O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

by Sister Diane Heiss, SDSH

“I’m coming! I’m coming!

Have you ever heard those words before, especially from one who is consistently late? What emotions are stirred up? Frustration? Irritation?

Many families have such a member, and although these and other feelings are valid for 11 months of the year, I invite you to set them aside this month, for such a person is an “Advent person.”

The word “Advent” comes from the Latin word “Adventus” which means “coming, to come.” Advent always begins four Sundays before Christmas, Dec. 3 this year, and is the start of the new Liturgical (church) year. The season of Advent is a prayerful time of preparing our hearts and minds to celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas.

Purple is the Liturgical color of this season; therefore, priests will wear purple vestments, with altar cloths and banners of a similar color. An Advent wreath of evergreens with three purple and one pink candle will be near the altar. The wreath will be blessed the first Sunday of Advent, and the first purple candle will be lit for Mass, with two purple candles lit the following Sunday. However, on the third Sunday of Advent we will see two purple and one pink candle lit, followed by all four on the fourth Sunday. Through His Incarnation and out of a personal love for each of us, Jesus emptied Himself of His infinite glory and majesty to become one of us. What gifts of love will we offer Him? Rose is a liturgical color representing joy, and this third Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, for we rejoice that Jesus’ birth is drawing nearer. Jesus said that whatever we do to others we do to Him, and our poor world is so wounded and broken. In what ways will we bring joy to others, especially the lonely, neglected and rejected?

Many stores begin displaying their Christmas wares in October or early November, anxious to utilize as many shopping days as possible. It’s hard to avoid getting sucked into the commercialism of the holiday. So, how about “baptizing” what the business world presents to us? May the following suggestions help spur your imagination.
■ Soon we will hear daily announcements of the number of shopping days until Christmas. An Advent calendar (handmade or purchased) will help us focus on the number of days left to prepare our gifts of love for Jesus and others.
■ Secular Christmas songs will be playing in Malls and elsewhere. Learning and singing traditional religious Christmas carols will help lift our minds and hearts to God.
■ Instead of purchasing Christmas gifts, give handmade ones and donate the money saved to charity.
■ Set up a Nativity Scene in your home. Instead of placing the figure of Baby Jesus into the manger, put it away for now. Place a container with small pieces of straw near the manger and throughout Advent, each time a family member does a good deed, another piece of straw may be placed into the manger, thus making it soft. On Christmas Eve, the family can gather there, placing the figure of Baby Jesus into the manger and singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.
■ Cut quite a few strips of paper all the same length and width to make a “Prayer Chain.” Each time a family member prays for others, add a strip to the chain. When you decorate your Christmas tree, add the chain to your tree.
■ Make handmade Christmas cards and send to your family, friends and the elderly.

Published in Orange County Catholic paper 11/28/2023 – Click for original article