And so we begin! Happy New Year! Advent is the start of the Church’s year. I think it is fitting that our first liturgical season isn’t the celebration of Christ’s birth, which some might argue is the beginning of the Church. Others can make the case that Pentecost would make a good “New Years.” Pentecost is also called the birthday of the Church.
But it is Advent, a season of preparation, that ushers us into a new cycle of readings and a new year. A season of darkness, awaiting the coming of the light. We ask ourselves, “How prepared are we to receive Jesus’ coming?” Are we like the 5 wise virgins who made sure they had extra oil for their lamps, or are we more akin to the 5 foolish virgins who ran out of oil and had to go get more, missing the bridegroom’s coming entirely?
Each time we pray, we start by preparing ourselves for prayer. When we say the Sign of the Cross we are doing a number of things. First, we are focusing ourselves to pray. We are creating a moment of time, sanctifying the space we occupy for prayer. Second, we are professing belief in God as Trinity. God is one, yet God is three. This is a mystery that is fundamental to our faith. Third, while you are preparing yourself for prayer, you are actually praying already! Fourth, you are literally covering your body in the most important symbol of our faith, the cross, through which we are saved. Fifth, we are reminding ourselves of our baptism and baptismal promises (click here for a refresher).
For today, really focus on the Sign of the Cross. Even if this is the only thing you pray, a single Sign of the Cross is worth a great deal and worth doing every day.
Every time that we make the sign of the cross, we draw closer to the great mystery of the Trinity. – Pope Francis’ Twitter feed, Sept. 12, 2015