WELCOME TO ADVENT! We begin a new liturgical year with theFirst Sunday of Advent. This is the Year of Matthew, Cycle A, of the three-yearcycle of Sunday readings. The vestment and altar cloth color changes from greento blue, a reminder that this is a season of hope. The three main characters ofAdvent are Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary. They all challenge us to look atthe present as an opportunity to celebrate with renewed hope as God’s people.They stand as a challenge to us to embrace the season with the same hope thatthey reflected in their lives. Sometimes, though, Advent becomes a time that too many maywant to do away with. After all, it will be Christmas soon enough, and we wantto celebrate that season in any way we can. Christmas decorations have been inthe stores and malls since before Halloween, which seems to rush the season.But, the church says we need to step back and reflect on this season of Adventbecause it calls us to wait with patience and hope for when the Lord returnsagain. As we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, thechurch reminds us that this season is one in which we need to step back andwait, which may be difficult for some, since we are always in a hurry. Yet, thereadings today point us to the future, when the Lord returns. Will we be readyfor his return, or will we still want to prepare for Christmas? Advent is thetime to wait, not for Christmas, but for the Lord’s return in glory to take usall home. This is also a time of patience, of listening to the Lordand all he calls us to be as his people. Jesus instills within us a sense ofhope about the present as well as the future. If we are only waiting forChristmas, then what happens after the feast? Will we be any more prepared togreet the Lord after Christmas than we were before? This is the time to wait,to listen and discover the wonder of Jesus in the readings of the season, andthe opportunities the church gives us to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. Onthree Mondays of Advent, December 2, 9 & 23, we will celebrate EveningPrayer. It’s another opportunity for us to step back and reflect on this sacredseason. Evening Prayer begins at 7:45 PM. Come and join us. On the 16th, wecelebrate Simbang Gabi, a traditional Filipino Advent event. That will occur at8:00 PM in our church. HAPPY ADVENT!! ~ FR. JOE

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