The candle of the First Sunday of Advent is called the Prophet’s Candle, which symbolizes HOPE. The prophet Isaiah foretold the birth of Christ the Lord: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) This prophecy gave hope to a people who have been longing for a Messiah. For Christians, this prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, who came into the world to bring peace and salvation to mankind. In this Advent season, the hearts of Christians are full of hope as they eagerly await Christmas and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.     

Blessing of the Advent Wreath

Lord God, your Church joyfully awaits the coming of its Savior, who enlightens our hearts and dispels the darkness of ignorance and sin. Pour forth your blessings upon us as we light the candles of this wreath; may their light reflect the splendor of Christ, who is Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.

A Time to Prepare  

Advent has a twofold character: as a season to prepare for Christmas when we celebrate the birth of Christ, and as a season to prepare for the glorious Second Coming of Christ when He comes to judge the living and the dead.

What does it mean to prepare during Advent? Clearly in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus warns His disciples not to become “drowsy” with partying or to become anxious with the worries of day-to-day life. Rather, what we can do is to focus on the promises of our Lord in the past and our hope for the future. These are the three elements of an active preparation: to reflect on Jesus’ promise of eternal life, to yearn for its fulfillment in the future, and to dwell in the inner peace and strength which Christ gives us each day to persevere in faith and charity. In other words, it is about having a life with Jesus Christ when we pray, when we work, when we interact with others, when we undergo difficulties in life, and when we enjoy the blessings that God has given us with a thankful spirit.

Quite possibly the most overlooked aspect of Advent is that, like Lent, it is also a time of penance. The early Church Councils (Councils of Tours in 563 AD and Mâcon in 581 AD) instruct the faithful on the observance of Advent before Christmas: that “they should observe fasting during the month of December, up to Christmas day” (Canon 17, Council of Tours). For most Christians, this would not be very easy to do, especially when it is the time of the year when treats of all kinds are plentiful. But on the other hand, it would be the best time of the year to practice self-denial and intentional charity towards others.

God often blesses us with opportunities to know Him more intimately, but we can easily miss them by simply not paying attention. It is not easy to be alert at all times; on the other hand, it is easy to let the pleasures and anxieties of daily life absorb us; it is easy to get lost in the endless “small stuff” that keeps us so stressed out or too busy to be attentive to God’s presence in our lives. But we must constantly remind ourselves that our experience of God or the lack thereof, not only has a lot to do with the quality of our spiritual life in the present, but also our future life with God in eternity. 

Advent Retreat  Our Advent Retreat will begin at 12:00pm after Mass this morning and will end at 5:00pm. All are welcome to attend even if you can only stay for the first part. The retreat will be about the messages of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima and Akita. If you would like to make a donation to Fr. Aldrich’s ministry, you may send it yourself directly to the CEC in Los Angeles, or you may donate through our church by dropping your donation in the big donation box. If you are donating through our church by check, please make it payable to HNOJ, and put CEC in the memo. 

GIVING TUESDAY  Please drop your donations for Giving Tuesday in the collection during Mass or in the donation box.

Saint Nicholas (aka Santa Claus) is coming to our church on Christmas Day! Just a reminder to parents and other gift-givers: Please label your gifts and place them under the Christmas Tree, so that Santa Claus can give out the gifts after Mass.