Advent season calls faithful to peaceful, prayerful preparation

Joe Brooks lights the first candle of the Advent wreath at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va. Nov. 27, 2011. Advent begins this year Nov. 30. Each candle on the wreath marks a Sunday during the period of joyful anticipation that precedes Christmas. (Nancy Phelan Wiechec/CNS)
Joe Brooks lights the first candle of the Advent wreath at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va. Nov. 27, 2011. Advent begins this year Nov. 30. Each candle on the wreath marks a Sunday during the period of joyful anticipation that precedes Christmas. (Nancy Phelan Wiechec/CNS)

[dropcap type=”4″]T[/dropcap]he four weeks preceding the birth of Christ sanctify time and space in the hearts and homes of the faithful through a spirit of joyful anticipation marked by prayer.

Advent, which comes from the Latin word for “coming,” is a time to slow the pace of life and focus on the arrival of Christ through His birth and for His second coming at the end of time.

The first Sunday of Advent also marks the beginning of a new liturgical year, a New Year in the Catholic Church.

Making the distinction between Advent and the Christmas season is an annual challenge because of the pressure to fill the quiet, prayerful season with the colors and sounds of Christmas.

In an effort not to allow the secular view to eclipse the holiness, Christians need to be intentional with their traditions.

Fr. Fausto Penafiel, parochial vicar of St. Mark Parish, said Advent is not only a time to focus on spiritual preparation to welcome the Lord, but to also celebrate the hope of salvation.

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Advent

Resources from the U.S. bishops

Scriptural reflection on The Bishop’s Hour: Cue up the 7:05 mark from the Nov. 24 episode to hear “Bible Geek” Mark Hart guide listeners through the gospel readings for Advent

Advent reflections:
with Pope Francis. Daily reflections by email or text message from America Magazine
from Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St. Francis
from Life Teen
—delivered daily to your inbox from Fr. Robert Barron at Word on Fire
—updated weekly from OCP featuring music (including Spanish and bilingual selections) and interactive content
from xt3.com (also available as an app)

Advent appsFamily Rosary, Magnificat, ETWNPray as you go, Adventus Lite

Advent photo challenge: stay connected on social media to the hope, joy and traditions that make this time of year so special via Busted Halo

See listing at end of story for Advent missions and other events from parishes across the Diocese of Phoenix.[/quote_box_right]

“In short, it’s a time to do and be better by different practices that lead to a better life,” Fr. Penafiel said. “We often talk about making time to pray. We should not have to make time. We should always have time to pray a few times a day.”

St. John Chrysostom said the home should be a “little church,” a place seen by family and guests as the dwelling place of God.

There are numerous ways to express the peace, hope, joy and love Advent represents, from wreaths and Jesse Trees to community service and reception of the Holy Eucharist.

For the Thomas family of the Franciscan Renewal Center, the historical significance of Advent is a time of reflection and thanksgiving.

“It’s easy to get caught up in the frills of Christmas, but we’re celebrating that love came into the world,” said Francesca Thomas, a former catechist. “It’s important we all pause and exhibit we all understand that, and this is really all about love and love is what drives all the good in the world.”

Loretta and Chad Fay from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Scottsdale use an heirloom angel tree topper in the Advent colors of purple to mark the season.

Bought two decades ago in Loretta’s homeland of England, the angel has since become a tie that binds.

“We brought her back, had her blessed and now she is a special way to celebrate my family,” Loretta said.

Advent is followed by the Christmas season. Technically, the Octave of Christmas is from Christmas to the Solemnity of Mary on Jan. 1, or traditionally from Christmas through Jan. 5.

Liturgically speaking, the Christmas season lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and it’s filled with rich traditions and wonderful feasts.

The five major feasts of the Christmas Season are the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord; the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph; the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God; the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord; and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

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Missions/events from the parishes:

Mission with Tom Booth, Dec. 1-3 at St. Steven Parish in Sun Lakes (map)
Advent family fun Dec. 1 at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Queen Creek (map)
—”Mary, the Apostles and Us”, an intentional disciples mission, Dec. 1-3 at Corpus Christi Parish in Ahwatukee (map)
Lectio Divina Tuesdays in Advent at the Franciscan Renewal Center (map)
The ripple effect Advent mission, Dec. 3-4 at St. Timothy in Mesa (map)
Separate, concurrent mission for children ages 5-12. Registration required.
Mission with “the cooking priest” on finding God, Dec. 7-9 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale (map)
Advent mission featuring Terry Barber addressing “The Commandments of Evangelization,” 7 p.m. Dec. 9 at Christ the King in Mesa (map)
The song of waiting, Dec. 10 at St. Thomas More in Glendale (map)
Advent Day of Reflection with the Crosiers Dec. 13 at the Franciscan Renewal Center (map)
Advent concert with Tom Booth, Dec. 17 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tempe (map)
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