The National Black Catholic Congress, Inc.

The Definitive Guide to Advent 

Balance the sacred part of this time of preparation with all of the secular, pre-Christmas frenzy

Lorene Hanley Duquin, OSV

Newsweekly  |  11/29/2017

Saturday, February 3-Tuesday,
February 6, 2018
The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

The Catholic Social Ministry Gathering will be held from February 3 through 6, 2018 in Washington, DC. Registration and Diversity Outreach Initiative materials are ready. Must receive financial aid requests by November 10, 2017. Visit

Thursday, February 15-Saturday, February 17, 2018

Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (BICM) Training of Trainers Workshop
Register today for Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (BICM) Training of Trainers workshop! This is an annual offering to prepare presenters to conduct USCCB's Building Intercultural Competence for Ministers (BICM) workshops on their own. This will be held during the Mid-Atlantic Congress in Baltimore, MD. Contact Yolanda Taylor-Burwell for more information at

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The Pastoral Plan of Action was developed by delegates who were appointed by bishops from every diocese in the United States. These women and men brought the concerns and needs of their local communities, and worked together to develop a list of pastoral priorities. These priorities led to a Preamble, which was presented and affirmed by the Assembly at the close of Congress XII. It was the intention of the delegates that every individual, parish, community, and diocese use the Preamble to guide their unique pastoral planning with Black Catholics for the next five years.

Take a few minutes to reflect on today's readings with the ancient art of

​Lectio Divina for the Second Week of Advent
We begin our prayer: 
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

Almighty God, who command us to prepare the way for Christ the Lord, grant in your kindness, we pray, that no infirmity may weary us as we long for the comforting presence of our heavenly physician. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent) 

Reading (Lectio)
Read the following Scripture two or three times. Matthew 3:1-12
John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.​Full story...

"Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?" "Here I am," I said, "Send me!" Isaiah 6:8

The life of Servant of God Augustus Tolton already reads like a novel and now it is immortalized on stage with the new play “Tolton: From Slave to Priest,” produced by St. Luke Productions from Battle Ground, Washington. 

Tolton, a former slave, is the first recognized American diocesan priest of African descent. The Archdiocese of Chicago opened his cause for sainthood in 2011. 

Born into slavery, he fled with his mother and siblings through the woods of northern Missouri and across the Mississippi River while being pursued by soldiers when he was only 9 years old. The small family made their home in Quincy, Illinois, a sanctuary for runaway slaves. Tolton’s father died earlier in St. Louis, after escaping slavery to serve in the Union Army. Full story...

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February 2018


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How Hebrew-speaking Catholics make Advent longer

Alicia Ambrosio | Nov 27, 2017

For I was hungry and you gave Me food...I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink...

"As often as you did it to one of the least of My brothers and sisters,  you did it to Me." (Matthew 25:40)​

I was sick and you looked after Me...

$34 a month

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About Advent Wreaths

 Traditionally, Advent wreaths are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent.  Ideally, three candles are purple and one is rose, but white candles can also be used. 

The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas.

The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead.

Every year it seems as though the spiritual preparation for Christmas lags behind the commercial preparation. What if there were more weeks to Advent?

For about 30 years, Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Jerusalem have celebrated something called “Great Advent” that begins as early as mid-October.

During Great Advent, Israeli Catholics commemorate the biblical figures who prepared the way for the Messiah.

The season begins on the Sunday of the week of the Jewish feast of Simchat Torah or “Rejoicing of the 

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Tolton | Saint Luke Productions
Saint Luke Productions
Now Booking Tolton
  Now Booking Shows
in 2017-2018
  Experience hope and healing in the riveting true story of America's
first Black priest.
Contact St. Luke Productions
to schedule a performance
for your community!

  "We need this production on Father Tolton to inspire a new era of peace, hope and forgiveness in America."  
  ~ Bishop Joseph Perry, Chicago

Opening the Word: Restored creations 

During Advent, we should all prepare for God to come and restore us to the beauty of his likeness 

Timothy P. O'Malley OSV


Sin deforms. It desecrates.

Think about a beautifully formed sculpture, something like Michelangelo’s David in Florence, Italy. It represents the perfection of the human form, shining forth in truth, goodness and beauty.

Sin is like a hammer-wielding madman that desecrates Michelangelo’s Pietà. It is a furnace of discontent that melts the statue into nothingness.

The sinner’s act of desecration is not carried out upon an external work of art. No, sin desecrates the self. Created in the image and likeness of God, made for communion, the sinner turns inward. Full story...

St. Charles Borromeo writes,
“Each year, as the Church recalls this mystery, she urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us. This holy season teaches us that Christ’s coming was not only for the benefit of his contemporaries; his power has still to be communicated to us all…The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace.”Full story...

The other figures remembered during Great Advent are Noah, Abraham, the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, Joseph, Moses, and David, though because the dates of Simchat Torah can vary, all eight figures are not included every year. Full story...

NOVEMBER 29, 2017
Are You Ready for Advent?


Calendar of Events​​

Torah.” That week marks the beginning of the new Jewish liturgical year and the Book of Genesis is read in synagogues. Hebrew-speaking Catholics begin Great Advent with the commemoration of Adam and Eve.

Blessing Of An Advent Wreath


The use of the Advent Wreath is a traditional practice which has found its place in the Church as well as in the home. The blessing of an Advent Wreath takes place on the First Sunday of Advent or on the evening before the First Sunday of Advent.

When the blessing of the Advent Wreath is celebrated in the home, it is appropriate that it be blessed by a parent or another member of the family.All make the sign of the cross as the leader says: 

Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Response (R/.) Who made heaven and earth.

Then the Scripture, Isaiah 9: (lines 1-2 and 5-6) or Isaiah 63 (lines 16-17 & 19) or Isaiah 64  (lines 2-7) is read:

Reader: The Word of the Lord.
R/. Thanks be to God.

With hands joined, the leader says:

Lord our God,
we praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ:
he is Emmanuel, the hope of the peoples,
he is the wisdom that teaches and guides us,
he is the Savior of every nation.
Lord God,
let your blessing come upon us
as we light the candles of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light
be a sign of Christ’s promise to bring us salvation.
May he come quickly and not delay.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
R/. Amen.

The blessing may conclude with a verse from
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”:

O come, desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of humankind;
bid ev’ry sad division cease
and be thyself our Prince of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to thee, O Israel.

—From Catholic Household Blessings & Prayers


or a pledge of $200 a month for 18 months will provide a single-unit home with sanitation for a needy family.

Especially with our shortened season this year, this tradition sounds especially delightful.

Father Tolton’s life told through ‘From Slave to Priest’

By Joyce Duriga | Editor 
November 9, 2017

For most Americans, the days between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day are a time to be with family, to be thankful for all we have, and to give whatever we can to those in need. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that! But it’s not news that Christmas has been secularized. For Christians, this season should be about so much more than what our culture offers us. Every year, I hear Christians bemoaning the secularization of Christmas—yet, the solution seems so simple.

If we want Christmas to be a religious holiday for our families, the way to get beyond the red and green M&Ms and the hustle and bustle is to take the time to prepare ourselves spiritually. To make Christmas mean something, we must observe the traditional season of Advent.

The Church has such a beautiful rhythm of celebrating the various seasons of the Christian story. The four weeks before Christmas (a little after Thanksgiving until December 25th) is the season of Advent.

Advent (not New Year’s) is the beginning of the Christian Year and it’s considered a ‘little Lent.’ It’s quiet. It’s somber. It’s full of waiting and hoping. Just as there can be no real celebration of the Resurrection without the pain of Good Friday, there can be no real Christmas without the expectation of Advent.

January 2018

Sunday, January 14, 2018 | 10:30 AM

Mass in Celebration of African American and African Catholic Faith and Culture

Reverend Canon Gerard Jordan, O. Praem will be the Principal Celebrant and Homilist for a Mass celebrating African American Faith and Culture on Janurary 14th at 10:30AM at Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, 558 W Walnut St, Lancaster, PA 17603.   All are invited to join. For more information, please contact Gwen Summers at (717) 954-4620,, or Jacklyn Curran at (717) 657-4808 ext. 313.

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child, but in the midst of the pre-Christmas frenzy, it's easy to lose sight of the profound spiritual importance of the Advent season. Your greatest temptation during Advent will be scrimping on your spiritual needs because there are so many other things going on!

There are presents to make or buy, cookies to bake, cards to mail, parties to plan, gifts to wrap and trees to decorate. Even your parish can put demands on your time with choir practices, pageant rehearsals, candy sales, food collections for the poor and Advent evenings of reflection.

There's nothing wrong with pre-Christmas preparations. But it's important to balance the sacred part of the Advent season with all of the other things you are doing. If you don't make time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion of heart, you will find yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted by Christmas Day. Your Christmas celebration will look perfect on the surface, but will feel spiritually unsatisfying. You will have a hard time experiencing the joy and peace that the Babe in Bethlehem brings.

Keeping a balance between the spiritual and the secular will require a little planning on your part. Start by making a list of everything that needs to be done. Then block into your calendar specific times every day for personal prayer, spiritual reading and reflection.

As you move through Advent you will begin to relish those quiet moments in your day. They will become like a spiritual port in a secular storm. The prayer time will restore your spirit. The spiritual insights will help to keep you focused. You may like it so much that you'll decide to carry over into the New Year the practice of setting aside daily quiet time with God.

Ten Ways to Get More out of Advent

Here are some simple ways to incorporate traditional Advent practices into your busy schedule:

Reflect on Advent as a time of waiting. The idea of waiting is not popular in our culture of instant gratification, but it creates in us a new kind of self-discipline that helps us to appreciate the present moment and look to the future with peaceful anticipation.

Turn your breathing into a prayer. Take a few deep breaths throughout the day and imagine that God's love is flowing through you to every part of your body. As you exhale, let go of tension, worry and anything else that is not of God.

Long for the Lord. Make it a habit of silently praying, "Come, Lord Jesus."

Unite with Mary. Set aside time once a day to join Our Lady in praying the Canticle of Mary (see Lk 1:46-55).

Do something nice for someone every day. It might be an encouraging word, a phone call, a note of appreciation or a little act of kindness.

Get rid of grudges. Use Advent as an opportunity to let go of any anger or resentment that you might be holding onto.

Pray for patience. If you find yourself becoming anxious or upset, ask the Lord for the gift of patience. Then make a conscious effort to be a more patient person.

Offer up something painful or difficult in your life. The best way to transform trials and tensions is to turn them into a prayer.

Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Attend your parish penance service and take advantage of the opportunity to cleanse your soul in preparation for the coming of Jesus.

Think about the special gifts and talents God has given you. How are you using these gifts?

What is Advent?

The word "Advent" comes from the Latin Adventus, which means "coming." It is a time for quiet reflection, prayer and conversion in anticipation of the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The readings and the liturgies during Advent prepare us for the birth of Jesus, but they also prepare us for the Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the world. The season offers us the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert as we await... Full story...


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From, here's a quick explanation of Advent

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in Haley and Daniel Stewart’s new ebook, Feast! Real Food, Reflections, and Simple Living for the Christian Year.  Source:

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