Today we begin the new liturgical year CYCLE A with the season of Advent.  Advent comes from the Latin word ‘adventus’ which literally means ‘coming.’  For many of us Advent refers to the coming of the joyous season of Christmas.  But Advent refers also to the Lord’s coming at the end of the world.  The call is to ‘wake up’ (Rom. 13, 11) or ‘stay awake’ (Mt. 24, 43).  It means waking up from spiritual slumber.  St. Paul writes in the 2nd reading: “It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep…The night is far spent, the day draws near.  Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us live honorably as in daylight; not in carousing and drunkenness, not sexual excess and lust.” (Rom. 13, 12ff) 

Incidentally, these were the very words which struck St. Augustine when he was sick and had nothing to read but the Bible.  They so touch him that, realizing the futility of his wild and empty life, he reformed himself.  And St. Augustine who joked with God, “Lord, make me chaste, but not yet,” could only say afterwards, “Too late have I known you, O Lord!”

This 1st Sunday of Advent is also called “Handicapped Sunday.”  It recalls the story of the nine persons who made history in the USA when they conquered the 14,000 feet Mt. Rainier in Washington state.  Normally the incident could not have merited much attention if it weren’t for the fact that the nine mountain climbers were all handicapped:  one had an artificial leg, two were deaf, five were blind, and the last one was an epileptic.

Despite their handicaps, the nine succeeded in negotiating the arduous climb and getting back down again.  Asked how they achieved this most amazing feat, one of the blind members of the party said, “We had a lot of help from one another on the trip.  One lesson we can learn from this interesting experience is that the nine handicapped men proved that their physical defects were no obstacle in achieving their goal.  Secondly, the nine succeeded in negotiating their journey with much help and support from one another.  In some way, each of us is emotionally and spiritually flawed.

“There is a crack in everything God made,” wrote the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Jesus commands us: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  You shall have empathy for your neighbor, you shall be concerned for and considerate of your neighbor.  Love your flawed and handicapped neighbor as you love your flawed, handicapped self – and new life will begin to emerge from your physical or emotional cracks. 

#1.  A MESSAGE FROM ST. JOE ON “PERPETUAL VIGILANCE:” It is a HAPPY NEW YEAR in our Liturgical Calendar.  This note that is sounded by the Gospel is a call to WATCHFULNESS.  The Lord insists on this and the Church wishes us to adopt this disposition right a t the beginning of this Liturgical Year.  We know what an embarrassing moment and sometimes a painful thing it is to be caught unprepared.  You may not be dressed up yet, and suddenly a very important person visits you in your home. It is not good to be found unprepared.  And so, at least for the big events in our lives we must always prepare.

This week on the 30th, we celebrate the feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr, brother of Simon Peter and disciple of St. John the Baptist.  He is patron of Russia and Scotland, of the Greek Church and of fishing industry.  On the 3rd of December, we have the memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Priest and co-patron of the Apostleship of Prayer with St. Therese of the Child Jesus and also patron of the foreign missions.  The other days of the week are Advent weekdays.  This is all for now, watch for the next bulletin.

Your Priest-Servant and Parochial Administrator,

Fr. Reggie