Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy New (Liturgical) Year

by scovich
Today begins the new Liturgical Year! This commences a series of posts in which we hope to do what little we can to guide ourselves and our readers through the season of Advent, which lasts from now until Christmas. Remember that this is a season of Penance, almost like a miniature Lent. The dark tones of the ancient Advent hymn “O Come O Come Emanuel”, commonly sung in many parishes, are a reminder of this.

As readers of this blog know, we have a particular devotion to the concept of the Liturgical Year. In the past few weeks, in the close of the liturgical year, the Church asks us to contemplate apocalyptic topics, in the Mass readings and in devotional practices. In the beginning of the liturgical year, readings in both the traditional and modern calendars become less apocalyptic, but exhort us to wait patiently on the Lord.

Wake up!
The theme, especially in this first Sunday of Advent, is awakening. We are asked to begin the new year by staying awake, not only to await our eternal salvation and to prepare to celebrate the Lord’s birth at Christmas, but also to receive the wisdom to do all that God asks of us. This is a good time to renew giving to charity, examine ways in which we are not following God assiduously, to read scripture, and to contemplate vocation.

In our last post, for All Saints Day, we discussed the concepts of the Church as containing the past, present and future. Again, in Advent, we contemplate the three comings of Christ:
- first, in the historical past, encompassing the time from His incarnation and birth in Bethlehem through His passion, death, to His resurrection;
- second, in our own present time, His coming to each of us who receive him (as in John 1:12-13), as we follow Him and work out our salvation through His grace;
- third, in the future, His coming "in power and majesty" at the end of the world.

Editor's Note:
St Andrew Christmas prayer begins today. I've not kept up with this, but I know others who do--it's a short prayer repeated (15x) daily Nov 30th until Christmas.

What devotional practices will you choose this Advent? When I was a child, my parents helped me write a letter to Baby Jesus every Sunday. I rolled up the letter, tied a purple ribbon and put it in His stocking, as His birthday gifts. I will (probably) not take a whole page to write out something like "Dear Baby Jesus, I made my bed today and I did what Mom said. Happy birthday"--but the sentiment is still there.

This year, I know some of us will be reading and discussing Scriptural passages--mostly chosen from the lectionary and office of readings--from Isaias and other prophets as well the early chapters of Matthew's and Luke's Gospels. Some will pray a daily Rosary or the Angelus. Some might choose another prayer or practice for the month of December or for the nine days leading up to Christmas.

As in Lent, some might take this special time to focus more on particular works of charity, or of establishing a habit of spiritual reading or meditation, or of cultivating a particular virtue opposed to some habitual vice.

What special intention might you have during Advent? I'll follow up this week with another post about the coming of Christ in our hearts this Christmas and some of my reflections and intentions this time around. (Keywords/spoiler: children, education) If you would, please share your intentions & practices in the comment threads.


  1. As far as I can tell, the connection of Advent with three distinct comings of Christ comes from a famous homily by St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

  2. I'll also add, that the statement in your first paragraph that Advent is a season of penance is a more complicated question than you might expect.

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  4. TMR has reminded me that this week is an Ember week. These occur every three months and are weeks of penance. Ember days are Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

    This Advent, we (TMR and I, by mutual discussion) are praying especially for the intentions of parents.