There is something wonderfully accessible about Advent.
Perhaps part of it is the long lack of focus that tends to obtain during Ordinary Time. That is certainly true for me, wherefore I have been looking forward to the season for quite some time. But I think that mostly Advent is accessible for much the same reason that Dante's Purgatorio is the most accessible part of the Divine Comedy- it's where we are.
Who is not acquainted with longing? Who does not know the desire for something just out of reach? Who has not felt the thrill and sweet pain of awaiting something promised but not yet received? The spring in the step as one embarks upon a long journey, the accelerated heartbeat as the plane takes off on its way to a foreign country, the joy of anticipated reunion- sehnsucht is part of the universal human experience. "How long, O Lord?", we ask in eager anticipation.
Or it can have its darker side. Orwell speaks in 1984 of the way in which pain drives out principles until all one desires is simply for it to stop. Many of us, young, affluent and comfortable, are insulated from such an experience, but myriad others are not. Persecutions and injustices and bloodshed go on, and those in the middle of them cry out, "How long, O Lord?" in agony and desperation.
Advent is where all of us are. If we allow ourselves to be free of our distractions long enough (or even, sometimes, if we don't) we are aware that all is not right in the cosmos. There is a lack. There are problems. There are atrocities and petty selfishnesses and parasitic wasps. We know within ourselves that the world is not the way it is supposed to be. Much closer to home, we know that we are not as we are supposed to be. At a most basic human level, we sense our alienation and dislocation.
Some of us know that that for which we long, that for which we hope, is Christ. He Who will put all to rights, the universe's rightful sovereign, is coming. We try to strengthen in ourselves the desire for Him. He, cure of our miseries, better than our hopes, will not delay.
He came once before, and we know His face. We had the opportunity to get to know Him. And He has left behind Him, for our sake, the Church which bears witness to Him, and the Spirit through Whom it speaks and which sanctifies its members.
But He has not come back yet.
And so we Christians wait, knowing Him for Whom we wait. Knowing Him, Who brings into focus our hopes, desires and longings, our distresses, difficulties and failures, knowing that He will fulfill them all and bring them to their predestined end.
Know the truth and the truth will make you … an idolator? - My friend Fr Gerald Murray has a very good essay at The Catholic Thing. He posted it a couple days ago, so you may already have seen it. It deserves some...
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