I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in Love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when he is silent.
We’re 15 days away from Christmas. We are in a time of preparation, both of the celebration of the birth of Jesus of many years ago and for the His next coming. The quote above, found on the wall of a German concentration camp, is a powerful reminder of the nature of Advent. We don’t always feel the presence of Jesus; his presence, afterall, is not of his earthly form. We are awaiting His return and liturgically, we are awaiting His birth.
While we know God is with us, has not left us, and will never leave our side, it is easy for forget that among the craziness of day-to-day life. There is a true fruit in the Advent season of the Church celebrating that sense of anticipation. In Mary’s time, her anticipation was different as an expectant mother, but we are still anticipating Jesus. Though we already know the ending of the story of his birth and we know through Scripture how the end of days will be of God, we are anticipating seeing him face to face when we reach our heavenly reward and we are anticipating each day that we grow spiritually deeper in union with God.
In the wisdom of the Church, the period of Advent is remarkable in that during those times where we are deepest in love with God during our faith journey, we can use this liturgical time to prepare us to fully enter into the celebration of His birth and the mystery contained within the Godhead taking the reduced dignity and power of an infant.
However, in those times were we feel absent from God or we feel God has been silent in our lives, Advent, as the new beginning of the Church year and the time of preparation of the new beginning of the world’s life with Christ renewed, allows us to prepare ourselves to recommit to living our call and destiny as God’s children. Trying to juggle life, it can become far, far too easy to let our prayer lives slip away or become more and more complacent with our spirituality. The more kids we are taking to Mass, the harder it is to keep in the forefront the mystery before us at the altar.
The wisdom of the Church to have times of preparation before we celebrate the birth and rising of Christ is the Church’s awareness of humanity and our need to, first, be reminded that something big is coming up and that we can’t rush into it, and secondly, a call to those who believe yet feel absence or silence to not allow ourselves to be sastified with the status quo and to take concrete action to re-orient ourselevs toward Christ.
Advent Challenge: Introduce or reintroduce to your faith life one spiritual practice that you’ll use to prepare yourself for Christmas. Some ideas include praying the Rosary or part of the Liturgy of the Hours, abstaining from meat on Friday, purposely praying for those you notice while driving to work, reading Scripture or other religious writings, and more.
Other ideas? Leave a note in the comments!