12-02-2012Weekly ReflectionFr. Jack O’Kane

Dear Parishioners,

As Advent season is upon us and a new Liturgical year begins we are called by Christ in our Gospel this morning to remain vigilant in waiting for His coming. Advent is a special season in the Church to remind us and to prepare us for the impending coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Year after year, Advent comes and goes and Christmas is celebrated, but do we ever stop and reflect on our preparation for the coming of the Savior of the world?

We probably have a lengthy list of all the preparations we need to make to be ready for December 25. There are gifts to buy, decorations to hang, a tree to trim, cards to send, parties to attend. We go through the same process every year, usually worn out by the immensity of it all. But so often in doing all these things we can forget why we celebrate in the first place. Our world has turned the anticipation of this Holy Night into a frenzy of materialism and secularism. The secular world obscures, veils and distracts from Jesus' birth with politically correct language and its "Happy Holidays" mantras. Jesus Christ is coming and that is infinitely greater than the bargain shopping extravaganza at our favorite mall or outlet.

Advent calls us to remember to get our hearts and souls ready to receive our Lord as the Messiah, as Emmanuel – God with us. The four weeks of Advent remind us of a God who loves us enough to have bestowed upon the world the gift of His Son. As people of faith, we realize that this reality is so implausible and other-worldly, that a love like this could only come from Almighty God, and that we in turn must

offer a gift in response – the gift of our hearts and our lives. Advent gives us the time to make new our hearts; to make them fitting and acceptable to present to the Infant Lord at His birth.

Our Parish begins Advent with a special devotion to our Lord – 40 Hours Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Our Eucharistic Lord will be exposed for Adoration and worship Sunday December 2 at 3:00pm and will remain available for prayer and visitation thru Tuesday night. Amidst the distractions of our times, this is the perfect way to set our mind and soul toward preparing for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. To spend some precious time with our Lord in quiet prayer, is especially valuable at a time when the world is in a hurry to hang one more strand of lights and get two more stocking stuffers. Jesus warns us in the Gospel today, "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." Please make it a priority to spend some time with our Lord these next couple of days.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is another important way to prepare for Christmas. St. Magdalen's will be having our Penance Service on Sunday, December 16 th . Making time for the sacrament is essential in freeing our hearts from the distractions that bombard us this time of year. It frees us to receive Christ at Christmas with a pure spirit and a clean heart. I encourage every parishioner to take time this Advent to go to Confession and in the words of John the Baptist, "Repent, prepare the way of the Lord."

Just as Jesus was born to the world in that little town of Bethlehem, He comes to you and me through His Church and through the Sacraments, especially the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. This Advent Season as we prepare to allow His grace and His love to become a more significant force in our life, let us encounter the risen Christ in our frequent reception of the Sacraments. Let us raise joyfully raise our hearts in prayer with great anticipation for Christmas. Let us avoid the pitfalls and distractions of consumerism and materialism and wait with child-like innocence for that perfect Christmas present – the coming of Jesus Christ. May this Advent season be a time of peace, grace and wonder for you and your families.

In Christ, Fr. Jack