“May He strengthen your hearts, making them blameless and holy before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 3:13

Happy New Year! This is the first day of the Church’s year and the beginning of the Advent season. “This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of His contemporaries; His power has still to be communicated to us all” (from a pastoral letter by St. Charles Borromeo, read at the Office of Readings for Monday of the first week of Advent). The purpose of Advent is to prepare us for a deep, personal, life-changing, world-shaking encounter with Christ this Christmas season.

For thousands of years, people have been preparing for Christ’s coming and for almost seventeen hundred years have been celebrating Advent. The Holy Spirit has taught the Church that to prepare for Christ, we must:

  • Pray the Mass with so much love that Mass becomes the center of our lives. Thus, we have the word, “Christ-Mass.”
  • Be immersed in repentance and express this by Advent Confession(s) (see Lk 3:3ff).
  • Abide in God’s Word (Jn 8:31) and share His Word. This is the origin of Christmas cards.
  • Do penance, especially fasting. This is the connotation of the Advent color, purple.
  • Do good deeds, especially almsgiving. This is the origin of Christmas gift-giving.

Christ is coming in a new way this Christmas. Get ready this Advent.

Prayer: Jesus, I accept You as Lord of my life and of my Advent.
Promise: “Be on guard lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares. The great day will suddenly close in on you like a trap.” —Lk 21:34
Praise: Praise You, risen Lord Jesus, holy and victorious. Come, Emmanuel. Maranatha!

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