As we enter into the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we are invited to celebrate the greatest moment in history — the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. To help us prepare and fully immerse ourselves in these seasons, Fr. Francisco has shared some beautiful insights and reflections.
“The season of Advent is a time of preparing for the coming of God,” he says. “It is a time to calm our spirit to listen for the coming Lord. As we see with Elijah, He comes in a whisper. We have to step out of the normal mapping of our lives to hear the words of God.”
The season of Advent focuses us on the reality that God became man. Unfortunately, the world has obscured this season of spiritual preparation by commercializing it and declaring it as the time to buy gifts and decorate to impress your friends and family. This Advent, we are all encouraged to resist the hustle and bustle of the commercialized holiday season and slow down through family prayer and acts of charity.
“As Christians, we are part of society and live in the world, but are not to be of the world,” Fr. Francisco says. “This is the struggle of the disciple — to live this out.”
By being bogged down with the many shopping sales and otherworldly celebrations during the lead-up to Christmas, many experience a sort of holiday stress. This is the exact opposite of what Advent is really about.
Accompanying the need to calm our spirits and prepare our hearts for the coming of God, Fr. Francisco emphasizes the importance of charitable works during this season.
“The heart of Christmas is tending to the poor,”
Fr. Francisco says. “All Christians are called to remember the poor during Christmas.”
As Jesus enters the world into an impoverished state, being born in the manger of the Christmas crèche, we are reminded of the poverty around us and should take this time to imitate Christ’s love for the poor.
“This parish historically tends to the poor all year round,” Fr. Francisco says. “The St. Martin de Porres Apostolate and St. Raphael Ministry are two good examples. During Advent, we focus on a group of people who are poor with the St. Nicholas Advent Tree. This year we will be sending the items collected by the Advent Tree to our senior citizens — the elderly who are in assisted living facilities.”
All are encouraged to donate to the Advent Tree and to do other small acts of charity during the Christmas season.
Christmas is more than just a single day of celebration — it is a season that starts on Dec. 25 and ends on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord.
“Christmas is a time to feast on the reality that God came to be — the incarnation,” Fr. Francisco says.
During this season, three practical approaches can help us celebrate properly — the first is to pray together as a family, the second is to embrace your family members with love, and the third is to find peace in Christ.
This year Christmas Eve is also the fourth Sunday of Advent, which means that we will have a packed 24 hours of liturgical celebration. Sunday morning Masses on Dec. 24 will be said for the fourth Sunday of Advent. That afternoon, there will be Christmas Masses at 4:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and midnight. On Dec. 25, Christmas Day, Masses will be celebrated at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. We all must remember to go to Mass both Sunday mornings for our fourth Sunday of Advent obligation and again to one of the Christmas Masses!
Dec. 3 — First Sunday of Advent
Dec. 8 — Immaculate Conception Holy Day
Dec. 9 — Men’s Retreat, Sponsored by That Man is You! and the Knights of Columbus
We will have our Christmas Food Baskets again this year.
The St. Nicholas Giving Tree will benefit those in nursing homes and assisted living homes.