"Big Four" Highlights


Advent Patience

A meditation on this season of faithful waiting
By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

The Church is giving us a cue. The “Gloria” was omitted from Mass this past Sunday and will be gone for the four Sundays of Advent. The priest was wearing purple, a penitential color more known for the 40 days of Lent. What message are we getting from the liturgy?

These weeks of preparation for Christmas are a time of giving rather than getting – giving an account of our lives in the context of our eventual death and judgment. The word “Advent” means “coming to or toward,” a gentle warning that not only did Jesus come to us as a baby at Christmas, but we also are coming toward him as the end of time approaches. We can also think of Advent as a time of “coming to” our senses and realizing that God’s judgment is not some far-off possibility, but a time that will come when we die, which may be as soon as today. The moment of death will bring the particular judgment of our soul, in advance of the general judgment when all humans will be judged publicly before God. A sobering thought amid the holly-jolly jingles on the airwaves these days.

As the ads for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other marketing schemes blare from our screens, Christians are called to set their sights beyond the lures of this world to contemplate the ultimate realities of Christ’s birth and Second Coming. As the “shopping season” kicks into high gear, touting the latest must-have gift, we are prompted to enter the marketplace of faith, where exchanges are eternal and goods more enduring: sin, mercy, penance, forgiveness, almsgiving and love, among others.

By declaring to the world that the liturgical year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, more than a month before the secular calendar turns to the New Year, the Church keeps us a little off balance, which is good. We are reminded that the world’s time is not quite in keeping with eternity, and that Christians should be “in the world but not of the world,” to paraphrase an early Christian writer. Our Christian values are not always those of the world as we walk by faith and seek first the kingdom of God.

The “Gloria” will return with the Christmas Eve Mass, December 24, and the sanctuary will don the red of the joyous season of birth and new life. Red is also the color of the martyrs, a word that means “witness” – which every Christian is called to be, in life and in death.

Happy Advent.