New Roman Missal will launch new church year

Archbishop Gregory M Aymond    This is the First Sunday of Advent, and the new wording for the Mass prayers will be used for the first time. How do you think it will go?
    From what I’ve heard, both from people in the archdiocese as well as people at the U.S. bishops’ meeting, we’re ready to go. For the first couple of weeks, we’ll have to use the liturgical worship aids, but we’ll go on from there.
    You plan to use this column at various times during the “Year of Renewal” in the archdiocese to highlight the Mass and explain various liturgical seasons. What is Advent all about?
    Advent basically is about “the coming of the Lord.” The liturgical year begins with the First Sunday of Advent. The church asks us to walk with the Israelites of old, through the many centuries, as they waited for the Messiah. We walk with them in the desert as they prepare and anticipate the coming of the Lord. Secondly, we use Advent to prepare to celebrate “the coming of the Lord” at Christmas, when the word became flesh to live among us. Thirdly, we await the second coming of Christ and look to the future. We ask the question, “In my daily life, am I truly aware that God comes to me each day, and will I recognize him when he comes again at the end of time?”
    Is there a qualitative difference between “waiting” and “preparing”?
    Advent asks us to wait, not in a passive way, but in an active way. We need to ready our hearts and our world for the coming of the Lord. We are asked to look into our own hearts and look at our world and ask, “If the coming of the Lord in my life was tomorrow – meaning the end of the world – would I be prepared? What would we have left unfinished, according to God’s dream, in our lives and in our world?” All of that means, therefore, that we probably are not ready for the coming of the Lord.
    Is Advent penitential?
    In medieval times, especially in Gaul, it was known as a heavily penitential season. But since Vatican II, it has been more of a time of eagerly and actively awaiting the coming of the Lord.
    Why do priests wear purple vestments for three of the four weeks and then rose vestments on Gaudete Sunday?
    The purple vestments and the Gospel story of John the Baptist point to a need to reform. The Third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, which is joyful because Advent is half completed and Christmas is near. It is a brighter color, and we are getting closer to the Feast of the Incarnation.
    What about Advent wreaths?
    With its circular form, it is a symbol of God, who has no beginning and no end. It’s covered in green, which says that God gives life. It has four candles, and each week as we light another candle, the wreath becomes brighter as we move toward the celebration of Christmas – Christ the Light, the one who has brought light into the darkness of the world.
    Anything else about Advent?
    Advent also is a time when we are invited to look at the social justice issues of our world. We need to ask ourselves, “If the Lord, God, came as forgiver and judge, what would he say about our attention to the poor, about racism and murder and the new Battle of New Orleans? What are the social ills that we have to change in our society to be more ready for the second coming of Christ?” That’s when it gets a little more personal, because then I have to say, “What is it in me that may not be ready for the second coming of Christ?”
    How was the bishops’ meeting last week?
    We had a lot of discussions about the Roman Missal, the promotion of marriage and pro-life issues. We also met the new apostolic nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano. I think the most compelling topic was our discussion on religious liberty, with specific examples of the way in which there seems to be some threat from both state and federal governments to require certain actions on our part even though those may be against conscience. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, who is the head of our Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, has testified already before a House Subcommittee on the Constitution. There’s no doubt we have gotten the attention of the president and Congress. We need to continue to dialogue in a consistent and respectful way.
    Questions for Archbishop Aymond can be sent to clarionherald@clarionherald.org.

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