By Roger Arnsparger
Guest Clergy

Advent, which begins Dec. 1, is a time of waiting, a time of quiet reflection to help us prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The First Sunday of Advent will be a time to make resolutions for our new year of Grace 2014. Get out your Advent Wreath and Advent Calendar to help focus on the Season of Advent. 

Unfortunately, many will begin the Season of Advent by rushing into a Christmas mode, which can sometimes develop into an unbridled materialism.  But we want to be careful to celebrate all four weeks of Advent, a season of penance and joyful expectation of Christmas.  

There are two parts to the Season of Advent. The first three weeks focus on the Second Coming of Jesus, the King and our preparation for it. The last week focuses on the First Coming of Jesus, His birth. 

Let us be leaders in keeping the true meaning of Advent and Christmas.  We will have to be careful of the temptation to make Advent and Christmas into a secular financial feast.  

Pace yourselves in these holy days. Enjoy the richness of the Advent days. They should be days of calm reflection on the Mystery of the Incarnation, God taking on human nature.  Decorate slowly and deliberately, not putting everything up at once. 

Remember also that the “12 Days” of Christmas are the days from Dec. 26 until Jan. 6, the Epiphany, not the last 12 shopping days before Christmas. Be sure to keep your tree and decorations up until the end of the Christmas Season at the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Jan. 12, 2014).  

Enjoy the Advent Season of preparing for Christmas with all your visiting, decorating, gift wrapping, cards and of course, with quiet prayer. But make plans now about how you will continue the celebration of the full Season of Christmas with parties and visits through Jan. 12, 2014. 

God bless you.

Father Roger Arnsparger became pastor of St. Mark Catholic Church in July.