Catholic News Service
A lit candle is seen on a wreath Dec. 2, the second day of Advent, as a woman gives a reading during Mass in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Catholic News Service
A lit candle is seen on a wreath Dec. 2, the second day of Advent, as a woman gives a reading during Mass in the Crypt Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
The holy season of Advent is under way.

This traditional time of expectant waiting for the birth of Jesus has always been a special time for Catholics. The Incarnation is truly a defining moment of our faith.  

The birth of our Savior is a prelude to his public ministry and eventual crucifixion and resurrection for our sins.

The liturgical form of Advent as it now exists in the Catholic Church has gone through modifications. St. Gregory seems to have been the first to arrange the season, which originally included five Sundays.

That’s right, Advent used to be for five Sundays, not four.

Curious that our waiting for Christ’s birth has been shortened over the years to four weeks,  yet the waiting for the commercial aspect of Christmas in the secular world has been lengthened to eight weeks in commercial stores.

The four weeks of Advent heighten our sense of waiting, signifying  not only our anticipation of the coming of Jesus’ birth, but also our expectation of his return.

Every Advent, we wonder how that anticipation morphed into a season of materialistic anxiety. Black Friday mobs, coupons, special in-store deals. The holiday shopping season has become an indicator of how we are performing economically.

But as Catholics, what we should really focus on and strive for is to “wait in joyful hope.”

Let’s not let the secular world’s insistence on material excess get us down. Let’s participate in Advent with all of our hearts to prepare to celebrate the Lord’s coming into the world.