Greetings on this First Sunday of Advent.
This is the first day of the new Liturgical Year. Our countdown to the Celebration of th Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Christmas, has begun.
We see wreathes everywhere this time of year. Most notably our Advent Wreath. The very shape of the O, the first word of the O antiphons, signified in the Advent wreath, is a figure of fullness. Saint Paul illustrates this "O" with his words in the letter to the Galatians: "When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman... so that we might receive adoption as sons."
The yearly round of Advent recalls the perfection of God's timing in the mystery of redemption.
Advent, then, is not only the celebration of God's coming to us, but also of our coming to him. It is after all a season of repentance. So the hour is ripe in a double sense. It is time again to mend the broken circles of our lives by returning, as a circle does, to our point of origin. Christmas makes this possible, for by the birth of God-made-man, man Comes back to God in the same moment as he Comes to us.
As once Mary's enlarged form encircled his first arrival in the flesh, making his epiphany inevitable, so the Christian life, swollen with grace, affirms the inevitability of his second coming in glory at the end of history.
At Holy Mass, past and future converge as Eternity enters into time mystically, touching and transforming every present moment into salvation history. The present moment is the only moment we have; it is a gift handed to us by the future and immediately reclaimed by the past.
We cannot stockpile the present.
When Jesus comes it will be in the present moment; he will not come in the past nor will he come in the future - his coming is always now - because that is the only moment in time in which we exist.
(Some of the above paragraphs are excepts from the book "Seven Bells to Bethlehem," by Oliver Treanor)
The Advent Wreath at Home
I encourage families to take home an advent wreath kit provided by the PCCW to place on their dinner tables, or other suitable location. It can be decorated further as you see fit. Beginning on the first Sunday of Advent the first violet candle is lit. When the candle is lit, grace can then be prayed. That same candle may be lit for grace each day of that week. On the second Sunday, the candle from the first week and then a second violet candle are lit. On the Third Sunday, the rose colored candle is lit, along with the previous two. By the fourth Sunday all four will be lit. This is a good pious devotion in preparation for Christmas. Please take note: The Fourth Sunday of Advent this year falls on December 24. Masses during the day will celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, while Masses on Sunday evening will observe the Vigil for Christmas. Catholics are to attend Mass twice that weekend, once to observe Sunday and once for Christmas.
May this Advent be a time of true penance and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of the Lord at Christmas.
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona