A couple of months ago, at our October Pastoral Council Meeting, one of our agenda items was to consider having some sort of parish party, a time for our parishioners to come together for a time of celebration. As we looked at dates, a few dates in Advent were proposed, thinking that might be a nice season to do something. One of our members humbly and very insightfully brought up the point that the Advent Season is more of a penitential season, one that is more subdued in nature as we prepare for the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Wouldn’t having a celebration at the parish send a conflicting message? What a helpful comment that was as it really helped me to remember the proper focus on Advent, a season which has been so overlooked in a society which basically celebrates Christmas from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day, then moves on. In reality, Advent has a distinct character of being a season of expectation, one which prepares us to celebrate the Season of Christmas, which only begins on Christmas Day, instead of ending that day as our society is so used to doing.
I offer this as a way of inviting us to enter into this season with the mind of the Church, not the mind of the culture. This can be a very difficult thing to do because of how overwhelming the Christmas theme is around us over these next four weeks. We will be offering some recommendations throughout the Advent Season on ways to maintain that proper perspective through the rich devotional life that the Church proposes for us.
Perhaps a good place to start would be participating in our annual Immaculate Conception Novena which takes place each night at 7:00 pm beginning November 30. Each night we will include Eucharistic Adoration, a Liturgy of the Word with a preached homily on a different Marian title, praying of the Rosary, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the Novena Prayer. Our themes for this year will be titles related to Mary as Queen. Mary is a great model for us of how to celebrate this season well. She carried Jesus in her womb these final four weeks before His birth. What eager expectation and joy there must have been in her heart as she looked forward to the night that the world would change forever.
Here is the schedule of topics and preachers for this year’s Novena:
Wednesday, November 30 – Queen of Angels – Very Reverend Brian C. Alford
Thursday, December 1 – Queen of Patriarchs – Deacon Larry Smith
Friday, December 2 – Queen of Prophets – Reverend Paul Lesupati
Saturday, December 3 – Queen of Apostles – Reverend Monsignor David Hoefler
Sunday, December 4 – Queen of Martyrs – Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Monday, December 5 – Queen of Confessors – Reverend Dominic Vahling
Tuesday, December 6 – Queen of Virgins – Deacon Rob Sgambelluri
Wednesday, December 7 – Queen of Families – Reverend Dominic Rankin
Thursday, December 8 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Novena concludes with the 5:15 pm Mass for the Solemnity)