Restoring Innocence. Last week in my homily I spoke about the temptations we have at this time of year to get all caught up in materialism, to think that gift buying/giving/receiving, decorating, going to parties, cooking/eating special foods, etc. are what it means to prepare for Christmas. But Advent is really about a different kind of preparation. As we prepare to celebrate the Birth of the innocent Baby Jesus, we recall that He came to earth because we are not so innocent, and to restore that innocence to us. So our Advent preparation should mean cooperating with Jesus in this restoration by working on our spiritual and moral lives—especially by growing in charity—as well as our knowledge of Jesus and His gifts.
When I say we need to work on “charity,” of course I include financial support for worthy groups or people, but above all I mean personally living a life of charity by being truly helpful and considerate to the people around you, especially those who are clearly in need or in pain. Being patient with your office mate who’s having a difficult time at home, and maybe taking that out on you. Instead of gossiping about people, come to their defense. Praise someone, instead of criticize; lift them up instead of pushing them down or simply letting them fall under the weight of their problems. Be the peacemaker, rather than the troublemaker.
And let this begin at home, with your family. This is a great time of year to remember how much we love our family. But if we love them, why don’t we act like it? Husbands and wives bicker over so many silly things, forgetting that they love this person. Think of this: most husband and wives tell me that they would readily die for their spouse. But then they refuse to be patient or forgiving over the smallest things. They would die for each other, but no way she’s gonna get the last word in an argument, no way he’s gonna be late for dinner again.
And one of the greatest ways to show charity is to tell people about Jesus and His Church. Bring a friend to church with you one Sunday in Advent. Or maybe, buy your family or friends Christmas gifts that will help re-kindle their faith—a bible, a rosary, a crèche, a statue of their favorite saint.
But also remember that drawing closer to Christ and His innocent love requires that we spend time with Him and get to know more about Him and His Church. So make sure you take time to pray, at home, at work and at church, and to take advantage of all the various activities made available in the parish this Advent, especially Mass, adoration and confession. Also, take time to learn, by taking advantage of our parish library, located downstairs next to the parish hall, where we have a lot of really good books, DVDs, and CDs that are treasure trove for anyone seeking to learn more about Jesus and Catholicism. (It might also give you some great ideas for Christmas gifts!). And don’t forget the CD rack in our narthex, and your free parish membership in FORMED.ORG. And, of course, my talk this Thursday on St. Joseph (see below).
Most especially, allow Jesus to restore your lost innocence through the sacrament of confession. As we do every Advent, we are hearing confessions every single day (until and including Saturday, December 23). In addition to the regular confession times a priest will be in the confessional every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening from 6:15pm to 7pm (he may stay longer, but only if his schedule permits). Please take advantage of this sacrament, but don’t wait for the last minute, or for Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning—come during the week! And bring your whole family—show your kids how important confession is in preparing for a great Christmas!
My Advent Talk This Thursday: St. Joseph. As I mentioned last week, instead of my usual 3-part Advent Series this year I’m able to give only 1 talk this Advent, which will take place this coming Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 in the Parish Hall. My topic will be “St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer.” As I’ve been preparing for the talk, I’ve been reminded just what a wonderful gift St. Joseph is to us all. A gift first given to Mary, and then through Mary to Jesus, and then through Jesus to all of us. A true husband, father and masculine man—a great example, role model and patron, especially for men and boys, but also for women and girls (after all, all women/girls have fathers, and most have a husband or hope for one). I haven’t written my outline yet, but clearly, we’ll discuss the Scriptures related to St. Joseph as well as some of the legends and apocryphal writings, and what the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church have said about him, and how all this is reflected in the doctrines of the Church. I’m really looking forward to it, so I hope to see you there.
Lessons and Carols Tonight. Remember to join me, the choir and the lectors for Lessons and Carols tonight (Sunday) at 7pm in the church. Every year, as the word spreads, we get a larger turn out for this joyful and prayerful event. Part of its charm is its uniqueness—there’s really nothing else like it all year. And also, its peacefulness in the busyness of the “holiday season”: hearing the inspiring and joyful prophecies of the Old Testament and the first lessons of the Gospel, along with the beautiful strains of the choir—and the congregation—singing treasured carols and hymns, some so comfortably familiar, others delightfully new to our ears and hearts. Please come join us!
Senior’s Lunch. I want to remind all our seniors to join us next Saturday, December 16, for our annual Seniors’ Advent Luncheon. Please call the office for more details. I look forward to seeing you there.
Giving Tree. Please don’t forget to stop by the “Giving Tree” in the narthex, and help to make Christmas a little merrier for some folks who are having a rough time this year, by supplying Christmas presents for families in true need. This year we are helping about 17 families in our parish and 13 families from Our Lady of the Blue Ridge parish in Madison.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles