WELCOME TO ADVENT! We begin a new liturgical year with the Fir st Sunday of Advent. This is the Year of Matthew, Cycle A, of the three year cycle of Sunday readings. The vestment and altar cloth color changes from green to blue, a reminder that this is a season of hope. The three main characters of Advent are Isaiah, John the Baptist and Mary. They all challenge us to look at the 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 that they reflected in their lives. Sometimes, though, Advent becomes a time that too many may want to do away with. After all, it will be Christmas soon enough, and we want to celebrate that season in any way we can. Christmas decorations have been in the 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 Advent because it calls us to wait with patience and hope for when the Lord returns again. As we light the first candle on the Advent wreath, the church reminds us that this season is one in which we need to step back and wait, which may be difficult for some, since we are always in a hurry. Yet, the readings today point us to the future, when the Lord returns. Will we be ready for his return, or will we still want to make preparations for Christmas? Advent is the time to wait, not for Christmas, but for the Lord’s return in glory to take us all home. This is also a time of patience, of listening to the Lord and all he calls us to be as his people. Jesus instills within us a sense of hope about the present as well as the future. If we are only waiting for Christmas, then what happens after the feast? Will we be any more prepared to greet 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, and the opportunities the church gives us to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us. On three Mondays of Advent, December 2, 9 & 23, we will celebrate Evening Prayer. It’s another opportunity for us to step back and reflect on this sacred season. Evening Prayer begins at 7:45 PM. Come and join us. On the 16th, we celebrate Simbang Gabi, a traditional Filipino Advent event. That will occur at 8:00 PM in our church. HAPPY ADVENT!! ~ FR. JOE

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