“Every year Advent reminds us that grace—and that is God’s will to save man—is more powerful than sin.”
Saint Pope John Paul II
We come once again to Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year and the great season of waiting. The Christian life has a permanent Advent quality, for we are always expecting the coming of the Lord. Now, Jesus came, He will definitively come, and He is coming even now—for the risen Lord wants to take up residence in us today. So Advent is, perhaps most immediately, a preparation for that coming; we are getting ourselves ready to receive the Christ who wants, even now, to be born in us. May the moments below assist us in our prayer, penance, and hope for our Lord Jesus to be born anew in us.
(PLEASE CLICK ON THE GRAPHIC FOR MORE INFORMATION)
1st Sunday of Advent | Being Attentive By Dwelling in the Silence To be attentive and to stay attentive is very hard. It takes a significant effort to stay focused on the task at hand. And yet, this is what the Lord is asking of us in our 1st Sunday of Advent readings. As much as we like to think we can multi-task, it has been proven that it’s better to focus on one thing at a time than to try to juggle multiple activities at once. The Advent season seems to help us turn even more towards reflective prayer, just as the Lord has asked it of us. Don’t get up caught up so easily in the noise and distractions of preparing for Christmas, or in the busyness of daily life. Instead, take the time to pull away and be attentive to the longings of your heart for our Lord who has come, is coming, and will come again.
2nd Sunday of Advent | Comfort, Give Comfort to My People Fr. Frank speaks about the comfort we receive from God and how in order to receive the Good News we have to acknowledge the bad news and what we are being called to do about it.
___ Come to Confession this Advent Season at any of the following times Tuesdays 7pm – 8pm, Wednesdays 1pm – 2pm, Thursdays 7am – 8am, Saturdays 9am -10am and 1:30pm – 2:30pm. Monday, December 18th through Friday, December 22nd, 7pm – 8:30pm.
Gaudete ‘Rejoice’ 3rd Sunday of Advent | This Challenge Fr Michael had a packed homily! He shares about the challenge the gospel brings to him, making our business manager happy, the 4th Sunday of Advent, Christmas Masses, and how he and Fr Frank are hoping to see you at Confession during the evening this whole week.
Lighting an Advent wreath is a time-honored custom in the Church. Embracing the tradition of lighting the Advent wreath, the Church engages in a symbolic journey that mirrors the profound anticipation of our Lord’s past and future comings. Crafted traditionally with evergreen branches forming a circle, this wreath hosts four candles, each representing the four Sundays of Advent and embodying the themes of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Ideally, three regal purple candles and one rose candle adorn the wreath, with an option for white candles. The purple candles symbolize the devout practices of prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices during this sacred time. A unique tradition in some homes and parishes involves lighting a fifth, larger white candle on Christmas Eve or Day, placed at the wreath’s center, symbolizing the joyous birth of Jesus.
Now, let’s dive into the enchanting progression of each Advent Sunday!
First Sunday – Hope. As we ignite the first purple candle, we not only anticipate the birth of Christ but inaugurate a new liturgical season. Aptly named the “Prophecy Candle,” it harkens back to Isaiah’s foretelling in the Old Testament, unveiling the promises fulfilled by the birth of Jesus.
Second Sunday – Peace. The second purple candle, known as the “Bethlehem Candle,” resonates with Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Building on the Prophecy Candle’s significance, it reflects the hope for peace on Earth after the division, destruction, and dispersion of the kingdom in the Old Testament.
Third Sunday – Joy.The rose-colored “Shepherd’s Candle” graces the Advent wreath on Gaudete Sunday, emanating joy as we approach Christmas. Reminding us of the shepherds’ joyful journey to Bethlehem, it signifies the midpoint of Advent, bringing us closer to Christmas and mirroring the joyous anticipation of these humble shepherds.
Fourth Sunday – Love.The final purple “Angel’s Candle” lights up on the Sunday before Christmas, representing the ultimate love of God in sending His only Son. Eagerly awaiting the new Kingdom of God on Earth, it adds a poignant touch to the Advent journey, underscoring the profound love that initiated the Christmas story.
Countdown to Christmas.Using an Advent calendar – a special calendar with “windows” that can be opened for the 24 days before Christmas – is another way to mentally gear up for Dec. 25. By patiently opening the windows one day at a time, you build up to Christmas as a joyous feast.
Show and tell your spiritual genealogy.Decorating a Jesse Tree is another popular Advent tradition. Each day of Advent, an ornament representing key persons in salvation history leading to the birth of Christ are placed on a tree and Scripture verses pertaining to each person are read. The symbolic ornaments are traditionally handmade, and those placed on the Jesse Tree starting Dec. 17 represent the “O Antiphons” of Advent. The popular hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is a compilation of these seven prayers set to music.
Angel Giving Program! Be an Angel to a Family In Need. Pick up a stocking after all Mass times on 11/11 & 11/12 and return it by Sunday, 11/26 filled with any of the suggested items to the bin by the Welcome Desk or to the Main Office.
This year’s program benefits those individuals assisted by SVDP, Hesed House & Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry, and Waterleaf Women’s Center.
Monetary donations can be made under the Angel Giving Fund via our online giving portal or via check made payable to Our Lady of Mercy with “Angel Giving” in the memo for tax purposes. Accepted thru 12/31.
Please contact Lydia Schmitt, in the main office, with additional questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 331-707-5377.
Bring PADS Food Items to Masses on 12/2 and 12/3. PADS will be on Tuesday 12/5 to help our brothers and sisters in need. Check out the PADS board in the Atrium (the entrance to our building) for the food items needed. We are also thankful for any funds donated via the Give page or checks payable to Our Lady of Mercy and note on the memo “Hesed House-PADS”. Thank you so much for your generosity. ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’— Matthew 25:40
Volunteer at the Catholic Charities Mobile Food Pantry 12/20 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. The Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet Mobile Food Pantry delivers healthy food (meat, produce, and non-perishable items) to people in need. No identification or information will be required or collected. This event is open to anyone in need of food! Share the Our Lady of Mercy social media posting on your network; you never know who among your network is in need of food.
Christmas Flower Memorials. This Christmas we will decorate the church with poinsettias around the altar. Flowers can also be memorialized by using one of the flower envelopes found in the narthex. The recommended donation is $20.00. Thank you for your generosity and for helping to make our church beautiful during the holiday season.
Donate to the Retirement Fund for the Religious. On the 2nd Sunday of Advent 12/9 and 12/10, our diocese will soon take up the national collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious. Your support for this collection provides financial assistance for retirement needs for 297 U.S. religious communities. Catholic sisters, brothers and religious order priests—collectively known as women and men religious—have selflessly served for decades without significant financial compensation. However, due to escalating healthcare costs, numerous U.S. religious communities face a substantial gap between their elderly members’ needs and the financial resources available for their care. Many religious orders currently experience insufficient retirement savings. The senior religious in our diocese never retire from their vows, and they play a crucial role in conveying the faith from one generation to the next. In their younger years, they laid the foundation for Catholic schools, hospitals, and works of mercy. Today, many serve in volunteer ministry as ongoing witnesses to the Gospel. Others are frail and need assistance, yet all remain wholly committed to their vocations by embracing the opportunity to spend more time praying for our Church and world. Please support the retirement needs of our senior religious.
Christmas Collection & End of Year Giving 12/25 and 12/31. As we prepare for the Solemnity of Christmas, the Scripture readings inspire all faith-filled stewards to stop and ponder in great awe God’s ultimate gift: the gift of His only begotten Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Out of heartfelt gratitude, what of our prayer, service, and generosity can we present to Him?
It is a great blessing that all of the funds donated as part of the Christmas Collection stay with Our Lady of Mercy and will help us meet ourvSunday Collection. If you wish to donate to the Christmas Collection, please use one of the following three methods:
1. Give online at olmercy.com/give look for the online giving portal and be sure to select “Christmas” (use the drop-down arrow)
2. Give during Mass using your Christmas envelope.
3. Give during Mass using a blank envelope labeled “Christmas Collection,” also include “Christmas Collection” on the memo line of your check
PLEASE NOTE: only donations received (or postmarked) on or before December 31 will appear on your 2023 giving statement that will be sent out by the end of January 2024.
Bowl for a Good Cause at “Rolling In the New Year.” Gather with your friends, family, or co-workers and roll in the New Year by bowling at Parkside Lanes on Sunday, 1/7/2024 at 1:30pm. The ticket proceeds will go towards “Friends of Inharrime.” They work to improve the lives of children and families in Mozambique through projects in education, nutrition and health such as paying children’s school fees, daily lunch, and medical costs and, with a local hospital, they provide nutrition and medical support for malnourished infants. Register here.
Spiritual Disciplines to Embrace
this Advent Season and Always
The waiting of Advent can be a time filled with great family activities and memories. Jackie and Bobby share some activities for Advent that have helped make the season more meaningful in their family. Maybe something they do will make perfect sense for you and you household.
Join Mary as she bustles around the house, preparing her heart and her home for the arrival of her Son this Christmas season. Each day, Mary will share part of her story, give kids a kindness challenge to complete, and lead.
Prepare for Christ’s coming with two new Advent series from the Augustine Institute.
Rooted: Rediscover the Jesse Tree This Advent
Rooted presents a beloved tradition in a new light. This new 22-episode series guides Catholics through a daily Advent reflection using the Jesse Tree model traditionally practiced by families. Each seven-minute episode introduces the ancestors of Jesus Christ, shares a Scripture passage, and offers an engaging, practical reflection.
Hosted by Dr. Scott Hefelfinger, Rooted helps viewers apply the passage and related teachings to each day of Advent, guided by the Church’s teaching. Episodes begin on December 3, the First Sunday of Advent, and end on December 24, the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
Drawing Closer to God prepares your family for the Messiah’s coming. Journey through Advent with the whole family! Join art teacher Ms. Kim as she teaches children to draw different scenes from the Christmas story, including the Annunciation, shepherds’ visit, the Nativity scene, and more. With compelling storytelling, Ms. Kim points out key details from Scripture and Catholic tradition.
As kids follow along and learn new art skills, they also learn to see the connections between the big picture of God’s story and their place within it.
Pray Every Day this Advent on Hallow
Join millions of others around the world in a 25 day prayer challenge leading up to Christmas with Liam Neeson and Jonathan Roumie only on Hallow, the #1 Prayer App!
Try it with a 90 day free trial, unlock all 5,000_ guided prayers, sleep content, original music and more!
Welcome to this great journey of Advent, the liturgical season of vigilance—or, to put it more mundanely, of waiting.
Waiting is very hard for most of us. I suppose we human beings have always been in a hurry, but modern people especially seem to want what they want when they want it. We are driven, determined, goaloriented, fast-moving. I, for one, can’t stand waiting. So when I’m told that waiting seems to belong to the heart of the spiritual life, I’m not pleased, for here, too, I want answers, direction, clarity–and I want them pronto.
So what sense can we make of the countercultural and counterintuitive spirituality of vigilance? The first thing we have to realize is that we and God are, quite simply, on different timetables. “To you, O Lord, a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). What is a long time to us is an instant for God.
Also, is it possible that we are made to wait because the track we are on is not the one God wants for us? G.K. Chesterton said that if you are on the wrong road, the very worst thing you can do is to move quickly. Maybe we’re forced to wait because God wants us seriously to reconsider the course we’ve charted, to stop hurtling down a dangerous road.
Or perhaps we are made to wait because we are not yet adequately prepared to receive what God wants to give us. Saint Augustine argued that the purpose of unanswered prayer is to force an expansion of the heart. And even if we desire with sufficient intensity what God wants to give, we still might not be ready to integrate a particular grace into our lives or to handle the implications of it.
So may we embrace the spirituality of Advent, and may we spend these holy days together waiting–in prayer, penance, and hope–for the appearance of Christ our Savior.
On behalf of the Augustine Institute, FORMED is offering Behold | Advent with Sr. Miriam James, SOLT to everyone this Advent and Christmas Season. Let the Holy Family be your light through Advent as you receive the healing power of Christ. In this beautiful guided video series, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, SOLT—author of the bestselling book Restore and co-host of the Abiding Together Podcast — walks with you as you explore familial wounds with the help of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Each week of Behold will focus on a different theme that you can connect to your life in a practical way:
Week one: Motherhood—Receive Mary as your mother and let her tender love soften your heart toward your earthly mother;
Week two: Fatherhood—Adopt Joseph as your father and embrace his loving strength as you seek healing in your relationship with your own father;
Week three: Childhood—Become childlike with Jesus and remember the core of who you are as you release your inner joy and playfulness; and
Week four: Stable—Restore peace and unity in your family and regain hope.
St. Ignatius was a master of practical prayer and recommended making a daily examination of the consciousness, whereby one reviews the day, at the end of the day, in the presence of the Lord. St. Ignatius directs people to spend most of their time reflecting not on sins, but on the blessings of the day. The following link is a summary of the Examen as presented by Father Gaitley, MIC.
Why it is so many Catholics don’t go to the sacrament of reconciliation? There is a relationship between confession and the Eucharist. To help alleviate fear around going to confession here are tips on how to make a good confession.
Each of us carries a deep longing to be made new. That longing is a fundamental part of our humanness. We live it rhythmically as we mark the passing of time—for example, with the changing of the calendar every January. The new year often brings resolutions to become better at what matters most, to refocus, to make changes. Even though our resolutions often crumble, the repeated effort of making them speaks to our aching desire to be better and our attempts to become so.
In an even deeper manner, the Catholic faith is marked to its very core by God’s ceaseless invitation to begin anew. For the believer, each year is interwoven with the movements of the liturgical seasons, the repetition of which perpetually draws us more and more deeply into life in Christ.
In secular terms, the new year begins in January. But on the spiritual plane, our new year starts even earlier, with Advent. Advent is, in a real sense, our annual new beginning. It can and should be marked with the same drive to refocus, but on a goal beyond weight loss or picking up a new hobby.
Advent is a time to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ, as we remember the first time He came to us and see Him come to us again and again. Of all the seasons of the year, Advent offers us perhaps the clearest sense of adventure and journey. It is a season for resetting our horizon, reframing our movement toward fullness in Christ. And even though Advent is brief, it is filled with spiritual riches. Yet, because Advent falls during a busy time of year, we often rush over or even miss the treasures God places before us in the Church. This Advent page and resources we handed out is born out of a desire to lift these gifts up and hold them out to you in a way that deepens your entry into the greatest of mysteries.
We pray that these resources will help you settle down and enter into a journey that, year after year, promises to transform our lives. We really do set out on an adventure together, as a Church, every year. In this season of longing, hope, and new beginnings, let us move toward a deeper adoration of the King of kings, who comes in the quiet of the night to save us. When we engage the movements of the season, we begin to sing more fully that cherished hymn: O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.
What is Advent? Advent is the liturgical season that precedes Christmas, during which Christians patiently and hopefully await the Nativity of the Lord.
What does the word “Advent” mean? The word Advent comes from the Latin “adventus” meaning “a coming, approach, arrival.”
When does Advent start and end in 2023?Advent starts on Sunday, December 3, 2023 and ends on Christmas.
When did Advent originate? There is no known singular origin of Advent, though many traditions and practices of the earlier Church likely led to this liturgical season. Historians have suggested that Advent, in the way that we know it today, probably came about in the fifth or sixth century in Europe. In the ninth century, the Church designated the first Sunday of Advent as the beginning of the new liturgical year.
What are the biblical roots of Advent?Though it’s never explicitly mentioned in the Bible, Advent is inspired by scripture. Isaiah, a messianic prophet, foretold Jesus’s birth centuries before it took place: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel. (Isaiah 7:14) In the Gospels, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy. Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
Who celebrates Advent?Advent is largely celebrated by Christian churches that maintain a liturgical calendar, such as the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox denominations.
What is the purpose of Advent? What does it represent? The core purpose of Advent is maintained across the greater Church: to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ. Advent manifests both inwardly, in our hearts, and outwardly, in our traditions and celebrations at Mass and at home.
How can I celebrate Advent? Cultures worldwide celebrate Advent in various ways, yet most of these traditions and activities are grounded in hope and preparation for the coming of Jesus. Please take a look above at the “Advent Practices and Giving Opportunities” for your consideration.