Advent and Christmas
The Advent season in the Northern Hemisphere is normally cold, dark and the days are short. Traditions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas have been established to help dispel the psychological fear that develops as a result of the darkness. However, in the Southern Hemisphere the days are long and warm.
This is a good time if you have the
means to take a winter’s break and go to a warmer climate to give you a chance
to create a brighter spirit. However, if this is not possible, we can greatly
reduce our fears by getting some sun for 10 or 15 minutes a day. Try to walk at
the brightest time of the day, or if you have a sun
Also spending some time exercising daily will definitely dispel our fears. We are both physical and spiritual and having a balance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual activities will make us resilient to the darkness in the world. I find hiking a wonderful anecdote to the blues and fears.
It is also
important to reach out to others. We can strengthen ourselves by being with and
for others. No matter what your cultural background, this season will provide
many ethnic opportunities to celebrate together. Think of the giant Redwoods,
they are the largest trees in the world. These trees survive by intertwining
their roots because the ground is so hard the Redwood cannot strike a taproot
to hold itself up but by supporting each other they become the largest trees in
Sunday of Advent
Isaiah, Chapter 63, verse 17
Why do you make us wander, LORD, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we do not FEAR you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.
This chapter in Isaiah is called the Divine Warrior and Isaiah in this chapter refers to Christ as a warrior. Isaiah laments that we in our weak human nature have turned our hearts away from God and that we have no fear of divine justice. Have we become so enamored with the world and our own lives that when we look into the heavens at night we only see impressive specks of glittering rocks we call stars and not the love of the creator which made them? There is an expression, “Attitude is everything!” and so what should our attitude be and why is Isaiah lamenting that Israel did not fear God? The answer lies in our personal attitude toward life. Holy fear is born out of love and is a response to the God the creator; it is a fear more closely related to awe. It is the loving fear of a child that does not want to disappoint a parent and goes to great lengths to please them. So, we should develop this sense of Holy fear doing what is right and good to please the Father. Remembering that, “Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31). Let us daily ask of our Lord to remove our hearts of stone and give us a heart of love thus making the winter brighter and our burdens lighter and bring cheer to the hearts of all we encounter. May we, through love be brought to Holy fear enabling us to be careful in the practice of our faith and bring us to a spirit of penitence.
May we with the psalmist say, Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. (Psalm 80)
Celebration of the Creator's Work
the Creator's joyful rest
In the Creator's plan, there is both a distinction and a close link between the
order of creation and the order of salvation. This is emphasized in the Old
Testament, when it links the "shabbat" commandment not only
with God's mysterious "rest" after the days of creation (cf. Ex
20:8-11), but also with the salvation which he offers to Israel in the
liberation from the slavery of Egypt (cf. Dt 5:12-15). The God who
rests on the seventh day, rejoicing in his creation, is the same God who
reveals his glory in liberating his children from Pharaoh's oppression.
Adopting an image dear to the Prophets, one could say that in both cases God
reveals himself as the bridegroom before the bride (cf. Hos 2:16-24;
Jer 2:2; Is 54:4-8).
certain elements of the same Jewish tradition suggest, to reach the heart of
the "shabbat", of God's "rest", we need to recognize
in both the Old and the New Testament the nuptial intensity which marks the
relationship between God and his people. Hosea, for instance, puts it thus in
this marvelous passage: "I will make for you a covenant on that day with
the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the
ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I
will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever; I will
betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in
mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the
First Sunday of Advent
A sudden announcement that the lord is coming.
WHAT does Advent mean?
Advent means the coming and is used by the Church to represent the four thousand years of preparation for the coming of the Redeemer, and at the same time points us to His second coming as our judge.
When is the season of Advent?
The season of Advent comprises the four weeks preceding Christmas.
When was the first coming of our Redeemer?
When the Son of God was conceived by the Holy Ghost in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and was made flesh, to sanctify the world by His coming.
Was a redeemer necessary?
Yes, for all men sinned in Adam, and needed to be reconciled to God.
Could not the just under the Old Law be saved before the coming of Christ?
Yes, through the expectation of Him and through His future merits all might be saved under the Old Law who made themselves worthy of the grace of Christ by innocence and penance, though they could not be admitted to heaven until Our Lord’s ascension.
When will be the second coming of Christ?
At the end of the world, when Christ will come with great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead.
Why has the Church appointed the holy season of Advent?
1. That we may consider the
wretched state of mankind before the coming of Christ, and bring before our
minds the mercy of God, Who sent His only-begotten Son down from heaven for our
2. That we may prepare ourselves
worthily for Christmas, that Christ may then enter our hearts in the fulness of
His grace, to renew them and to dwell in them.
3. That we may prepare ourselves
for the second advent that He may be to us a merciful judge. “Watch ye,
therefore, because you know not what hour your Lord will come (St. Matt. xxiv.
O God, Who hast brought joy to the world through Thy gracious advent, grant us, we beseech Thee, Thy grace, that we may prepare ourselves by sincere penance for its celebration and for the Last Judgment. Amen.
First Sunday of Advent
THIS is the first day of the ecclesiastical year; on it the Church begins to contemplate the coming of Our Savior, and, with the prophets, to long for Him; she exhorts the faithful to true penance for their sins, which oppose Christ’s entrance into their hearts; she sings, therefore, at the Introit of the Mass, in the words of the psalmist: “To Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul.
Raise up Thy power, O Lord, we pray Thee, and come, that by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins, and to be saved by Thy deliverance. Amen.
EPISTLE. Rom. xiii. 11-14.
Brethren: Knowing the season, that it is now the hour for us to rise from sleep. For now, our salvation is nearer than when we believed. The night is passed, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly as in the day: not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and impurities, not in contention and envy; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is understood here by sleep?
Sin, in which man, as if sunk in a torpor, no longer sees the light of the Gospel, no longer hears the warning of his conscience, neglects the means of salvation, and lives without care, until he awakes, alas! too late, as from a dream.
What is understood by night and day?
By night is to be understood ignorance, infidelity, and sin. The day represents faith, grace, and reconciliation with God.
What are the works of darkness?
All sin, especially that which is unknown to men, but seen and known by God, of Whose grace it deprives us.
What is the armor of light?
It consists in faith, hope, charity, and good works, the spiritual arms with which we have to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil.
What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ?
It means that Christians should
think, speak, and act like Jesus, adorning themselves by the imitation of Him
as with precious garments.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Who became man for us, grant that we may in all things comply with the admonitions of this epistle; that we may arise from the slumber of our sins, and walk in the light of grace by the diligent performance of good works, and adorn our souls by putting on Thee, through the imitation of Thy virtues.
GOSPEL. Luke xxi. 25-33.
At that time Jesus said to His disciples: There shall be Signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves: men withering away for fear, and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world, for the powers of heaven shall be moved ; and then they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great power and majesty. But when these things begin to come to pass, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is at hand. And He spoke to them a similitude: See the fig-tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth their fruit, you know that summer is nigh. So, you also when you shall see these things come to pass, know that the kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, this generation shall not pass away till all things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but My words shall not pass away.
Why does the Church cause this Gospel concerning the Last Judgment to be read to-day?
To prepare our hearts by penance for the coming of Jesus as our judge.
What signs shall precede the Last Judgment?
The sun shall be darkened, the moon shall not give light, the stars shall fall from heaven; the heavens themselves shall pass away with a great noise, the elements shall melt with heat, and the earth with all that is in it shall be burned up. At the command of God, the world shall be shaken to its center; fearful tempests shall arise; the sea and waves shall roar, and wild struggle and destruction take the place of quiet and order. Men shall wither away with fear, not knowing whither to fly. Then shall appear the holy cross, the sign of the Son of man a terror to sinners who have hated it, a consolation to- those who have loved it.
How will the Last Judgment begin?
At the command of God, the angels, with the round of the trumpet, shall summon all men to judgment (i. These, iv. 15). The bodies and souls of the dead shall be again united, and the wicked shall be separated from the righteous, the just on the right, the wicked on the left (St. Matt. xxv. 33). The angels and the devils will be present, and Christ Himself will appear in a bright cloud with such power and majesty that the wicked, for fear, will not be able to look at Him, but will say to the mountains, “Fall on us,” and to the hills, “Cover us” (St. Luke xxiii. 30).
Why will God hold a general and public judgment?
1. That all may know how just He
has been in the particular judgment of each one.
2. That justice may at last be
rendered to the afflicted and persecuted, while the wicked who have oppressed
the poor, the widow, the orphan, the religious, and yet have often passed for
upright and devout persons, may be known in their real characters and be
3. That Jesus Christ may complete His redemption, and openly triumph over His enemies, who shall see the glory of the Crucified, and tremble at His power.
How will the Last Judgment proceed?
The books will be opened, and from them all men will be judged; all their good and bad thoughts, words, and deeds, even the most secret, known only to God, will be revealed before the whole world, and according to their works men will be rewarded or be damned forever. The wicked shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting (St. Matt. xxv.46).
The Church, during the season of Advent, reminds thee, O Christian, of the coming of Christ to judgment, that thou mayest with the more zeal apply thyself to profit by His first coming; for they only will be justified and glorified who have acknowledged and received Him as their Redeemer. Examine thyself, therefore, to-day, and during this week, whether thou hast believed in Him, loved Him, admitted Him into thy heart, and kept His holy commands. Begin at once penance and good works, that thou mayest with confidence await the judgment-day of the Lord.
Thou art just, O Lord! and just is Thy judgment. Oh, penetrate my soul with holy fear, that I may be kept from evil deeds, and incited to good works. Would that I could say, with St. Jerome, “Whether I eat or drink, or whatever I do, it is as if I heard the awful summons of the trumpet, Ye dead, arise, and come to judgment!”
Customs and Folklore
In 490, Bishop Perpetuus of Tours officially declared Advent a penitential season in the Frankish Church of Western Europe, ordering a fast on three days of every week from November 11 (the feast of St. Martin of Tours) till Christmas. These forty days’ fast, similar to Lent, was originally called Quadragesima Sancti Martini (Forty Days' Fast of Saint Martin's). The Readings for the Eucharistic Liturgies were taken from the Masses of Lent.
By contrast, the Advent season of the Roman liturgy, developing a century after that of the Frankish Church, was a non-penitential, festive and joyful time of preparation for Christmas. When the Church unified the liturgical season, the non-penitential nature of the Roman Advent conflicted with the longer and penitential Gallic Advent. By the thirteenth century a compromise was reached, which combined the fasting and penitential character of the Gallic observance with the Mass texts and shorter four-week cycle of the Roman Advent liturgy. The liturgy of Advent remained substantially unaltered until Vatican II mandated a few minor changes to more clearly delineate the spirit of the Lenten and Advent seasons.
The most perfect way to embrace the spirit of Advent is to attend daily Mass and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. If this is not possible, try smaller goals, such as attending one extra mass during the week; praying the Saturday Evening Prayer with the family in preparation for Sunday; reading and discussing the readings of the Mass of the day with the family.
The members of the domestic church should also try to receive the Sacrament of Penance during the Advent season to prepare for the coming of Christ “for it is not possible coherently to celebrate the birth of him ‘who saves his people from their sins’ without some effort to overcome sin in one’s own life.” (Directory on Popular Piety, #105)
There are many customs that can be incorporated in the domestic church to teach and reinforce the Advent spirit. For example, the first Sunday of Advent is a good time for each family member to choose a secret "Christkindl" or Christ Child for whom he or she will perform little acts of love — such as a prayer, a small gift, a sacrifice, a note or a piece of candy — throughout Advent.
Another such Advent practice is that of having an empty crib or manger, which each family member will soften with straw earned by a sacrifice, a prayer or a work of mercy. After Christmas, the family will gather before the Infant Savior, in his now-padded crib, for their evening prayers or for Scripture reading.
In the Activities section you will find suggestions and directions for such customs as Preparing the Manger, an Advent Wreath, Christmas Novena, and the O Antiphons, the Jesse Tree and the Advent calendar. All these traditions involve a countdown, or some action performed each day in anticipation of Christ’s birth.
When employing new Advent customs within your domestic church it is important to remember that they are only aids, not goals in themselves. With joyful hope and anticipation, then, let us prepare for the coming of the Son of God, praying with the Church: Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay!
- Living the Liturgy in
the Home for Advent and Christmas
- The Advent Wreath
- Penitential Aspect
- Gifts for Jesus,
the Advent Manger
- Christkindl Brief or Letter to the Christ Child
Activity Source: Original Text (JGM) by Jennifer
Gregory Miller, © Copyright 2003-2023 by Jennifer Gregory Miller First Sunday
of Advent #Advent
For us Catholics, the new Liturgical Year commences with the first Sunday of Advent. In this new liturgical year, the Church not only wishes to indicate the beginning of a period, but the beginning of a renewed commitment to the faith by all those who follow Christ, the Lord. This time of prayer and path of penance that is so powerful, rich and intense, endeavors to give us a renewed impetus to truly welcome the message of the One who was incarnated for us. In fact, the entire Liturgy of the Advent Season, will spur us to an awakening in our Christian life and will put us in a ‘vigilant’ disposition, to wait for Our Lord Jesus who is coming:
‘Awaken! Remember that God comes!
Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, now! The one true God, "the God of
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", is not a God who is there in Heaven,
unconcerned with us and our history, but he is the-God-who-comes.’
Season of Advent is therefore a season of vigilant waiting, that prepares us to
welcome the mystery of the Word Incarnate, who will give the ‘Light’ to the
womb of the Virgin Mary, but essentially this time prepares us not only to
welcome this great event but to incarnate it in our lives. We could say that
the true light enters the world through the immaculate womb of Mary, but it
does not stay there. On the contrary, this light flows out into our dark,
obscure, sinful lives to illuminate them, so that we can become the light that
illuminates the world. For this reason, let us live this time of waiting not
only to celebrate a historical memory but to repeat this memory in our lives
and in the service of others. To wait for the Lord who comes, means to wait and
to watch so that the Word of Love enters inside us and focuses us every day of
our lives. As Blessed John Henry Newman reminded us in a homily for the Advent
Season: “Advent is a time of waiting, it is a time of joy because the coming of
Christ is not only a gift of grace and salvation, but it is also a time of
commitment because it motivates us to live the present as a time of
responsibility and vigilance. This ‘vigilance’ means the necessity, the urgency
of an industrious, living ‘wait’. To make all this happen, then we need to wake
up, as we are warned by the apostle to the Gentiles, in Romans: ‘Besides this
you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep.
For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Rm 13:11). We must start our journey to ascend to the
mountain of the Lord, to be illuminated by His Words of peace and to allow Him
to indicate the path to tread. Moreover, we must
change our conduct abandoning the works of darkness and put on the ‘armor of
light’ and so seek only to do God’s work and to abandon the deeds of the flesh.
(Rm 13:12-14). Jesus, through the story in the parable, outlines the Christian
lifestyle that must not be distracted and indifferent but must be vigilant and recognize even the smallest sign of the Lord’s
coming because we don’t know the hour in which He will arrive. (Mt 24:39-44)
Blessing of an Advent Wreath
The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional
practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The
blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on
the evening before the First Sunday of Advent.
the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate
that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.
make the sign of the cross as the leader says:
Our help is in the
name of the Lord.
(R/.) Who made heaven and earth.
The Word of the Lord.
R/. Thanks be to God.
With hands joined, the leader says:
Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
The blessing may
conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:
O come, desire of
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.
Advent begins Facts & Quotes
Each Sunday in Advent
has a particular theme.
the first week is faithfulness, associated with
Christ coming in final victory.
The second and third Sundays, which feature the
stories about John the Baptist, represent hope and joy.
The fourth Sunday, which covers the events
that led up to the birth of Jesus, represents love.
Many churches light a
candle on an advent wreath each Sunday to represent each theme. The
wreath is either suspended from the ceiling or sits on a table. It is
made of evergreen branches and holds four candles - three purple ones for the
first weeks of Advent and a pink one for the last week. A white Christ
candle is placed in the center and will be lit on Christmas. A common activity
for children is to make Christmas ornaments. Many church Christmas trees
are decorated with these ornaments that represent symbols in Christianity, like
doves and fish. Advent starts the four Sundays before Christmas. Church
banners and cleric's stoles are purple during the season. Advent is a journey
towards Bethlehem. May we let ourselves be drawn by the light of God made
man - Pope Francis via twitter on Dec 21, 2013.
Begins Top Events and Things to Do
Decorate your home with evergreens or go to a
'Hanging of the Greens' church service. Church members decorate the
church in preparation for Christmas.
Hang up an advent calendar. Many of these
decorative pieces have little doors that open and reveal holiday images or have
pockets with small items in them that reflect the season. They are especially
popular with children who enjoy opening the little doors to reveal chocolates.
Sing Advent Hymns. Two popular ones are in
the Deep Midwinter, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
St. Francis Xavier
FANCIS XAVIER, surnamed the apostle of the indies, was born of noble parents April 7, 1506, at Xavier, a castle near Pamplona, in Spain. In his eighteenth year he became one of the first members of the society of Jesus, at Paris, and from that moment gave himself up so earnestly and perseveringly to meditation, self-denial, and the practice of Christian virtues that by no desire was he so much animated as by that of laboring and suffering for the glory of god and the salvation of men, wherever and however it might please god. In the year 1541 he was sent as missionary to India. Of his labors and sufferings there his works bear witness. He preached the gospel in fifty-two kingdoms, great and small, of India and Japan, and baptized about a hundred thousand pagans and Mahametan’s. Wherever he came, the idols temples were thrown down, and churches built to the true god. He died in 1552, poor and destitute of all bodily comforts, but rejoicing in the lord, with these words, “Lord, in Thee have I hoped; let me never be confounded.” let us learn from St. Francis Xavier to labor, according to our ability, for the glory of god and the salvation of our neighbor. Although we cannot become missionaries, we yet can pray, and we can join the association for the propagation of the faith.
What does it mean to be
an apostle? Consider how you might imitate St. Francis Xavier in apostolic
works in your own situation. Read this letter from St. Francis to St. Ignatius to get an idea of his zeal.
Read some more about St.
Francis and ideas for Celebrating
the Feast of St. Francis Xavier.
Find out about and
support the Holy
Childhood Association (St. Francis always
started with the children first).
Teach your children to
pray St. Francis' favorite prayer, "Give me souls" when they have
some suffering to offer up.
Spend some time
meditating on St. Ignatius' response to St. Francis before his conversion,
"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but suffers the
loss of his soul?"
Say the Litany
of St. Francis Xavier.
Make a big pot of soup for the Feast of St. Francis Xavier.
Study some beautiful art
depicting St. Francis Xavier at Olga's Gallery.
Tree Scriptures (The Symbols Are Only Suggestions)
December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun,
moon, stars, animals, earth
December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols:
tree, man, woman
December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols:
tree, serpent, apple with bite
Today in honor of the
Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no
shopping after 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
Goffine’s Divine Instructions, 1896
http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545First Sunday of Advent