Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!


Ave Maria!
First Sunday of Advent—29 November AD 2015

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

Archbishop Humphreys' Advent 2015 Pastoral Letter

“The night is past, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.”[1]


    Perhaps the greatest blow stuck against the Catholic Faith in the post‑Vatican II era has been the loss of emphasis on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell.  The next greatest blow may well have been the de-emphasis of personal fasting and penance.  The two, of course, are closely tied together, for none of us is perfect, and when we do reach that inevitable day of judgement the balance of our good works and our evil deeds will be weighed with close attention to our individual holiness.  Did we do the good things seeking union with God, and did we do our best to make up for the sinful deeds by doing penance.

    I have never been a hell-fire and brimstone preacher, so it will have to suffice to say that Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell are all real.  Death is inevitable for all of us, for we are material creatures capable of decomposition; and it may come to us at any time, no matter how young or how old we may be.  Judgement is a certainty for God has given us the gifts of life and wisdom, and His Justice requires Him to hold us accountable for how we use His gifts.   Heaven is real, Jesus and Mary are already there, and our Lord has told us that “In my Father's house there are many mansions … I go to prepare a place for you.”[2]  But, unfortunately, Hell is equally real.  And, in spite of what the modernist bishops and theologians will tell you, the danger of going to Hell is real.  “Be not afraid of them who kill the body…: fear ye him, who after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell.”[3]

    All of these things are extremely real.  But, pretty much, we ourselves are the ones who have the power to “cast into hell.”  Our Lord has died for our sins—He has freely given us the graces of Baptism. Holy Mass, and Holy Communion.  He has even given us the grace of Sacramental Confession to take away the sins we commit through human weakness and frailty.  We have copious opportunities to prepare for Judgement Day.  We condemn ourselves if we fail to make this preparation,

    Which brings us back to fasting and penance, and the observance of Advent which begins today.  We might ask: “Why do we do penance?”  Well, there are a number of reasons.

    The first reason for penance is to show God our sorrow for offending Him.  Virtually all sin is rooted in excessive pride, and doing penance is always an exercise in humility.  To give up the things that please me is a demonstration that I don’t consider myself an all‑important creature.  And there seems to be a certain justice in depriving ourselves whenever we have deprived God of our love and obedience.  Quite likely, God will see our sacrifice as meritorious and grant us His graces in return

    The second reason for penance is to develop self-control.  If we have practiced giving up the innocent pleasures in life, we will find it easier to refuse the not‑so‑innocent pleasures that may come long every so often.  If you can walk away from the table, or refuse that extra drink, you will find it easier walk away from and to refuse the things that are truly sinful.  And, indeed, many of the occasions of sin are found precisely where people gather to eat and drink too much!  (Parties don’t seem to get too wild if everyone is fasting!)

    The third reason is that moderation or abstinence is good for us—physically and spiritually good for us.  A moderate intake of food and drink, and abstinence from destructive vices like tobacco will not only make us healthier—it will leave us more open to the spiritual life.  A body weighed down by food and alcohol, or left gasping for breath by cigarettes, does a really poor job of lifting itself up to God in prayer.  And the same can be said for the mind that is not cluttered with the useless chatter of movies, television, and cocktail parties—the clear mind is far more able to receive God in prayer.

    Be aware that our penance is good not only for us, but for all those around us—particularly those who have been deceived into thinking it is unnecessary.  We really should do penance for the errant members of our families, for our neighbors, for the politicians, for those who do not know Jesus Christ, and for those who do know Him but act like they don’t.  Do penance and pray for their conversion!

    So, as we begin this new liturgical year with this First Sunday of Advent, I ask you to take a renewed interest in the traditional penitential practices of the Church:   the observance of abstinence on Fridays and Ember Days, fasting during Advent and Lent, perhaps giving what you save thereby to the poor and homeless, and additional prayer on all of these days.

    Advent is a bit shorter than Lent, but, unfortunately, it is a time when we can get caught up by the pagan spirit of our age.  Catholics do not celebrate Christmas during Advent, and we certainly don’t celebrate Christmas by buying unnecessary merchandise, or be partying wildly.  Arrange your social calendar for the next month in a way that you will not be distracted with parties, movies, and television—make sure to set aside time for prayer.  Set aside time for good works.  Plan to make a good Confession before Christmas.

“The night is past, and the day is at hand.
Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness,
and put on the armor of light.”


[1]   Epistle:  Romans xiii: 11-14

[2]   John xiv: 2

[3]   Luke xii: 4-5





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