The 1st Sunday of Advent is affectionately called “Catholic New Year” because it is the beginning of a new year of prayer and worship, a new cycle of life and grace as the Church continues its pilgrim journey to Heaven. Advent is a special time of preparation for us, as we remember the coming of the long-awaited Messiah more than 2000 years ago, but also how we are even now awaiting His return at the end of time. Remember this truth: The world is thy ship, and not thy home (St. Therese of Lisieux).
We are made for more, we are made for Heaven, and Advent is a time of becoming more spiritually attuned to the truth of who we are made to be. Advent is the time for us to remember that we need a Savior, that we need His grace, that we need His presence in our lives. It isn’t about franticly running around buying and wrapping and losing ourselves in the consumer culture that is more and more turning this season into a commercial craze, rather than a deeply religious time of watching, waiting, and preparing for the Lord. Don’t get me wrong: giving and receiving gifts is a special thing and expresses in some way the joy and gratitude we ought to have as we remember that Supreme Gift of God’s Son, Whom He gave us at Christmas. But we must be careful not to give ourselves over so completely to material and consumeristic affairs, failing to attend to the more important spiritual matters of our lives. Advent is about preparing our hearts and our souls to receive Christ and His grace.
An important element of this preparation is the Sacrament of Confession, which cleanses our soul of all those sins that make it inhospitable to the Lord. On Wednesday, December 1st, we will have a Day of Grace for our family of parishes. From 8am-8pm, there will be a priest in the confessional at St. Henry to hear your confession and reconcile you to God. This will be in addition to the many other opportunities we have during the week to receive this Sacrament. Let the Lord take away your sins, so that you can be filled with His grace. If it has been a while, or going to confession simply makes you nervous, check out our Confession page for a simple 'How To'. Don’t let fear or pride keep you from receiving the grace of God’s mercy, without which our souls cannot live. The greatest gift we can give to God is the gift of ourselves, and we make ourselves a more precious gift by being transformed and purified by His grace, which is the light and the life of our souls. May God bless you in the week ahead and may Mother Mary lead you more deeply into the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus.