Happy New Year! This First Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year and the countdown to Christmas. Today we bless our Advent Wreath as a sign of our growing anticipation of the joy of Christmas. I hope many of you keep this custom also in your homes. While God is timeless, we live in time. At every moment the story of human history is being written. The season of Advent is very much about the intermingling of the eternal and the temporal. God is both the author and goal of human history.
The Advent season calls us to look forward as much as it invites us to look back. “Advent” comes from the Latin word advenire, which means “to come to” or “to arrive at.” This Sunday’s liturgy tells us to be vigilant (watchful) for the Lord is coming again. We look back to what God has spoken through the prophets; we see those words fulfilled when Jesus Christ was born into this world as the Word made flesh; and we trust in his promise to come again. He comes both as judge and savior. For the sinful, that is an event to be feared; for the faithful, it means vindication and deliverance from suffering and death. “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Gospel)
The sacrament of penance is an important part of our Advent preparation for a worthy celebration of Christmas. Even though the Jubilee of Mercy officially ended last Sunday, God’s mercy never ends: “His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 118 and Psalm 136) There will be additional opportunities for confession as Christmas approaches. The priests of the Chippewa Falls Deanery will be making the rounds of the various parishes the week before Christmas to increase the availability of this sacrament as well. Our penance service will be at St. Charles Church on Monday evening, December 19, at 7:00.
Pray the rosary this week for people in our community who are homeless, unemployed or needing health care. Pray for the safety of all travelling home on this holiday weekend. Pray for our military personnel serving in war zones and, as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.