December 3, 2023

Dear Parish Family,

As the liturgical year renews, we embark on the profound journey of Advent. This time of awe and anticipation invites us to prepare not only for the joyous birth of Christ but also for His glorious return. It’s a season reminding us of our own accountability before God, reflecting on our lives and His gifts to us.

Advent, meaning “arrival,” spans four Sundays leading to Christmas Eve. This period, starting with the first Sunday of Advent, marks our Church’s “New Year’s Day,” bringing new readings and a renewed spirit. Characterized by joyful anticipation and penance, its purple hues, turning to rose on the Third Sunday, symbolize our growing closeness to the Lord.

This season echoes the longing of prophets and John the Baptist, vividly portraying Mary and Joseph’s faithful wait. Let their example guide us in all facets of life, as we too prepare to meet Jesus, not in sacraments alone, but face to face.

Often, Advent seems fleeting amidst our busy lives. This year, let’s choose to fully engage with this sacred time. Drawing parallels from holiday home preparations, let’s ready our hearts for Christ’s coming:

Prepare Him Room: Begin by examining your conscience. Identify and let go of unforgiveness, greed, and other spiritual impediments to make space for Christ in your heart.

Clean out the Clutter: Engage in Confession this Advent. This sacrament aids in clearing lingering sins and renewing our spiritual focus.

Hang New Curtains: With a clean heart, it’s time to embrace joy. Replace despair with joy and anticipation, remembering that the Lord delights in joyful hearts.

Set the Table: As we affirm, “The Lord is near!”, let’s exhibit our best virtues – patience, generosity, enthusiasm, and charity. These are the fine china of our souls, signifying our readiness for His presence. In this spirit, Pope Francis encourages us to think concretely about our actions in preparation for Christmas. “This could mean visiting someone who is alone, helping the elderly or the ill, or serving the poor or someone in need. It may also mean asking for forgiveness for our mistakes, paying a debt, clarifying a misunderstanding, or praying more. We can all find something concrete to do” (Angelus Address for the Third Sunday of Advent 2022).

Open Wide the Door: After preparation, we wait in quiet anticipation. In this state of vigilance and prayer, we no longer worry about lost time or unfinished tasks. We stand ready to welcome Christ.

May this Advent season inspire you to ready your heart for Christ, enriching your faith and bringing blessings to you and your loved ones.

Yours in Christ,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham