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User's Guide to Sunday, Dec. 2
BY Tom and April Hoopes
Sunday, Dec. 2, is the First Sunday in Advent (Year C).
It’s the First Sunday in Advent. For our kids, that means it’s time to start the Holy Heroes’ “Advent Adventure” series. Advent Adventure helps you get the most out of Advent with a brief daily lesson. It’s a Godsend for busy families whose Advent intentions are great but whose time and energy for Advent follow-through is limited. Full disclosure: Our goddaughter is one of the children featured in Advent Adventure — but that would cause us to pull the cloak of charity over the production if we didn’t think it was truly excellent. Find it at the website.
Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
The U.S. bishops have embraced the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict XVI called for through Nov. 24, 2013.
The Holy Father’s words about the Year of Faith also apply to Advent: “During this time we will need to keep our gaze fixed upon Jesus Christ.”
Why not dedicate this Year of Faith Advent to getting to know, love and serve Christ better?
Building faith doesn’t mean learning facts about the Catholic Church or studying dry information. It means meeting another human being: Jesus Christ himself. This Advent, focus on the regular practices associated with the season. But do them with a new spirit, a spirit of really trying to know Christ better.
First, fast and pray — with Christ.
“In him,” writes Pope Benedict, “all the anguish and all the longing of the human heart finds fulfillment.”
As today’s Gospel reading dramatically demonstrates, life in the world can be very disconcerting. The fears and anxieties of the human heart are great. The distractions we make for ourselves never quiet our hearts; they always worry them more.
This Advent, let’s skip distractions: Cut back on television, radio, Twitter and Facebook — and study Christ instead, through spiritual reading, the Catechism or the Gospels.
Second, go to confession and the other sacraments.
The sacraments are meeting places where Christ reaches out from eternity to our place in time and touches us. We don’t just “get grace”: We have an encounter with Christ in which he is really present. Pope Benedict describes the profound power of these encounters. They take our weaknesses and make us whole with “the joy of love, the answer to the drama of suffering and pain, the power of forgiveness in the face of an offence received and the victory of life over the emptiness of death.”
Third, give alms and share the gift of faith with others.
Advent is a time when we give much to others, either indirectly through monetary contributions or directly through volunteering our time. This should always be done with an eye to serving Christ and making him greater known and loved.
Faith transforms good deeds into acts of evangelization. “Through his love, Jesus Christ attracts to himself the people of every generation,” writes the Holy Father. “In every age, he convokes the Church, entrusting her with the proclamation of the Gospel by a mandate that is ever new. …. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.”
Let’s live this Advent as a journey that will culminate after four Sundays at the crèche, when we renew our commitment to Jesus Christ.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.