The United States Council of Catholic Bishops reminds us that Advent is a time of preparation “that directs our hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and to the anniversary of Our Lord’s birth on Christmas.”
I don’t know about you, but in all the secular focus on Christmas, I lose track of that first part – Christ’s second coming at the end of time. This adds a whole new emphasis and urgency to the importance of Advent and the meaning of preparation. The USCCB website adds: “the scripture readings during Advent tell us not to waste our time with predictions. Advent is not about speculation. Our Advent readings call us to be alert and ready, not weighted down and distracted by the cares of this world (Lk 21:34-36).”
This year Advent is an opportunity for our parish communities to prepare even as we personally prepare. Jesus understood that the human heart could not thrive in isolation. He formed the Church based on people held together by love. Together we find real meaning.
Will we use the urgency of this Apostolic time to reassess who we invite and how we invite them? Are we weighted down and distracted by learned habits and expectations? Findings from the national synod suggest that we are searching for relationships:
“People noted that the Church seems to prioritize doctrine over people, rules, and regulations over lived reality. People want the Church to be a home for the wounded and broken, not an institution for the perfect. They want the Church to meet people where they are, wherever they are, and walk with them rather than judging them; to build real relationships through care and authenticity, not superiority.”
Excerpt from: US Catholic National Synod Synthesis
Source: American Beliefs Study Catholic Responses
The readings from the 33rd Sunday warn us that we can easily fall prey to our own perceptions. Malachi and the letter to the Thessalonians both remind us to set aside pride and focus on our own faith journey. Luke reminds us we cannot define God or know His expectations. If we open ourselves and listen, we will hear the guidance we need. Jesus, we Trust in You!
This Advent, we can focus on both Christ’s birth and His return. Perhaps our current parish community needs our own care. If we are not loving and welcoming to each other, we can’t reasonably expect that a new person would feel welcome. It might be a time to reflect on the parish mission and vision and celebrate your ministries’ great purpose and outcomes. Be intentional about holiday gatherings for both in-person and online parishioners. Prepare the congregation to become a “home for the wounded and broken.” And don’t waste time! Be a parish community that is alert and ready, quick to develop relationships, and walk with people at their pace.
Celebrate Advent with our 2022 series!
Daily reflections, prayers, family activities, music, food, and more. Celebrate the season by participating in the ACST 2022 Advent series.
Terry is a multi-disciplined executive who is passionate about serving the Church by supporting his leaders and organizations. His experience includes coaching and training Catholic leaders, facilitating priority planning with dioceses and parishes, and consulting with parish leaders to engage parishioners. And using technology to foster stewardship. Terry serves as chairman of the finance council for his home parish in Hartsville, SC. And as cantor for his parish in Myrtle Beach.