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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 12-17-23

The last-to-be-lighted fourth Advent candle risks being an afterthought this year. The fourth week of Advent is a mere twenty-one hours long – it begins with Morning Prayer at 6:00 AM on Sunday, December 24 and ends when Christmas Eve Mass begins that same Sunday evening at 9:00 PM. That poor candle gets just one shot to shine before it’s eclipsed by the brilliance of Christmas.


It would be easy enough for the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Advent itself to be pushed aside. If you have a church-attendance coin to flip for the 24th, you might hope it lands Eve-side up. I hope your coin lands on its thin edge so that both celebrations – Advent IV and Christmas Eve – get their due.


Advent IV is full of anticipation and promise. Advent I shouted of the end, of apocalyptic completion. Advent II and III gave us the spectacle of John the Baptist, the voice crying out in the wilderness, drawing our attention to Jesus, the one who was to come after. Advent IV is far more intimate – no theatrics, but rather the word of the Lord speaking to a prophet by night, and an angel of the Lord greeting Mary-the-favored-one. No shouts, no cries, only whispers that invite us to turn our better ear to the source so we don’t miss a single word.


The whole holiday season is rather like that, isn’t it? The marketplace shouts and cries for our attention, while God whispers through the liturgies of the Church that the Son is both already here and on his way: a present long-ago unwrapped, and a present waiting for us to find.


God’s blessings and peace,




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