Advent is New Year’s through the eyes of faith

BRIDGEPORT—During his regular Sunday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral (8:30 am), the Bishop offered the following reflection on the First Sunday of Advent, the beginning of a new spiritual year. In his homily he encourages us to “make a resolution or perhaps more than one to use this new year for our spiritual growth and for the love of our sisters and brothers, We are pleased to provide this transcript:

Good morning, everyone. I think we can safely say that for all of us, when we have the opportunity to begin a new year, take it also as an opportunity for a new beginning, fresh start, to be able to look at our life in a new way. And please God, with his grace and our resolutions, seek to improve it. That is why on New Year’s Day, almost all of us make resolutions, which to varying degrees we are successful in keeping. And yet that crossed my mind in preparation for this day because my friends in the eyes of faith, today is New Year’s Day. You and I come to begin yet another year of grace in the church. And perhaps we can take a lesson out of our secular handbook and perhaps use this day to make resolutions to grow in our spiritual life, our relationship with the Lord and our love for one another.For today is the first day of Advent, the season we celebrate the three comings of Christ.

First and foremost, in four weeks, you and I will gather to adore the Christ child born in Bethlehem. And so these weeks are meant as a  time for reflection and penance in a cleansing of our minds and hearts to receive him worthy.

But he came to establish a kingdom. We celebrated that last week. And so Advent also prepares our minds and hearts and our will to receive him at the day and hour of his choosing as we heard in his, in the gospel from the Lord himself to await his coming when he will not come in swaddling clothes in poverty, but he will come in majesty and power and every knee that ever existed will bend to him. He who is the judge of the living and all the dead, he will come to heal all creation and offer it to his father as a fragrant gift.And then of course, in the in-between time, as you and I walk this journey of faith, we celebrate an advent, as we do every day of the year, the coming of Christ here on the altar, under the form of bread and wine. He comes to accompany us, feed us, support us, strengthen us in our challenges, to overcome our temptations, to enlighten our minds and give strength to our wills to do good. Why? So that you and I might be co-workers in building up the kingdom that was created and born in Him. On this New Year’s Day, we begin the journey anew.So what is my suggestion to you, my friends? My suggestion to you as it is to me, is to spend this day and use it wisely to make resolutions as we would on New Year’s day, but spiritual resolution so that we might welcome Christ into our lives in an ever more perfect and beautiful way. And perhaps the three comings, the grammar of advent can help us to examine our conscience. So for example, it is no mistake that Jesus came in Bethlehem in poverty. He didn’t come in royal glory because he stood with the poor and the destitute and those who have no one to stand with them. I ask you, my friends, as you look on this new year, what can you and I do more than already? We are doing to stand with the poor and the sick and the immigrant and those who are alone, who have no one to stand with them. Because when we do, we will discover the face of Christ in our midst.So too the coming of Christ and glory. I alluded to the fact that you and I are coworkers in building the kingdom in our midst. And so I ask you as I ask myself, what part of my life is not building up the kingdom? Where do you and I refuse to forgive, to hold a grudge, refuse to be the dispenser of mercy. Where do you and I and our lives still stubbornly, clinging to a spirit perhaps that is divisive, that does not seek unity and peace? If you and I can name it, this is the day to make the resolution with Christ’s grace to overcome it one day at a time. And then of course my friends, we speak of the coming of Christ here on the altar. You and I are faithful to this great sacrifice every Sunday, some of us every day. And yet my friends forgive me for putting it this way, but familiarity can easily breed contempt, can breed an attitude where we take this precious gift for granted.

And so I ask you each time you come to the altar to receive his Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity as I do each day. Are our hearts filled with wonder and awe that Christ is there for you and me? Are we filled with gratitude that the master of all things comes as food so that you and I might have life have we forgotten to be? When we come to church, when we’re here in adoration, he comes to us each and every day. What must I do in my life and yours so that we may welcome him with ever more gracious and grateful hearts?

Today is New Year’s for us. In faith. Let us make a resolution or perhaps more than one to use this new year to our spiritual growth and for the love of our sisters and brothers, for if we do. When we come to Bethlehem and we look upon the face of the judge of all things, whenever that day comes, my friends, we will be far more ready, far more prepared, far more grateful, and far more open to the gift the Lord asks us to accept. And that is the gift of eternal life. Happy New Year’s.

All are invited to join the Bishop in person each Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral, 399 Washington Avenue in Bridgeport. The live-stream will be available Sundays at 8:30 am on the St. Augustine Cathedral website (, while the replay will be available on the Diocese YouTube channel ( once Mass concludes.