Advent is a strange time of year, for many of us it gets lost in the rush of Christmas gift shopping and preparations for our family Christmas celebration. Many of us now feel that the real reason for our celebration of Christmas is being swamped by the commercial activities around us and unfortunately many of us get sucked into that hustle and bustle. Our hearts lift when we remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. The four weeks of Advent tries to bring us on a Spiritual journey of preparation for Christmas.
Advent is the beginning of the Church’s new Liturgical year. Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. Advent is about three comings of Christ – Christ came in history, Christ comes to us in our lives today and Christ will come at the end of time. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas. It is good for us during this time to realise our need for Jesus in our lives and especially that He is actually there in the bits and pieces of our daily living. Advent is a time when we notice Jesus more and more and invite Him deeper into our lives, when we try to make more space for Him – during Advent we sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel… and fill our hearts with your love and peace.
Yesterday we entered the third week of Advent; we lit the pink candle of the Advent Wreath. We are joyful because our celebration of the birth of Jesus is close. Bambinelli Sunday is also celebrated on the third Sunday of Advent in Rome, when children bring the figurine of the baby Jesus for their family Crib to be blessed during Mass. Thankfully, this lovely tradition is now among us in many parishes here in Ireland. You could also invite your parish priest to invite families to bring their baby Jesus figurine to be blessed during Christmas Eve Mass. You may also wish to pray this prayer at home yourself on Christmas Eve as you place the baby in the crib.
God our Father,
you loved us so much you sent your only son Jesus,
born of the Virgin Mary, to save us and lead us back to you.
We pray that, with your blessing,
these images of Jesus might be a sign of your presence and love in our homes. Gracious God,
give your blessing to all who will gather with us this Christmas, family and friends. Open our hearts that we might receive Jesus in joy,
do what he asks of us and see him in those who need our love.
We ask this in the name of Jesus, who came to give peace to the world, forever and ever. Amen
Sr Philomena Neary, is a member of the Religious Sisters of Charity, Ireland. She currently works as Parish Sacramental Preparation Co-Ordinator for four schools in Cabra West, Dublin 7.