One of my favorite works of fiction is the book series from Robert Jordan titled The Eye of the World.
It is a fantasy collection that is very Tolkeinesque, with some very vivid depictions of the struggle between good and evil, set in a world very similar to Middle Earth. Throughout the books, some of my favorite chapters are titled Leavetakings. The author clearly and cleverly describes the preparations of the characters as they get ready to set out on their next adventure or quest. So, are you preparing for this journey we call Advent? A better question could be; are you preparing to prepare? Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts and minds for the gentle season of Christmas.
Advent marks the beginning of the new Church year, and the season gets its name from the Latin Adventus, meaning “coming”. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming. So yes, there is much to prepare for!
Advent has very similar themes to the season of Lent, in which we prepare for the greatest of all Christian Solemnities, Easter. Advent is a time to focus our hearts on the true meaning of the season, and make strides in Faith and Fidelity towards Christ our King. A king, I remind you that did not present himself via a cloudburst and divine light streaming down from heaven perched upon a white charger, clad in gold armor; but rather- a baby, defenseless and clinging to his gentle mother, born in the humblest of settings.
Is it difficult to prepare yourself for such an awesome event? It can be if you let it. So let’s start early and avoid the Christmas rush. Here’s some tips to prepare yourselves for the journey of Advent:
Examine your conscience. This is a great time to take stock. I feel the greatest way to do this is through prayer and quiet contemplation. If you have access to a Blessed Sacrament chapel, or the opportunity to attend a holy hour with the Eucharist in exposition, take advantage of it – often. This is a season for listening, of quiet, of contemplative prayer. Let God touch your heart by listening to Him in silence. He will guide your steps along this journey.
When you find an area within your spiritual life that needs improvement, attack it with zealous resolve! Maybe it’s daily prayer. Maybe it’s regular attendance at Mass. Maybe it’s the need for Reconciliation. With prayer, silence, and contemplation, God will guide your footsteps toward His Son. Make it a habit, and reinforce it daily.
There are many traditions available to us for our journey of Advent. If you don’t have an Advent wreath for your home, go get one. If you would rather use an Advent calendar for your home, get one. The list goes on and on, but the message here is: prepare your home for this season. There are very good resources available on-line to help you make this season of Advent a daily journey, not just a four-Sunday journey.
While it is nearly impossible to clear the clutter of this secular time, it is paramount that we attempt to do so. Blessed John Paul II stated in a homily when he was the Bishop of Krakow that “Christianity is the religion of the coming of God, of his breaking through into human history and life-an aspect which makes it stand out from other religions”. Clearly this is something worthy of our preparation.