Ready or not, here we go!!
Thought Christmas colors were red and green? Try blueish purple. That’s the official church color for Advent, the four-week spiritual preparation time leading up to the Feast of the Nativity. It gives a little leeway with purple or blue.
Many of us remember receiving Advent Calendars with little “treats” behind each door as we celebrated the Season of Advent. The calendars first emerged in the mid-1800s as another tool to focus on the reason for the season. Before paper became readily available, many families used small candles or even blocks to mark each day approaching Christmas. Later, calendar doors opened to Bible verses that tell the Christmas story. But the rich history of Advent stretches back more than 1600 years. Throughout Advent we have “little treats” available to you. Check the bulletin!
Much like Lent readies the church for Christ’s Easter resurrection, Advent has long prepared Christians to celebrate the coming of God to Earth — leading to classic carols like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” and “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.” (Each year we go around the parish singing Christmas Carols to the shut-ins, join us.) Originally, Christians fasted and prayed during this season to prepare for the “Christ-mass.” But the timing of Advent was not routine until after Roman Emperor Constantine declared December 25 as Christ’s birthday during the fourth century.
Today, fasting has gone out of vogue for much of the Western church, but each of the four weeks leading up to Christmas continues to have a special meaning. Hope, peace, joy, and love are the most common themes. Every Sunday, a new advent candle is lit on an evergreen wreath to symbolize God’s everlasting love, and worshippers pray and recite scriptures that align with the week’s focus. Liturgies vary slightly, but the essence is shared. With Christians around the world, we use this light to help us prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of God’s Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Royal blue or purple has been the candle color since the late 13th century to symbolize Christ, the coming King. On the third Sunday, a pink candle is often used to remember Mary. A final fifth candle, usually white to symbolize Christ’s purity, is lit for the night Christ was born.
This year our Advent Theme is “HAPPY”. Every Wednesday evening following the Peace Mass and in the morning following daily Mass we will have a faith sharing experience based on the movie: Happy. I’ve watched the movie and it will truly refocus you so that you can experience the true meaning of both Advent and Christmas.
LAST MINUTE INVITE: COOKIE EXCHANGE AND GINGERBREAD DECORATING ON DEC. 6TH
Our children had a unique experience last Saturday when they slept outside in boxes to help them understand the plight of the homeless. Listen to their story.
RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY: A MESSAGE FROM CARDINAL SEAN O’MALLEY
My dear friends in Christ: Pope Francis has captivated the world with his humility, warmth and compassion for each person. Vivid accounts of his tenderness for “the least of these” our attention. Why? At the heart of each of these interactions is a truth which resonates in our hearts, revealing to us something essential to understanding ourselves and our purpose. We are loved.
In his 2013 Day for Life Greeting, Pope Francis conveyed that “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.” Pope Francis lives the truth of these words in his actions. We must be part of a society that makes affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. Yet to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is often presented as their only “choice.” . Elderly members of our families fear they will become burdensome and seek physician assisted suicide. We see these and many more of our brothers and sisters pushed to the periphery. These tragedies go directly against respect for life, and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. Instead of “selfless love we are marginalized, uprooted and oppressed.
What can be done to prevent this? We must draw close to Jesus in prayer and in the sacraments. We must ask the Lord for the grace to see ourselves and others as he sees us—as masterpieces of his creation. When God created each of us, he did so with precision and purpose, and he looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness. We must look at ourselves and at others in light of this truth and treat all people with the reverence and respect which is due. The Church’s antidote to an individualism which threatens the respect for human dignity is community and solidarity. Are we moved by the suffering of those without shelter? Do we seek to alleviate the fear, confusion and panic that women facing unexpected pregnancies may be experiencing? Do our hearts ache for elderly patients in nursing homes who feel abandoned and unwanted, having no one to visit them? Our mission is to show each person the love of Christ. Each of these moments is valuable beyond our realization. We may never know how much a simple gesture of compassion may affect someone’s life.
As the 2014 Respect Life Program begins, let us take a moment to celebrate ourselves as reflected in this years theme: “Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation,” and live this truth in our understanding of ourselves and in the way we see others.