Saturday, Dec. 8, is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a holy day of obligation (Pope Benedict gives his “Homage to the Immaculate” on the Spanish Steps in Rome at 4 pm). Dec. 9 is the Second Sunday of Advent (Year A).
Epriest.com features “Best Parish Practices.” This weekend’s Masses present Scriptures retelling the whole salvation story. The site details how Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish in Glendive, Mont., has had success with a “Come and See” adult Scripture study program.
NCRegister.com has great conscience exams for kids and for adults. Click “Resources,” then “Confessional Guides.” Go to confession as a family this weekend. Remind the kids that confession is part of our preparation for Christmas.
It’s a Wonderful Life deserves every bit of its acclaim. We are recommending it in Advent because, like A Christmas Carol, the movie’s theme is that doing what’s right must precede the joy of Christmas.
Immaculate Conception: Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; Luke 1:26-38. Advent Sunday 2: Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12. Epriest.com provides free weekly homily packs.
This weekend’s two Masses showcase Mary and John the Baptist.
— Mary is an Advent role model because …
She renounced sin. Saturday’s Gospel makes it easy to make the mistake that “Immaculate Conception” refers to the conception of Jesus. It actually refers to Mary’s conception without sin — and her refusal to sin thereafter, which we can imitate.
She gives us victory. We hear how Adam and Eve introduced sin into the human race. But then God tells the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
The Church understands that Mary, in her offspring, will overcome the evil one. We can turn to Mary, mother of the Church, for the grace to triumph over adversity.
She accepted Christ on his terms. Mary wasn’t complicated or hesitant. She didn’t try to make a deal with God to try to do his will up to a point and have her own favorite comforts up to a point, too. She simply said, “May it be done to me according to your word.” We should say that, too.
— John should be an Advent role model, too, because …
He renounced pride (excessive concern for self). It’s a paradox that a man who hid in the desert has become famous precisely because he didn’t seek to be. He saw his vocation as simply to point to Christ, never himself. That’s our vocation, also.
He renounced vanity (excessive concern for what others think). John dressed in a camel’s hide and didn’t pay attention to the world’s standards. Instead, he made a careful study of God’s standards, and stuck to those. How do we prioritize the world’s standards vs. God’s?
He renounced sensuality (excessive concern for physical comforts). John the Baptist ate bugs and lived in the desert. His lifestyle gave his voice authority. Will people listen to my Christian witness or does my lifestyle drown out my words?
The Hoopeses are editorial directors of Faith & Family magazine