Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. But how should we be preparing for the Savior of the World?
The liturgical year is centered on the life of Our Lord while on earth. Two "peaks" emerge above the rest: Christmas and Easter, the first birth of Christ in mortal flesh and second "rebirth" in immortal flesh. And both are set with a special time of preparation and are prolonged with a greater manifestation of the same mystery: the feast of the Epiphany crowns the mystery of Christmas, and the Ascension is the apotheosis of Christ’s life on earth.
What are we waiting for?
What is the spirit of the Church in this preparatory time of Advent? Of course, we are not waiting for Christ’s real arrival to earth. He already came to us 2,000 years ago, as did the Holy Ghost for that matter! Additionally, Advent is not meant to prepare us for the 2nd and last coming of Christ at the end of time.
What then? Are we to prepare a special coming of Christ?
Yes, indeed. His appearance, or rather, His invisible coming to our soul. This Christ does by infusing in us His grace, an increase of charity and especially by a renewed, fervent Eucharistic communion. And is not this coming and this dwelling in the soul of the faithful a momentous event? Many of us take for granted the sacraments of Baptism, Penance, and the Holy Eucharist. Few of us have not refreshed our memory of the tremendous conversion—first or second—to a godly life from a life of sin or simply of indifference. Yet, this mystery of grace, this drama of souls, occurs often. Priests are weekly, if not daily, the mute witnesses of God’s call to conversion, sanctification, and salvation.
We are in a time of hunger
In the bleak background of a godless world rushing headlong into full blown materialism—better named spiritual nihilism—we raise our hearts, Sursum corda, to the light which gives us eternal joy. If, for the bodily food to be properly absorbed, the stomach needs to feel the hunger, how much more with the soul?
God will not grant his graces on those who are satiated: “He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away.” This is one of the laws of the Kingdom. And during four weeks, a recounting of the 4,000 years mankind was deprived of the Messiah, the Church's liturgy gives us the feel of spiritual hunger, of the need for redemption so that we may be ready for Him.
Advent is a taste of the past
For thousands of years, men were made to realize their misery and inability to reach salvation. For a few weeks, we are called to feel our unworthiness and our need of God’s help, with the stirring words of the Baptist shouting in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of penance and conversion.
Maran Athan--Veni Domine—Come o Lord Jesus!