First Sunday of Advent

Season of Advent. Today we begin the season of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.
Every year most people forget that the Advent season is primarily about preparing for
Christmas, and instead spend these weeks pre-maturely celebrating Christmas, and doing
so from a largely secularized perspective. And then when the actual 3 week Christmas
Season begins on Christmas Day, they put all the Christmas things away and go on with
life!
This pre-mature celebration isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if we see it as part of the
strong influence of Christianity on our culture. Many Catholics see people around them
start celebrating Christmas, and it’s such a wonderful feast they (Catholics) get all caught
up in it.
But it’s not completely harmless. First of all, much of this early celebration is
driven not by a Christian culture, but by commercial interests taking advantage of that
culture. Sadly, much of this is nothing more than retailers playing on our emotional
attachment to Christmas, in order to increase sales. Increasing sales is not a bad thing, but
the reduction of Advent to a period of rampant commercialism/materialism and
emotionalism is a terrible thing. All but forgotten is the spiritual/faith preparation to
celebrate the wonder of the birth of the Baby Jesus, our Creator come to redeem us from
our sins.
Please don’t let this happen to you this Advent. This is not to say you can’t take
part in the “cultural” celebrations, as long as you make sure to also spend time preparing
for the celebration of the Day that changed the world forever. Here are some suggestions:
— Catholics always prepare for Holy Days by doing penance. In Advent this
shouldn’t take on anything near the severity of Lent, but we should do some small
penance every day to remind us that nothing is more important than Christ, and that
everything we do is for Him.
— Add extra prayers to your daily routine. The Rosary is an excellent addition to
our prayers, especially meditating on the Joyful Mysteries, or at least praying one decade
every day, meditating on one of the Joyful Mysteries.
— Reading Scripture is an excellent way to renew your faith in Christ. Perhaps
challenge yourself to read one of the Gospels beginning to end in Advent. Or perhaps
read short passages daily from the Christmas-related texts: Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, John
1:1-17.
— Of course, charitable giving is a great way to prepare for the gift of the Baby
Jesus. While it is a fine practice to give presents to people we love, it is an even better
practice to give to those who do not know us and cannot give anything back to us. So,
make sure you make generous charitable gifts—either directly to those in need or to
worthy charitable projects/institutions. The parish Giving Tree is one good way to do
this, as are some of the special collections.
— Receiving the sacraments is one of the most important things you can do in
Advent. Consider coming to Mass and Adoration during the week, and make sure you go
to Confession. As always, we will have confessions every weekday evening during
Advent, which means confession is available every single day during Advent (except
Christmas Eve).

— Most importantly, live the life that Christ came to give us: make every day about
loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.
Follow the 10 Commandments, live out the Beatitudes. Forgive others, and be kind,
patient, generous, and encouraging. Love one another as Jesus, who out of love for us
stripped Himself of the glory of heaven to be born in a cold manger, loves us.
— Also: take part in the many special events and liturgies scheduled in the parish
this Advent. Please keep the insert of the Schedule of “Advent & Christmas 2019
Events” from last week’s bulletin somewhere central in your house (on the fridge door?).
In particular, consider:
— Lessons and Carols. Next Sunday, December 8, I invite you to join me, the
lectors and the choir for “Lessons & Carols” at 7:00 pm. This is a wonderful program of
beautiful Advent music and Scripture readings. Some people think “Lessons” means I’m
going to give a lecture or something. Not at all. “Lessons” is simply an old English term
for readings from Scripture. By weaving together prophetic readings from the Old
Testament and pre-nativity readings from the Gospels, the readers lay out God’s
breathtaking plan for the birth of His Divine Son. The choir adds to the atmosphere of
joyful expectation by leading us in popular hymns and spreading their vocal wings in
leading us in carols and a few more complicated choral pieces—they are AMAZING.
And afterwards there will be an opportunity for joyful fellowship at a short reception
(with delicious seasonal refreshments). Trust me, this is a really wonderful
evening—you’ll have a great time. Every year the crowd gets bigger (last year we had
several hundred!) because everyone who comes loves it. Please join us.
— Advent Talks. In the past, my 3-part Advent Series on the Thursdays of Advent
has been in the form of a lecture or class. But this year I’ve decided to follow the format I
adopted for last year’s Lenten Series: I will present my Advent Series talks as half-hour
meditations in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the
Rosary and then Benediction.
This year my topic will be “The Christmas Visitors: Angels, Shepherds and
Kings.” Please join us every Thursday during Advent, beginning this Thursday,
December 5, from 7pm to 8pm.

Immaculate Conception. Normally the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
falls on December 8 and is a Holy Day of Obligation. But this year December 8 is the 2 nd
Sunday of Advent, so the Immaculate Conception is moved to Monday, December 9, and
IS NOT a Holy Day of Obligation. But even though you don’t have to attend Mass, I
strongly encourage you to do so, as this great feast is integral to Advent, teaching us
about Mary’s perfect preparation to receive Christ. We will have Masses at 6:30am, 8am,
Noon, and 7pm.

Mural of Our Lady of Ransom Appearing to St. Raymond. Many of you have
been asking where our “second mural” is. Well, when working with artists I always
remember the great line from the movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” about the painting

of the magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling. Pope Julius II shouts up to Michelangelo,
“when will you make an end?!” and the artist shouts down at the Pope, “when I am
finished!” So I encourage, but never pressure the creative process of artists.
But our patience has paid off, and I can announce that the new mural will
definitely be in place in time for Christmas. A little Christmas gift from Our Lady and
Our Patron.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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