.Advent from the Latin adventus, 'coming', is a season of preparation for the coming of Jesus. Like Lent, Advent has no meaning on its own but is purely a time of preparation. Advent seems to have evolved as some sort of penitential season, a time of fasting before the feasting of Christmas. By the sixth century, there was a four-week preparation period, the Advent season.


We shall be thinking of the words of Our Lord, quoted by St. Mark, 'the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel' Mk.l: 15 Jesus is telling us to have a change of heart and to listen to his word and accept it. Throughout Advent, we should pay special attention to the words, 'thy kingdom come', when we recite the Our Father. We should ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand the meaning of those words and their implication for a shepherd leading us to a place where there will be no more tears, no more death, and no more mourning and sadness.


What must we do then for Advent? Two suggestions. Begin each day with the words: "Praised be Jesus Christ,' These four words can focus our waking thoughts on God's presence, on this love for us. It will give us this inner peace that is so precious. The second suggestion is that we seek an opportunity to show forgiveness. Christmas is a time of reconciliation - God became man, so that the rift between him and us caused by sin should be healed. Our peace of mind might even now be spoilt by a refusal to love and forgive someone who has injured us. The first step can be hard. Be forgiving!


Words like - looking forward, expectation, hope are the ones that come to mind as we think of the season of Advent. We look forward to Christmas, to celebrate the great feast. The church is looking forward to that mysterious moment in time when the end of the world will come and Christ will appear in his glory. The feast of Advent is the feast of hope, Christian hope, which includes within it not only a looking forward to a time when all will be well, but an unshakeable confidence that, in the providence of God, things will work in our own lives as well.


'She conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit': astonishing words, just the fact that God entered into our world and became man. Mary was chosen to be the mother. She conceived miraculously. What was conceived was the human life of Jesus. Let us open the door of our hearts for Jesus is knocking and we are free to say 'come in' or not. Mary allowed him into her life and in an unique manner, she became his mother. Jesus is a generous host; he opens his door to us, always ready to welcome us and when we enter his world he had gifts, priceless gifts for each of us. Mary is always an example, she welcomed him with these words: 'Be it done unto me according to your word.' This is a time to deepen our faith in the fact that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit.


St. John the Baptist never had what many people seem to be having, an identity crisis. He
knew what he was, a prophet of reform, and never pretended to be the Messiah some people thought he might have been. We, secure in our identity as followers of Christ, have a mission similar to John' s -to pave the way for the entry of Jesus, to introduce him to that part of the world we call our own.


Then let every heart keep Christmas within: Christ's pity for sorrow, Christ's hatred for sin, Christ's care for the weakest, Christ's courage for right. Everywhere, everywhere, Christmas tonight!
-Phillip Brooks


" It is our earnest prayer that all Catholics will make this Advent a time of true repentance and prayer. John the Baptist, who was asked to carry out the task of announcing the coming of the Lord, had a simple message: "Repent!" His message has the same meaning for us today. We must turn away from the bondage of sin, and seek forgiveness for our sins. A worthy confession of our sins should be our response to his call for repentance."
-Archbishop James Byrne


Why does the Church begin Advent with a certain grimness? Warning of death, of God's sudden coming? Would not something cheerful be more appropriate? The answer is: because the church wants us to realise our urgent need of Christ. If we do not realise our need of salvation, we will not have any great interest in the coming of a Saviour. We will be indifferent, apathetic, interested in many things except the one thing necessary. Christmas will come and go and have no special grace or meaning for us. "He came unto his own and his own received him not."


Now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This t is the time eagerly awaited by the patriarchs, and prophets, the time that holy Simeon rejoiced at last to see. This is the season that the Church has always celebrated with special solemnity. The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence, he will come at any hour or moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts bringing with him the richness of his grace. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-84)


Be Christmas! Somehow not only for Christmas, but all the long year through, the joy you give to others is the joy that comes back to you. -John Greenleaf
The best portion of a good man' s/woman' s life are his/her little
nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love. - Wordsworth


As an ideal prayer for Advent, we suggest the Our Father, recited thoughtfully and slowly, each and every day of Advent --and thereafter! Tenneson once wrote that through prayer "the whole round earth is in every way bound by gold chains about the feet of God" Think of the tremendous power of the prayer that Jesus taught us! Jesus is the Peace and Pardon of God personified! May we gladden His heart this December by bringing to the world the gift of RECONCILIATION it so desperately needs!
-Holy Land Newsletter


To know the Christian Faith, to respect it, to love it, to fulfill what it commands. To believe in Him, to love Him, to pray often to Him, to thank Him, to praise Him, to adore Him, to submit perfectly to Him. To be humble, patient, modest, chaste, temperate, and to be occupied about our own salvation, and the means of attaining it. This is the portrait of a true Christian. Seek to make it your own.
St. Leonard of Portmaurice.


As Meg knelt by her bed to pray the Lord's prayer, she got all mixed up, and prayed,
" Forgive us our Christmases, as we forgive those who Christmas against us." As we watch the tense nervous shoppers this season, we feel like praying as Meg did, "Forgive us our Christmases" Our minds are on things, not on Christ. May God forgive us our Christmases!


During Advent, it is good to keep reminding ourselves "God is come and is now here, wherever and however I happen to be". The spirit who lived in Jesus and raised him from the dead, now lives in me. Just keep listening to the phrase being spoken to you. Don't argue with it. Tell God you felt reactions; God who, in St. Agustine's words, "is nearer to me than I am to myself".
Gerry W. Hughes - Author of God of Surprises.