I hope that all of my readers in the United States had a very happy Thanksgiving. Filled up on turkey and pumpkin pie, it’s all too easy to slide right into the Christmas season, while forgetting all about Advent. But that would be a mistake. As my friend Fr. John P. Mack, Jr., wrote a few days ago, “If you would like to keep Christ in Christmas, keep Advent in Advent.”
The links in this newsletter will help you take Father Mack’s advice. You can refer back to it throughout Advent, and forward it to your Catholic friends and relatives. And be sure to check the About.com Catholicism GuideSite every day during Advent for more Advent devotions and practices.
Advent comes around every year, four Sundays before Christmas–a time most people think of as “the Christmas shopping season.” How much do you know about the purpose of this season of the Church long known as the “little Lent”?
Advent is long this year–27 days (the longest it can be is 28)–and the Church packs a number of important feasts, including one Holy Day of Obligation, into that short span of time. Check out this listing of the major feasts, and consider incorporating their celebration into your preparations for Christmas.
One of the most popular Catholic Advent customs is the Advent wreath. But did you know that it originated among German Lutherans? Learn more about the history and practice of the Advent wreath, and check out the links in the right column to find out how to make, bless, and light your own!
An excellent way to focus our thoughts and deepen our understanding of the meaning of Advent is to turn to the Bible. Through the Office of the Readings, the Church provides us each day with a reading from the Old Testament book of the Prophet Isaiah that helps us on our journey toward Christmas.
- Reading for the First Sunday of Advent
In Isaiah 1:1-18, the prophet speaks in the voice of God and calls the people of Israel to repentance, to prepare them for the coming of His Son. But the Old Testament people of Israel also represents the New Testament Church, so the call to repentance applies to us as well.
- Reading for the First Monday of Advent
In Isaiah 1:21-27 and 2:1-5, the Prophet Isaiah continues to call Israel to account, and God reveals His plan to remake Israel, purifying her so that she will be the shining city on a hill, toward which men of all nations will turn. This remade Israel is the Church of the New Testament, and it is Christ’s coming that remakes Her.
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