| By Fr. Dwight Ezop

I love Advent

Advent is my favorite of all the Church’s seasons. Its four weeks are a breath of fresh air in the midst of the busy commotion of this time of year. Advent reminds me that even with reconciliation services, Christmas parties, pageants, and the hectic preparations for Christmas, we still need to be quiet and reflective. In the midst of the everyday happenings of my life as pastor and my work as editor of a thriving magazine, there is indisputable need to take time to be quiet.

What’s the purpose of all this quiet? To put it simply, I think Advent is a wonderful gift of time – four weeks – to draw near to the Lord. In setting aside some of the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reflecting on the cool stillness that we find in the world this time of year, I believe the Church’s seasonal wisdom affords us four weeks of daily opportunities to become more aware of Christ’s daily coming into our lives.

Advent is also a season for invitations. As Christmas approaches, there will be invitations to family gatherings, friends will be encouraged to gather, and there will be office parties to attend. The weeks ahead will see a variety of invitations extended and accepted, with so many chances to spend a little extra time with family and friends, deepening our relationships with one another.

As one of the Church's seasons, Advent invites us to deeper relationship with God through his son, Jesus Christ. This year, we are blessed with four full weeks of Advent. These days and nights provide an opportunity to respond to God's invitation to make use of this opportunity, finding time for additional prayer, seeking opportunities to practice greater generosity and charity. These weeks of Advent are an invitation to pause and understand how deeply we need God and how much we require a deeper relationship with God.

The miracle of Christ's Incarnation that we celebrate at Christmas is a realization that God has come in the flesh to invite us into friendship. In the person of the tiny Christ child, God has invited us to get to know him, his great love for us, and his plan for our lives both in this world and in the world to come. Think about that fact for just a moment. God wants to know us. In so doing, God is inviting us to share in his life and love.

This invitation is one that we cannot keep to ourselves – it must be shared, and this is one more Advent opportunity. We all know someone who has left the active practice of their faith. Can we invite that person (or persons) to come with us to Mass during this Advent season? Can we invite them to come to Mass for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Are we willing to walk with them, to accompany them on a journey of return? Will our invitation reveal just how much a relationship with Jesus means to us? These days of Advent provide us with ample opportunity to reflect and act upon God's invitation to us and to lovingly and prayerfully echo and extend that invitation to those we love. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.