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State Chaplain 2022 - 2023

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire

December 2022

My Brother Knights,

When Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it does this year, we are blessed with the longest Advent season possible: four full weeks. (That means that next year, when Christmas falls on a Monday, Advent will be the shortest possible – three weeks and a day – but let’s focus on the blessing of having a lengthy Advent this year!)

Sometimes, Advent presents a contest of extremes. On one hand, it can be a hectic month. There are things we want to get accomplished before Christmas, and usually those things are in addition to – and not in place of – the other things we would normally be doing in the course of the month. December, for many, is a frenzy. It’s one of the busiest times of the year.

On the other hand, the Church invites us during Advent to slow down, focus, and very mindfully prepare for the upcoming celebration of the Lord’s birth. It’s a time for increased, not decreased, prayer. It’s a time to savor the moments, not blow through them like a tornado. Advent is a great opportunity to be more attentive to our relationship with God, not to set it aside while we tend to our mile-long to-do list.

Without a doubt, it takes firm resolve and advance planning to do what the Church invites us to do during this season. A spiritually fruitful Advent doesn’t just materialize out of thin air. Nor does it coast along on its own once it’s set in motion. Like a lit taper being carried in an outdoor procession, our Advent observance must be carefully tended lest it be snuffed out by a whirlwind of activity and lost to the dark.

Keeping that in mind, what can be done, practically, to ensure a spiritually fruitful Advent? I’d like to offer a few suggestions.

First, be sure to observe Advent! Contrary to what our surroundings indicate, Christmas has not arrived yet. It’s important to heed the Church’s wisdom and spend a substantial amount of time in spiritual preparation for Christmas. I wish this could go without saying, but I know too many people who go into full-on “Christmas mode” right after Thanksgiving and pay lip service, at best, to Advent. The faithful and diligent observance of Advent leads to a richer and fuller celebration of Christmas.

Second, take advantage of online Advent resources to help you “dive deeper” in this holy season. There’s a plethora of programs, blog posts, video series, and other digital materials on the Internet that can assist you in your efforts to prepare your heart for Christ’s coming. Most of them are available for free. I suggest taking a measured approach here: choose one or two sites or programs or authors and stick with them for the whole season. No need to overdo it.

Finally, don’t forget the tried and true Advent traditions that have come down to us through many generations. Make or purchase an Advent wreath, light the candles each day, and spend a moment in reflection. Advent calendars are another favorite; open one door each day between now and Christmas. Put up the nativity set and, if possible, add pieces of straw to the manger to represent the good works you are doing to prepare a welcome place for Jesus in your heart. When I was a kid, we had a piece of dark construction paper taped to the side of the refrigerator, and when we did a good deed we got to stick a silver or gold star in the “night sky” to light the way for Jesus.

Whatever your Advent practices may be, I encourage you to persevere in them to the end. Your diligence and resolve may lead to your most rewarding Christmas ever. Vivat Jesus!

Vivat Jesus!

Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire
State Chaplain