Advent means “Coming”

Advent is taken from the Latin adventus, and means “coming” or “arrival.” The Latin etymology is ad + venire, “towards” + “to come”.

It is a season of preparation for the coming of Christ:

– we prepare to celebrate and reflect on the first coming of Christ, at Christmas
– we look ahead to the second coming of Christ, when “he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”
– we pray that Christ will come more deeply into our hearts, that our relationship with him will be strengthened

If you listen carefully to the readings and the prayers at Mass during Advent, you will hear references to all three of these themes of Christ’s coming.


The Church Year Begins in Advent

The church year doesn’t begin in January, and the church’s liturgical calendar isn’t the same as the secular calendar.

The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the new liturgical year. The gospel reading switches over to a different gospel.

Some parishes may begin new programs at the beginning of Advent, or start parish council terms, or make other changes. You may recall that a couple years ago, when we switched over to the new translation of the Mass, that happened on the first Sunday of Advent, too. All that is because it’s the beginning of the new church year.


Hello, and welcome to this new blog project!

As you can read in About the blog, this blog is devoted to the little, ordinary things that every Catholic should know… but a surprising number of us don’t. It’s intended for the ordinary Catholic in the pew who, for whatever reason, never learned some things about what we do, or why we do what we do. But whether you are Catholic, formerly Catholic, or never were Catholic, you are welcome here.

Beginning next week, I’ll post a brief weekly entry about one of those things every Catholic should know. It will be accompanied by a poll, like the one below, where you can vote to indicate whether or not you knew that. (If you never were Catholic, I ask that you refrain from voting so that the polls capture information about patterns of education among Catholics.)

Then, please use the comments to expand on your answer, share your thoughts, reactions, stories about the topic, or further related questions. You can also use the Suggestion Box to ask a question or suggest a topic for a future post.

One of the things that is interesting about Catholic education is that it varies quite a lot, both by region and by generation. So periodically I’ll run introduction threads like this one, where I invite you to share a little demographic information:

– whether you are (or were) a cradle Catholic or adult convert
where and roughly when you received your initial Catholic formation/education
– and anything else you’d like to share about yourself or your Catholic formation experience.

So I’ll start. My name is Victoria Gaile, and I’m a cradle Catholic. I’ve spent most of my life describing myself as a “Vatican II baby”, but recently realized that “first generation Vatican II Catholic” might be a less surprising description at this stage of my life. 😉 I have no conscious recollection of the Latin mass, although I do remember when the mass changed, because all of a sudden, it was over almost right after communion! I was barely 4 at the time.

I received my Catholic education at Our Lady of Fatima school in New York in the 1960s, first as a public school kid released weekly for “religious instruction” and sacramental prep, and then as a Catholic school kid; then in the 1970s, I attended Catholic elementary and junior high school in Rhode Island, then switched to public school for high school and received my sacramental prep for confirmation in evening classes at my parish. My area of Rhode Island was overwhelmingly Catholic: I didn’t know any Protestant kids.

I never used the Baltimore Catechism; my religious education came out of religion books in elementary school, and in junior high and high school we used informal materials and the Bible. In college, I joined the Newman Community (the Catholic parish on campus), and became very active in the liturgical ministries there, which taught me a great deal, and I have been liturgically involved (and thus learning) for most of my life. Today I’m pursuing a master’s degree in theology.

Now, your turn: please introduce yourself!

(Updated to add: Full names not required – first names or pseudonyms are fine.)