Please listen to Father Broom's talk about the Advent Season

Happy New Year! This greeting can be made two times a year: Jan 1st, the start of the civil New Year, as well as the 1st Sunday of Advent—when the Church commences its Liturgical New Year.  New Year, new start, new beginnings, bright future!

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. “Advent” from the Latin “Advenir” can be translated into “coming”; we await the coming of the Messiah.

Normally the success of any enterprise or undertaking is in proportion to the prior preparation.  For a successful surprise Birthday party, there need be a well-planned prior preparation.   That being the norm, should we not make a more serious and concerted effort to prepare for the Birthday of Jesus every year.  There was never a Person who came into the world leaving such dramatic changes in just 33 years as did Jesus.    What then are practical and realistic ways that we and our family can take for the coming of Jesus the Lord?  Off we go!
1.    TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!   Let us live spiritually and intensely this Advent as if it were the last Advent in our life; indeed it could be because we know neither the day nor the hour that the Lord could call us He said that he would come  like a thief in the night, at the hour we least expect his coming!  The alarm clock has sounded: Let us wake up to the Lord’s call!   We have one life to live; why not live it to the max! As St. Peter Canisius said when advised to slow down and rest, his response was: “In heaven we will have all eternity to rest; now is time to work.” Remember the motto of St. Benedict: “Ora y labora”. (Pray and work)
2.    SILENCE.    Elijah encountered the Lord on the mountain in silence. Neither the earthquake nor the thunderstorm contained the voice of the Lord, but the gentle breeze.   In the Diary of Mercy in my soul, St. Faustina wanted to live fully Advent and made the proposal to cultivate silence and recollection.  The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI upon his visit to USA and the seminarians in New York exhorted them to silence so as to hear the gentle voice of God. Today we are being bombarded by so many alien voices that distract and even deafen us from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.

3.     PRAYER.   A necessary corollary that follows from silence is prayer.   In Advent we should establish a time, a place, and form the habit of prayer. Both Advent and Lent being “strong” Seasons of grace should be times to both prolong and intensify our prayer life.
4.    GIVE UP AND FAST FROM SIN.  To conquer sin, bad habits that we have been dragging with us like a chain for years and inveterate vices  we cannot except through the grace of God and a strong effort of the will on our part. To fall a slave to sin is easy; just let yourself go and be led and dictated by your passions. Jesus calls sin  slavery.   Prayer is the indispensable remedy to overcome any sin in any time any place and any circumstance. Let us meditate on the words from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the power and liberating force of prayer.

“Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin. How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from him?

Nothing is equal to prayer, for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult is easy…. For it is impossible, utterly impossible for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly to sin.

Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned.”  (CCC #2744)
5.    SACRIFICES/ ACTS OF PENANCE.   Jesus said that some devils are expelled only by prayer and fasting. Jesus gave eloquent testimony to this by praying and fasting 40 days in the desert.  In 1917 Our Lady of Fatima told the three children, Jacinta Francisco and Lucia, the importance of prayer and offering sacrifices for the conversion of poor sinners. Why not make a small sacrifice at the table for love of God and for the conversion of sinners?  Give up cookies, drink water rather than soda, avoid putting condiments on your meal, or even try to eat a little bit less--- all of these sacrifices offered to God with great love can be instrumental in saving souls.  St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that the salvation of one soul is worth more than the whole created universe!
6.    HOLY MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION IN ADVENT.  By far the greatest act we can carry out is to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and to receive reverentially and devoutly Holy Communion. Why not propose this Advent to come to Mass and Holy Communion and bring as many family members as possible to Jesus, Emmanuel—God with us!  Actually, mystically and sacramentally every day can be “Christmas” because Christmas is Jesus being born and Holy Communion Jesus is born in the depths of the pious soul!   “O come let us adore Him, Jesus the Lord!”
7.     CLEAN THE BARN OF YOUR OWN SOUL.  Jesus was born in a cold, dirty, smelly, musty, hard stable which was a refuge of animals. Our soul can be compared to this stable. How pleasing to Jesus it would be to born in the clean stable of your heart.   Why not clean the cobwebs, mud and dirt and foul smell from your interior stable of Bethlehem--- your heart and soul—by preparing assiduously for and making the best confession of your life.  The words of Isaiah the prophet can truly motivate us: “Though your sins be red as scarlet I will make them as white as the snow.” St. Jerome willingly offered the Child Jesus many gifts for His Birthday--- books, prayers and penances, which were all pleasing to Jesus. However Jesus responded to the saint and said you are lacking one thing that I would like: give me your sins! The name Jesus means “Savior”; He came to save us from our sins.
8.    RECONCILIATION AND PEACE. One of the many titles for Jesus is “The Prince of peace”.  St Francis of Assisi composed the immortal prayer, “Lord make me a channel of your peace.”  One of the 8 Beatitudes of Jesus is “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” (Mt. 5:8). If there is somebody that you have not forgiven and you are harboring resentment and bitterness and unwilling to forgive, now is the time to practice the virtue of humility and seek reconciliation and peace with that person. Jesus warns us that if we are offering the gift at the altar and we remember that somebody has something against us then we should leave the gift and be reconciled and then return to offer the gift.  “Lord, make me a channel of your peace.”
9.    HELP THE POOR.  In some concrete fashion we should feel the compulsion to help the poor of the world, our community, or parish, or family. Call to mind the words of Jesus: “I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and in prison…..Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” (Mt 25). Ways to help the poor are countless. Beg the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind to see Jesus in the poor and act on the inspiration.  Why not be a Good Samaritan on the Highway of life?
10.  A DEEPLY MARIAN ADVENT.  No doubt Jesus is the reason for the season! However, Jesus chose Mary to be the means by which He would enter into the world to carry out our salvation by His Paschal Mystery---Passion, death and Resurrection. Advent is a truly Marian season. Marian Liturgical Solemnities and Feasts are not lacking. On Dec 8th the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. “O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.” The Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States. Furthermore, 4 days later, the church celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady appeared to Juan Diego 4 times in 1531 in Mexico and assured him as well as the whole world of her motherly love and concern for all. Why not renew our love, devotion and affection for Mary who is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church and our Mother.  Undoubtedly a practice very dear to the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the recitation of the most Holy Rosary. In Advent the Joyful mysteries take pride of place. Why not before dinner unite the family together around the family sanctuary and pray the Rosary.  “The family that prays together stays together.”

In conclusion may this coming Christmas, the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, be the most peaceful, joyful and holy of Christmases by living out with zeal, fervor and devotion this Advent as if it were the last of our lives!  O come O come Emmanuel.