Our Place

It has been my experience that time seems to fly fastest between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Our lives become extremely hectic which means, sadly, that Advent becomes an almost lost season, even to Catholics.  With all the social expectations and busy-ness of preparing for Christmas the import of Advent can easily be driven far to back of our minds.  If we allow this to happen our ability to grow in our relationship with Christ is impeded because Advent prepares us for Christmas, real Christmas; when beyond all our hopes and expectations God revealed Himself to us in the manger.

So, at this beginning of Advent the important question for each of us is: how can we regain a spiritual appetite for Advent; how can we embrace a fruitful participation in the Advent Season – when we are numbed by the blaring and glaring of the season that surrounds us?

Maybe a good place to start is to refresh our understanding Advent.

First of all: we need to appreciate the meaning of the word Advent.  It doesn’t mean preparation, anticipation, expectation, or waiting. It is a Latin translation of the Greek word “parousia” which means presence, or more accurately arrival[1]. Though preparation, anticipation and expectation of Christ’s public manifestations at His birth and the End of Time are important aspects of the Advent season we need to remember that God is already with us – His presence is here. Advent reminds us that God’s presence has already begun[2].  It is up to us to allow this presence to shine in us.  We all have dark places within us that we fear to look into, these places are known to God; but to us well…….?  Advent is time to allow the light of God to drive away this darkness, to allow God to fill those spaces with the light of His love.

Second: we need to realize that not only is God present, but God is also close to us at all times, especially those of trial and apparent loneliness.  Nothing we can do will keep Him from our side. He is us with us always, He walks next to us, His light is all around us; we just need to look for Him with our hearts and we will find Him.  It takes effort on our part to become accustom to His presence, to see His light especially this time of year when we are bombarded by all types of artificial light and sounds; so we need to find the time and a place away from it to find Christ.

Brothers and Sisters my hope is that each day we take 15 minutes to not only read a scripture verse but allow the verse to read us!  Allow God’s presence (in His word) into our hearts so we can become aware of our hidden dark spaces and allow His love to drive them away.  15 minutes of quiet mental prayer, not much time but enough to allow eternity to enter and help. 15 minutes a day to strengthen our relationship, to find our place with Christ.

And where is our place with Christ? Let us make our own the words of the then Father Joseph Ratzinger in a 1964 homily: ‘But in this time of Advent, let us ask the Lord to grant that we may live less and less “before Christ,” and certainly not “after Christ,” but truly with Christ and in Christ: with him who is indeed Christ yesterday, today, and forever[3]

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[1] Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – Dogma and Preaching 1985 pp-79-80
[2] ibid
[3] Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) – 1964 Sermon  http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Catholic/2006/12/Joseph-Ratzinger-On-Advent.aspx#d8QRSJVqS6L8mBXM.99

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