From the Pastor's Desk   
 
"Be awake and sober!"
 
And so, once again, we begin the season of Advent. Advent is a time of grace, but if we think of Advent as a time of preparation for Christ’s coming into the world on Christmas morning, then we diminish Advent to a day of remembrance and celebration, akin to a birthday party or anniversary celebration. Advent is so much more.
 
Advent is a time of grace in which the Lord invites us, indeed urges us, to welcome Himself in a new, deeper and more intimate way into our own lives, into our own hearts. Advent is not some kind of historical reenactment like is done about a Civil War battle. Advent comes from two Latin words, (”ad venire” in the infinitive or “ad vento” as past participle) which literally mean “to come.” Advent is a time when Christ begs us to allow himself to be born anew in our own lives. Since the whole Church is praying “Come, Lord Jesus” it is a holy time, a time of grace, when the Lord is powerfully sensitive to our prayers, when the Lord is responding to our longings to know him more personally. Christ never ceases to offer himself to us, but because of God’s grace and our own pleading, Advent is a time of an even more intense presence of Christ. 
 
Christ nourishes us in the Eucharist, feeds us with his Word, opens his arms to welcome us. Dare we let Christ be born anew in our own worship, in our own hearts, in our personal lives, in our every day awareness and openness! 
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The Advent Wreath originated in the Lutheran church of eastern Germany a few hundred years ago. The custom of lighting candles on the wreath, marking the passage of time, took place only in the homes of believers. Gradually, especially in Roman Catholic parishes, this practice made its way into the church worship space and into the Church’s worship. Chapter 47 of the Book of Blessings (promulgated by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) tells us that the wreath should be of a sufficient size to to be visible to the congregation. It states that it is best suspended from the ceiling, though it may be placed on a stand. It is best placed in the sanctuary, but it should not obscure the altar, lectern or chair. The wreath is blessed only on the First Sunday of Advent, and is simply lighted on the remaining Sundays.
 
I encourage you to construct an Advent Wreath for your home. Light it every day with a prayer, perhaps before dinner. It could be as simple as a branch of an evergreen with four candles around it. It would serve as a visible reminder of our longing for the coming of Christ into our homes and hearts. 
 
The cosmic imagery of the verses leading into today’s Gospel (Sun and moon darkened, stars falling, heaven shaken, Mark 13:24-33) conveys the impact and supreme significance of the revelation of Jesus. Human affairs may be tumultuous, history may be on the loose. But God is faithful! The relentless presence of the sky, the solid earth beneath our feet, stand firm. Yet they are the stage for the orderly progression of the times and seasons. “A generation passes, a generation comes, but the world forever stays” (Ecclesiastes 1:4).
 
Isaiah longs to see the power/presence of God: “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you.” And Jesus says “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. . . What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!"
 
Christ draws us. But we must be awake to what God is doing. The earth is stable, yet still we are aware of the changing of the seasons, changes of the weather, the winds, the cold and heat. But the Word of God in Jesus is always new! Only those who watch can hear this Word. The challenge to watch is striking! And it applies to all. We must be always open to and ready for the arrival of the new. Christ never ceases to reveal Himself to us. “Watch!”
 
May this Advent be a holy encounter with Christ,
Fr. Bob              
      
 
“Dear Padre” page courtesy of:
Mahn Funeral Home
Peaceful Ridge Cemetery
Mausoleum - Monuments - Cremation
900 Main & Mahn Ave - De Soto, MO 63020 - 636-586-2288/515 Collins Ave.-Festus, MO 63028 - 636-937-4444 
www.mahnfuneralhome.com