My dear brethren,
We have just entered the new month of December and consequently the corresponding new liturgical year and season of Advent. We are starting again the liturgical cycle that we have been through so many times in our lives. The older we are, the more cycles we will have experienced, celebrating the same feasts, in the same order, with the same prayers. Why is this repetition so important? Why do we need to do this over and over again? It is because God does not give all the lights we need all together. He spreads them over time according to the circumstances of our lives which change year after year.
Indeed, major events may have happened to us since last year; we also learn and understand things differently as we get older because of our greater experience of life; our spiritual life may have changed either because we are closer to God or, unfortunately, because we have moved further from Him. In either case, we are in a new situation than we were last year and, as a consequence, the new celebration of the same feasts must enlighten us in different ways.
“Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10) said Samuel when God spoke to Him during the night. Each time we read the texts chosen, or written, by the Church when setting the Sacred Liturgy, God has something to tell us for our good in the present circumstances of our lives. See as well the circumstance of time when God spoke to the young Samuel. It was during the night, when all was in quiet silence. This detail tells us that God speaks to us only if we keep silence in our hearts. I’m not saying that it always has to be total silence around us if we want to hear the voice of God. Of course, for instance, God speaks to us during a Sung Mass! What I mean is that when we pray, we must shut all the concerns of our lives, and especially the din of the world with all its electronic gadgetry, and focus on what God wants from us.
Advent is the time to prepare our souls to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of each individual person. During this season of Advent we ought to prepare for His coming worthily, even with material things for Christmas and the family. However, this must not be the essential. It is important, but more important is the spiritual preparation. The enthusiasm we put on the material preparation for Christmas must be a reflection of our desire to get our souls well prepared for this feast. Every year we must insist on the necessity for so doing by making a good Confession; for the coming of Our Lord is first and foremost this coming into our hearts by a good Holy Communion. But the Church wants this preparation to take a bit more than the time of a quick Confession. The three coming weeks must therefore help us dispose our souls to celebrate Christmas worthily.
From this follows that we must try to spend more time praying that Our Lord will supply all of the graces we need to prepare our souls. The model of this preparation is the crib: the simplicity of the stable, the humility of those present there, the retirement from the world represented by the city of Jerusalem are some of these dispositions we need to acquire before Christmas. This will take time and thoughtfulness. This is why we need to use the whole season of Advent for this purpose. Don’t set up your cribs too close to Christmas but have them at the front of you early as a reminder of what your souls must be like by the 25th December.
Wishing you a Holy Season of Advent so that you may fill your souls with as many blessings as possible from the Divine Child at Christmas.
Rev. Vianney Vandendaele (Prior)