At Fordham, It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Advent




Advent celebrations aim to foster community, and even lessen student stress.  (Photo by Elizabeth Zanghi/The Ram )
Advent celebrations aim to foster community, and even lessen student stress. (Photo by Elizabeth Zanghi/The Ram )

Fordham’s church is decked in purple, the Christmas decorations have started go up and, across campus, students have started counting down the days to Christmas; Advent is upon us.

Campus Ministry has scheduled a number of events to help students celebrate the season and prepare for Christmas.

“We will have all of our devotionals,” Fr. Philip Florio, S.J., vice president of Campus Ministry, said when asked what the university’s Advent celebrations will look like. “We will have an Advent Praise and Worship, which I will preach. We will have a holiday party on the Dec. 9. Campus Ministry will host a holiday party for students of all faith traditions.”

Florio said that scheduling these events was a challenge this year because of the late Thanksgiving, which caused two Advent Sundays to fall over the winter break.

As a result, some events that the university has hosted in other years will not take place this year.

A major event of Fordham’s celebrations will be the Mass on the third Sunday of Advent, which is known as Gaudete Sunday.

Florio said that this mass will serve as an opportunity for those at Fordham to celebrate as a community before returning home for Christmas break.

“This will be our third year of celebrating Gaudete on a large scale, and that rose out of a need for me to make sure that our students had some sense of the celebration of the season during the business and the hecticness of exam time,” Florio said. “And it has become immensely popular. It’s sponsored by Campus Ministry and supported by the Jesuit community. Father McShane presides over the liturgy, and USG and OSLCD sponsor a reception afterwards, all in connection with Gaudete. So it’s a collaborative effort of people saying we want to celebrate the season.”

Florio described what students can expect to see at the Gaudete Sunday mass.

“We have both choirs, both liturgical choirs, singing together, and we have a Ceremony of Light led by our student government,” Florio said. “And then we have the lighting and blessing of the Christmas tree, and we process together to the reception.”

Another major event that Florio described is the Festival of Lessons and Carols, which will occur on Saturday, Dec. 7 at Lincoln Center and Sunday, Dec. 8, at Rose Hill.

“It’s a combination of Advent and Christmas hymns and significant readings preparing one for the birth of Christ,” Florio said, describing the Festival of Lessons and Carols.

Florio also talked about the religious significance of Advent.

“Advent comes from the Latin word Adventus, which means ‘to come in anticipation,’” Florio said. “We are celebrating three Advents: God who comes to us every day in the person of our neighbors, the Advent of God’s birth, His Nativity, which is Christmas; and the Advent of God’s second coming at the end of time. So that’s why we say during Advent, ‘Be prepared.’

Campus Ministry has distributed a special Advent prayer book to students. It is intended to help  them to reflect more deeply on the specific liturgies  of the Advent season.

When asked what he hoped students would take away from Advent at Fordham, Florio said that he hoped the celebrations would serve as a way to relieve the stress that comes with studying for final exams by letting students take some time to meditate on faith.

“Our hope is that students would take a break from their studies to attend things like the Gaudete celebration, to attend things like the Festival of Lessons and Carols, so that in the midst of their business, they can take care of their spirit.” Florio said.