We celebrate Christ the King this weekend and mark the end of the Church Year. This Solemnity proclaims Jesus Christ as the King of the Universe. Pope Francis reminds us: “On this feast day, we rejoice together in the reign of Christ the King over the whole world. He is the one who removes all that hinders
reconciliation, justice and peace. We are reminded that true royalty does not consist in a show of power, but in the humility of service; not in the oppression of the weak, but in the ability to protect them and to lead them to life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Christ reigns from the Cross and, with his arms open wide, he embraces all the peoples of the world and draws them into unity.”
As the Church Year ends, we now prepare for the coming of the great Feast of Christmas. We do so with prayerful anticipation and joyful preparation. Advent begins next Sunday. Mother Church is shrewd for She knows that all good things demand proper preparation. Christmas is truly a good thing. Advent invites us to properly and joyfully prepare for the birth of our Messiah.
In our Advent prayers and worship we reminded that as Catholics we are called to “stand out” during these weeks. We do so because we do not celebrate Christmas until Advent is over! Somber, purple vestments are worn by our priests and no festive Christmas carols are sung yet at Mass. The crèche and all the Christmas decorations are not to appear until around Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile in the cold and secular world around us it often appears to be December 25th already! But in our Church, we Catholics try to slow down, we take our time ant try to truly get ready for December 25th. We celebrate that it’s Advent.
Now please understand that I am not an “Advent extremist,” nor am I on the warpath about Christmas being too secular, or its celebration coming way too early. Although I would agree that both are true in our world today. However, I do love the Advent Season and I know that Christmas is always more meaningful if we use this special season to truly prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s coming.
So how can we “salvage” Advent? Well if you do put up your tree and the crib a bit early, save the arrival of the Baby Jesus until Christmas itself. Growing up in my family home, the Baby Jesus was never put in the crib until Christmas Eve.
Why not place an Advent wreath, an Advent calendar or perhaps even a giving tree, or “Jesse Tree” in your home. Teach your children to pray and prepare for Christmas with patience and joyful service to others in imitation of the Holy Family.
Many people worry that Christmas has become much too commercial and perhaps a little “too selfish.” So consider helping someone in need and sacrificing something this Christmas you don’t really need. Helping the poor and needy buys the real joy of Christmas more than any expensive gift ever can. I have a friend with eight grandchildren, who, during Advent claims she has nine, as she donates the amount she spends on one of her own to a charity to help a child.
Prayer is also a tried-and-true Advent practice. So try to join us at daily Mass this season, or perhaps make a stop in Church on the way home from work for a little prayer time with Jesus. Pray the mysteries of the rosary every day in Advent as a way to prepare for Christmas. Consider reconciling with that person with whom you’ve had a falling out, a fight, or have not heard from in a long time. Why not reach out to them in the spirit of Advent peace and reconciliation.
Finally, Advent is a great time to make a good Sacramental confession. You’ll find your Mass and Holy Communion on Christmas Day a lot more meaningful if during Advent you have experienced the loving and merciful forgiveness of the Messiah in Confession. God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Confession is the best gift you can ever give yourself and also your family for Christmas.
Over the next few weeks lets strive to “keep Christ in Christmas” by keeping Advent alive in our hearts and homes with patience, prayer, joyful good works and a good Confession. Do good. Be well. God Bless! Go Pats!!! Advent is coming so prepare the way!