Tomorrow we begin the season of Advent. To prepare yourself for this holy time, check out this quick guide to Advent:
November 27 First Sunday of Advent
“Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33)
This first day of Advent begins the new Church year. What resolution will you make for this coming year, especially during this Advent season? What do you need to recognize Christ in your midst and prepare for his coming?
“The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it.” (Isaiah 2:2)
Isaiah gives us the beautiful image of the peace and joy that comes from serving God. It is a peace and joy that is open to everyone, not just a select few. How am I spreading God’s peace and joy with those around me, especially those who don’t believe?
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see!” (Luke 10:23)
Seeing Jesus is not just something with which only the disciples were blessed. Jesus is still present among us, inviting us to see and respond to him. Can I see Jesus today, especially in those who are poor or forgotten?
“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines.” (Isaiah 25:6)
In the fullness of the Reign of God, we will sit down at the great feast. God will provide in abundance for our needs and longings. The Eucharist we celebrate today is a taste of the great banquet. Give thanks for God’s providence and concern for you.
December 4 Second Sunday of Advent
“Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock.” (Isaiah 26:4)
We are invited to trust in God, who always guides us with love and compassion. For what do I need greater trust? Ask God today for that.
“Out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.” (Isaiah 29:18)
Often we can be blind to the presence of Christ in our lives, to his relevance in our daily grind. Yet He is there, the Light of the World, to heal our blindness and help us to see clearly. Pray for the grace to see the presence of Christ more clearly in your life today.
December 6 St. Nicholas
“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and curing every disease and illness.” (Matthew 9:35)
Today as we remember St. Nicholas (http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/Saint.aspx?id=1221), we seek to imitate his spreading God’s charity, justice and generosity. Do something kind for someone in need.
“The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard ‘delay,’ but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Advent is a time of waiting for the Lord, waiting for him to transform our lives and the world. Waiting calls for patience — patience with others, patience with God and patience with ourselves. Do I believe that God is transforming me? Spend some time today praying for patience as you are being transformed and made more holy.
Immaculate Conception “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28) Today we celebrate our belief that Mary was conceived without original sin, a perfect dwelling place for God. Mary is our model of living a life open to God, a life made possible to us through our baptism. How am I living a life of goodness and holiness like Mary? Check out this video to understand more:
“Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.” (Isaiah 40:1)
Through the prophet Isaiah, God proclaimed that he was with them and their sins forgiven. This is the comfort, the Good News, that we are called to proclaim as well: we have been healed and forgiven through Jesus.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Jesus wants us to come to him with all that challenges and burdens us, especially our sins and failings, to receive healing. He forgives our sins to enable us to truly live for God. We are invited to receive God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation so we can live in hope for the future.
December 11 Third Sunday of Advent (Gaudete Sunday)
The Third Sunday of Advent is called “Gaudete Sunday,” which means “Rejoice!” We rejoice that Christmas is almost here. We rejoice that God continues to come to us. We rejoice that our salvation draws near. Share this joy with a friend or family member who may be sad or burdened.
December 12 Our Lady of Guadalupe
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
As we remember the blessings given by God with the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we remember that God’s blessings in our lives and world are never exhausted. Pray that you may imitate Mary’s willingness to embrace God’s plan of love and salvation in your life.
“In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace.” (Sirach 48:1)
The prophet Elijah burned with zeal for God and spreading the Word. Countless others in Scripture and in the life of the Church have been afire with love of God and neighbor. Reflect on a holy person who has burned with love and justice. What do I need to do to stoke that fire in my own heart?
“I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” (Isaiah 41:13)
What we celebrate at Christmas above all is that God is with us (“Emmanuel,” which means God-with-us, is the name given to Jesus before his birth). The Lord is always with us to guide and help us. Pray today that you may recognize God’s saving presence within you.
“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25:4)
God always calls us to follow the teachings set out for us, to follow the path that leads to true peace and happiness. This path is made clear in Jesus. How am I preparing myself to follow the way of the Lord, the path that is for my good that will lead me and others closer to Christ?
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.” (Psalm 34:19)
When we are broken and most vulnerable, our normal defenses and protections are gone. This is often the time when God becomes most present to us. If this is you, look for God’s loving presence with you today. If not, be God’s loving presence for someone who is broken.
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)
St. Matthew begins his Gospel with a genealogy of the human ancestors of Jesus. It includes some famous names (Abraham, David, Joseph) and some others lost to history (Zadok, Eleazar, Abiud). Each lived and died without knowing the whole of God’s plan. At times, we may feel insignificant, that our life has no purpose or plan; yet God does have a plan for each one of us. Pray today to be able to trust better in God’s specific plan for you.
December 18 Fourth Sunday of Advent
“When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” (Matthew 1:24)
Much of Advent is focused on Jesus and Mary, but in the Gospel we hear about the greatness of Joseph. Despite not being sure about what had happened, he listened to the voice of God in his life and provided a home for Mary. Pray today to be able to hear God’s voice in the midst of challenges, to know that “God is with us.” (Mt 1:23)
“For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)
Advent is a time of hope, of hoping in God. It is not hope that believes that my life will be perfect, but a hope that God is with me to strengthen and guide me. Fr. Pedro Arrupe, the former Superior General of the Jesuits, said that people with hope have “the conviction that God knows, can do, and will do what is best.” Can I allow this hope to dwell within me? Can I allow Jesus to come to me?
“The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
One of the ancient titles the Church gave to Mary was “Theotokos” which is Greek for “God-Bearer.” Yet each of us as Christians are called to be “God-Bearers” in the world, to make God present in our daily lives. What have I done (or what can I do) this Advent to bring Christ into the world?
“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)
Elizabeth rejoices in Christ’s presence in the womb of Mary, yet it is not an obvious presence. Christ comes to us today, more often than not hidden and not in obvious ways. Can I recognize his quiet hidden presence in my life today and give thanks?
“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:52-53)
With the coming of Jesus, God has turned the world upside-down. We too are called to seek justice for the lowly, the hungry and the abandoned. Do something today to see the world as God does, and assist someone in need.
“And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.” (Malachi 3:1)
As we near Christmas, we eagerly anticipate the coming of Christ. Yet we are not simply commemorating his birth over 2,000 years ago, but awaiting his return and the final coming of the Reign of God. Am I ready for Christ to come into my life? Can I sing with joy at his coming?
December 24 Christmas Eve
“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)
Our anticipation for Christmas has reached its climax. This holy night, the Light shall shine in the darkness, forever bridging the gap between heaven and earth. Pray today that in all of your final preparations, you may be able to give thanks for this gift.
December 25 Christmas Day
“Behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
Merry Christmas! Our waiting is over and Christ has come. Our God has come to save us. Through the birth of Jesus, God has become human, one of us. As St. Irenaeus said, “God became human that humans might become God,” that we share in God’s divine life. Give thanks and praise for this greatest Christmas present of all!