A new liturgical year begins this weekend on the First Sunday of Advent. According to the “General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar,” the season of Advent has a twofold character:
• It’s a season to prepare for Christmas when Christ’s first coming to us is remembered.
• It’s a season when that remembrance directs the mind and heart to await Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.
Advent is thus a period for devout and joyful expectation.
Unfortunately, this important and sacred season — a season in which we are supposed to reflect on the love and salvific plan of God, who sent his divine Son into the world to deliver us from sin and eternal death — is largely ignored by the secular culture in which we live. For those enamored of the contemporary culture, what is called the “Christmas season” begins sometime in mid-October and ends abruptly on December 25. There’s little or no appreciation of the Savior’s birth, because the time of preparation in Advent has been completely eliminated.
For the Church, however, the season of Christmas begins when it should begin: on the 25th day of the month of December.
And it continues for more than 3 weeks thereafter!
Clearly, when it comes to momentous events like the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Church believes in celebration — but only after the proper and necessary preparation.
May we all prepare well this Advent.