“Are you ready?” Often that is a question asked as we approach the season of Christmas. I remember staying at a hotel in Los Angeles as the fall season started and as I looked out from my window, there was a billboard with Santa’s face on it with the caption, “Ready?” It was huge – you could not miss it. But ready for what? Advent, the season we begin this weekend tells us that we prepare for the “three comings” of Christ – His First coming (Christmas), His Second coming (end of time) and His Coming in the daily events of our lives (Now). But if we look at our preparations, they are all geared towards Christmas. We neglect the other two important facets of Advent. The question is how do we get ready?
In his Advent prayer, my favorite Jesuit writer, Henri Nouwen, wrote the following:
Lord Jesus, Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas. We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day. We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us. We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom. We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence. We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light. To you we say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
We can learn so much from the prayer offered by Fr. Nouwen. We need to enter into the spirit of Advent by taking the time to pray and reflect. To use the word of our gospel this weekend, “watchful,” that is the only way to be. In the stillness of our hearts, we become aware of God’s presence in our lives. We cannot deny the hustle and bustle of the season, but amid all that, we need to find time to be quiet and make space for Christ in our hearts. Let us not be engrossed in the busyness of the season. Rather, may Christ find us watchful and ready to welcome Him.
Having said that, I would like to invite you to our parish Advent preparations:
Monday December 11 at 7:00pm in the church – Advent Evening of Reflection
This will be led by Diana Macalintal, our former diocesan director of worship. Diana is a well-known writer and speaker especially in the areas of prayer, liturgy, music, catechumenate and many more. “Watch! What We Miss When We Miss Out on Advent!” Diana will explore this topic with us amid the beauty of Advent both liturgically and spiritually. It will be an evening of song, prayer, listening and reflection. I am sure you will find Diana very helpful.
Wednesday, December 13 at 7:00pm in the church – Advent Parish Reconciliation/Confession
Internal rearranging is important to make room for Christ. Letting go of what inhibits us from growing in our relationship with God and others is critical. The evening of reconciliation is not so much about our sins, but it is about celebrating our God who is forgiving and loving. It is about looking at where we need to adjust so we can make room to welcome Christ in our hearts and help us see Christ in others.
As we begin Advent, I join you in prayer. May this truly be a time to get ready so we can enjoy the great feast of Christmas! Blessed Advent everyone!