Pastor’s Page – First Week of Advent

It’s already the First Sunday of Advent! That marks the start of a new liturgical year and of course we’re less than a month from the start of 2024. Recall that the liturgical year follows the life of Christ – Advent and Christmas marking his birth and Lent and Easter marking his death and Resurrection, with the green-colored “Ordinary Time” between the seasons.

Let’s not forget we’re still in Year II – the parish year – of the US Church’s Eucharistic Revival. The Second Vatican Council called the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life.” It’s a phrase drilled into seminarians. It’s certainly true by the numbers. More people are on the church campus for Sunday Mass than any other activity. In fact, a lot of nonreligious people assume church campuses are quiet on weekdays. That’s not true, of course. Funerals and, to a lesser extent, baptisms and weddings keep the church open beyond Sunday, as do religious ed classes, Bible studies, prayer groups, and much more. But if the average adult Catholic is involved in the Church at all, it is through Sunday Mass.

The Eucharistic Revival is meant to invite Catholics who’ve fallen away from the Church to return to the habit of Sunday Mass and to deepen the understanding of active Catholics in the complexity and mystery of the Eucharist.

There’s no chance we can appreciate the Eucharist unless we first appreciate its category. The Eucharist is the principal way we worship God. Almost all of us rightly understand Christianity’s keys concept to be love, especially love of God through love of neighbor. It’s true
that we worship God by loving our neighbor and that this happens in daily circumstances. But it’s still true that the ritual of the Eucharist is the principal worship we offer God.

That’s because the Eucharist is about love, too. The Eucharist gathers us, then we recall Jesus’ death for humanity by which we “he loved them to the end” (John 13:1) especially in the Eucharistic prayer, and finally we receive the bread and wine which have become his Body and Blood. The last element is important because we are all imperfect lovers and we often feel imperfectly loved. The Eucharist reminds us of the extent to which God loves us and empowers us to love others better.