Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
The beautiful season of Advent with all of its symbols, colors, contrast of light and dark, and the powerful use of Sacred Scripture, is once again upon us. The season beckons us to reflect on the Son of God, at His first coming and at His return, His Second coming. In 1974, preaching on the first Sunday of Advent, then Karol Cardinal Wojtyla said, “I would urge you to strive to know ‘what hour it is,’ because this hour is also the time of the Lord’s coming. Indeed, since God came, each hour has been full of his coming. My dear brothers and sisters, I should like to take the invocation from today’s liturgy as the key phrase for our gathering, since every meeting is in a certain sense such an ‘hour.’ Let us try to understand its meaning and see how it can be full of God’s coming.”
In the days ahead there will be many such “hours” and opportunities of the Lord’s coming into our lives: all of the penance services and opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance; the opportunities for working and praying together in the decorating of our parishes and homes; the great novenas in preparation for Our Lady of Guadalupe; the Christmas novenas of “Los Posadas,” “Simbang Gabi” and later on “El Santo Niño.”
Such celebrations are moments of faith, solidarity and community and the uncertain and unsettled times in which we find ourselves. They remind us that indeed “God is here.”
I think particularly of Our Lady of Guadalupe as the Patroness of our Diocese. We have a wonderful opportunity these months at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana to visit a special exhibit of her images.
She is, as the Mother of God, the “Star of the New Evangelization”; in her pregnancy, carrying our Lord she is the patroness of the Unborn; and the Mother of immigrants who carry with the roots of faith that came not from missionaries but her coming to this continent long before missionaries arrived in great numbers and before the first “Thanksgiving.”
In the silence and beauty of this season we hear her say once more, “Know for certain that I am the perfect and ever Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God. … Do not fear any illness or vexation, anguish or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother?”
In these unsettling and uncertain moments in the world, culture and even the “Household of God,” her message rises above all of our fears and points us to her Son in all of the hours and moments of our lives.
Come Lord Jesus!
+ The Most Rev. Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange