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Advent: The Coming of the Lord

December 5, AD 2016 1 Comment

Mary's Ultrasound

Happy New Liturgical Year! With the First Sunday of Advent came a new year in the Catholic Church. Advent is an important time of spiritual preparation for Christmas. Just as we prepare for the glorious joy of Easter with Lenten fasting and penance, so do we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ with the quiet contemplation of Advent.

“Advent” is derived from the Latin ad venio, “to come”. This liturgical season anticipates the Adventus Domini, the coming of the Lord. The sublime secret is that Christ is already here: He has been present in Mary’s womb since the Annunciation on 25 March.

Pope Benedict XVI taught us in his book Dogma and Preaching:

“Advent” does not mean “expectation,” as some may think. It is a translation of the Greek word parousia which means “presence” or, more accurately, “arrival,”, i.e., the beginning of a presence. In antiquity the word was a technical term for the presence of a king or ruler and also for the god being worshipped, who bestows his parousia on his devotees for a time.

“Advent,” then, means a presence begun, the presence being that of God. Advent reminds us, therefore, of two things: first, that God’s presence in the world has already begun, that He is present though in a hidden manner; second, that His presence has only begun and is not yet full and complete, that it is in a state of development, of becoming and progressing toward its full form.

His presence has already begun, and we, the faithful, are the ones through whom He wishes to be present in the world. Through our faith, hope, and love He wants his light to shine over and over again in the night of the world.

That night is “today” whenever the “Word” becomes “flesh” or genuine human reality. The Christ child comes in a real sense whenever human beings act out of authentic love for the Lord.

A beautiful Advent prayer is the St. Andrew Christmas Novena, which encapsulates a deep longing for God’s arrival in the dark night of a world in need of a Savior, a world hungering for Love. This Advent, let us be open to God’s quiet presence amidst the hustle and bustle of life, making room for Him to be born in our hearts so that we may bear Him to every person we meet, irradiating their lives with joy.

St Andrew Xmas novena

In many people Christ lives the life of the Host. Our life is a sacramental life.

This Host life is like the Advent life, like the life of the Child in the womb, the Child in the swaddling bands, the Christ in the tomb. It is a life of dependence upon creatures, of silence and secrecy, of hidden light.

— Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

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Images: National Catholic RegisterYoung and Catholic.

About the Author:

Jean Elizabeth Seah is a 28-year-old law and liberal arts graduate. She has had several adventures with Our Lord and Our Lady, including running away to join a convent after law school. The journey is tough and the path ahead is foggy, but she knows that as long as you hold firmly onto Our Lady’s hand, you’ll make it through! She blogs at http://signum-crucis.tumblr.com/ and http://allthingscatholic.tumblr.com/.
  • Dhaniele

    Your article brings to mind a very specific prophesy in the Bible that refers to the topic you raise (the idea of advent as a presence of the Lord). The passage I am referring to regards a “coming” of Christ which is spoken of by St. Paul that is clearly not his final coming (i.e. the last judgment). Nevertheless, given the content of the prophecy, it is an event of enormous significance in world history. This one is basically ignored even in the liturgical readings (the passage is not in the lectionary). St. Paul, just after calming his readers about any need to worry that the “day of the Lord is at hand” (2 Thess 2:2), helpfully goes on to give the signs to know when this event would take place. None of this is included in the reading (31st Sunday of Ordinary Time in year c). However, in the Bible reading, the signs of his “advent” are rather detailed. It speaks first of all a mass “apostasy” (i.e., loss of faith, apostasia in the original Greek) and the revelation of the “lawless one” who “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god and object of worship … claiming that he is a god [the rise of contemporary atheism and nihilism].” “And now you know what is restraining [the papacy], that he may be revealed … whom the Lord will kill with the breath of his mouth [i.e. the Holy Spirit] by the manifestation of his coming” (2 Thess 2: 3-8). By the way, all of his sounds like the Fatima prophesy [Russia will be converted and my Immaculate Heart will triumph and a time of peace will be given to the world, etc.]. Interestingly, 2017 will be the first centenary of the Fatima apparitions and Pope Francis has declared that it was his desire that his pontificate be particularly under the patronage of Our Lady of Fatima – he is even planning a pilgrimage. Seriously, how could God grant a time of peace to the world without a special action of the Holy Spirit as predicted by St. Paul or “another Pentecost” as Pope John XXIII prayed for at the time of the Council? Mary asked at Farima for the rosary to be recited daily. Isn’t it time we listened to her?