This Sunday is the beginning of Advent, the period during which we prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ at Christmas. It is my favorite time in the liturgical calendar. As I did last year, this year I am giving a four week Advent Retreat in Daily Living at the University of St. Thomas School of Law (and also at St. Hubert). During a retreat in daily living, the participants commit to pray each day with material I provide them with and we meet weekly, during which meetings I give a brief talk that relates to the material they will be praying with that week. The participants are also given time during the weekly meeetings to share with each other in small groups their prayer experience from the prior week and we address any questions that have come up in the prayer.
Our first weekly meeting was this week. My talk focused on Advent as a time of longing, our longing for God. The invitation during this first week is for the participants to get in touch with their own longing for God, focusing on what they need for God. The rubric I invited them to use for doing that is the “O” Antiphones, the seven antiphons that are chanted or recited during the octave before Christmas. I talked about both the structural pattern and the content of the antiphons.