Synopsis of our Catholic Instruction Series during the ADVENT SEASON
(5-minute Catechesis on December 01, 08, 15 & 22, 2013)
As part of the Parish’s goal to motivate parishioners to deepen their faith and spirituality, a short Catholic instruction series or 5-minute Catechesis before the start of each Sunday mass was launched on December 1, 2013 and will be a continuing formation program every Sunday thereafter.
“Catechesis” is from the Greek word katekhesis which means “to echo or resound.” Hence, catechesis is the act of resounding or bringing the Church’s teachings to the world, or simply oral teaching in the name of the Church.
Its launching on December 1, the First Sunday of Advent, could not have been more perfect, indeed, because it was the beginning of the new liturgical year of the Church.
This instruction series was meant to ”increase our longing for Christ our Savior and give us the strength to grow in love, so that the dawn of His coming may find us rejoicing in His presence and welcoming the light of His truth.”
I. The ADVENT SEASON
- ADVENT comes from the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming,” and the Advent Season is focused on the “coming” of Jesus as the Savior of the world. Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King we await.
- During Advent, our Christian worship, mass readings, and prayers not only prepare us spiritually for Christmas (his first coming), but also for his eventual Second Coming;
- Since Advent looks forward to Christ’s birth and Incarnation, it is an appropriate way to begin the Church Year. However, Advent is not part of the Christmas season itself; it is a preparation for Christmas;
- The liturgical color for Advent is violet (except for the Third Week of Advent, often called Gaudete Sunday or Joyful Sunday, in which the color rose may be used), The color VIOLET is used to reflect the Advent themes, which are: Penitence or repentance/contrition for our sins, and Royalty for we await the Coming of our KING, Jesus Christ;
- Reflecting on the great mystery of the incarnation – when our Lord humbled Himself, took on our human form, and entered our time and space to free us from sin – will help us better appreciate the meaning of Christmas and the more our hearts will be prepared;
- Having our own Advent wreath at home and prayerfully lighting the four candles, one on each Sunday of the Advent season, will help to symbolize not only our expectant joy in Our Savior’s first coming into the world, but also our hope in his Second Coming as Judge at the end of the world. It will remind us of how the Light of the World, who is Jesus Christ, has come to conquer all darkness and evil.
II. The SEVEN CAPITAL SINS
The best way to prepare our hearts to welcome the Lord is by calling to mind the ways we have offended Him, by admitting and sincerely repenting of our sins;
- Sin is an offense against truth and right conscience. It is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor, caused by worldly attachments. It wounds our human nature and turns our hearts away from God’s love;
- The seven capital sins are the tendencies that cause us to commit all other sins. They are called “deadly” because, if we engage in them willingly, they deprive us of sanctifying grace which is the life of God in our souls;
- The 7 deadly sins are pride, avarice or greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth;
- PRIDE is the excessive love of one’s own excellence. A proud person refuses to surrender his intellect and will to God, and refuses to obey His commandments;
- AVARICE or GREED is the excessive love of having possessions or riches. A greedy person is focused on having more. He is never content;
- The sin of LUST is the craving for or indulgence in sexual pleasure. It seeks personal, fleeting gratification. Lust is different from that healthy desire of a husband and wife to share their love as husband and wife in marriage;
- ENVY desires what other people possess, rather than what is good and true. Envy can be resentment or sadness at another person’s good fortune;
- GLUTTONY is overindulgence in food and drink. When we eat or drink in a manner that injures our physical or mental health, and this causes us to fail in our duties, then it is the sin of gluttony;
- ANGER is the excessive desire for revenge. When we are angry within the bounds of reason, it is not a sin. But when we want vengeance on someone who does not deserve it, or when it is in conflict with the rule of law, or when our anger has an improper motive, then it becomes a sin;
- SLOTH is the lack of physical or spiritual effort; it is spiritual laziness. It means not making it a priority to do what we should do, or change what we should in ourselves;
- As Christians we are called to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, our whole soul, whole mind and whole strength. Let us show this love by going to confession soonest and strive not to commit sin again because we love and welcome Jesus our Lord and Redeemer.
III. The SACRAMENT OF PENANCE and RECONCILIATION
- Today, society seems to have lost its sense of sin. As Catholic followers of Christ, we ought to make a conscious effort to recognize sin in our daily actions, words and omissions. This is why it is so important for us to understand the value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation because it is the sacrament that unites us back to Christ;
- The Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation (also known as Confession or Penance and Reconciliation) has three elements: 1) Conversion (penance – contrite heart), Actual confession (divulging the sins to the priest or proper minister), and Celebration (satisfaction – because God rejoices whenever a sinner repents);
- Out of his great love, Jesus instituted this sacrament so that sinners who truly repent may be reconciled to God and to those they have hurt. When we make a good confession we are restored to the fullness of grace with God. The sacrament “washes us clean,” and renews us in Christ;
- Why should we confess to a priest when others say we can confess “straight to God?” We go to confession because it is a sacrament given to us by Christ, and it has always been a practice of the Church;
- Jesus promised this special, sacramental grace, when, on Resurrection Sunday, He told none but His Apostles that He was sending them as He Himself had been sent—and breathing on them the Holy Spirit. Jesus commissioned them to forgive people’s sins (John 20:20-23);
- Regular confession is a healthy spiritual practice. We should make a sacramental confession at least once a year and try our best to do the penance given to us by the priest;
- What is most important is to understand that in the Sacrament of Penance whatever sin is committed, if the sinner recognizes it humbly and entrusts himself to the priest-confessor, he will always experience the soothing joy of God’s forgiveness.”
IV. OUR VOCATION
- As Christians, we all have the vocation of giving birth to Christ by allowing his presence to grow within us and sharing that presence with the world;
- Through Baptism, we have been joined to His mission. Whenever our lives serve the purposes of Jesus Christ, he is being born again through us;
- We are called and empowered by His Spirit to serve as His hands reaching out to others, His feet going to the places where we can do the work of God’s Kingdom;
- We can be His voice speaking the Good News that will lead people to salvation and to His healing love… and to the deep and lasting peace that only Jesus can provide;
- It seems awesome, but yes, Jesus is calling us into apostleship. Yes, just like the apostles we, too, can be fishers of men;
- Apostleship means being sent forth to give birth to Jesus by bringing Him into the world wherever we go and in whatever we do.
- Sometimes it’s easier to reach out to others or even to strangers rather than our own family, and this is the big challenge for us. But apostleship has to start at home.
- Let us follow the example of St Andrew, the first disciple of Jesus who immediately brought his older brother, St. Peter, to meet the Lord. Let us do the same in our family. No matter how busy we may be in our church ministry, we must not forget to share Christ at home.
- We could be the best evangelizers in the world, but if we can’t bring Jesus to our families, then something is wrong with our priorities, or maybe we are a bad example of what it means to be Christian;
- Oftentimes, when it comes to our family members, we don’t need to speak words. We could convince them better through our actions and good examples. We could touch their hearts best through the love and forgiveness that we constantly show them.
- To be a good apostle doesn’t mean that we will always be able to change the hearts and minds of people, because as it is written “not everyone has heeded the good news,” yet it teaches us to love others unconditionally.
- Let us try our best to start bringing the love, forgiveness and patience of our Lord Jesus first and foremost in our homes and in our families, and then to the world.