As Advent approaches, it’s a time to focus on preparing for the coming of Christ through prayer and penance.
“It is a preamble to Christmas because we are talking about Christ himself and what God himself has done for us by sending his son,” said Father Theo Ebulueme, pastor of Holy Name Church. “If we prepare for it, we will receive him with joy.”
The coming of Advent has a “threefold sense of the coming of the Lord,” added Father Eric Fowlkes, pastor of the Cathedral of the Incarnation, including Christ’s coming at Christmas, his second coming at the end of time, and his coming more fully into our lives, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist.
“In the midst of the busyness of the season, we’re invited to the spiritual meaning, which is all about preparing ourselves for Christ,” Father Fowlkes said. “It’s all about the basics. Encouraging people to take time for personal and family prayer during the season, consider attending daily Mass … and follow the daily readings, and take advantage of the opportunity for the sacrament of Reconciliation.”
Both parishes are adding opportunities to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation throughout the season.
Holy Name will host a Penance Service at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15.
The Cathedral will have the sacrament available from 4:30-5:15 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 3-5:15 p.m. Wednesday and 3-4:30 p.m. Saturday.
For the Advent Penance Service schedule for the diocese, see the calendar here.
Father Fowlkes said he is also encouraging his parishioners to focus on coming together as a community throughout the season as lifted COVID-19 restrictions allow for more gatherings to occur, including the annual Christmas at the Cathedral Concert at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7.
“It’s an outstanding program of Christmas music that brings together people from around the whole diocese,” Father Fowlkes said. “There is a great deal of excitement about this being able to return this year.”
The free concert features an orchestra and the combined choirs of the Cathedral as well as choirs from Father Ryan High School, Pope John Paul II Preparatory School and St. Cecilia Academy. The concert will be livestreamed on the Diocese of Nashville and Cathedral of the Incarnation Facebook pages Dec. 6. The concert will also be televised on Fox 17 throughout Advent, Father Fowlkes said.
Other events at the Cathedral include an Advent Wreath Workshop Saturday, Nov. 27; Christmas with Kevin and Friends in the Fleming Center Saturday, Dec. 11; a Rectory Open House after all Masses Dec. 18-19; and more. For more information about these and other events, visit the parish website at cathedralnashville.org.
“We need community,” Father Fowlkes said. “We need to enjoy the sense of community and the joy of the season together. That’s what Advent is all about. It focuses on what is truly important, essential and eternal.”
Advent isn’t only a time of preparing for the coming of Christ, but a preparation for the year ahead as the liturgical year of the Church begins.
“Advent is our immediate preparation of the Incarnation,” said Father John Sims Baker, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro. “In the liturgical year, we go through the life of Christ from his coming, his ministry and then the heart of it, the Paschal Mystery, which celebrates his suffering, death and Resurrection.
“Then, we move into the life of the Church through Pentecost and then the age of the Church following Pentecost,” he added.
St. Rose of Lima will also host several events throughout Advent including a Middle Tennessee State University Brass Concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and a Spanish Advent Concert at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4. For more information about these and other events, visit the parish website at www.saintrose.org.
As Advent begins the celebration of the life of Jesus and the Church, Father Fowlkes said, it’s also a perfect time for Catholics to return to the Church.
“We all think of this time of year as being a time of going home,” Father Fowlkes said. “I hope that’ll be a special connection to people perhaps feeling like it’s time to go home to the Church and be part of the Church again, especially if they haven’t been able to do that in recent times.”
For more events happening at parishes throughout the diocese during Advent, visit your parish website.