Today, we celebrate a New Year’s Day in the Catholic Church. Not unlike the secular New Year’s Day we celebrate in the secular world, the First Sunday of Advent marks the beginning of the new liturgical year. It also marks our time of longing and anticipation for the coming of the Christ Child on Christmas Day. A beautiful time, indeed!
Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about Advent:
“When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (CCC, 524)
For those of us who keep the tradition of the Advent wreath, it’s time to light the first purple candle, reminding us that our waiting for the Light of the World has begun. It’s a two-fold waiting: We await the Birth of the Savior and we await His Second Coming. I hope that in the coming days, you’ll be giving much thought and prayer to the Mystery of the Incarnation, as I will – or will try to do – during these hectic days.
To start us off, I have a lovely quote from Blessed John Paul II:
“For a stalk to grow or a flower to open there must be time that cannot be forced; nine months must go by for the birth of a human child; to write a book or compose music often years must be dedicated to patient research …To find the mystery there must be patience, interior purification, silence, waiting….”
And so, as we begin Advent, our Catholic New Year, I wish for you grace-filled patience, holy purification, soothing silence, and fruitful waiting.
Happy New Year!