1st Sunday of Advent

 My Dear Friends in Christ, 

I hope and pray that many of you were able to spend some quiet (it probably wasn’t that quiet) time with your family and loved ones over the Thanksgiving holiday. What a blessing to sit around sharing memories of the past and looking with great joy to the future! Looking to the future with joyful anticipation is exactly what we are doing now. 

This weekend begins the season of Advent, a season filled with traditions that help us prepare for the Messiah’s birth. The Advent wreathis used in many homes as well as in our churches to help mark the Sundays until Christmas. The wreath is a circle that has no beginning and no end. It reminds us that Jesus came to give us a life that will never end, eternal life with God in heaven. Evergreen branches are often used to make the circle because they do not change color as do the leaves on other trees. The evergreen reminds us that God never changes: God always has loved us and always will. 

There are four candles on the Advent wreath, (three purple and one pink), one for each week in Advent. The Prophecy Candle, announcing the period of waiting, The Bethlehem Candle, symbolizing the preparations being made to receive the Christ child, the Shepherds’ Candle, which signifies the act of sharing Christ and the Angels’ candle of love and final coming. They remind us that the Jewish people waited a long time for the Savior to come. The burning candles remind us that Christ, the Light of the World, brightens the darkness around us. Each week we light one more candle, a sign that the more we let Christ into our lives, the brighter our lives will be. 

In our Gospel this week we are given a wonderful message of hope. We hear that Jesus will come again and that we shouldn’t be afraid, but we should “Stay Awake”and try to live so that God will be pleased with us. How do we “stay awake” during these weeks? That is between you and God to decide, but the parish will try to assist you. In today’s bulletin (and on the subsequent weeks of Advent), you will find a tear-out sheet that helps you make different Advent commitments. Please fill one out each week and place in the Advent boxes on our campuses as part of your prayerful commitment. I also urge you to view the Advent calendar and special activities advertised in the bulletin. While you may not be able to partake of all the opportunities, please add them to your schedule so you are more likely to make them a priority. 

Let us commit together in the coming weeks to slow down and not get so caught up in the commercialism of the season that we lose sight of the reason for our celebration. I invite you to spend time reflecting on the scriptures and enjoying family and friends. May this season of Advent be filled with God’s grace and peace. 

It is a joy and blessing to serve you as your pastor, 

Fr. Gilbert Mascarenhas SAC