“Consider This…Prepare, Reconcile, Renew”
Prepare, Reconcile, Renew
The second Sunday of Advent is upon us and the call to prepare and repent comes from John the Baptist. As we think about Advent sometimes we as Disciples have a difficult time because the secular world jumps right into the Christmas Season. As a Christian, Christmas doesn’t officially start until December 25, so the weeks leading up to our Christmas celebrations are a special time to prepare. Certainly, we prepare our homes by decorating, putting up Christmas lights, baking, etc. But how does Advent call us to prepare? If as Disciples, we aren’t not supposed to be fully immersed into Christmas, what are we supposed to be doing?
One of the primary ways we prepare in Advent is by reconciliation. The Advent Season is a time for us to examine our lives and find the ways in which we have sinned, and seek the forgiveness that Jesus offers in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the message of repentance John the Baptist is proclaiming this week in the Gospel. That means we need to find where our lives have turned from the Lord and ask for his infinite mercy. A Disciple, which you and I are by our baptism, places themselves before our merciful God and acknowledges the times they have sinned against God and one another.
This beautiful Sacrament of Healing opens us to the full potential of receiving the Lord, and celebrating with him at Christmas. Our parish next Monday will begin 24 hours of Mercy and Healing on Monday, December 7 right after the 7 am Mass. A priest will be available to help all of us prepare for Christmas as true Disciples throughout the 24 hours. Please refer to the schedule on the cover of the bulletin for other prayer opportunities during our 24 hours of Mercy and Healing.
The gift of reconciliation renews us and enlivens our relationships and celebrations. Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
Another suggestion, as we progress through Advent, let’s not rush into Christmas just yet. Try lingering a little longer in Advent. A suggestion or two for you:
1. Don’t light your outside decorations until the family has received the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After all in your house are reconciled, turn the lights on to show Jesus’ light that has been shared with you.
2. Take some time to pray, even if it is 2 minutes make sure you encounter the silence of Advent to help prepare your heart for Christ, if possible take this time as a family to pray together.
3. Eliminate one source of stress that causes tension and/or anxiety in preparing for Christmas. Do your best, but don’t stress.
4. Keep baby Jesus out of the manger until Christmas. Bring your baby Jesus next Sunday for Bambinelli Sunday, when we will bless all of your baby Jesus’ that will go in your mangers at home. Consider having Mary and Joseph move from room to room in your home journeying to the manger. As they move each night, or week, have the family gather and play an Advent song (O Come O Come Emmanuel, People Look East, On Jordan’s Bank, Creator of the Stars of Night, Night of Silence)
Consider doing all, or some of these suggestions to really experience Advent, but make reconciliation your priority.
Last week, each of you should have received a Pastoral Letter from our Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Edward Scharfenberger. As you know the Diocese of Buffalo has embarked upon the Road to Renewal, in which we are looking to revitalize our Diocese. I encourage everyone to read the Pastoral Letter, and to pray for this renewal as it will impact every parish in our Diocese. I will keep you informed of what this renewal will look like at St. Mary’s and how we are renewing our own parish for the future.