A new liturgical year is upon us! Prepared by the Feast of Christ the King last Sunday, we turn the eyes of our hearts to the advent of Christ, both the first and the second, the more important of which is, of course, the second advent, the Second Coming.
In our first reading for this First Sunday of Advent I (from Jeremiah 33), we hear: “The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” The Second Coming is about this “full fulfilment”, about the consummation of all things in love, about Jesus definitely introducing us into the mystery of God: our purpose, our home, our life eternal. If so, then our hope is “eschatological” in nature. Eskhatos is the Greek term for "last or uttermost”. We are, if you will, a “people of the uttermost”, the uttermost in divine love, which must transform all things, most especially our hearts. At every Mass, there is an expression of eschatological hope in such transformation: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”.
Advent prepares us for Christmas, when we celebrate the Word made flesh, Jesus. The imagery we most often have is that of the chid Jesus in the manger—as should be the case! But, Jesus will come again. Somewhere in our minds (and hearts!) ought also to be the image in today’s gospel—which is more than an image: “the Son of Man coming in a cloud” (Luke 21). As we prepare first in prayer—and formation and outreach opportunities, (and then, of course, in shopping and decorating and baking…and and!) for Christmas, may our hearts be turned to the Word made flesh, Who indwells us, eschatologically hopeful that He will come again. As we indeed profess each Sunday in the words of the Nicene Creed (325): “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end”.
As a new liturgical year is upon us, you will notice three liturgical adjustments, which we announced a couple of weeks ago at our coffee hour Q&A. They are the fruit of many conversations with acolytes and staff, reflection and prayer, and their purpose is to make our liturgy more prayerful. Firstly, sufficient number of acolytes permitting, we will be using incense at Mass. As the psalmist prays in Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be counted as incense before you.” Secondly, so to maintain a more prayerful flow to our liturgy, the “welcome and announcements” will take place at the end of Mass, just after the Post-Communion Thanksgiving. Thirdly, as the Church asks her members to do, we will be praying the Prayers of the People between the Nicene Creed and the Confession. These three—actuating our faith, welcoming into our hearts the concerns of our Brothers and Sisters and together offering them, asking for forgiveness—in a sense, form an organic whole, preparing us to approach the altar of our Lord, worthily, to celebrate Holy Communion.
Blessed Advent! Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)
Yours in Christ,