Advent is a time of waiting

November 28, 2017

Photo by James Ramos/Herald. 

HOUSTON — Each year, the season of Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year and leads up to the celebration of Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin “ad-venio” meaning “to come to.”

Advent invites the faithful to join the Israelites of the past as they waited in hope — for thousands of years — for the promised Messiah. Today, Advent is a time of waiting for and preparing the faithful’s hearts for the birth of the Lord Jesus. And we wait, in hope, for the second coming of Christ at the end of time.

The Archdiocese is also experiencing hope on multiple levels. Many celebrate hope fulfilled with the Houston Astros winning the World Series. Others are grateful for hope realized when they reflect on the boundless generosity and love shown in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. And still many more wait, in hope, for relief from the trials and distress in their lives.

Hurricane Harvey decimated areas of the Archdiocese. Thousands are still displaced and in need. Economic factors, including the hurricane, have contributed to difficult employment and financial times for many families. National and international situations increase the level of anxiety and fear when people look at the news. The hope that is desperately needed can often seem dim and distant.

But just like the night when Christ was born, it is in the midst of the darkness that the light comes.

Advent is a time of joyful anticipation! Advent invites the faithful once again to renew their certainty that God is present, having entered into the world, becoming human in order to bring to fullness His plan of love.

In turn, the faithful are called to become signs of His action in the world. Through our faith, hope and charity, He enters into the world once again and make His light shine in darkness.

Advent is not a season of sitting passively, waiting for something to happen.

Preparation for Advent begins in the faithful’s hearts. Sacred Scripture reminds them to “wake from sleep.” They must start by turning inward, orienting themselves toward God’s will. The message of St. John the Baptist reminds the faithful that, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a beautiful opportunity to repent and let go of those things holding us back from a deeper relationship with Him.

The next mission field is life at homes. The prophet Isaiah reminds the faithful to “prepare the way of the Lord.” There are many simple traditions and practices that can help families bring the Advent season to their homes.

• Lighting the Advent wreath, a traditional Advent devotion, is all about using candles to remind us of the expectation and hope surrounding the coming of Christ, the Light of the World.

• Advent calendars provide daily thoughts and activities (and sometimes chocolate!) and remind the faithful of the anticipation of the joy of Christmas.

• The Festival of Lessons and Carols uses Scripture and song to tell the story of the Fall, the promise of a Messiah, the Incarnation, and the Great Commission to preach the Good News. Many of the songs are “traditional” Christmas tunes, such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” “Silent Night” and “We Three Kings.”

• Blessings of the Advent wreath, the Nativity Scene and the even the Christmas Tree can all be done in the home.

In addition, Advent is a season to reach outside of close circles of family and friends. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, the faithful make room for Christ by saying “yes” to whatever God may ask. The faithful are encouraged to look deeply within themselves; to recognize their individual gifts and strengths; to share them lovingly, so, through them, others may experience God’s message of love, peace and salvation.

From parish “Giving Trees” and toy drives to the ongoing work done by social services such as Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, there are countless ways to bring hope to others during Advent.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13).