Happy Gaudete Sunday! The third Sunday of Advent takes its name from the first word of the introit of this day’s Mass. How about a little Latin lesson? Gaudete is the Latin word meaning “rejoice.” But, do you really feel like rejoicing? Stress of the holidays, stress in the world, and how about the stress of one less week to get ready!? Christmas arrives one week from tonight. This year the 4 weeks of Advent have been truncated into three weeks and a few hours. More Latin: The word Advent comes from the Latin adventus, which means a coming, approach, or arrival. In the Church, it refers to the period encompassing the four Sundays prior to Christmas and it should be utilized as a time of penance, of turning away from sin, and hopeful, joyous preparation for the coming of the Savior. Everyone (including you) needs a little joy right now. So….
Just because the fourth week of Advent will only be a few hours, we don’t have to be short-changed. I encourage you to take some time during this final full week to pause and remind yourself that for us Christians, Christmas is not just “the birthday of Jesus,” but a celebration of God’s coming into our world today, here, and now. How does he come into the world today? Physically and tangibly, Jesus is “born” through the celebration of the sacraments. By participating in the Eucharist, we become part of the living Body of Christ (the Church) in the world today. For Catholics, then, every celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments is like a little Christmas.
Let’s prepare for this here-and-now coming of Christ. Choose one or more of the following suggestions.
- Take time this week to go to morning Mass (if you work, join in virtually)
- Don’t have an Advent wreath yet? Make one. But more importantly light a candle during your dinner each day and count down through prayer. You can get free prayer materials to use with your Advent wreath from the USCCB Advent website.
- Grab a couple tags from the “Giving Tree”. But don’t look at what is written on them. Just grab them in faith. Be like Our Lady and trust with a simple fiat. Her trust and “yes”, gave the world its greatest gift. Your trust and “yes” will be a true gift to some unknown individual.
- Pray a special 9-day Christmas Novena beginning today. Darken the room, sit before your nativity scene, and meditate on this beautiful and evocative Advent prayer.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the purest Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires (mention your intentions here), through the merits of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
I believe that we will truly be rewarded in our Advent preparation by recognizing HIS joy right now.