advent at daylesford abbeyThe new Liturgical year is about to begin! This Sunday, December 3, the Catholic Church begins their new liturgical year. The priests’ vestments will now be purple, although on the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday some priests may wear pink vestments. Also, for the lectionary cycle, we will move into Year B, with the Gospels from Mark, and year 1 for the weekday readings.

Advent wreaths are an important symbol for Advent. Four candles are on an Advent wreath, three purple and a pink candle representing hope, peace, joy, and love. The wreath leads us to Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Christmas decorations will then appear as we remember and celebrate that Mary, the mother of God, gave birth to Jesus, the son of God.

Advent refers to the period leading up to Christmas. People prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Preparation often involves gift buying, going to the malls, waiting in long lines to purchase gifts, and then wrapping the many gifts. Sometimes panic substitutes for rejoicing as we think of the many gifts we have to buy and wrap.

Advent can and should be a season of reflection, anticipation, and spiritual preparation. People light a candle on a home Advent wreath. This is a time to focus on the deeper meanings of Christmas and to cultivate a sense of hope, peace, joy, and love in one’s life.

Advent is also a time to reach out to the needy. Many people are unhoused, sleeping on the streets. Many others cannot afford to buy gifts for their children. Others will not have a special Christmas meal.advent

Churches often have a special Advent tradition. Needy people can sign up for a gift and parishioners purchase that gift. Parishioners also prepare a basket with food, winter gloves, hats, warm coats, and other items.

A Giving Tree is another Advent tradition. Parishioners set up a tree in the vestibule, listing needy items. People bring items and volunteers then distribute the gifts to the needy.

Some families go with their children to buy and wrap gifts for children who will not receive gifts. Children can even choose which gift they would like to give to a needy child.

adventAn Advent calendar helps mark the number of days until Christmas. The calendar may have a small chocolate under each numbered window. Children happily devour each chocolate as they count the days until Christmas. Other Advent calendars have a small ornament or symbol behind each door.

Consider making an Advent calendar with a simple prayer, Scripture passage or charitable act behind each door. The prayers could even include an excerpt of the Psalm of the day, or the Scripture passage of the Mass of the day. Families could then read that passage and share what it means to them.

The Norbertine priests at Daylesford Abbey and a group of volunteers serve those in need. Through the Bethesda Project, they provide shelter and other supportive services. Here people can find a home and a community where they can regain their dignity and self-worth.

This reminds us of Joseph and Mary searching for a place to give birth and ending up in a cold stable in Bethlehem.

Volunteers work to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be a family with those who have none. The magi met Joseph and Mary where they were too. Caring for people is a need that continues today.

You can support the Bethesda Project by providing meals or donating items from their Amazon wish list. Items include boxer briefs, lightweight bed sheet sets, casual winter hooded men’s jackets and even backpacks.

A move-in kit for a resident is only $50. A $100 gift today provides one week of shelter for guests and residents. Click here for more ideas. 

A gift of time is also a cherished gift. “We welcome individuals and groups (of any size!) to volunteer. Whether you come on site or volunteer in other capacities, we are happy to have you!”

Lastly, there are men at Daylesford Abbey who belong to the Norbertine order. They live a community life and follow the Rule of St. Augustine. St. Norbert of Xanten was the founder of this religious order, and his vision still exists today. Click here to read and learn more.

Perhaps this Advent is a new beginning, a new vocation for you! A vocation to serve, to reach out, grow spiritually, and maybe even become an ordained priest, a Norbertine.