Seminarians Give Voice to Spirit of Advent

NORWALK—Two Advent concerts over the weekend celebrated the beginning of the Advent observance throughout the diocese.

The seminarians of Saint Joseph Seminary in Yonkers, NY, presented a beautiful program of Advent and Christmas music on Saturday at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, while diocesan seminarians of St. John Fisher Seminary in Stamford presented Advent Lessons & Carols in a concert at St. Mary Parish in Norwalk.

Hundreds turned out for the prayer, readings and musical programs to reflect the spirit of waiting and preparation that characterizes the Advent season. Diocesan seminarians sang in both concerts because many move on to major seminary at Saint Joseph in Yonkers after completing studies and discernment at St. John Fisher in Stamford.

Bishop Frank Caggiano set the tone for the beginning of Advent in the diocese with this Facebook reflection on the meaning of Advent.

“We begin a new year of grace with the start of the Advent season. Given the fact that Christmas will be celebrated on a Monday, this year’s celebration of Advent will only be 21 days long- the shortest length possible. For this reason, we must attend to its spiritual meaning and challenge in an intentional way to avoid the rush of Christmas from distracting us and losing the benefits that this great season can give us.

The heart of Advent is a celebration of the three comings of Christ into our lives. The central spiritual focus is the need to spiritually prepare for the feast of Christmas that commemorates the birth of the Lord as Savior and Redeemer. Equally important is the need to ready our lives for the Second Coming of the Lord, when Christ will return in glory and power, to judge all creation at the end of time. Finally, each day we celebrate the coming of Christ in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the gift of the Eucharist.

As we pause to reflect upon this past year of grace and prepare ourselves to start the season of Advent, I am struck by the need for every Christian to seek a true spirit of perseverance in doing the Lord’s work. There are so many challenges in life that can easily distract us from doing what we know is necessary to bear witness to Christ. Perseverance is a gift that allows us to remain faithful, even in the most challenging of times.

Perhaps we can learn much from Saint Augustine who counseled the faithful to persevere in their own time. He uses the image of “singing” to encourage them, and us, to keep on moving forward. He writes:

“So, then, my brothers, let us sing now, not in order to enjoy a life of leisure, but in order to lighten our labors. You should sing as wayfarers do- sing but continue your journey. Do not be lazy but sing to make your journey more enjoyable. Sing, but keep going. What do I mean by keep going? Keep on making progress…your progress is in virtue, true faith and right living.”

My Advent resolution is to learn how to sing better each day!”

Photos by Michelle Babyak