From our pastor, Father Neil Herlihy
Hopefully, we have enjoyed our Thanksgiving Day with family and friends, and have given thanks to the Lord for the many blessings we have received. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception It is a Holy Day of Obligation as we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary who was preserved from all stain of original sin. We have also entered into the season of Advent as a new Church Year has begun for us.
As we have said, Advent represents the four weeks of preparation as we wait for the coming of the Lord. The Catholic Resource Center reminds us that Advent is a season of anticipation, repentance, and preparation as we wait for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. The color purple marks the season of Advent, a color traditionally associated with fasting and repentance, when we anticipate the birth of Christ. Many of us have begun this important period of preparation by participating in our Advent Parish Mission and in our Advent Penance Service this past week.
Integral to the season of Advent is the Advent Wreath which has a long Catholic tradition. The Wreath is displayed prominently on our altar. It typically has four candles that are lit progressively during the Sundays of Advent. There is also a fifth candle that is reserved for the Christmas season. The first candle is the Prophecy Candle or the Candle of Hope. It reminds us that we can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises made to us. The second Candle is the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of Preparation. We remember the words of the Prophet Isaiah who said, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him.” The third candle is the Shepherd Candle or the Candle of Joy. We reflect on how we joyfully anticipate the coming of the Christ Child. The fourth candle is the Angel Candle or the Candle of Love. We reflect on how the angels announce the coming of the Savior, sent by God because he loves us. The fifth candle is the Christ Candle. It reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God sent to wash away our sins. These candles can also help us reflect on the desire to see the light of Christ shine through the darkness of our lives. They remind us that we, like John the Baptist, like the voice crying in the wilderness, are to prepare the way of the Lord.
We are challenged to take the season of Advent seriously and enter into a period of spiritual renewal and transformation as we prepare for the coming of the Lord. We are also challenged to remain awake, to remain watchful, to remain alert, and to remain vigilant so that that our hearts will be ready to receive Our Lord, Our Savior, Our King of Kings.