Faith Matters

Archbishop Eamon Martin: The Advent season points to Christ

Advent reminds us that Christ is alive and that He is our hope, writes Archbishop Eamon Martin

THE season of Advent marks the beginning of the Catholic year and the time of spiritual preparation for the Lord's coming at Christmas.

It is a time of waiting, conversion and hope. Advent also prepares us for the second coming of Christ at the end of time.

As Christians, we must always be prepared for the coming of the Lord - "You must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do no not expect" (Matthew 24:37-44).

Preparation does not happen at once but over time and so each day of Advent allows us to reflect on the joy of the Gospel.

Our online interactive Advent Calendar is a helpful resource on this journey.

By clicking on the 'virtual doors' on each of the days of Advent, we are inviting people to take just five minutes to find moments of peace and reflection on the meaning of Advent and Christmas amidst all the rush and busyness of life around us.

I particularly welcome the inclusion on this year's Advent calendar of some of the inspirational messages that Pope Francis shared with us this year in Christus vivit ('Christ is alive'), his post-synodal apostolic exhortation written in response to the Fifteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, on young people, faith and vocational discernment.

The seasons of Advent and Christmas occur in the depth of winter reminding us that Christ was born to bring hope to a darkened world

At the very heart of this document is the message that Christ is alive, that he is our hope and that he lives within us.

The inspiring messages that Pope Francis has for young people in Christus vivit also apply to all of us and to the young person inside us.

The seasons of Advent and Christmas occur in the depth of winter reminding us that Christ was born to bring hope to a darkened world.

As the prophet Isaiah said, "the people that wait in darkness see a great light".

So, I invite everyone during this season of Advent to enjoy our online calendar. I ask that people would not just reflect on the content personally but to #sharethejourney with others on social media so that they too can take a few moments of pause, in the stillness to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas which is that Christ is alive and that He is our hope.

The online Advent calendar will go live on Sunday December 1, the First Sunday of Advent, at www.catholicbishops.ie/adventcalendar

Dr Eamon Martin is Archbishop of Armagh, Primate of All Ireland and Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore

Archbishop Eamon Martin. Picture by Mark Marlow

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