The First Sunday of Advent marks the start of the new year in the Catholic liturgical calendar. As we all know, Advent is preparation time for celebrating of Christmas—getting our lives into order, so to speak. Prayer, reading the Scriptures, and charitable giving are Church-recommended ways to bring ourselves, our families, and communities to refocus ourselves on Christ.

St. Francis wanted his brothers to prepare for Christmas by keeping a fast from All Saints Day until the Christmas feast. When Christmas came he told them to “smear the walls with meat.” Sure, St. Francis was using a figure of speech to gain the attention of his brothers and help them become aware of the mystery of Jesus—one with us because he shared our humanity.

Advent is a time of grace, a time for awakening to the mystery of the Incarnation. We look back to the past and recall how God entered into human life. We focus on the present to recognize how God is present in our world today—both in our suffering and in our joys. We also look forward to the end of time when Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead.

One way that Christ is present in our world today is through the good works that we do in his name. Another is in our sharing his love—proclaiming it from the housetops—with those who need it most