There will be no tuxedos or ball gowns, or a countdown as the ball drops or fireworks and kisses at midnight, but Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock will be celebrating New Year’s Eve Nov. 26.
That’s right, Nov. 26, the evening before the beginning of the Church’s new liturgical year.
“We’re promoting it as an opportunity to really look at the beginning of our new liturgical year, which starts the first Sunday of Advent, as our new year as Catholics,” said director of faith formation and music Susej Thompson. “We want to take a step back and evaluate where we are with God right now in our lives. Are we making that relationship a priority? Are we putting as much into our spiritual life as we are into other areas of our life? So, we’re talking about new year's resolutions, like, how we can center our lives more around God, how we can grow spiritually, how we can pray more and be more sacramental people and get that full vision for our new year as Catholics.”
Following 4 p.m. Mass, the church is hosting a dinner with games and prizes and a spiritual discussion in the parish hall from 5 to 8 p.m. The main course and drinks will be provided, and attendees are asked to bring side dishes and desserts to share.
According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the word Advent derives from the Latin "ad-venire,” which translates to "to come to." The season encompasses the four weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas and is a time of preparation that directs hearts and minds to Christ’s second coming at the end of time and to the anniversary of his birth. The season commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (always falling between Nov. 27 and Dec. 3) and ends on Christmas Eve.
“Advent prepares us for the coming of Jesus, and that’s what the faith is really about,” Thompson said. “We really just wanted to have a positive celebration focused on how the next liturgical year can be an opportunity to really grow in our relationship with God..”
Thompson said the “Catholic nerd” idea for the event developed from conversations with Holy Souls’ youth minister Andrew Baka on ways to help deepen parishioners’ faith.
“Our strategy here on our faith formation team is taking the church to your house,” she said. “So, we’re providing all the community-based events that we can and adding in things that you can do at your house to build your domestic church.”
In-home seasonal devotions, including Nativity scenes and Advent wreaths and calendars, help to spiritually prepare for the coming of Christ by engaging the faith as a family, she said. Many families will set up their Nativity scene and recreate Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem through Advent by moving their figures closer to the scene until they arrive on Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus comes on Christmas and the Magi visit on Epiphany. Lighting candles on an Advent wreath or opening doors on an Advent calendar also engage the family in an ongoing, faith-based devotion.
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