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Advent watching includes noticing God at work in daily life

Vigilance during Advent is key, Pope Francis said at his Angelus address Nov. 27

A woman prayed at Mass on the first Sunday of Advent Nov. 27 at St. Sylvester Church in Medford, N.Y.
Photo Credits: Gregory A. Shemitz | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY — Being so distracted that one does not notice God’s presence in daily life is a warning sign that one is not being vigilant enough, Pope Francis cautioned.

Vigilance during Advent is key, Pope Francis said, because Jesus “warns us: there is the danger of not realizing His coming and being unprepared for His visit.”

Speaking to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer on the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, Pope Francis urged Christians to be watchful for the signs of God’s presence in ordinary life.

“God is hidden in our life,” Pope Francis explained. “He is concealed in the most common and most ordinary situations in our life.”

The pope contrasted the watchful spirit of Advent with the attitude common in the “days of Noah,” when people went about their daily activities without paying attention to God’s voice in their lives.

“People in the time of Noah ate and drank and ‘did not know until the flood came and swept them all away,’” Pope Francis said, quoting the day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew. “They were absorbed in their own things and did not realize that the flood was about to come.”

The truth is that God is present “in our daily work, in a chance encounter, in the face of someone in need,” Pope Francis said. “Even when we face days that seem gray and monotonous, it is right there that we find the Lord, who calls to us, speaks to us and inspires our actions.”

During Advent, Pope Francis said, “Let us be shaken out of our torpor and let us awaken from slumber!”

To help the process, he suggested people ask themselves, “‘Am I aware of what I am doing? Am I alert? Am I awake?’”

Doing this, the pope explained, people will be ready not only to celebrate Christmas, but their souls will be ready when Christ comes again at the end of the world.

“If we are unaware of His coming today, we will also be unprepared when He arrives at the end of time,” the pope said.

Catholics urged to focus on Holy Family, Eucharist in Advent

By Katie Peterson | Catholic News Service

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the Diocese of Nashville, Bishop J. Mark Spalding has asked Catholics to focus on the Holy Family this Advent.

This image of the Holy Family hangs in the office of Bishop J. Mark Spalding of Nashville, Tenn. For Advent, parishes throughout the Diocese of Nashville planned to focus on the Holy Family.
Photo Credits: Katie Peterson | Tennessee Register
“The idea came up in praying over the season of Advent and challenges in our world today,” Bishop Spalding said.

“When you read through the Scriptures and examine all the major feasts, the gift of a child is very clearly presented,” he said, “whether we’re pondering the Scriptures about John the Baptist announcing Jesus’ coming, the angel Gabriel announcing the gift of Jesus to Mary, or the significant feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, the announcement of Christ and the joy of that announcement are made evident.”

The diocese has launched an initiative called “The Gift of a Child: An Advent Celebration of the Family.” Each week of Advent focuses on a different theme — Marriage and the Gift of a Child, Motherhood, Fatherhood and Family — which all lead up to the Christmas theme of “The Gift of The Child.”

The diocese’s Office of Media and Evangelization and the Office of Faith Formation are providing resources to pastors to keep the idea of the Holy Family and accompanying weekly themes in the forefront of the minds of Catholics.

Along with prayer cards, posters and videos, the Office of Faith Formation has provided a compendium for each theme to support pastors and catechetical leaders in their efforts to bring the themes into their individual parishes. The compendia provide pastors with a list of quotes and passages ranging from magisterial quotes, quotes from various theologians, lay experts and more that coincide with the readings of each Sunday.

“The purpose of this initiative is to focus and strengthen the core message of family and the Church starting with the child and radiating outward to the Holy Family and on to the traditional family and then, ultimately, to the diocesan family,” said Joe Cacopardo, director of marketing and strategic communications for the Office of Media and Evangelization.

Across the country, Denver Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in his pastoral note for Advent tied preparation for Christmas to the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, urging the faithful to use the season to strengthen their relationship with Christ through the Eucharist.

“It would be easy to be satisfied by the many faithful who still follow the Lord’s command and worship Him at Mass,” he said. “Yet, Jesus longs for all of us to burn with love for Him. If we are to spread authentic eucharistic devotion to the world, our aim must be to foster a burning love for the person of Jesus Christ as much as, if not more than, a correct understanding of the doctrine of the real presence.”

He encouraged the faithful to nourish their love for the Eucharist during Advent by “prayerfully” reading the story of Emmaus in Luke 24:19-34 and John 6: 22-71 “either at home or at eucharistic adoration.”

In the Seattle Archdiocese, Auxiliary Bishop Frank R. Schuster noted that while “all the malls around the world” go straight to Christmas after Thanksgiving, Catholics “recognize there is another season in between, a forgotten season — the season of Advent.”

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