Church of the Visitation
Advent - a Season of Hope.
The word Advent - from the Latin
, meaning "to come" - indicates the impending arrival of Jesus into the world. We use this season as a time to reflect on the miracle of the Incarnation, the "Word made flesh."
Marking the beginning of the Church year, Advent offers a new beginning. Even before making New Year's resolutions that we are historically known to break, we can instead resolve to start the new liturgical year with enthusiasm and renewed commitment.
But, getting too caught up in the "holiday shopping season", we often tend to put too much emphasis on externals. The drive of creating or sustaining some family activity or display can burden and distract us. Advent is the season of preparation, but it is an internal and spiritual preparation compared to the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas. Instead of allowing society to instill the wrong message, we instead should resolve to use this time to bring the spiritual message of Advent home, helping ourselves and our families to help grow interiorly. Following the Church's lead as given through the Liturgy, we can discover how to keep the right spirit of Advent, allowing Christ and not "conventional wisdom" be our Teacher and Guide.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
explains the character of Advent is on Christ, but the focus is more than just the earthly birth of Jesus:
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior's first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor's birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: "He must increase, but I must decrease” (CCC 524).
As human beings gifted with intellect and will, we are called to live in hope. This is essential to human life and we are given far too many reminders of the dangers when one lives without hope. We find many ways to live in hope: for success, for security, for some modest ambition. We live in hope for our children, that they may learn from our mistakes and suffering, finding a better life than we have known. We live in hope for a better world and do what we can, in ways large and small, to help bring that better world about.
As Christians, we have been given access to means of hope unknown in previous generations. We see hope in
: born in roots from our past and in signs of the future as we hear first readings at Mass from the book of Isaiah. The prophet had the courage to hope for big things: that the desert would be turned into fertile land, that a people who lived in darkness would see a great light, that the blind would see, the deaf hear and the lame walk, that the earth would one day know peace.
We see hope in
: as in the Gospels we will find instances of fulfillment of that hope: through the arrival of Jesus, we discover the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and the glad tidings of great joy through the message of an angel. This hope is renewed in us most especially every time we receive Jesus so intimately in Holy Communion as well as every other we encounter him in the sacraments.
We see hope in
: as John the Baptist proclaims Jesus to be not only the one of whom he was sent to prepare the way, but also the "Lamb of God" who takes away the sins of the world: the "Wonder-Counselor, King of kings Mighty God and Prince of Peace". When Jesus returns again at the end of time, he will bring all things to fulfillment, offering to all of creation the peace it has yearned for since the beginning.
In Advent, we hope for the same things as the Old Testament people. However, joining with the hope and faith expressed by John the Baptist and Mary, we recognize how things are also new, as we discover the presence of our Savior in the world!
At this Christmas when Christ comes, will He find a warm heart? Mark the season of Advent by loving and serving the others with God's own love and concern.
Mother Teresa, Love: A Fruit Always in Season
Our Recommendation for the Week
We're taking off for this week from our usual recommendation on FORMED (although we
suggest you consider signing up for the FREE faith tool if you haven't already!) to extend an offer from another source.
When coming into the church over the last weekends you may have noticed an announcement for the Best Advent Ever from Dynamic Catholic (the source of our annual Christmas gifts books, which will be continued for this coming Christmas as well-stay tuned!) If you haven't taken one of the cards or visited the Web site, please take an opportunity to do so now by visiting
to receive some great insights and resources to making this Advent and Christmas the best ever!
If you haven't done so already, go to
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). Enter your e-mail address on the registration screen and you're good to go!
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Sent by Fr. Ed Blanchett on Friday, December 1 at 3:00PM