The gospel reading that kicked off the Advent season for 2021 is clear. “When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.” (Luke 21:28) Advent is a weekly series of prayerful reflections before Christmas that includes, 4 candles usually arranged in a wreath that is used to ultimately announce the birth of the Savior Christ The Lord. It is a perfect time to renew our resolve to have a personal relationship with God. In the midst of the Corona pandemic with the announcement of the omicron variant, there is ever more uncertainty all around the world. Yet - hope is NOT lost for us as faithful. We know that suffering is required in this life to prepare for the glory of the next.
At Mass, this past weekend there was a visiting priest from Maryknoll, Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, Inc. Fr. Rodrigo Ulloa-Chavarry is the Vocation Minister and his homily dealt with candles to commence the advent season. He had three considerations for our candles generally in our lives and specifically for the beginning of the Advent season.
a.) A candle as a light in prayer will burn the memory of past sins. this signifies the grace of God in a good confession, penance, and reconciliation because God never remembers our past sins, yet we can be paralyzed by remembering our past and that stifles the light of Christ in us. Let the Advent candles burn our past sins out of our memories as God has no memory of them. Jesus we need you one candle at a time.
b.) Accept darkness, give me strength Lord; when despair and discouragement tempt me to accept darkness. Don’t fall into darkness. Don’t give in to darkness. Stay away from darkness by remaining in the light of Christ. Jesus your light takes away the darkness. One candle at a time.
c.) A long time between candles. Why can’t we just light the 4 Advent candles right now? No - one at a time and there is a grace that will happen from one candle to the next. Sometimes we want to speed things up; however, no - because the will of the Father God is to reflect in the manger and events of the saviors birth one candle at a time. We are four candles away from the nativity.
The reflection must be on what type of people we want to be when we move forward? What type of candle do we want to hold? Light your candle, today. Not tomorrow, not in two weeks, now – Today! This is the acceptable time. If there is one more thing we ask of you Lord; don’t let anything separate us from your light. (Fr. Rodrigo)
Give thanks to the Lord in ALL circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Look up and give thanks for the coming of the messiah is the foreshadowing of his triumphant return. While it is true that we cannot know the time or date of his actual second coming; we are all going to die and face our own personal judgement when he comes to each one of us individually. It is for this reason that we have the Advent season. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that who so ever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) We must ask ourselves just a few questions concerning the time of preparation that we call Advent:
1.) How am I passing faith on to my family?
2.) How is the light of Christ shining in my domestic church
If you are like me then there is always room to do better on both of these questions. Consider the words of Fr. Rodrigo and simply getting an Advent wreathe with advent candles and an Advent prayer booklet will go a long way towards a more proper answering these introspective questions. We do not need to be professionals at prayer; we just move forward with a loving commitment to the follow through with simple actions to make a few more minutes of family prayer a habitual part of your everyday life, beginning with Advent and one candle at a time.
Thank you Fr. Rodrigo