The readings for this fourth week of Advent are full of familiar Bible stories. In the Old Testament, we read the stories of Samson and Samuel, and in the New Testament, stories of the Annunciation, the Visitation, and the birth of John the Baptist. All the stories we hear have one thing in common: God invites people to cooperate in his work of salvation, and even though this plan almost always seems impossible, we see men and women responding with open hearts. This drama of invitation and response continues today. God is inviting you to take part in his work of salvation. We are so close to the Birth of Christ. Be God’s instrument in someone else’s life: invite someone to Christmas Mass.
Week 3: Trust and Joy
The readings from the third Sunday of Advent have a definite theme of joy. We are reminded to be joyful because the Lord is coming to save us. As we draw closer and closer to Christmas, it can be easy to get caught up in all the preparation and forget why we are preparing. Yes, Christmas is a beautiful time to celebrate with family and friends, and preparing your home, food, and presents for guests is important. But if your heart is not prepared to receive Christ, what's the point of all the preparation? We lose the true meaning of Christmas if we forget to be joyful. This week, make a conscious effort to be joyful, no matter where you are. Joy is one of the defining characteristics of a missionary disciple.
Week Two: Healing and Repentance
The readings for this second week of Advent focus on Christ’s healing ministry. Not only do we witness Christ’s many miracles, but we also get to see the prophecies of Isaiah that foretold Christ’s work. Christ's ministry is twofold: he heals those who are physically ill and he forgives sins. Not all of us are physically ill, but we all need Christ's forgiveness. Acknowledging that we need to be healed is admitting that we cannot heal ourselves. Take time this week to go to Confession. It is the best way to seek Christ's healing and forgiveness. Once we are healed we can then invite others to repentance as missionary disciples.
The first week of Advent begins on November 27th. Below is the first of four reflections to help form you as a disciple of Jesus, and prepare you for His coming on Christmas. God Bless you on your Advent Journey.
Week One: Labor and Work
Stay awake! This command comes from our Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent. Jesus warns his disciples to stay awake because they do not know when Christ will come back. It is true that we don't know when Christ will come at the end of time, but we do know that we celebrate his first coming to us at Christmas. Advent is the time of preparation for Christmas. Staying awake and preparation both imply that some effort is required on our part. When we decide to serve Christ as missionary disciples, we have to be ready for hard work. Spend some time in prayer this week asking Jesus for the grace and strength to serve Him as a missionary disciple.
As Advent comes to a close, one of the best ways to prepare for Christmas is to revisit the story of the Nativity - the true meaning of Christmas.
You can read the story of the first Christmas in both the Gospel of Matthew (1:18 - 2:12) and the Gospel of Luke (2:1-20). What better way to end the season of Advent than to take time as a family to read about the Holy Family!
We can get so used to all the secular images of Christmas that we can easily forget what it really looked like. As fun as it is to celebrate with presents and elves, reindeer, and Santa - the first Christmas was even more magical!
After spending some time reading through the Christmas story, click the video below to watch children explain the story of the Nativity in their own words, as their parents act it out. :)
What part of the Nativity story stands out most to you?
Leave a comment to let us know!
Holy Family Parish Christmas Mass Schedule
Christmas Eve, Friday, December 24:
4 PM - Sacred Heart
4 PM - St. Peter
8 PM - St. Joseph (Christmas carols begin
a half hour before Mass)
10:30 PM - Sacred Heart (Christmas carols
begin a half hour before Mass)
11:00 PM - St. Joseph, Spanish
Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25:
8 AM - St. Peter
9 AM - St. Joseph
12 Noon - St. Joseph, Spanish
One of the most famous Advent traditions is the Advent wreath. There is much rich symbolism to be found in this beautiful tradition.
The Advent candles remind us that Jesus is the light of the world. Each Sunday of Advent we light another candle as we get closer and closer to Christmas - the moment Jesus brought light into our darkness.
Three of these candles are purple and one is pink (or rose). The dark purple also reminds us of darkness and marks a time for prayer and waiting. The pink candle is lit on the third Sunday of Advent which is called Gaudete Sunday, meaning ‘Rejoice’ for the time of Christmas is near.
The circular shape of the wreath reminds us of our God, who has no beginning or end, as well as His endless love for us. The evergreen leaves that make up the wreath remind us that God gives us the gift of everlasting life through Jesus.
Download and print out this coloring sheet to decorate your very own Advent Wreath as a family! As you you color the leaves and candles, remember their deeper meaning.
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