Be AWAKE! Be CONSCIOUS! Be PREPARED!
As we celebrate another Advent season, these three words ought to be part of our consciousness every day. The beginning of another liturgical year reminds us that the “seasons” of our year are really about the seasons of the spiritual life. Each of the liturgical seasons call us to focus on an aspect of our spirituality which ought to be an essential part of our journey into Christ. Lent reminds us that penance and mortification are a necessary part of any serious approach to spiritual growth. Christmas brings into focus the fact that the Word wants to become flesh in us every day. Easter and Pentecost celebrate the fact that, as believers, we experience the power of Christ in us to triumph over death in its many forms as the Spirit constantly brings us to deeper, fuller life and communion with the Lord.
Advent calls us to be men and women of hope. The earliest traditions of Advent did not allow us to begin Christmas before Christmas Eve. There was no Christmas shopping to distract our ancestors in the faith. Older Catholics will remember how the time before Christmas was a time of house preparation, climaxing with the Christmas Novena which has been very popular among Grenada’s Catholics. The balance between the spiritual and the material aspects of Advent as preparation for Christmas seemed to come naturally.
Today, we must struggle to find our Catholic identity in this season of Advent. Hope is the Advent virtue; the key figures are John the Baptist and Mary. The Baptist calls us to repentance, to recognize our need for change for conversion. We all need to check the direction of our lives, to see how we may need to change course. Mary is the pregnant one who, once she has said her Yes to God, has to wait patiently for the child to be born.
As the pace of life in this world increases, we are often unaware of the true state of affairs in our personal and communal lives. We need to listen to the prophets among us who warn us about the many ditches we can fall into as we seek to live life to the full in today’s world. In the midst of the fake news, general unrest and corruption which plague our world, we must continue to work for the better church and nation we all long for.
Advent reminds us that this does not happen easily. No matter how quickly time seems to be passing, we still have to wait for Christmas to come. We have to prepare to receive whatever Christmas will bring this year. Like the pregnant Mary, we must learn how to wait patiently in active hope, as we work for the changes which we see as necessary if our Church and nation are to be truly communities in which the Word can take flesh.
Clyde Martin Harvey