Spiritual preparation for Christmas

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It seems that Christmas comes earlier and earlier each year.

What I mean by that statement is that we are hearing Christmas carols and seeing Christmas decorations long before the weather turns cold and the snow falls.

The focus on Christmas seems to be so protracted that when Dec. 25 finally arrives some people are already tired of Christmas.

This is unfortunate, because it diminishes our ability to fully celebrate this magnificent Christian feast.

Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” Jesus is coming and Advent helps us to prepare for His arrival.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present the ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Saviour’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (CC 524). This feeling of expectation can also be seen today in our longing for a world of justice and peace. This will only be realized completely when Christ comes again.

During the four weeks of Advent we prepare for the Lord’s coming with a focus both on the past and on the future.

The first two weeks’ focus is on the Lord’s return in glory. Christians believe that the reign of God is yet to be fulfilled. This will only happen at the end of time when Jesus will return and make all things new.

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Source: St. Catherines Standard
Photo captions: Julie Jocsak/Standard file photo

St. John writes in the Book of Revelation, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of the heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying … ‘See, I am making all things new’” (Rev. 21:1-2;5).

Jesus acknowledges that the End Times is not something that we can predict, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mt. 24:35-36).

We prepare ourselves by knowing, loving and serving the Lord in this life, so that we can be with Him forever in the next life.

During the last two weeks of Advent we move from reflecting on Christ’s second coming to His first coming in Bethlehem. The liturgy and scriptures focus on the significance of the coming of the Messiah. In particular, the “O” Antiphons which are prayed at vespers during the last week of Advent, use ancient biblical titles to describe the messianic hope found in Jesus: (O Wisdom, O Leader, O Root of Jesse, O Key of David, O Radiant Dawn, O King of all nations, O Emmanuel).

Jesus is seen not only as the fulfilment of the Old Testament hope, but also as the answer to the longing within the hearts of all generations.

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Source: Pixabay

The most familiar symbol associated with Advent is a wreath with four candles. At the beginning of each week a candle is lit with a simple prayer. This helps highlight the contrast between light and darkness. Christians believe that Jesus is the “Light of the World” and that He is able to dispel the gloom of sin and sadness that we find in the world.

So if we begin our spiritual preparation for Christmas on Sunday (First Sunday of Advent), we should not be tired of this wonderful celebration before it arrives. O come, O come, Emmanuel!

Source: http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2017/11/30/faith-matters-spiritual-preparation-for-christmas