First Sunday of Advent—2 December AD 2018
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Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text -
Blessing of the Advent Wreath
“When these things begin to come to pass …
behold, your redemption is at hand.”
The Gospel for this first
week of the Church's liturgical year is very much like the one read on the last
week. Both of them speak about the end of the world. But there is an important
note in today's Gospel, in that it reminds us to be mindful of our own
particular judgment. That is to say that while there will be a general judgment
at the end of the world, each one of us will be judged individually by Almighty
God for our lives here in this world.
If the Gospel narratives of
the end of the world seem frightening, we should remember that involve things
that are generally external to ourselves. They speak of roaring seas, and the
sun giving no light. They speak of wars and famine and pestilence. But all of
these things are outside of us.
Far more frightening ought
to be the possibility of our own personal judgment after an unholy life. Far
more terrifying than the moon giving no light ought to be the possibility of
dying with no repentance for our sins. Worse than the roaring of the sea ought
to be the idea of having it on our conscience that we did nothing to repair the
damage caused by our sins. More than any famine, plague, or pestilence ought to
be the realization that we simply neglected to receive the abundant graces God
offered to us all through our lives, by failing to make frequent use of the
Sacraments of Confession, and Communion, and the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
This possibility of dying
an unprovided death—one for which we are unready, unprepared, and even
frightened—is one of the reasons why the Church bids us to observe this season
of Advent each year. The Church is beginning to start over once again in its
continuing presentation of the drama of our redemption. We will once again
relive the birth of our Savior, the events of His public life, His Crucifixion,
Death and Resurrection. And just as the Church year begins anew, we are
reminded that it is time to begin our spiritual life anew.
We know that to have a
healthy spiritual life, we must continue to make progress closer and closer to
God. But we also know that we humans have a certain lethargy about us, a
certain laziness and a tendency to lose focus and get off the path we are trying
to follow. A major purpose, then, behind the celebration of Advent, is to get
back on the path to holiness with a fresh start.
“Now is the hour for us to
rise from sleep,” Saint Paul tells us. “Our salvation is now nearer than when
we first came to believe.”
It is “nearer,” of course,
but is it any more certain? That is what Paul is after when he tells us that it
is time to for us to give up the pursuits and the corruptions of the world. He
is telling us that even though we may have come to believe in Christ years ago,
we probably can stand to draw our behavior more into line with that belief.
Advent is only 4 weeks in
length—a short preparation for the joyous feast of Christmas. Nothing like the
4,000 years that the Jewish people had to wait between the Fall of Adam and the
coming of the Savior.
Years ago Advent was
observed like Lent. You can see the similarity in things like the purple
vestments and the absence of flowers on our altar. There is no longer a Church
law requiring us to fast or do penance, but perhaps we might all be willing to
impose something on ourselves.
This is often the season in
which people make “New Year's resolutions.” You might do the same as we begin
this New Year of the Church—examine your consciences carefully; determine if
and where you are getting off the path to union with God, where you are lukewarm
or even cold in demonstrating your love for Him. Do a little extra praying, a
little extra penance, in order to break the attachments we all have to the
things of the world.
“The night is passed, the
day is at hand … cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”
Start off the New Church Year, by starting once again on the path of Jesus