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As I grow older, I love being a Catholic Christian more and more.I remember reading a newspaper article in an airport many years ago in which a priest wrote that Catholicism was "religion for the long haul." I see the truth of that assertion more as the years now seem to fly by.For four special weeks preceding the great celebration of the Incarnation, the Nativity of the Lord Jesus, ("Christ-Mass"), Christians (Catholics and others) are invited by the Church to prepare, to "get ready", to make a place for the Lord in our lives and in our homes, to anticipate His coming(s).Again this year my family will attend the Sunday Vigil Mass and we will sing the ever-familiar hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel".They will be sung as a part of the formal "Liturgy of the Hours" beginning seven days before the Vigil of Christmas.These short prayers in the "Liturgy of the Hours", or Breviary, which all clergy, most religious orders, and an increasing numbers of lay men and women use as the structure for daily prayer throughout the western Catholic world, are also a part of the treasury of Catholic life.The celebration of Advent dates back to the fourth century.Through the history of the Western Church it has become a significant part of the pattern of life, faith, culture and worship that is Catholic Christianity.
In His first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness; in this middle coming He comes in Spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and in majesty.The faithful will be invited to experience the extraordinary graces found in the full smorgasbord of sacramental and liturgical services.However, ultimately, it will come down to each person, each family, accepting the invitation to prepare for the coming of the Lord.The ritual of Catholic life has provided a form into which the freshness of the Spirit can be poured again and again.I remember an old Pentecostal minister once telling me when I was twenty one years old "Son, we get filled with the Spirit, but then we leak". The familiar patterns and practices of Catholic faith present an opportunity for shaping family life, customs, and piety that help us to assimilate the beauty and truth revealed in the comings of the Lord.
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It is, as they say in the Internet world, "granular" Christianity, filled with practices that root themselves experientially into your bones.