Browsing From the Pastor's Desk

Preparing Our Hearts for Advent

Nov 29, 2018

“Jesus said to the disciples; Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come.”

Today, the Church begins the beautiful season of Advent. The word ‘advent’ means coming or arrival. We watch in the new liturgical year for the coming of Christ in our hearts at Christmas. The Catechism teaches us:

“When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for His second coming.”

For the past several weeks, we have heard in sacred scripture about the second coming of Christ and the coming of the Lord’s Kingdom. We have been preparing for the season of vigilance, watchfulness, and humble joy.

Jesus tells us to be alert and ready now to receive Him in a spiritual but real way at Christmas. We don’t hear much about it, but Advent is also a time of penance as well as prayer as we prepare. However, the penance is not as heavy as in the season of Lent. We are in expectant joy for the transformation Christ Jesus wants to make in our hearts. In this holy season, we receive and welcome Him again to start the New Year of the Lord deep within us. We thank the Lord for living in the fullness of time. Yes, Jesus has come into the world, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. We have seen what the generations before us longed to see.

Advent is a time of hope and humility as well as watchfulness. Jesus and, of course, our Blessed Mother are the great witnesses of humility for us. Mary accepts the invitation from the angel Gabriel to be the Mother of God, herself a poor and devout young woman whose humble obedience brings the light of Life to the darkness of the world. Jesus becomes as we are, born in the manger in virtual obscurity and poverty to bring us the riches of Redemption. Jesus laid on the wood of the crib, foreshadowing the type of the death He would endure for us individually on the wood of the Cross—a humble and lowly death, which has brought us life.

Hope and humility kind of go hand in hand. We are humble in our trust in the hope of Christ. We are humble in knowing who we are and who we have come to serve: Christ and one another. We serve as the blessed Lord did: in love. The same is true in our spiritual lives: we are to remain focused on Christ, the Lord Jesus. We try to imitate His earthly life and follow His commandments to bring about His Kingdom.

The Advent season calls us to open our hearts to His love to prepare to receive Him with joy at Christmas. He brings peace and joy to each of our hearts and also to the world so in need of it.

“Any mental picture of your life that focuses on past sins is a lie and thus comes from the devil. Jesus loves you and has forgiven you your sins, so there is no room for having a downcast spirit. Whatever persuades you otherwise is truly a waste of time. It is also something that offends the heart of your very tender Lover. On the other hand, if the mental picture of your life consists in what you could be, then it comes from God.” —St. Padre Pio

“‘Come now, let us set things right,’ says the LORD: ‘Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be red like crimson, they may become white as wool.’” —Isaiah 1

“The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us every day in His goodness.” —St. Gianna Molla

Let us prepare our hearts this Advent. Let us pray for one another during this holy time. May our hearts be open with expectant joy to receive the Christ child this Christmas.

Fr. Aidan McDermott, O.S.B.

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