Friday, November 27, 2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
In a culture where the influences of Christian traditions are waning many are again asking 'Why do Christians celebrate Advent?'
This Sunday the Season of Advent begins! Millions of the faithful throughout the world, will bring the advent candles out of storage and set it them in a prominent place.The formal celebration of Advent dates back to the fourth century but the practice of preparing for the coming of the Lord by living as though he is always coming goes back to the very beginnings of the Church.
DUCK, N.C. (Catholic Online) – For many of our readers in the United States of America, the smell of Thanksgiving still permeates the indoor air but the celebratory atmosphere is wearing off. Thanksgiving was a day for family gatherings and for giving thanks. Sometimes, it also becomes a day of stress, as families deal with all the intricacies of those special relationships and are invited to learn the way of love.
Now, the Catholic Church, good mother that she is, focuses the faithful on a beautiful liturgical season which calls us to live in anticipation of a new beginning, a new coming of the Lord. That season of joyful preparation - when we will be constantly invited through our liturgical readings and practices, to clear away all that entangles us and open a space in our hearts, our homes, our relationships and our lives - is called Advent.
The focus in the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church, during this Advent season will be on preparing for the coming(s) of the Lord. One of my favorite readings is taken from an Advent homily given by St. Bernard of Clairveaux. His insight unveils the special truth of this wonderful season of beginning again. He reminds us of all the Lord’s comings. He then situates us where we live our daily lives, on the road of continual conversion, the heart of the Christian vocation:
"We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible while the other two are visible. In the first coming He was seen on earth, dwelling among men; … in the final coming "all flesh will see the salvation of our God and they will look upon Him whom they have pierced". The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In His first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness; in this middle coming He comes in Spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and in majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last." (St. Bernard of Clairveaux)
This Sunday the Season of Advent begins! Millions of the faithful throughout the world, will bring the advent candles out of storage and set it them in a prominent place. Over these weeks preceding Christmas, families, religious communities and all of the faithful will gather, pray and sing together- inviting the coming of the Lord into our lives, our homes, our Churches - and into the world which God still loves so much that He sends His Son, through all who have been Baptized into the Body of Christ. We live in a new missionary age. In a culture where the influences of Christian traditions are waning many are again asking, 'why do Christians celebrate Advent?'