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1st Sunday of Advent Cycle A 2016


Catechism Connections
First Sunday of Advent; Cycle A
Isaiah 2:1-5; Psalm 122:1-9; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
This weekend begins a new liturgical year, which starts with the four weeks of Advent.  The historical background to this season goes back centuries.  Clearly there was no season of Advent before there was a feast day of the Nativity, and this doesn’t seem to appear until the end of the fourth century.  A “preparation period” before the feast of the Nativity seems to be recorded by the sixth century in the West and by the eighth century in the Greek Eastern Church.  Initially, it also seems it began as early as November 11th or November 15th with a similar spirit to that of Lent, one of penance and fasting.  In the tenth century, it began to be shortened to five weeks and then to four, and Pope Gregory VII (1073-85} officially fixed it at four weeks during his pontificate.  Pope Innocent III called for black to be the official color of Advent in the beginning of the 13th century, but by the end of the 13th century, it had switched to violet or purple and rose, which were secondary colors and are the colors used today.  Rose colors were permitted for the mid-way point for Advent and Lent of Gaudete (Rejoice) and Laetare (Delight) Sundays. The fasting and penitential character, while still there, also has shifted in modern times to one of expectation and anticipation and inner conversion, with the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy suggesting daily Mass as  preparation for the feast.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church ties Christ’s first coming to his second coming, but also invites us to go deeper as John the Baptist did with his understanding of what is at stake: 
From the Catechism:
524  When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming.  By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the church unites herself in his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)


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