WITH ST. MARY'S
THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Be prepared for the coming of Christ.
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
The first Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the liturgical year. At Mass, we will begin around the Advent Wreath, with four unlit candles; this Sunday, the first candle will be lit. There is plenty of symbolism in this very simple ritual: a world without Christ is a world in darkness. Advent is the beginning of our preparations for Christ’s coming, and although we begin this process in darkness, the lighting of merely one candle on the wreath indicates that there is hope in the midst of darkness. Christ will come soon. Now is the time that we wait in hopeful anticipation for the coming of our Lord, while we prepare our own lives so that we may be ready when he comes.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
This Sunday’s readings all emphasize this idea of hope in the midst of darkness, because this is the essence of the season of Advent. In fact, this is the essence of the Christian life: we suffer, we mourn, we bear our crosses in this life, all with the hope that Christ will come in the end to wipe the tears from our eyes. In the first reading from Isaiah, we actually begin this season with a description of exactly what it is we are hoping to attain through the coming of Christ - the Lord’s house will be established and all nations will stream toward it. More importantly, though, the light of the Lord’s house in the midst of darkness is going to draw us to him, which is exactly why Isaiah implores us, “come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” In the second reading, Paul reinforces the whole idea behind Advent: the time of waiting and suffering has come and gone, and now the beginning of our Lord’s return can be seen. The night is advanced, darkness has crept into every part of our lives, and we have no way to lead ourselves back to where we must go, just as we hear from the old adage that it is always darkest before dawn. However, the day is at hand according to Paul. We ought to rid ourselves of what keeps us in darkness so that we may pursue the light that begins to shine during this season. Advent is a season that we can enter into with full expectation; we know that there are four weeks, we know that the celebration of Christ’s coming will be at the end of those four weeks, and we have the opportunity to change our lives in the way they need to be in order to be prepared for the symbolism of Christmas. But Christ is clear in today’s Gospel: when it comes to his second coming, his return will be at an unexpected time. We will neither know the day nor the hour, so we must remain prepared. The season of Advent is a gift that enables us to set our lives in order so that we may be prepared whenever Christ returns.
Family activity to do at home: Throughout the season of Advent, families should maintain their own Advent wreath in their homes so that the focus of the season may be properly oriented to preparing for the coming of Christ. It's an exciting thing, especially for children, because it enables them to count down the days until Christmas in a truly holy manner. The lessons attached to the lighting of the Advent candles on the wreath can also be an opportunity for families to remain in this mindset of preparation. Throughout the season of Advent, follow these family activities so that you can know how to maintain the prayers involved in the Advent wreath with your family. Below, you can find the first prayer - the blessing of the Advent Wreath.