wish I was a fly on the wall in the little house where Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph lived before they made the journey to Bethlehem. The joy and anticipation must have been awesome!  May we in spirit shadow Mary and Joseph during their time together before the birth of Jesus that first Advent and learn from them how to unwrap our Gift from the Father!

Pray this Advent prayer each day (15 times) asking for the gift of renewed faith, and to prepare your hearts to receive the gift of Christ on Christmas!
Hail and blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born, of the most pure  Virgin Mary, at midnight in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.  In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my petitions, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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