Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

First Sunday of Advent - 27 November AD 2011

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Blessing of the Advent Wreath

Archbishop's Advent AD 2011 Pastoral Letter


“Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep, because our salvation is nearer than when we came to believe.”[1]

    If you had any difficulty in distinguishing this week's Gospel from last week's, you're not alone.  They are simply St. Luke's and St. Matthew's accounts of the same event.  The Church has us read them to mark the end of the old liturgical year, and the beginning of a new year.  From the Church's perspective, this is the first day of the New Year.  If you look at your missal, you will see that it looks lopsided—open at the very beginning.

    Implicit in this idea of old years becoming new years, is the idea that each year we are given the chance to start over again in our understanding of the mysteries of salvation.  As the year begins today with this first Sunday of Advent, we look forward to re-living the birth of our Savior, seeing Him grow up, and performing the acts of our Redemption.  We look forward to His Resurrection from the dead, His Ascension into heaven, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.  We look forward to one more chance to witness these events which redeemed us; one more chance to see how they fit into our lives, and how our lives fit into them.

    More immediately, the Church is asking us to prepare for the feast of Christmas—to welcome our Infant Savior at the celebration of His birth at the end of this month.  Some of the changes we see in the Mass today indicate the nature of this preparation:  The purple color of the vestments indicate that this is a penitential season.  The Gloria is not recited at any of the Masses of the season, and similar changes are made in the Divine Office.  Flowers are missing from the altar, or fewer in number.  We observe the Church's immemorial practice of a “fast before a feast.”

    We are urged to incorporate this attitude into our own personal lives.  Advent is not a time of celebration, but rather one for mature reflection on the coming feast and on the year ahead.  There will be plenty of time to celebrate Christmas when it comes.

    Traditionally, Catholics keep Advent as a sort of short Lent.  We ought to be cutting back on the little pleasures and luxuries and frivolities of live.  Food, drink, TV, the movies, parties, dancing, and so on.  And we ought to be increasing the time we spend in prayer, and spiritual reading.  Ought to be increasing our attendance at Mass, and our receiving of the Sacraments.

    Certainly, the Advent season is the time for making a good examination of conscience.  That's what St. Paul is talking about this morning, when he speaks about the “hour to arise from our sleep.”  He is telling is that we need to get on with our spiritual lives, redoubling our efforts, and putting them back on track.  He is telling us that we need to honestly ask ourselves how much revelry, drunkenness, debauchery, wantonness, strife, and jealousy have become part of our lives.

    And, once we have been honest with ourselves, and examined our consciences, we will want to make a good Confession.  We will want to be sure that we have purged away every stain of mortal and venial sin as we start the year over again.  You know, that used to be a much more important thing to Catholics—but we have gotten lazy.  It has been too easy to listen to the Modernists, who would like us to believe that there is no such thing as sin, and consequently no need for Confession.  But they are wrong—deadly wrong.

    Too many people are content to observe the bare minimum law of the Church; to confess their sins once a year, so that they can still barely call themselves practicing Catholics.  We ought to go to Confession much more regularly—perhaps once or more each month.  Otherwise, the tendency is to excuse more and more serious sins, until we slip away from God altogether.

    And, this is a good time to get our lives back on track—the beginning of a new year; the preparation for Christmas; the chance to start over again.  Give up some of the unnecessary.  Devote more time to prayer and spiritual reading.  Make a good examination of conscience, and a good Confession.

“Lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.” 
“Now is the hour for us to rise from sleep. . . . put on the Lord Jesus Christ.”



[1]   Epistle: Romans xiii: 11-14

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