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THE BISHOP'S VOICE: Preparing for Christ in the Advent season

12/06/2019 | Comments

Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly kingdom.

This is the Collect prayer for the First Sunday of Advent. It is a beautiful summary of the meaning of the season of Advent. The prayer, while spoken to God, communicates to us an image of the Lord Jesus hastening to us, his people.  Why?  To save us.

Advent is a time in which we ask God to prepare us for a worthy celebration of the birth of his son. As we anticipate the glorious feast of the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, we remember all that God did to prepare his chosen people to receive the promised Redeemer. Throughout Advent the Scriptures proclaimed at Mass are taken from the Old Testament — most of them from the prophet Isaiah, who announced the coming Messiah to a people eagerly awaiting him.

Yes, Christ is coming — but we pray that God will give us the resolve to run forth to meet Christ with righteous deeds.  Advent is not simply a time of waiting. It is a time of anxious anticipation, a time when we hurry to meet the coming Christ.

There is a second aspect to our observance of Advent. While our attention is usually given first and with the greatest excitement to the approaching celebration of Christmas, Advent is also a time to anticipate the coming of the Lord at the end of time. The liturgies of the first weeks of Advent focus on this theme.

The end of the world is not on the radar screens of most people — Catholics included. Our weekly profession of faith in Christ’s second coming is found in the Nicene Creed, which is prayed at every Sunday Mass: “I look forward to the resurrection from the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

“I look forward” — these are words of joyful anticipation. But it is a joy that needs to be tempered by the sober realization of our need to be ready to meet Christ — indeed to run and meet him with our righteous deeds.

There is yet a third coming of Christ that we should consider. This one is between his incarnation 2000 years ago and his glorious return at the end of the world. Christ comes to us each and every day: in prayer, in the people and events of our daily lives, in his word; and, in the most sublime way, he comes to us in the sacrament of his Body and Blood. If we are consistently unprepared to meet Christ day after day, we can be rather sure that the day of his return will catch us off guard, just as it did the foolish virgins in Jesus’ parable.

Whether it is preparing to welcome Christ at Christmas or to meet him when he comes again at the end of time or to receive him each day, there is no better way to run to him than with souls free of sin. Advent is a particularly important and fitting time for the sacrament of reconciliation.

The season of Advent also highlights the Blessed Virgin Mary as the exemplar of the hopes of the people of the Old Testament. She embodies those who hope for the coming of the Lord, now and at the end of time. For this reason, Mary is also the exemplar and Mother of the Church, the new people of God.

Two of the most important feasts of Mary are celebrated during the Advent season. First, her Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8).  To prepare a fitting home for his incarnate son prior to his birth, God preserved Mary from every stain of sin — both original and actual sin. On her feast we rejoice and thank God that Mary was given such a great privilege. The mother of the Redeemer is our mother also. Under her title of the Immaculate Conception, we honor Mary as the patroness of the United States.

The second great feast of Mary in Advent is that of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12). Her apparitions in 1531 to St. Juan Diego, a poor Indian peasant of Mexico, were the cause of millions of conversions to the faith by the Mexican native peoples. Our Lady of Guadalupe is venerated as Empress of America and Star of the New Evangelization. Under this title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary is also the patroness of this Diocese of Colorado Springs. Ask for her intercession especially in the days of Advent.

On Sunday, Dec. 8, we will honor Our Lady of Guadalupe with a Rosary procession. All are invited to begin gathering at Acacia Park at 2 p.m. The procession will begin at 2:30 and will be followed by Mass at the cathedral.

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