Dear friends -
I hope you each had a happy, festive, and well-provisioned Thanksgiving. I certainly did!
This Sunday (unbelievably to me) is the First Sunday of Advent. If you are one of those who are annually put out by the encroachment, to the point of an almost complete obliteration, of secular, consumerist winter holiday (one can hardly call it "Christmas") upon a quiet, reflective, and watchful Advent, have I got just the thing for you! On the four Sundays of Advent, I will be preaching on the traditional "Four Last Things": Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell.
I know, it sounds brutal, but please keep in mind a few things:
- I intend these homilies to be brief (i.e., short) meditations provoking reflection, not intense catechetical dissertations
- It was for centuries the tradition of the Church to meditate, and for preachers to preach, on the Four Last Things is Advent; indeed, medieval churches were dominated by art depicting the Last Things for the meditations fo the faithful
- St. Philip Neri, who had a reputation for cheerfulness and fun, said, "Beginners in religion ought to exercise themselves principally in meditation on the Four Last Things."
In Advent we are preparing to meet our Lord, who came to us once in great humility, and who will come again in great majesty, "to judge the quick and the dead." By pondering the Last Things, we prepare our ousrselves to greet him with joy and hope, who comes to us in love and glory.
Also in Advent, we will continue the tradition we have begun of keeping "Bambinelli Sunday" on the Third Sunday of Advent ("Gaudate Sunday," 12/11), when families are invited to bring the Christ Child from their family crèche to be blessed at the conclusion of Mass. This year our tradition will be enhanced with the opportunity for children to make their own Bambinelli after Mass on the Second Sunday of Advent (12/4). The children of Sacred Heart Church will be joining us, and there will be refreshments - so please plan on joining us for this time of fellowship and joy! More details below.
God bless you,
Make your own Bambinelli: Advent II, 4 December
Gaudate Sunday (Advent III), 11 December
Each year on the 3rd Sunday of Advent (“Gaudate Sunday”), children in Rome gather with their families in St. Peter’s Square for “Benedizione del Bamninelli.” The children bring with them the “Bambinello” – the Christ Child figurine – from their family’s home crèche, and at the noon Angelus, the Pope blesses the children, their families, and the figurines they have brought. On Gaudate Sunday, we will unite our hearts to the Holy Father’s and the children and families gathered with him and bless our own “Bambinelli.”
This year, on the second Sunday of Advent (12/11), we will have the opportunity for families to craft their own Bambinelli. After Mass we gather in the parish hall at Sacred Heart for refreshments and Bambinelli-making. The children of Sacred Heart will be joining us - so please come for the fun and fellowship!
“Advent and Christmas are about welcoming the Word of God into our lives – which means our homes. The blessing of the Bambinelli – which we bring from our homes and return there – is an embodiment of this.”— Amy Welborn