Pastor's Corner 120212

posted Dec 3, 2012, 6:54 AM by Music Director

This weekend we begin my favorite liturgical season, Advent, which inaugurates a new liturgical year. (Happy New Year, everyone!)  We move from the B Cycle of Sunday Scripture readings, which features the Gospel of Mark, to the C Cycle, featuring the Gospel according to Luke. 

Advent is, above all, a season of hope, a time of joyful anticipation.  The word itself comes from the Latin, adventus, which means “arrival.”  And therein is the reason for our hope, what we are called to joyfully anticipate.

Advent reminds us that as God promised to send a savior (the fulfillment of which is celebrated at Christmas) so that Savior promised to return.  (See John 14:1-6, for example.)  Not knowing when this will happen, Advent calls us to be prepared, not just in these weeks before Christmas but always.  We are to be like children awaiting the visit of Santa Claus at Christmas, because this second coming of Christ is to fulfill our greatest hope and desire, as proclaimed in the Nicene Creed:  “the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come.”

We reflect on the words of the prophets of ancient Israel that foretold the Messiah’s first coming, the last of whom was John the Baptist, who even from within his mother’s womb was a voice crying out, “The Lord is come!  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord!’”  (See Luke 1:39-45) We reflect on John’s mission, and that of the humble couple from Nazareth, Mary and Joseph, whose acceptance of their roles brought about the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation.  However, we see that plan unfold in reverse order in our Scriptures for the Advent season, beginning with Jesus’ promise of a second coming, then moving backward to see God’s plan come to fruition.

The signs and symbols of this season are ones of joyful preparation and expectation.  Light is the most prominent symbol, for it shatters darkness, relieves fear and gives hope.  (Isn’t that why Jesus came into the world?) 4 candles on a wreath of evergreens help us to count the weeks of the season as if we’re counting the days until He returns in glory.  We bathe our homes in light to signal that here live people of light who anticipate and are preparing for the coming of the One who is “light from light,” the true Light of the world.”  Like leaving a porch or living room light on when loved ones go out for the evening, that they can find their way back to a place where they are wanted and loved, we light up our homes hoping that the Messiah will find His way to us. 

As people of light we seek forgiveness of our sins in sacramental penance, and do good works, particularly for the needy, which is why Advent featurespenance services (ours will be celebrated on Dec. 19) and charitable works like “The Giving Tree” which helps less fortunate families have a wonderful Christmas.    

Last Advent witnessed the inauguration of the new Roman Missal translation.  After using the new wordings for a year now, what do you think?  There are some prayers that I rather like.  Most, however, I find clumsy, cumbersome, wordy, ungrammatical, and even at times incomprehensible. The whole project was completely unnecessary and the reasons given for it totally absurd and unconvincing.  It seems to have been the work of reactionary Vatican bureaucrats with nothing better to do than burden us with their arcane and detached sense of propriety.  (I suppose you have guessed by now that I am not a fan!)

At the beginning of this new liturgical year, we are reintroducing the participation of all the ministers of the Mass in the opening procession.  Why this was discontinued is a mystery to me.  But why bring it back?  Always keep in mind that everything we do in our liturgies serves both a practical and symbolic function.  The Procession obviously is intended to get the ministers of the liturgy to their respective places.  But the formality of the Procession symbolizes the journey of the faithful, following the crucified/glorified Jesus Christ (represented by the Processional Crucifix) and guided by the light of His word and works (represented by theProcessional Candles which flank the Crucifix).  Technically, the entire assembly should process into church behind the Crucifix and Candles. Since this isn’t practical, the ministers of the assembly represent all present. 

Because of the unique configuration of our church building, the ministers will gather outside the sacristy and process in 2 single-file lines led by a server with a Processional Candle to the back of the church, where they will join up and follow the Crucifix and Candles up the center aisle, fan out on both sides of the Sanctuary, and reverence the Altar and Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle together with the priest and deacon.

Listen closely to the words of the prayers and hymns of the season.  Look intently at and immerse yourself in the symbols we use and the customs we keep. Rather than getting caught up in the commercialism of what many have attempted to make a secular holiday, get caught up in the spirit of what makes Advent 4 weeks of holy days, the real “reason for the season!”


In His Love,

Fr. Mike