Entering Advent

Ask the man or woman on the street when the New Year begins and you will get January 1. Ask a parent when the school year begins and you will get the date. Ask hardcore baseball fans when the new year begins and you will be told exactly when pitchers and catchers report. Ask when the church year begins and….?

The Church Year begins the First Sunday of Advent. Since Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us”, and all time belongs to him, we begin our count from the time we can say he is first with us in Mary’s womb – Advent.

The Scripture readings during the four weeks of Advent tell parables of Christ’s Second Coming, God’s prepara-tion of Israel to receive the Messiah, and from December 16, the accounts leading to the Lord’s Birth.
The above is information; the Season of Advent is more. It is a time of preparation as an individual, family and parish to enter more deeply into the mystery of God’s love in his son – and making him known in our lives. One writer ob-serves: By his own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent…. he could go nowhere but where she chose to take him; The modem world's feverish struggle for unbridled, often unlicensed, freedom is answered by the bound, enclosed helplessness and dependence of Christ - Christ in the womb, Christ in the host, Christ in the tomb. This dependence of Christ lays a great trust upon us….We must carry him in our hearts to wherever he wants to go, and there are many places to which he may never go unless we take him….that gray office in the city where we work, the wretched lodging of that poor man who is an outcast, the nursery of that pampered child, that battleship, airfield, or camp.  

We know the obstacles to doing that: the world will not allow for a pause or reflection. As much as any of us may love Christmas in all its expressions, November carols and decorations in stores, on streets and in our homes, or a disordered spirit of buying, wrapping and rushing make it a challenge to increase a spirit of expectation and hope.
So this Advent we’re to live preparing for the coming of the Son of God vs. the coming of the Son of King Herod. (To help meet the challenge you might check the website “Advent Conspiracy”).  We can then celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas. How we do that is a chal-lenge, but it’s a worthwhile one. 

As a boy, this was done. Our family and mom and dad’s friends would visit each other’s homes during those twelve days. It was a beautiful custom, we’d see each other’s trees, gifts, and eat, laugh and celebrate well.
For Christ’s followers, the year is not a numbered count of cyclical or successive years, but something more. For Chinese, 2019 will be the Year of the Pig; other cultures have similar traditions. But for Catholic Christians, every year is a “Year of Grace” because the living Jesus Christ is its Lord and he is with us throughout.
This most mysteriously beautiful and haunting of sea-sons, is a time to more deeply understand the love of God in sending his Son, the humility and beauty of Mary in accepting her motherhood, the faith-filled fatherhood of Joseph, and our own call to carry Christ in us to all cir-cumstances and relationships everywhere.
So whether we plug into the Fiscal Year, Calendar Year, School Year or Lunar Year – they are all part of the Year of Grace 2019. May we enter it through a good Advent. (Reprinted, with edits, from the 2014 bulletin)


Heart, Soul and Mind

Monsignor Royal's weekly column as featured in our bulletin.


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