Preparing for Advent

| Father Charles Lachowitzer | November 22, 2017 | 1 Comment
Advent candles

CNS

Early in November, I heard the TV announce: “The holiday season has arrived! It’s time to … .”

I inhaled with practiced indignation over the earliness of the holiday season. It seemed to me that the holiday season now starts on Halloween and ends New Year’s Day. I sighed with the realization that there would be almost two months of ho-ho hype before the Christmas season even begins. I knew that when church bells around the world announced the birth of the savior of the world, Jesus Christ, an already saturated and satiated culture would be sure to crab about the extra Masses.

The holiday season has arrived! It’s time to … prepare for Advent. Yes, it sounds strange, given that Advent itself is a season of preparation. Nevertheless, we know that the rising tide of family, relatives and friends will carry us through our national day of Thanksgiving, through the mall mania, through the extravagant light displays and right up to the doors of a church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, already exhausted from the holidays. This year, the Christmas season extends all the way until Jan. 8. Just watch peoples’ faces when you say “Merry Christmas” Jan. 7.

An insight into the preparation for Advent can be found in the Gospel parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins (Mt 25:1-13). As they entered their advent of waiting for the bridegroom to arrive, the wise had their extra oil already with them. This prudential preparedness kept their lamps lighted through the entire time of waiting. The wise were therefore ready when the bridegroom finally did arrive and the doors to the festive banquet were opened.

In God’s providence, we are given all the extra oil we need through the practice of our faith and the blessings of God in each day. To count our blessings is indeed a Thanksgiving tradition, but to seek the presence of God in the everyday and the ordinary is to be led by the Holy Spirit to the oil of gladness.

If we come to Mass on the first Sunday of Advent drained by life and with empty flasks, then it is to be expected that our flame will go out even before we find a parking place. Perhaps this is why some say that they do not get anything out of going to church.

But if we come to the first Sunday of Advent with full flasks from the other six days of the week, our hearts aflame with a desire to thank God for the graces already given, then what we offer is returned to us a hundred-fold. We arrive at Mass with a song of praise on our lips and gratitude in our hearts. In our encounter with the person and presence of Jesus Christ, we enter deeply into the mysteries of faith and receive his most holy body and blood.

To prepare for a season of preparation, we can already examine our consciences and set aside time for the celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation in the Advent season. After all, to experience the light of Christ over the darkness of sin is to behold the very mystery of Christmas. We can already reflect on the Scripture readings for the season of Advent and set aside time for prayer and charitable service.

So prepared, we arrive for Advent grateful for the gift of a light that is eternal, inexhaustible and inextinguishable through all seasons of waiting. Then, when the Christmas season begins with heralds of glad tidings and good news, we will come into the great banquet of the celebration of the Eucharist. We will be ready to enter more fully into the Christmas season, celebrating with joyful hearts that the light of Christ shines through every darkness on earth with the bright promise of his return at the end of time. In the words of the old saying, “Death is not the snuffing out of a candle, rather, it is the putting out of a lantern because the dawn has come.”

Until then, let us fill our flasks with the oil of gratitude to God and enter the Advent season with our lamps lighted as we await the coming of Jesus Christ.

En preparación para el Adviento

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Category: Only Jesus

  • Jane

    Thank you, Father Charlie! Beautiful reminders for all of us! Happy soon-to-be Advent!