One week from today – Sunday November 29 – marks the beginning of Advent, my favorite season of the liturgical calendar.
Advent is a time of preparation. The word Advent comes rom the Latin “Adventus,” which means “coming.” So we are preparing for a coming – the coming of Christ.
We tend to think of that preparation in terms of our celebration at Christmas of the Incarnation of Christ. God’s becoming human is of foundational importance to us – it means everything to Christians that God became human. But in thinking about what it means to celebrate the Incarnation, it is good to remember that the coming we are waiting for is more than the anniversary of a historical event. The Catholic Encyclopedia reminds us that the coming is broader than that. In talking about Advent, it speaks of our need
to prepare ourselves “worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord’s coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,
thus to make our souls fitting abodes for Jesus’ coming in the Eucharist and through grace
thereby making ourselves ready for his final coming at death and at the end of the world.
As that explanation suggests, it is vitally important to our task as disciples to keep foremost in our minds that Advent is not about reenactment of the past, as beautiful as our Christmas pageants and crèches are. We’re not just remembering these nice things in our faith history that happened a long time ago because it gives us a warm feeling.
Rather, if we are Christian disciples, we are called to play active parts now in birthing Christ into the world; we each have a role in giving reality to the rule of Emmanuel. So this season is about making ourselves ready to more fully give birth to Christ.
How will you do that?
There are a plethora of ways to do so. The Ignatian Spirituality website (here) offers several suggestions, as does Creighton’s Online Ministries (here.) My parish, St. Thomas More, is offering an Advent Retreat in Daily Living, which provides prayer material for each day as well as small group (virtual sessions), information relating to which you can find here.
Whether through your own parish or otherwise, think about how you will prepare yourself this Advent.