of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text -
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.”
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