While the rest of our society has been whooping up Christmas even before all of their Halloween candy was eaten, the Church still reminds us that the Season of Advent that we begin today is not Christmas – that will come about four weeks down the road. Of course, taking care of all of the things necessary to prepare for the big celebration of the Lord’s Incarnation is alright, but at least for a lot of people, (including me), staying rooted in a spirit of Advent preparation takes a deliberate choice. The season of Advent is an ancient tradition of retreat-like preparation in the Church, going all the way back to the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. For an entire culture of folks who generally want things immediately, the four weeks of expectant waiting for the celebration of Christmas can be particularly difficult. On the other hand most of us aren’t just four-years-old anymore, and a little delayed gratification isn’t going to hurt us. These weeks of Advent are intended to help us prepare for the coming of Christ in the world and, especially, to deepen our relationship with Jesus in our hearts. One of the primary and essential ways this can be done is to make a good examination of conscience and to follow that up with a good confession. Below is a list of the actions and attitudes that each of us might consider:
- For the times when I forget that I need a Savior, and subtly conceive of myself as sufficient to myself.
- For the times when I do not believe Jesus and instead give in to the lie of perceiving God the Father as being indifferent to me or hostile to my well-being.
- For the times when I put more credence in my own opinions, my own criteria, or my own likes and dislikes over the commands of God or the teaching of the Church.For the times when I have shunned the presence of Christ whether it be his Sacramental Presence at Mass or his Presence through the people he puts in my life.
- For the times when I have blasphemed the presence of Christ through using other human beings as things that I can manipulate or use for my own selfish ends.
- For the times when I have disregarded the will of Christ through abuse of those things he has given to me for the building up of his kingdom.
- For the times when I justify my sinfulness and thus treat God’s mercy with disdain.
To make the Sacraments more available to everyone this year, there will be an evening Mass on the three Thursdays of Advent with the Sacrament of Reconciliation both before and after the Liturgy. More details can be found in the bulletin. Have a blessed Advent week!
 Adapted from The Magnificat Advent Companion, Advent, 2017, p.10-11.