A Better Me: The Liturgical Season of Advent

   Isn’t God good?  How good God is and how much He loves each one of us!  He allows for each of us a certain number of years on this earth. It can seem to be a long time but it is nothing in its relation to eternity.  And yet, this time on earth is extremely important since it is the period of our beginnings, of our becoming full and faithful children of God, of our being tested, of our struggling to discern and to do God the Father’s will, of our being sinners and often needing to return to God through acts of contrition (sorrow of love) and through the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).

 God gives us grace which is a participation in God’s very “life”-the divine life of the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.  On this earth God wants, and helps, us to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ and to become more and more like Him.  In the meantime, through Baptism, we live in Christ and the Holy Spirit works in us to bring about a profound union with Christ so that Jesus can, through his Mystical Body, give praise, glory and Love to God the Father.

   This divine filiation is a wonderful mystery that we spend our lives, learning and living.  In the yearly liturgy of the Mass, we have the opportunity to experience Christ’s entire life on the earth, from his birth to his death on the cross, and then his Resurrection and Ascension, and his sending the Holy Spirit on Pentecost-the public proclamation of the Church.  Then how He has lived in the lives of the saints, and how the angels serve Him as He brings about the Kingdom of God.  We discover that we are called to follow Christ and strive for holiness in our daily lives, which consists: in being and living the fullness of Christ that we are able to attain with God’s grace.

   This yearly liturgical “stencil” of Christ and of the Christian life begins with the First Sunday of Advent.  “Advent” is a Latin term which signifies “presence” or “coming”.  The Christians took over this word to express their particular relationship with Jesus Christ.  He comes to us (“Advent” means “God is there.”). He has not withdrawn from the world.  He has not left us alone. Our God visits us and wants to enter into our lives and turn us toward Him.  He comes in many different ways, but the sacred liturgy, especially in the Mass, is the public worship of Jesus Christ, with his Mystical Body, to God the Father, in divine Love, Who is the Holy Spirit.

   The season of Advent consists of the four Sundays that precede Christmas.  The liturgy takes us from the preparation for the two “comings” of Christ, to John the Baptist, to St. Joseph and Blessed Mary as they prepared during the First Advent for the Birth of Our Lord.  

   Christ is alive and present in his Church.  In the sacramental dimension of the Mass He comes to us in the Eucharist.  We can use this Advent time to prepare our whole self to receive Him in a fuller way this coming Christmas.  Advent is a preparation that is, for us, full of hope.  “Come, Jesus, come!”, we ask Him.  “Come into me more, and fill my heart with love and peace.”  “Come into my family, our society, our world, and spread your light and joy and peace to everyone.”

   For God to come in the way we are asking, requires often that we give Jesus more space in our hearts.  This requires more detachment in our hearts from earthly material and spiritual goods.  We need to rid our hearts of the clutter of things and worries and distractions, etc., so that we can open our hearts to receive this “little child” who is my God.  “Jesus, help me to receive You more fully on Christmas.”  

   And we go instinctively to Blessed Mary and St. Joseph as they lived the First Advent.  There is so much to recognize, to learn and to experience.  “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, may I be with you, and return to you, often during this Advent.  May I always be with you three.” —