Did you ever notice that the Advent season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye? All of a sudden you find yourself at Christmas Mass wondering how your time to prepare for Christ so easily slipped through your fingers.
Darn! You had promised yourself that this Advent would be different. You wouldn’t be caught by surprise, yet again! You bought Advent prayer books and an Advent wreath kit. You had great intentions to make this Advent season very different from last.
But already you can feel it happening again. The books didn’t make it past page 2 and the wreath is only half complete.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can make the conscious choice—right here, right now—to stop in your busy tracks and embrace the season of Advent; and its purpose.
Advent is a season of preparing.
If you have ever entertained guests, or even made the slightest effort to get ready for any company, you will see how those experiences lend themselves well to your own groundwork this Advent to invite Christ to dwell within your heart—and thus truly be ready for His second coming.
1. Prepare room at the Inn: Your heart is where Christ wishes to dwell and Advent is the perfect time to make room in it for His presence. If your heart is filled with unforgiveness, it has no room for Christ. Begin Advent by an Examination of Conscience wherein you ask your Heavenly Father to reveal to you any unforgiveness that exists in your heart. Remember that as God has forgiven you, you are also asked to forgive others.
2. Clean out the cobwebs: After an Examination of Conscience where you ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that you are holding, it is important to clean out the vestiges of cobwebs that may still be lurking in the dark corners of your heart. This means that you should make a point of getting to Confession during Advent. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of preparing your heart for Jesus; this is because the priest acts in the person of Christ in helping you identify the cobwebs that you may not be seeing on your own—typically those ones that have been hanging on for so long they no longer get your attention.
3. Hang new curtains: The room of your heart is now ready: unforgiveness and cobwebs have been cleared out. Now it is time to hang new curtains! Many of us fall into a rut in our daily lives and forget how to live in joy. You are preparing for Christ’s indwelling and He abides best in those who have joy in their hearts. So throw out the old curtains of fear and despair and exhaustion and hang new curtains of hope and joy and anticipation.
4. Get out the fine china and set the table: Company is on its way! We aren’t doubtfully thinking that maybe He’s going to drop by and thus making only superficial efforts to get ready. We are certain in our belief of His arrival and every cell in our body joyfully shouts, “He’s on His way!” This is the time we get the fine china out of the cupboard—our attitude is one of enthusiastic expectation. Our hearts pound in anticipation of His presence. Our fine china goes so well with our new curtains!
5. Open the front door: Whenever we have company in our home, after all the preparation is complete, we open our front door and wait expectantly on our couch. We can see through the glass screen door as our company approaches. It is a time of quiet for us—all the work is finished and we are ready. So in preparing our hearts for Christ this Advent, the last step after all the prep work is to simply “be.” In this state of “be-ing” we don’t question how time slipped through our fingers; we don’t worry if there was more we should have done. We’ve been good and faithful servants and are ready for Christ.
May your heart be made ready for Christ and may your Advent season be a blessed one!
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.