From the Pastor – November 29, 2015 for new orleans mass times“Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Lk 21:36)

This Sunday we begin the Holy Season of Advent, a time when we prepare to celebrate the first coming of Christ in the manger at Christmas while looking with expectation toward His second coming in glory.  It’s a time when we’re called to be “vigilant,” meaning to “keep watch” for danger.  And what is that “danger”?  In the Gospel today, Jesus mentions “there will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.”  In one sense, this is really our experience in the present world that has so much access to information technology.  We hear about nations in dismay due to war and economic turmoil.  We hear about the roaring of the sea and the waves in natural disasters such as tsumanis and hurricanes, like the recent Hurricane Sandy.  And these are things of which we have little control.  So what can we control?  Well, that’s the second part of the Gospel.  Jesus gives us advice:

Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.

The thing that we should avoid is failing to look up to Heaven because we are too busy looking that the things of the world.  Jesus will come again to restore creation to its original state by destroying sin and death and bringing with Him eternal life.  So our “vigilance” is primarily concerned with the state of our eternal souls. As the Catholic Encyclopedia relates, during this time we are admonished: “(1) to prepare [ourselves[ to worthily celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love, (2) to make [our] souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace, and (3) thereby to make [ourselves] ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

In fact, Advent is a similar season as Lent.  The violet color that the priest and deacon wear during Advent is is a symbol of royalty that anticipates the coming birth of Jesus, but it also reflects a spirit of penitence and the need to prepare our hearts.

There are no longer any “official” days of fast or abstinence during Advent, but Catholics are encouraged to prepare themselves spiritually during Advent with voluntary acts of prayer, fasting, penance and almsgiving.  So while we are preparing to attend myriads of Christmas parties in the coming months, we should remind ourselves of what Jesus warned, to “not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness” but to be “vigilant at all times and pray that [we] have the strength … to stand before the Son of Man.”  Have a Holy Advent!
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(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty