The Season of Advent
Our age, in the third millennium C. E., shows no respect for our Christian culture, for our sacred music, art or holy seasons. From as early as September, shops begin a charade of Christmas spirit to open the purse and wallet and ‘drum-up’ trade. Many of the Western Churches generally have had great difficulty trying to hold the old standards and, if they celebrate Advent at all, they, too, have sometimes tended to focus on a kind of pre-Christmas euphoria.
It is our recommendation that we take time to consider some of the traditional aspects of this special season and make it a true season of preparation.
Beginning of the Christian Year
The Christian year always begins on the 4th Sunday before Christmas Day, the 25th December. So for four weeks we participate in the holy season of Advent. The word Advent signifies “coming” and it prepares us for the visible coming of the Son of God into this world at two different times. The first of these, of course, was at Bethlehem 2000 years ago, for which the patriarchs and prophets had so longed (Genesis 49: 10; Isaiah 64: 1; and Luke 10: 24.).
The second coming of Christ will take place at the end of the world when He will come with great power and majesty, to judge both the living and the dead.
A Time of Preparation
Christians who feel they may have lost contact with the ancient teaching of the Church in this matter of spiritual preparation need not feel it is beyond them to become re-connected. The way to do this is simply make the decision to prepare and do the best you know how.
Advent is a solemn time, immediately preceding Christmas, encouraging us to meditate on the entering of Christ into our daily human life at Bethlehem, (the Incarnation) and the love, patience and humility he has shown us. Advent also helps us prepare ourselves by sincere repentance for our wrong-doing, by fasting, alms-giving and other good works, for the coming of Christ and His birth in our hearts. Finally we are encouraged to pray for God’s mercy, not just for ourselves, but for the whole of humanity, when He shall come again at the consummation of the world.
If we find this a little daunting, remember our Lord’s most frequent words of comfort, “Be not afraid”. We encourage you to make a decision to do at least some small act of preparation for the Lord. One way to begin is simply to pray for help to prepare sincerely for the coming of the Lord. We list a few prayers drawn from Catholic as well as other Christian sources. We do this because a significant number of Christians other than Catholics participate in using these materials and in attending our group gatherings where they are warmly welcomed.
Waiting Upon the Lord
St Benedicts’s Prayer (AD 520)
O Gracious and Holy Father;
Give us wisdom to perceive you,
diligence to seek you,
patience to wait for you,
eyes to see you,
a heart to meditate upon you,
and a life to proclaim you;
through the power of the Spirit of
Jesus Christ our Lord.