A pastoral letter by St Charles Borromeo
The Season of Advent
Beloved, now is the acceptable time spoken of by the Spirit, the day of salvation, peace and reconciliation: the great season of Advent. This 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. We too should always observe it with faith and love, offering praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the mercy and love he has shown us in this mystery. In his infinite love for us, though we were sinners, he sent his only Son to free us from the tyranny of Satan, to summon us to heaven, to welcome us into its innermost recesses, to show us truth itself, to train us in right conduct, to plant within us the seeds of virtue, to enrich us with the treasures of his grace, and to make us children of God and heirs of eternal life.
Each year, as the Church recalls this mystery, she urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power has still to be communicated to us all. We shall share his power, if, through holy faith and the sacraments, we willingly accept the grace Christ earned for us, and live by that grace and in obedience to Christ.
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 and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace.
In her concern for our salvation, our loving mother the Church uses this holy season to teach us through hymns, canticles and other forms of expression, of voice or ritual, used by the Holy Spirit. She shows us how grateful we should be for so great a blessing, and how to gain its benefit: our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world. The same lesson is given us for our imitation by the words and example of the holy men of the Old Testament.
Although we know that Christ has not in fact left us since the Resurrection, we often experience his absence from a world that has not yet fully owned him and from lives not yet fully free from the hold of sin. During Advent, we pray for his promised return in the fullness of salvation, as the sun, never absent from the universe returns at dawn after the long hours of night.
– Magnificat, Dec 3, 2017
St. Charles Borromeo, Italian San Carlo Borromeo (born October 2, 1538; died November 3, 1584; feast day November 4) was a cardinal and archbishop and one of the most important figures of the Counter-Reformation in Italy. He is the patron saint of bishops, cardinals, seminarians, and spiritual leaders. Source: www.britannica.com
In her wisdom, the Catholic Church sets aside the season of Advent as a time for the Christian faithful to refresh, refocus and reexamine. It is a time we are meant to ask ourselves: How is the state of my soul? Am I prepared for the coming of Christ? As we hear from the Prophet Isaiah in the readings of the first Sunday of Advent, are we like polluted rags, have we all withered like leaves? Or would that our Lord meet us doing right, that we are mindful of Him in our ways (cf Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7)?
Advent truly is a season of waiting, but one of active waiting. As St. Paul exhorts us, as he did his brothers and sisters in Corinth, we must keep firm to the end, as we were called to fellowship with God’s son, Jesus Christ (Cor 1:3-9). Therefore, this anticipation of the Christ Child, the long-awaited Messiah, foretold by the Jewish prophets, whom we will receive on Christmas Day, must be anticipated in a sense of watchfulness, alertness, for we truly do not know when the time will come when the lord of the house is coming (Mk 13:13-37). So, this Advent, we are reminded again, as in every year: “Watch!” And we are invited to prepare our hearts, to open our minds, for the arrival of the Infant Jesus, who from Bethlehem, the City of Bread, will become for us the Bread of Life – thanks be to God!
How will I prepare (how will my family prepare) for the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, The Christ this year?
Let our hearts be open and may He find his rest there, in our hearts, as he rested in the manger with Mary and Joseph. So it is with hope, faith, peace and joy may we actively participate in Christ’s arrival during this beautiful season of Advent.
Holy Family pray for us … Amen.