Bishop Solis 2021 Advent Message

Friday, Nov. 26, 2021
Bishop Solis 2021 Advent Message + Enlarge
A sculpture showing an expectant Mary with Joseph traveling to Bethlehem is seen in a Missouri church during the season of Advent, the time of anticipation and hope before Christmas.
By The Most Rev. Oscar A. Solis
Bishop of Salt Lake City

Greetings of Christ’s peace and love! The 2021 Season of Advent marks the beginning of the new Church calendar or liturgical year in the shadow of the pandemic. The word Advent, from Latin, connotes “coming” in reference to the coming of Christ in the past, in the here and now, and in the future. The season encompasses the next four weeks, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 24, leading up to the celebration of Christmas.

Advent is a season of joyful anticipation for the celebration of Christmas, the birthday of Christ, the “Emmanuel, God with us.” It recognizes the existence of God amidst the culture of materialism that denies and eliminates his presence in the world. It stirs the longings of our hearts and helps us prepare for what we hope to come, that is, God’s salvation – his gifts of healing, reconciliation, joy and peace. Christ already is here with us, but he is not yet come in glory, so Advent helps us direct our heart, mind and entire being to Christ’s Second Coming, as well as his continuous presence with us as our source of hope.

The challenges and various cares of the past months have weighed us down and many are distracted from living their faith and hope in God. Some have not yet fully recovered nor adjusted to the “new normal.” The nagging fear of virus infection makes others hesitant to participate in parish ministries despite reduced social distancing protocols and the resumption of the daily and Sunday celebrations of the Holy Mass as well as other sacraments. Advent helps us prepare ourselves spiritually to renew our faith and our relationship with God and with one another so we can once again engage ourselves in the life of our church community.

The Scripture readings in the coming weeks warn us to avoid the frantic commercial distractions of the holidays so we can focus on Christ. They call us to silence our minds, to sacrifice and to discipline our hearts so we can remain awake, vigilant in prayer, and open for repentance, conversion and reconciliation, thereby experiencing the living and saving presence of God.

Advent also offers the opportunity to reflect on the lives of significant role models of our faith. Since last December we have been celebrating the Year of St. Joseph, proclaimed by Pope Francis in his apostolic letter Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart), which will end this year on Dec. 8, the Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Another occasion is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12.

Pope Francis describes Joseph’s relationship with Jesus as “the earthly shadow of the heavenly father who watched over and protected him.” He is a faithful servant who made hidden sacrifices for those he loved. The Blessed Virgin is the epitome of purity, prayer, obedience and complete surrender to God’s will. She offered her heart to be the dwelling place of the Son of God, Jesus our Savior. Mary became the instrument of God’s promised salvation, and through her “fiat” the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Both serve us well as great inspirations to learn to open our hearts to God’s will and allow Christ to dwell in our hearts and in the world.

We have the grace of God and all it takes to spiritually celebrate the Advent season. Let us patiently await Christ’s coming with great anticipation, joy and hope. Pray, stay awake, keep watch, and prepare the way of the Lord.

Have a blessed Advent Season!

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