Behold, The Wonderful Season of Advent!
Well, Advent is upon us and boy, do we ever need this change of pace! This season brings so much hope and joy, which can be quite hard to come by these days. And ultimately Advent teaches us how to yearn ever more deeply for Christ, realizing that only He can truly satisfy us, that only He is the answer to our problems. Therefore, yearning for Him requires an openness from us, openness to His grace to come and transform us. Then we recognize that He is the potter and we are the clay (how often we get this backwards!). And then we will gladly follow Him with obedient faithfulness, and we'll be filled with peace and joy as a result. In short, we will truly be free!
This is the true essence of Advent, although far too often it is lost by the heavy commercialization of Christmas. Even before Thanksgiving now we see Christmas being pushed down our throats from every direction. So Advent is quite often overlooked and people jump straight to Christmas, and worse, to this commercialized vision of Christmas.
Yet Advent is all about preparing us for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! And not only to celebrate and marvel at His first coming, when the Word was made flesh in Mary's womb (and then was born on Christmas day). But Advent also prepares us for Christ's final coming at the end of time. In fact, the whole reason the Word became flesh (and eventually died on the Cross and rose from the dead) was to open up the pathway to Heaven so we might be able to walk this pathway with Him when He comes again. Moreover, in the meantime, there is another coming of Christ that Advent prepares us for, His coming into our very own hearts through the Sacraments (especially Confession and the Eucharist). And this takes us full circle back to the beginning of this reflection- preparing the way for the Lord to come into our hearts.
In order to help you enter more deeply into this marvelous season, here are some great free resources (click on the bold titles for more information):
Best Advent Ever- this is the program we've used for a number of years now. From Matthew Kelly's Dynamic Catholic. Just give them your email address and you'll receive a brief reflection each day.
Bishop Barron's Advent reflections- also provides daily reflections, but from Bishop Robert Barron in this case. Just provide your email address.
Unshakable Joy- Chris Stefanick and Cardinal Cantalamessa provide daily videos about how to find joy in all circumstances
Free Women's Advent Retreat tomorrow from 8am-noon featuring Sr. Miriam Heidland and Leah Darrow. Both women are solid, faithful and vibrant, both have amazing conversion stories and both are excellent presenters. Highly recommended!
I hope this reflection and these resources can help you to enter much more deeply into Advent than you have ever gone before, allowing Christ to come to you in many new (and perhaps unexpected) ways! I'm excited for Advent and hope you are too. No doubt Christ is excited to encounter you anew!
And to conclude, Bishop Vetter also provided this wonderful video today, emphasizing the importance of Advent. Check it out! He will help build this excitement within you!