The Pastor's Column

Fr. Lara's Lines

Second Sunday of Advent

The Season of Advent is a season of hope and preparation. The Church uses Advent to reflect on the expectation of what is coming. There is always something to hope for, something to live for, something to look forward to. We hope for better days, more success, or happier times in our lives. Although these hopes are good, relying solely on them cannot fulfill the ultimate longing of the human heart. The Church hopes for the second coming of Jesus, when there will be a new heaven and a new earth. The Church hopes for the glory of God to descend upon his creation at the end of time. Human beings hope for something that will give meaning and purpose in their lives. What do you hope for? The Season of Advent is a season of hope. We hope for Jesus to be born into this world; we hope for Jesus to be born into our hearts; we hope for Jesus to reign in our lives.

Advent is a season of preparation. Advent gives us the time to prepare ourselves for the coming of Jesus into the world. The process of preparation is necessary for any of us. How do you prepare yourself for welcoming Jesus into your heart? Are your heart and soul going to be ready when the time comes? We have four weeks to get ready for Christmas day; make the best of each day this Advent season. Advent calendars are popular but the idea should be not only counting down the days until Christmas, but preparing ourselves to receive Jesus into the world.

Liturgical Calendar Year C
The liturgical year is the structure of days and seasons followed by the Church. It contains liturgical seasons, feast days, celebrations of saints, Holy Days of obligation, etc. The liturgical calendar begins with the First Sunday of Advent and runs through to the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Church wants the faithful to listen to the richness of God’s Word contained in all the gospels. This is why the liturgical calendar follows a three-year cycle--A, B and C. During the year A cycle, we read from the Gospel of Matthew. In year B, Mark’s is the primary Gospel. In year C Luke’s is the primary Gospel. The Gospel of John is read during Christmas, Easter, and other feasts.

This year’s liturgical calendar, 2021-2022, is year C so we will be reading primarily from the Gospel of Luke. I invite you to spend some more time reflecting on the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel of Luke.

Immaculate Conception
On December 8, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The dogma for the Immaculate Conception was promulgated on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX. "We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which holds that the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by all the faithful...." This dogma has been believed since the beginning of the Church. Mary was to be the perfect vessel for the son of God, Jesus. God has allowed only one person to be free from original sin since conception. Mary, the sinless woman, was honored by God to remain sinless for the sake of our savior. What a privilege it was for Mary to be born without the stain of original sin.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the Roman Catholic patroness of the United States. Catholics in our country have adopted Mary as our protector, model, and guide. Catholics throughout the country pray to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception on December 8. It is a beautiful devotion that asks for Mary’s intercession. Here at the parish, parishioners have a special devotion to Mary since she as the Lady of the Immaculate Conception appeared to Saint Catherine Labouré in her visions. The miraculous medal has been a source of devotion to Mary for so many around the world. Next time you come to church, gaze at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception’s image on the right side of the sanctuary.

Fr. Lara

Live the Liturgy
Sometimes, especially when life gets overwhelming and difficult, we can find ourselves feeling a bit downhearted and miserable. Wallowing in this uncomfortable darkness seems to be our norm and it’s difficult to see a way out of, or through, this experience. If we listen carefully enough, we will hear God’s voice calling out deep within, beckoning us to seek out its source and discover the inner calm and peace that can prevail over the darkness of despair. Faith tells us that God has already begun the creation of a good work in us and is with us, bringing it to completion, until Christ Jesus comes again. It is this light of God’s glory for which we are asked to pave the way and straighten the paths of our lives so that it can shine. With all that life can ask of us and bring to us, it is our task to constantly discern what is of value so that we do not get so weighed down by things that we no longer see or feel God’s salvation.