Advent and Christmas

11-29-2023Reflections and Resources

The liturgical season of Advent begins on December 3rd.  It’s a short season this year, having only three full weeks, as the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 24th, is also Christmas Eve. In Advent, we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ first coming to our world, his Incarnation, on Christmas Day. In addition, we remind ourselves of our need to “be alert” for Jesus’ second coming at the end of time; the gospel on the First Sunday of Advent contains Jesus’ warning to us to be on the watch. And finally, during Advent we are especially aware of Jesus’ presence with us in our daily lives and in our Eucharist; we can truly say that we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us!

Two Scripture characters take center stage in Advent: St. John the Baptist and Mary, Jesus’ mother. John’s mission to “cry out in the desert” and call us to make straight the way for the Lord, is the focus of the gospel readings for the Second and Third Sundays of Advent. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear the biblical account of the Annunciation and experience Mary’s “Yes” to God’s plan that she will conceive in her womb and bear a son, whom she will name Jesus. You can prepare for the Mass readings for Sundays at

So, the season of Advent is all about preparation for, and awareness of, God’s presence in our lives, past, present and future. We are all encouraged to take the time to prepare. Here are some ways. Reflect daily on how God acts in your life and celebrate his presence. Participate in our parish Advent Service of Adoration and Reconciliation on Tuesday, December 19 at 7:00 and take to heart John the Baptist’s call to repentance. Light the candles of the Advent Wreath in your home in anticipation of remembering Jesus’ birth on Christmas.  Read more about the Advent Wreath on the Hallow webpage

And now we come to Christmas. Perhaps you know that Christmas lasts for more than one day. In the French-Canadian culture, and many European cultures for that matter, January 6, the actual remembrance date of the coming of the Magi, is considered “Little Christmas”. You can read one person’s memories of Little Christmas on the New Jersey Salesian Oblate page, The song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, also gives us a hint that Christmas is more than just Christmas Day, December 25, for it talks about gift-giving all the way up to January 5. There is a deeper meaning to this song, as well; read about it at

For Catholics, Christmas day is celebrated in our liturgies for eight days; this octave ends on January 1st, the day we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God (previously known as the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord). We Catholics always commemorate the Holy Family on the Sunday after Christmas day; December 31st is the date for this year’s commemoration. The following Sunday is the day that we celebrate Epiphany, Jesus’ manifestation to the world (represented by the Magi); January 7, 2024, is the date for Epiphany this liturgical year. The Christmas season usually lasts until the Sunday following Epiphany, when we remember Jesus’ baptism by his cousin, John, in the Jordan. This “year”, however, we celebrate this event on January 8, the day after the feast of the Epiphany is marked by the Church.

We return to Ordinary Time on January 9; Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 14.