Advent is such a short season, yet its impact on the church year is phenomenal. There really is something for everyone whatever stage they are at in the RCIA process. For enquirers it might be their first experience of seeing the church in festive mode with the liturgical violet and the Advent wreath. It offers a great opportunity for those who may not yet be regularly attending mass, to explore the inside of the church and see the signs and symbols that speak of Advent. Or perhaps you have planned a celebration of the word of God [RCIA 81] for your catechumens instead of the usual RCIA session.
The second reading is particularly apt to the period of the catechumenate as Paul writes to the Philippians how confident he is
‘that the one who began a good work in you, will continue to
complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.’
That is being experienced by each one now at this very time.
The season offers a special chance for all to experience parish gatherings, whether it is Advent Stations of the Cross, special seasonal small groups, prayer groups, or the practical side of helping with the Bazaar or Fayre. This is a busy time for the SVP and church charities, and don’t forget local initiatives in the neighbourhood for helping those in need. These also offer a chance to work in co-operation with other faiths and people without belief: allow your catechumens to evangelise by their witness.
Perhaps your candidates have creative talents and will help in decorating the church or arranging the flowers. They may help in the organisation of parish social events, or those involving the elderly and the sick.
In the Gospel we are introduced to John the Baptist, who comes out of the wilderness ‘proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. Luke records that John son of Zechariah, came at a very precise time in Caesar’s reign: fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah. For our catechumens and candidates it is this precise time that is marking out something great in their life journey: perhaps to be written or drawn in their journal.
This is a time to show how we Catholics look forward to the end of time, and prepare for the coming of Christ, turning what many see as a secular occasion of spending money for one’s immediate friends and family, into a time of celebrating with praise and gladness the joys God has given us.
Here is an idea I heard this week in our small group. Turn the chore of writing Christmas cards into an opportunity to think lovingly of each intended recipient, offering a prayer to them as you sign the card.