The Season of Advent & Penance

In her liturgical year, the Church helps the Christian faithful to encounter each year anew, Jesus Christ their Lord. Since God has become Man in Jesus Christ, He has entered time and our world, and thus the liturgical seasons and commemorations are not memories of distant events of our Salvation History, but are encounters with the living God. As with the visible world and nature, there are seasons and cycles to the year. The same is true with our liturgical year. There are times for fasting and feasting; times for sorrow and joy; and times for more intense conversion and penance. But in all of this, the Church encounters her Lord and His saving Gospel. Throughout these times and seasons, Catholics re-live the life of Christ: the Annunciation to the Bl. Virgin Mary, Jesus’ Incarnation, His Birth, being raised in the holy family, His Baptism and retreat into the dessert, and His Paschal Mystery: His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension and the Gift of the Holy Spirit. As Christians, celebrating well the rituals and traditions of the Church in her liturgical year, helps us to live intimately with Jesus Christ.

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As we journey through the season of Advent, the prayer and worship of the Church helps us to remember our need and longing for the Messiah. By recalling the ancient prophecies and the expectancy of the Messiah, Christians are aided in renewing their need and welcoming Him more into our lives, especially those parts that are in need of conversion and healing. We are also reminded that the Lord will return again at the end of time as Judge, or at our death, and so we heed the call of John the Baptizer to “make straight His paths.”

This coming week, we have a special opportunity to respond to our Lord’s call through the words of John to prepare the way of the Lord. Our parish will offer an Advent Penance Service on Thursday, 11 December at 7.00 pm to pray, to hear God’s Word, to examine our conscience, and to celebrate individually the sacrament of penance and reconciliation.

As Mother Church helps us to prepare not only for the commemoration of the Nativity this Advent, but more importantly, for when we meet the Lord face to face, let us avail ourselves of this special opportunity to seek God’s mercy and grace in this sacrament. Let us welcome the Divine Physician into our lives to heal and transform us, so that we may be ready and open to receive Christ the Lord in the many ways He comes to us this Advent and this New Church Year.

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