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home : from the bishop : from the bishop February 21, 2019

Some Thoughts on Advent

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

It is a wonderful coincidence that our celebration of Thanksgiving occurred before the First Sunday of Advent.  Although not a liturgical feast, it is appropriate on Thanksgiving that we bowed our heads in grateful prayer to God before beginning a new Church year.  It is not without significance that part of our Thanksgiving this year included gratitude to God and to so many of our fellow parishioners for our efforts in the Diocese to embark upon a thoughtful process  to renew our Diocese through the “Faith In Our Future” initiative.

Now, as we begin a new liturgical year and a new liturgical season in Advent, our gratitude deepens in the unfolding and implementation of this plan TOGETHER throughout the Diocese of Trenton.   May God’s abundant graces continue to pour out on our people through our renewed efforts to welcome our future in faith!

The season of Advent is a unique season of hope-filled preparation for all of us in the Christian community --- although it can easily be missed by society at large as simply an extended, early celebration of Christmas.  True enough, Christ has come, and we should rejoice in his Incarnation every day of our lives.  But Advent gives us all time for a prayerful “retelling” of the story of the “Hope of Israel.”

 Our disposition and expectation as individual Catholics, as individual believers, truly influence and model the way in which our fellow parishioners as “communities of believers” look at Advent and incorporate its hope and excitement into their lives as Christmas approaches. Whether we realize it or not, we do have an effect on one another!  The images of Isaiah, John the Baptist, and Mary figure so prominently in the scriptures we hear during these few, fast weeks.  We need to let the Word sink deeply into our minds, hearts and souls.  The hymns we sing and the Mass prayers we pray all fix our attention in faith upon the One who has come, is coming and is yet to come, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   It is all about him, everything we are and everything we do as Catholics.  We make every day an anticipation for yet another, more profound, more transforming revelation.  Although we have heard and sung and prayed the Advent message many times before, a pause, some quiet time of prayer, the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation all go a long way to “make all things new” … again … although the Advent and Christmas story are as old as the Church itself.

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

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