One of the good things about Advent is that you know the day that the countdown ends. You can ask my children as they beam counting down on their Advent Calendars to the best day of their lives. They long for Christmas, all while having certainty that the day will come and they are giddy about it.
Christmas is an event that is worth the anticipation. To count the days down until Christmas is a good thing and we are blessed to have a Church assist us in that anticipation. No one should argue that Christmas is not worth waiting for.
One of the other things about Advent though, is that it not only prepares us for celebrating the birth of our Lord on December 25 each year, but it also helps us to anticipate our Lord’s second coming.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus is pretty direct about this when he tells the disciples to “Be watchful! Be Alert!” This is also true for us. We are called to live our lives in anticipation for Jesus coming again and contrary to popular belief, Jesus coming again is a really good thing.
We hear stories and watch movies about the end times. They make us fearful and anxious. The unknown is scary to us and our imaginations can run astray when we think about the end times. Let me tell you, though, that Jesus is not advocating anticipation out of fear, but rather, he is teaching us how to live peacefully as we await Him.
Throughout all of scripture there are themes of anticipation and the peace of when that anticipation is resolved. When the bride finally encounters her bridegroom, it is a moment of celebration. It is no different for us. Advent (whether it is in celebration of the past Incarnation, or the reminder of our current anticipation of our Lord) will always be a season of peace. You cannot separate peace from Advent.
So yes, be watchful and alert. Not out of fear of your lives, but out of joy that you Savior is coming again to be with you.
This Advent, let us practice this. Let’s celebrate the fact that we have a God that loves us so much, that He was willing to become man. But let’s also use this Advent to learn to anticipate the glorious and peaceful return of our Lord and Savior.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
Dear friends on the journey,
Today’s solemnity and readings paint various images of God. The solemnity, established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, focuses on Christ the King who reigns in our hearts as well as the entire world and all people for all time. The first reading and responsorial psalm illustrate God as a tender shepherd who protects his flock and seeks the lost. In the second reading, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians speaks of Christ who has existed from the beginning of time, concurred death, secured our salvation, and will reign until the end of time. The gospel describes the Son of Man who, in the final judgment, will be like a shepherd separating the sheep from the goats. The goats will be on his left and the sheep on his right. His judgment is based on very simple, yet challenging, criteria, and what is now our Corporal Works of Mercy.
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.
This is what we are called to do as Christian disciples. This is precisely how God is imaged in our world, communities and families. This is how we are to be Jesus’ heart, feet, and hands today. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is teaching through his words and demonstrating by his actions who needs us the most: (not the stable, the put together, the righteous) the most vulnerable, pained, weak, the outcast. As we enter the season of Advent and prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming at Christmas, I invite you to use the Corporal Works of Mercy for your preparation:
Food for the hungry As you eat a meal or snack, offer a prayer of thanksgiving for its abundance in your life and the nourishment of your body. Then donate food to St. Vincent de Paul for the food pantry or cook a meal for Many Meals.
Drink for the thirsty As you fill your glass with water, wash dishes, bathe in warm water, offer gratitude for the convenience of running water. Then buy water bottles to give to someone who is homeless or donate to an organization like Catholic Relief Services who help developing nations.
Welcome the stranger As you attend holiday gatherings, praise God for the gifts of friends and family who love you. Call to mind a time when you felt alone or lonely and pray for those who are estranged from loved ones and long for the feeling of belonging and security of relationships. Then consider baking goodies for the lonely neighbor or inviting a newly widowed person to the Christmas concert or Mass.
Clothe the naked As you fold your laundry, ask God to clothe your loved ones in God’s loving, secure embrace. Pray for those who are naked and vulnerable, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Then donate clothes for a woman or man seeking employment or give clothing and diapers to Mary’s Closet.
Care for the ill If you are currently feeling healthy, call to mind a time when illness or injury consumed you and be grateful for healing. Pray for all those battling cancer, other diseases, and those listed in the bulletin. Then make a care package for an ill friend, send a Christmas card with note of encouragement to a child in the hospital, a fire victim in a burn center, or a senior at Atria or AlmaVia.
Visit the imprisoned As you enjoy Christmas festivities, give thanks for freedom and pray for those imprisoned by government, war and violence, addiction, mental illness, the incarcerated especially moms and dads. Then make an effort to educate yourself about these issues and help in a concrete way.
These are just ideas. Find something that speaks to you then pray and act and be Jesus for another this Advent.
1943 - 2023
Tuesday, January 9
Ivy Lawn Ventura
1935 - 2023
Saturday, November 25
Padre Serra Parish
Saturday, November 25
When the archangel, Raphael, finally revealed his identity to Tobit, he said to him, “One must declare the works of God and give thanks with due honor” (Tobit 12:7). And Tobit responded, in part, “Now consider what [God] has done for you, and give thanks with full voice. Bless the Lord of righteousness, and exalt the King of the ages.”
There is a rightness to this – and it’s good for us, too!
In past years for this Thanksgiving column, I’ve come up with lists of many things for which I’m grateful, which are all saved on my computer. I took the time to review them before sitting down to write this to you. Curiously, just reading them made me happy all over again. But that actually makes sense. Studies by therapists demonstrate consistently that gratitude, helps our sleep, lifts our mood, and boosts our immunity to sickness. If we are unhappy, thankfulness lessens our depression. It reduces our anxiety, and decreases the effects of chronic pain. And, as I experienced myself, according to Harvard Health Publishing, giving thanks helps us be happier.
One exercise, in particular, had a most profound effect – writing and personally delivering a letter of gratitude to a person in your life who deserved, but didn’t receive, sufficient thanks for their kindness. This activity tested out as having one of the longest lasting contentment and happiness bumps. I encourage you to review the years of your life, and identify a few people to express, in letters, your deep appreciation for who they have been and what they have done for you, and experience the satisfaction that comes from that.
Of course, I can’t encourage you enough to express gratitude to your spouse, significant other, parents or children. They need to hear it, and we need to say it. Please don’t wait for people to reach out to you. Take the responsibility to establish contact with them, to share how you appreciate them, to hear what’s new in their lives, and to share what’s important in your own.
Above all, as Tobit learns and reiterates, gratitude to God is paramount. We’ve been told to make our requests of God for our needs, and it’s right that we should do so. Our prayer, though, needs to be much more than requests. Praise of God is always right, and so are prayers of gratitude. Every grace, every blessing, every talent, every joy is God’s gift to us. To take stock of them regularly, and to express our appreciation for them is right and just.
I hope that this Thanksgiving is a warm and happy time for you and your friends.
My prayer is that you have many, many reasons to be grateful, that your memory serves you well in recalling them, and that your relationship with God is renewed and strengthened as you give God thanks.
Fr. Patrick Pastor
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