Preparation: The Spirit of Advent!

Carlos Overstreet's picture

Friends, Rejoice! For we stand before Advent once again!

What does this mean for us though? Why is Advent such a big deal? “Advent” says Pope Benedict: “Is the liturgical season that we have just begun and that prepares us for Christmas, places us before the luminous mystery of the coming of the Son of God, the great "Benevolent Plan" with which he wants to draw us to Himself, to help us live in full communion of joy and peace with Him. He invites us once again, in the midst of many difficulties, to renew our awareness that He is present.”

Advent then, is a time much like Great Lent, to meditate on the Mystery of Christ, and his salvific work. Like Lent, the Church instructs her faithful to return to the basic virtues of Faith (Charity, Prayer, Fasting), in a desire to see her children fully appreciative of the magnitude of the feast, and to provide for us the best way to invite Christ into our hearts. One does not simply walk into a formal dinner without first having cleaned their clothes, washed themselves, and understood the occasion of the celebration. We would otherwise be wholly confused and unappreciative of the gathering that was taking place. The Church, knowing this, has in her wisdom given us a path to follow.

Advent in centuries past would have begun last week, after the feasts of Saint Martin and Saint Phillip. The first great Mystery of Advent, is the Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple. This feast heralds the Incarnation, by witnessing the Mother of God coming into the Old Temple, signifying to the world that the Tabernacle will no longer dwell in the stone Temple, behind the veil, in the Holy of Holies, but will be made approachable to all, through the Virgin, who will be the new Tabernacle, holding in her womb the uncontainable God.

Then in December we will celebrate the Mystery of her Glorious Conception, where she is proclaimed the Panagia (All-Holy), the Spotless, and without Corruption, showing all of us what Humanity can attain; the indwelling of God Himself.

And finally, in the depths of the winter, in the darkest point of the year, Christ is Born! The Light of the World! Humanity is raised up in the new Adam, the Theanthropos (God-Man), who without sin, and whose Divinity sanctifies every corner of creation, raising it out of the Fall, and restoring the image of the Human Race. This is Cosmic!

To prepare for this, the Church appoints for us this time, to evaluate, to assess, to pray, to turn around, to repent, and to love, so that when we approach the Mystery of the Nativity of Christ, our minds and our hearts are not on earthly cares.

If you have grown fainthearted and lazy, come to the Church! Come to her services! Nothing enkindles faith more than the corporate prayer of the Church!

If you’ve become gluttonous, greedy, or lustful, enjoin the Advent Fast! Discipline your body, reorient your will, and remember that this Mystery that we celebrate, proclaims that our bodies and souls are Temples of the Ineffable God!

And if you are prideful, slanderous, a thief and have judged many, bridle your heart and mind to Charity. Give time, Give money, Give possessions, Give your Gifts! In these actions, we turn around from sin, humbling our minds and opening our hearts. God will find his way into your life, if you only allow Him!

Even if we come to the Great Feast having stumbled the entire way, take heart, because our God is a merciful God, and whatever good has come from your preparation, he will turn into good fruit. Saint John Chrysostom says, “Whenever we set out to do good, God will do all he can to ensure it will yield the best fruits.” Even if the fire within you, is but a spark, in time, if you feed it, if you nurture it, it will grow, and consume all of the good wood that you have provided for it. Let us seek to be on fire, for as the author of Hebrews says “Our God, is a consuming fire.” (Heb 12:29)

Prepare! Pray! This is what the Forerunner did! This is what the Apostles did! This is what the Saints did! Let us imitate them, so that we might accomplish the same feats of faith that they did!

A Blessed Advent to all of you!

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