Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church. The name comes from the Latin work “Adventus” which means “coming,” it’s meant to be a season marked by preparation and anticipation for Christ’s coming celebrated in the Christmas season. Advent is a season of preparation much like Lent is a season of preparation. The best ways to do this are through prayer, fasting, and Confession.

Prayer and fasting help us to unite our hearts to God. Prayer re-establishes and deepens the relationship we have with God by relating our hearts to Him. During these four weeks, adding a practice of prayer to your daily or weekly routine would be an excellent way to enter this season of preparation. Perhaps you could pray with scripture each day (the Hallow app is a great resource for this), or you could visit the church during the week to pray in adoration. Other than prayer, fasting is one of the other excellent tools in the spiritual life for uniting our hearts for God. Fasting involves an offering up of some comfort to God with the intension of using it to unite ourselves to Him. Fasting can be as simple as not adding salt to our dinner, or it could be as intense as having a cold shower each morning.

Beyond anything else, the best way that you can prepare yourself for Christ’s coming is by going to confession during the four weeks of Advent. Whether you went to confession last month or haven’t been in years consider this… What would be a better way to prepare yourself for the coming of Christ than by freeing yourself from anything that holds you back from Him? Confession is the most significant way to prepare your heart for God. So, in this season when the Church asks us to prepare for the coming Savior, I invite you, come to the Sacrament of Christ’s Mercy. How awesome would it be if the confessional lines were so long that Fr. Friedel would have to stay for over time to hear all the confessions!

            Beyond personal preparations, Advent is also meant to draw us together into a heartfelt sense of anticipation. The anticipation we are meant to share is the same anticipation that the ancient Israelites had for the coming of Christ. This is because the Messiah that the Israelites longed for, is the same Messiah that we Christians are longing for in this season.

            It can be difficult for us to truly realize a deep sense of anticipation and longing for the coming of Christ like the Israelites had. For us the coming of the Messiah is a historical reality, Jesus has already come and because of this we can, sometimes, develop an almost casual familiarity with the Messiah. But this was not the case for ancient Israel. The Messiah was someone they longed for, and that they had been longing for throughout their existence.

At their foundation as the people chosen by God, Israel was enslaved in Egypt and then they needed to be led to the Promised Land. It was only through the prophet Moses that Israel was set free and formed into God’s chosen people. But even Moses was only an image of the true savior of Israel who would come to deliver them from every evil and bring them to their Heavenly homeland.

            While in the promised land, Israel prayed that God would send them saviors to protect them from the attacks of neighboring countries, these were called “the Judges.” These Judges –figures such as Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, and Samson– freed the country from their enemies, and they ruled over them until the end of their lives. But no matter how strong and just these judges were, none of them could free God’s people from the power of the enemy like the Lion of Judah, the true Savior of Israel would.

            Throughout the lineage of Israel’s Kings –Saul, David, Solomon, etc.– there were many kings who ruled with wisdom, great wealth, and glory. But even Solomon in all his glory was never adorned with wisdom and honor like the Anointed One of God, the ultimate King of Israel.

            Even the Law of Moses and the prophets could not reveal God fully to the people of Israel. They were still held back from Him through sin and the burden of the Law. Only in Jesus, God incarnate, could Israel truly encounter and know God.

            In all these examples (for more details read the Old Testament), we see that Israel’s anticipation for the coming Messiah was more than just a passing hope or something that would be nice if it happened. No, the Messiah was everything to the faithful people of God. This long anticipation is why on Pentecost so many people converted to become disciples of Christ. Because deep in the heart of every faithful Israelite was the prayer “Come Emmanuel… Come O Leader of Israel… Come O Radiant Dawn, come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

            The Church too shares this anticipation for Christ’s coming. This is why we are supposed to prepare our hearts through prayer, fasting, and confession. It’s why the priest wears purple and Rose –to remind us of what season we are in. It’s why in the final days of Advent we echo the “O Antiphons” from our ancestors in the faith, because we too long for the coming of Christ. Because Jesus Christ is “Emmanuel” –“God with us.”

God bless,

-Ryan 

Scroll to Top