December 2, 2022


Make this Advent season a spiritually fruitful time

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #524, Jn 3:3).

We’ve entered the season of Advent, a time in which the Church encourages us to listen actively, to prepare our hearts, to form our minds and improve our lives with the help of God’s grace in anticipation of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and his ultimate coming again in glory.

It is the beginning of a new liturgical year, a time we can use to re-set how we live as disciples of Christ. It also offers a stirring call to stay awake, to be vigilant for the presence of the Lord.

Because of the secular influences around nearly every corner we turn, there are distractions. And they come at us full force without hesitation—whether intentional or not—and offer materialistic things to divert us from centering our lives on the upcoming birth of our Savior.

Holiday advertisements—the vast majority of them secular in nature—fill TV and radio airwaves. Turn on your desktop computer or look on your phone, and pop-up ads try to lure you into buying things that you probably don’t need. Our mailboxes include flyers from stores that are having holiday sales they insist you cannot miss.

In a season where people of faith want to be centered on the awareness that God is coming into the world as a babe in a manger, the temptations to focus on anything but Christ’s birth seem to never end.

As we move ahead through Advent in the weeks leading to Christmas, we need to block out the noise and ask: what is the Lord calling me to do? Focusing on prayer, Scripture and the sacraments are among the opportunities that come to mind as ways to grow in our lives of faith.

We must keep prayer at the center of this season. As disciples of Christ, we are called—day in and day out—to offer petitions for those in need. The hungry, the homeless, the unborn, those in war-torn countries and all our brothers and sisters in need should be at the top of our list. It is paramount to remember those who will go without life’s basic needs and be the hands and feet of Christ to them.

Make time for spiritual reading. Many parishes offer faith-based reflections like The Magnificat Advent Companion or the Little Blue Book published for the Advent and Christmas season by the Diocese of Saginaw, Mich., each year. Or pick up a Bible and study in-depth the readings during Advent that will lead to the Nativity of our Lord.

Why not volunteer at your parish, at a shelter or food pantry—or at any facility—that offers assistance to those in need? Families who do this together offer a beautiful witness of faith—especially during this time of year. Our faith teaches us that Christ makes disciples through other disciples.

Finally, make time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Confession cleanses our souls and renews and restores us to receive God’s gift of grace.

In a talk to young people during a visit to Hungary in 2021, Pope Francis called it a sacrament of joy.

“One does not go to confession as chastised people who must humble themselves, but as children who run to receive the Father’s embrace,” the pope explained to the young people. “And the Father lifts us up in every situation, he forgives our every sin. Hear this well: God always forgives! Do you understand? God always forgives!”

One is not going to a judge to settle accounts, the Holy Father continued, but “to Jesus who loves me and heals me.”

Want to receive the sacrament of reconciliation? Peruse your parish bulletin or turn to page 7 in this week’s issue of The Criterion for a list of the archdiocese’s 11 deaneries and where confession services are being offered.

As we move forward in focusing our attention to the stable in Bethlehem, we pray the coming days are spiritually fruitful for people of faith.

—Mike Krokos

Local site Links: