Why Celebrate Advent?
ready for all of His comings!
The Sacred Scriptural texts that we will hear at "Mass" (the Divine Liturgy) will be filled with the great figures, such as John the Baptizer, who embody the call to repentance and "preparing the way" for all who live between the first and the final coming of Jesus.
These Old and New Testament passages will be beautifully juxtaposed in every liturgy and in our formal prayer ("The Liturgy of the Hours") in order to point to –and expound upon- all the "comings" that St Bernard so insightfully wrote about.
The faithful will be invited to experience the extraordinary graces found in the full smorgasbord of sacramental and liturgical services. However, ultimately, it will come down to each person, each family, accepting the invitation to prepare for the coming of the Lord.
As I grow older, I love being a Catholic Christian more and more. I remember reading a newspaper article in an airport many years ago in which a priest wrote that Catholicism was "religion for the long haul." I see the truth of that assertion more as the years now seem to fly by.
Oh, I have heard that some other Christians see such practices as Advent as "empty ritual"; and perhaps for some, that is what they have become. But for me, celebrating Advent, indeed all the seasons of the Church year, are continual calls back to faith, repentance…to the things that really matter. The ritual of Catholic life has provided a form into which the freshness of the Spirit can be poured again and again. I remember an old Pentecostal minister once telling me when I was twenty one years old “Son, we get filled with the Spirit, but then we leak”. So we do.
The familiar patterns and practices of Catholic faith present an opportunity for shaping family life, customs, and piety that help us to assimilate the beauty and truth revealed in the comings of the Lord. They help us to break from the monotony of daily life to participate in something bigger than ourselves. They connect us to the One who always comes to those who are prepared. They are, as we used to say more often, “occasions of grace.”
As life goes on, children get “raised”, grandchildren come, parents die… I need more than ever to hear the clarion call to "prepare the way for the Lord." I need these special times of grace. I need these holy seasons. Unlike my youth when I thought I had it all "figured out", I find something quite different has occurred as my hair has turned gray (actually white) and I continue in my journey of faith. I realize how little I actually do know… and how much more conversion I need to get ready for that coming when I pass from one life to the next.
The seasons of the Church are an extraordinary gift and opportunity. After all, human beings are going to mark time. We will mark it either with the ordinary stuff of ordinary life or we will fill it as well with the things of God, thereby sanctifying it and transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Why celebrate Advent? I say because we need it. Bring on the candles, the songs, the colors, and the seasons. Bring on the special liturgical times, and fill the air with all the special smells…. I love it all.
Advent is a road, a way, a symbol of the very heart of the meaning of the Christian life and vocation. We now live in that intermediate time between the first and the second comings. We are to be changed by the first and to prepare ourselves- and the world- for the second.
During this process of conversion - He continues to come to all those who make themselves ready.
Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!
Deacon Keith Fournier is a Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. A human rights lawyer and public policy activist, he is a graduate of the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University, Franciscan University of Steubenville and the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. He is the founder of Common Good, a movement dedicated to building a culture of life, family, freedom and solidarity.
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http://www.catholic.org VA, US
Deacon Keith Fournier - Deacon, 757 546-9580
Advent, Christ, Jesus, Lord
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