Advent Day 1: November 28
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7. Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19. 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. Mark 13:33-37.
Advent is a Latin word which simply means “coming.” The Season of Advent marks the period of preparation concerning the coming of Jesus Christ. It was truly God who actually became a real man through the Virgin Mary. This is a very special time of the year for Christians around the world. There are many different traditions and ways in which we all practice these things, but when it all boils down to it – we are all utterly astounded at the fact that God became a man so that he could rescue us from death and give us eternal life and communion with the Trinity.
My wife and I attend a Protestant Church which celebrates Advent from November 27 – December 24, it follows the same calendar as the Catholic Church: November 27 – First Sunday of Advent is Hope; December 4 – Second Sunday of Advent is Love; December 11 – Third Sunday of Advent is Joy; December 18 – Fourth Sunday of Advent is Peace.
The Nativity Fast is a period of abstinence and penance practiced by the Eastern Orthodox Churches, it is very similar to Advent aside from the fact that it runs for 40 days instead of 4 weeks. The Fast is observed from November 15 – December 24. However, some of the Orthodox Churches (namely, Eastern European countries) still follow the Gregorian Calender instead of the Julian Calendar, so they celebrate Advent from November 28 – January 6. Note: even though the days are different, they still worship the same God!
St. Leo the Great wrote: “Four periods [of the year] have been set aside as times of abstinence, so that over the course of the year we might recognize that we are constantly in need of purification, and that amid life’s distractions, we should always strive by means of fasting and acts of charity to extirpate sin, sin which is multiplied in our transitory flesh and in our impure desires.” And following I have supplied an entire sermon written by St Leo:
A Nativity Sermon by Pope St Leo the Great (5th century)
Dearly beloved, today our Savior is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness.
No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.
In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity in order to reconcile it with its Creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind.
And so at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to men of good will as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvelous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men?
Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.