For centuries, celebrating the Advent season has encouraged faithful Catholics to find hope, peace, joy, and love through their preparation for Jesus Christ’s birth and His second coming. Of course, as our world has evolved, traditions have also evolved—and it can be hard to slow down and truly give ourselves over to the season. That’s where we aim to help.
We recently spoke with four Minnesota priests to get their perspective and insights on honoring Advent tradition, as well as focus areas to honor each of the four core Advent themes.
One of those priests who graciously took the time to chat with us was Fr. Lenny Andrie of St. Therese Catholic Church. In this piece, we learn more about how Fr. Andrie came to find his calling, as well as his thoughts on honoring a foundational Advent theme: Preparation.
Finding His Calling
Fr. Andrie grew up in Inver Grove Heights, MN. He followed his heart and faith into seminary after his secondary studies, and was ordained in 2013.
“I just love being a priest,” he said. “It’s incredibly fulfilling. It’s truly an honor to serve Jesus as His priest.”
Following his ordination, he spent three years as an associate—as all priests do—at St. Joseph’s Parish in St. Paul. Soon, he received a call from the Archbishop asking him to “come across the river” to take care of the St. Therese parish—where he’s been since July of 2016. He has enjoyed serving Jesus’ flock at St. Therese in Deephaven.
The Meaning of Advent
Q: When you think of Advent, what’s the first word or phrase that comes to mind?
A: What immediately comes to mind is “preparation”—which is quite fitting for this interview. You prepare for something wonderful—the birth of Christ. In Advent, you prepare your mind, spirit, and heart for the great Solemnity of Christmas.
Q: To you, what is the true meaning of Advent? Why is it important to our faith?
A: The season of Advent has a structure to it—a structure that begins with a focus on the second coming Christ and ends with a focus on the first coming, His birth.
Essentially, the season begins by preparing us for the end that will come. It’s really a wake-up call when the season starts, showing us that every day counts and the way we live our lives is a big deal. With those realizations, we then move toward the celebration of His birth, and reflect on our history and the fact that Jesus is the Lord of history.
Preparation for Jesus
Q: “Preparation” is central theme throughout the Advent season. How does your parish honor that theme? What do your sermons focus on?
A: The theme of Advent is simple: more preparation, more joy. Anytime you have something that is going to happen in your life—a wedding, anniversary, birthday, moving jobs, moving to a new home, any transition—the more you prepare, the more joy you will have in the celebration.
During Advent, preparation is extremely important. The fact that God is coming to visit is radical. I often touch on the intersection of preparation and joy, which gives us more meaning and purpose.
Q: During Advent, what scripture readings do you often turn to for reflection?
A: While I tend to stick to many of the traditional Church readings, John the Baptist—his life and the man he was—is often a place of focus for me. He’s a very challenging figure. To many people he seems a little bizarre, but that’s what I like about him. He’s so different.
I also try to find a good Advent-themed book and read just a couple pages each day. I’m a big fan of bite-sized reading, so I often look for books with great prose and short, snackable chapters.
Q: What is one of your all-time favorite Advent traditions?
A: One that touches me the most is the very beginning of Christmas Eve Mass. Each year, I select a young child to carry in Baby Jesus. It is a special moment as the child, cute as can be, brings in baby Jesus as a packed house watches. It’s extremely special for the child’s family and the parish.
Q: Any final thoughts on how people can truly embrace tradition?
A: I really love the idea of doing a little something each week to prepare for the birth of Christ. As Americans, we tend to do everything right away—put the tree up, put the wreath up, string the lights up, and so on. However, it’s more meaningful to prepare intentionally and slowly. In doing so, you will experience more joy in celebrating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
More Priest Perspectives to Come
As we move through the season of Advent, stay tuned for more priest interviews on honoring the tradition and observing the common themes of Advent.