Dear Fellow Parishioners,
It’s proverbial that time moves quickly. This Advent, which begins on Sunday, it will be even more apparent than usual, as Christmas will fall on a Monday. That means that the Fourth Sunday of Advent will fall on Christmas Eve, and the 4th Week of Advent will be one day only.
(Advent also means new missalettes, which are needed for all Masses. During COVID, many of you started “borrowing” missalettes and taking them home, so that you could have your own personal copy. Now that COVID is largely behind us, we are chronically short of them, no matter how many we order. Beginning this Advent, I would gently ask that they be left in the pews as before.
I’d like to do a brief introduction to the Advent season leading to Christmas 2023.
The four Sundays of Advent will be December 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th. Each of them, plus the Advent weekdays, have set readings which spell out the prophecies and revelations which lead us to the manger in Bethlehem.
This first Sunday of Advent will feature the appearance of our Advent wreath. The genius of the Advent wreath is that it adapts to numerous Christian and even Orthodox communities, though its origin is German Lutheran, from the 16th century. Originally, it was a household devotion, though its popularity caused its eventual adaptation to public worship as well.
While we think of the Advent wreath as an ancient custom, it was not adopted by Catholics in Germany until the 1920’s, and spread to the United States in earnest only in the 1930’s – no doubt hastened by waves of German immigration going back to the late 19th century. The symbolism of the wreath is strong and universal. The circular nature of the wreath symbolizes God’s love, without beginning or end. The evergreen fronds represent the hope of resurrection and new life, even if in bleak and frozen winter. Traditionally (and correctly) three candles on the wreath are violet, to represent a limited season of penance. (Blue is not a liturgical color in the Catholic tradition.) The fourth candle is rose-colored, to represent the Third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete Sunday is a momentary break from the “minor Lent” of Advent, with “Gaudete” as the first word of the Introit of the old Latin Mass for that Sunday.
Our Parish Remembrance Service will take place on Monday, December 18th at 7 pm. This service, in which we hang angels on our sanctuary’s Christmas trees, creates a special place in memory of our departed loved ones whose absence we feel perhaps most keenly during the holidays.
I wish you all a blessed and fruitful Advent season of preparation.
Fr. Bill Donahue