POPE’S MESSAGE | Amid the darkness, hold fast to light of hope

Pope Francis attended an Advent reflection given by Capuchin Franciscan Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, Dec. 2 in the Redemptoris Mater chapel at the Vatican.

VATICAN CITY — Christian hope is not the same as being optimistic about the future, but is knowing that whatever dark or frightening things are going on in one's life, God is there offering protection and light, Pope Francis said.

Holding his general audience in the Vatican audience hall decorated with Nativity scenes and Christmas ornaments from the state of Queretaro, Mexico, Pope Francis announced Dec. 7 that he was beginning a series of audience talks about hope.

DEAR FATHER | Origin of Advent calendar goes back many centuries

Such a timely, good question, and one that I have wondered about myself.

Once, I stopped by a coffeehouse to enjoy coffee with a good book and saw that they were selling chocolate Advent calendars. To me, it made for a curious sight — a secular coffeehouse chain selling a seeming religious item.

Editorial | Let’s embrace Advent

After an intense national election season, we need a diversion.

We look forward to the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27.

Beginning the Church's liturgical year, Advent (from, "ad-venire" in Latin or "to come to") is the season encompassing the four Sundays (and weekdays) leading up to the celebration of Christmas.

From the root of Jesse a child will be born

Example of a Jesse Tree

From the root of a very special tree emerges the story of our Lord who becomes human for the sake of all humanity.

The Jesse Tree has helped us to understand the people, prophesies and events from the Old Testament that lead to the birth of Christ. The ancient tradition dates to Medieval times, and is found in art including ornate wooden carvings, stained-glass windows and illuminated manuscripts.

Rorate Caeli Mass evokes feelings of peace, calm in days before birth of Christ

Lisa Johnston | | twitter: @aeternusphoto

Theresa Leisure, a parishioner at St. Gabriel the Archangel, stood in line for Communion at a Rorate Caeli Mass Dec. 21 at Assumption Parish. The candlelight Mass, which drew about 400 people, takes its name from the opening words of the Introit, “Roráte caeli désuper, et nubes pluant iustum.” (“Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just.”)

Amid the last-minute preparations before Christmas, finding quiet time to prepare our hearts for the birth of Christ can be challenging.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, parishes in the archdiocese have been offering that much-needed solace via Masses, prayer services, novenas, reconciliation services -- you name it.

DEAR FATHER | Advent is first in liturgical year as recognition of first moment of Christ’s life

Father John Mayo

Why is Advent considered the beginning of a new liturgical year? 

Calendars bring order and sequence to the events of our lives. Each day, we look to our calendar to see what we are going to do that particular day. We also look ahead to see what will be happening the rest of the week or month. It reminds us about events we may look forward to.

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