With the arrival of Advent, the church starts a new year.  Why not start a renewed spiritual life with the new Church year!  Our God is a God of many chances. Our hope is that this year will be the best of years!  Advent is time of preparation for the most important birthday in the world-- Christmas, the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.   The success of the party depends on the prior preparation. Therefore, the more intensely we live Advent the more joyful will be our Christmas.  Let us prepare for our Saviour!

1. SILENCE.  Now more than even the human heart needs silence-- a constant reminder of the present Pope Benedict XVI. He reminded seminarians in New York that it is hard to hear the voice of God because we are bombarded by so  many noises.   In silence, God's gentle but insistent voice can be heard, as did Elijah in the gentle breeze on the mountain!

2. PRAYER.  Silence leads us to listening to God's voice and communicating with the Lord. Advent is time to prolong and to intensify our prayer life. Find time, a place and form a habit!

3. WORD OF GOD.   The church highly recommends the reading of the Word of God always, but especially in Liturgically "Strong" Seasons like Lent and Advent.  Allow God's word to speak to you, enlighten you, correct you, purify you, motivate you, challenge you, to transform your life into an authentic disciple of Jesus the Lord!

4. CONFESSION.   Your soul is indeed a "Little House of Bethlehem".  It should be cleaned of its dirt through a good Advent confession.  Allow Gods' Broom to sweep you clean in confession!   The Infant Jesus told St Jerome that the  gift He wanted for Christmas would be the sins of Jerome, so that he could wash them clean

5. RECONCILE.   Advent is a time to overcome long-lasting and enslaving resentments that bind us. Why not simply and humbly make mends with a brother, relative or work associate that you have been rejecting due to pride! Jesus came to set the captives free!

6. CHRISTMAS WREATH AND CANDLES.  Embellish your home, "The domestic church" with a Christmas wreath and candles.  Green is for hope!  This is the spiritual meaning!  The circle because is eternal represents God ; He has no beginning nor end.  The candle symbolizes Jesus the "Light if the world".  The purple is for penance; pink for joy, because the Lord is soon to be born!

7. MASS/HOLY COMMUNION.  Indeed every day can be mystically, spiritually "Christmas" because Christmas celebrates the Birthday of Jesus. Jesus was born in time 2000 years ago. However, He is still born every day in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He is born in the hands of the priest in consecration and in the hearts of every person that receives Holy Communion. 

8. JESUS IN THE POOR.   Scrooge was converted when confronted withe the prospect of death. Jesus was born, lived and died and rose to give us eternal life. However, we are challenged to see and help Jesus in the poor.  In Advent  open your eyes to see Jesus in the poor; open your hands and heart to help him.  Jesus said,   "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you have done to me." ( Mt. 25)

9. DAILY WORK, DAILY SANCTIFICATION.    We are all given a mission, a task, an obligation to carry out.  Why not simply renew our energy, intention and good will this Advent and do it all for the Lord.  Paul points out:  "Whether you eat or drink, do everything for the Lord."   Holiness consists in doing the ordinary with extraordinary love. (The Little Way of St Therese.)

10. MARY/THE MOTHER OF JESUS AND OUR MOTHER.  Advent is a joyful season that culminates in the Birthday of Jesus. God chose Mary to be His Mother. Therefore, to plummet the spiritual reservoir of the meaning for Christmas, why not turn to she who gave birth to the Lord and Saviour. St Therese said that Mary is Queen, but Mother more than Queen!

In conclusion, Advent is a new year for us!  Why not start a new life?  This indeed, through God's grace and our collaboration will the best of Years for you and for me. Mary, Mother of God and our mother, pray for us!