This Sunday we begin a new liturgical year with the Season of Advent, a time of great hope, expectation and patient waiting. And as Archbishop Peter A Comensoli reflects, 'Haven't we done a lot of waiting in these last several months!' With places of worship opening up again, Archbishop Comensoli encourages us to visit our local parish and take up the opportunities to return to the physical celebration of Mass and the other sacraments. He's also excited to see parishes around the Archdiocese display their special Advent banners as a sign of welcoming Jesus Christ into our hearts this Christmas.
'Hello friends... in the last week, in fact, the last week of our liturgical year. Last Sunday, we celebrated the beautiful feast of Christ the King, of our Lord's kingship over all the world over all of us. And this week leads us into the beginning of the new church year, the Season of Advent, which is a time of great hope, expectation and patient waiting. Sometimes we do need to wait on the Lord and haven't we done a lot of waiting in these last several months! And as these moments of opening up continue, particularly in terms of our being able to open up our churches more and more, I encourage you to take up the opportunities now to return to the physical presence of celebrating the Mass and the other sacraments that have been offered in your local circumstances wherever that might be. Here in the cathedral, we will have the arrangements; each parish will have their own particular systems for booking in for Mass and I would just ask you to go to your local parish website or ring up the parish office, just to find out as to the details, but take this opportunity that has now been presented to us at a health level, to come back to the physical – the gathering of God's people physically, for the celebration of the sacraments.
Friends, as we enter into this beautiful Season of Advent, I used those words at the beginning about "expectation", of "hope", of a "patient awaiting" of the Lord's presence in our lives. And I encourage you to find ways in which you can be expectant, within the circumstances of your family or your household or however your circumstances might be... There's some lovely religious Advent calendars available. The calendar is a kind of marking of each day of Advent in a particular way, maybe a short Scripture to reflect on, a little action to be done and so on. And check out our Archdiocesan website to find out little bits of information and resources that you can make use of. There's some great stuff for kids as well in this regard, and what a beautiful way of helping them to enter into the time where we come to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord at Christmas.
One final word for today and that is simply to note that all of our parishes over this week will receive a big banner – it's going to be the same banner in all of our parishes throughout the City of Melbourne and all its various other cities, Geelong and so on, so that we can mark – together – our sense of Jesus Christ who is our hope and our light at this time, and with expectancy ask for His presence in our lives. And that's my prayer for you now: that the Lord may come into your life. And He might fill you with His tenderness and goodness, and that this time ahead will be a time of opening and coming to the Lord who comes to us through His Son Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless you all. Until next week.'