Today is the first Sunday of Advent. I think it snuck up on me, being so close to Thanksgiving. At the EWTN mass this morning I saw the priest’s purple robes, a sign of preparation and of mourning: Jesus is not here yet, but He is coming. At a point in the mass I reached for my prayer book to say the Gloria Prayer, but that is not said during Advent. We pray that prayer and give glory and praise to God when He is here, not in anticipation. Advent is a time of preparation, anticipation.
After mass, I plugged my Christmas tree lights into the timer; they will be on tonight, visible to my neighbors, and me, reminders of His coming. I put the Christmas wreath on my table, along with its 4 candles. Tonight, I will light the first as I say my night prayers, reminding me to be prepared. I found a glass Christmas tree in the cabinet, full of small red and green mint candies, shaped like hearts; it smelled very nice. Christmas is a wonderful day.
The priest at mass, speaking about preparation, said we sometimes say “The grass is greener over there --- but that often means you need to water your own lawn.” We seldom think that way, that we have to change. The recent Scripture readings all spoke of always being ready, being prepared, for He comes at a time we do not know. The Jews thought they were prepared for the Messiah’s coming; but Scripture tells how unprepared they were. Christmas was His first coming and we celebrate it, but we need to be prepared NOW for when He comes again, whenever that might be. Whether He comes to us, or we die and go to Him, we need to be prepared to meet Him.
In families, we often act in selfish ways because --- “we want to have our own space”. In our world right now, we are forced to keep our own space, to keep our distance. Are we happy now? The same “having our own way” yearning infects our relations with our friends or co-workers, or strangers. We act in ways to keep us apart, but humble prayer is absolutely necessary for true conversion; it is the start and end of growing closer to God. Advent is a time beginning that humble prayer, to grow closer to Him; He is coming.
A fire does not burn long if it is a single stick of wood, but a large, close bundle burns brightly and long. It ensures the fire does not go out in any single stick of wood, but burns to the end. We are here for each other, family, Church, country. We need to grow close together. We need to let Him light the fire.
Love one another. This is the focus of Advent. Prepare to start a fire in new hearts, for a spark will soon come with His birth. Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of the Lord, His Love. The Christmas tree is a reminder of when He came, but also a reminder that He will come again. We need to grow in prayer and love, as He taught us, to prepare. Advent is a time of preparation.
“Let us remember that love grows through sacrifice. Without sacrifice there is no love.” --- St. Maximilian Kolbe, who gave his life for another at the Nazi concentration camp. I pray to him each morning.
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When I found the Advent wreath in a cabinet, I also found a small plaque, given to me by a woman in 1998 who I no longer remember. But the words are worth remembering:
How are you? I had to send you this letter to tell you how much I love and care for you. I saw you yesterday; you were walking with your friends. I waited all day hoping you would talk to me. As evening drew near, I gave you a sunset to close your day; a cool breeze to rest you, and I waited. You never came. Oh, yes, it hurt me, but still I love you because I am your friend. I saw you fall asleep last night, and I longed to touch your brow, so I spilled moonlight upon your pillow and face. Again, I waited, wanting to rush down so we could talk. You awakened late and rushed off for the day. My tears were in the rain. Today you looked so sad, so alone. It makes my heart ache because I understand. My friends let me down many times, but I love YOU. I try to tell you in the quiet grass. I whisper it in the leaves and trees. I clothe you with warm sunshine, with love. Just call me --- talk to me --- it is your decision. I have chosen you and because of this, I will wait ------------- because I love YOU!
Your friend,JESUS CHRIST