Is the Advent morning and somewhere – in Italy? Or maybe in Poland? Maybe in Mexico? Somewhere where faith is alive, praying people enter dark churches, holding lamps in their hands. The flickering lights of hope and devotion symbolize the owner’s desire: “Marana tha …” Come, Lord Jesus … “Adveniat regnum tuum Domine” – let Your Kingdom finally come!
Where lives Advent?
Where can one find that spirit of anticipation, this living awareness of the miraculous waiting Miracle? Children have them, if we allow them to focus on Jesus and do not kill their hot love of hearts with materialism and madness of “Christmas presents”.
Advent lives in monasteries around the world, in large and small churches, in some – though not in all Catholic schools, among members of religious movements, certainly … In some families, an Advent wreath was set on the dining room table. the first of four candles is lit today.
True advent requires slowing down, leaving the world and entering the desert, devoting more time to prayer and meditation, putting aside all the passing, transient things. Ideally, we should wait for Jesus with Mary, his Mother – focused on the Mystery of Salvation. I am sure that many Christians do it year after year, growing in the wisdom of the heart.Like many probably not.
Love is not loved
Some, though baptized, fell away from the Church and lost their sense of Tradition. They do not even bypass Advent. Most do not even know that there is such a thing. They may miss Christmas tree lights on a house, a tree or gifts, or a Christmas dinner – but not the Mystery of Advent. Therefore, in most Western countries, Christmas trees and decorations grow shortly after the beginning of November and are removed just after the New Year. Millions and millions of God’s children are unaware that he really was born. Love is not loved. The most important Births are not expected.
There are also those who know what Advent really means and live every year in perpetual wine, because – for various reasons – they rush through these December weeks, as if God did not come to Bethlehem. Still, they have a call to the Desert and at least they miss it.
There are many of us who would like to “go deeper”, but have somehow spent their lives stepping on shallow waters. They would like to sit in a quiet church bench, in the hands of Advent lanterns and immerse themselves in the prayer and the miracle of God, becoming a Child – but they can not do it. They look at the Desert with longing – and yet it is so far away …
Among them are often mothers of small children. For years, sleep deprived people have been lucky to pray for our Lord’s Prayer “in one piece” and often spend their Sunday masses chasing their living offspring. I was one of them.
Then come the families of people who are seriously ill or disabled – they are lucky if they can spend one night or part of the day for themselves and relax a bit. Their Advent meditation?
Soldiers and services of all kinds, all who work on night shifts – their task is the desert.
To be mystic
I remember talking to an elderly lady cleaning lady. Widow, she worked at night to feed three children. Always praying, she used to pray the rosary during her lunch break in the north. Once, in Advent, she fell asleep sitting on a chair in the dining room – and she had a dream. She saw Jesus in her, who approached her and smiled at her with such incredible love and tenderness that she never forgot about her. Years passed, all of them full of hard physical work – and this one memory kept her happy. Who said factory workers and janitors can not be mystics? Advent can happen anywhere …
I hope that this will also happen to overworked members of the teaching professions who – at precisely this time of year – designate countless exams and submit the next semester courses of the course, pushed and drawn according to deadlines. And also students who must take exams – also in Advent.
If we can not or do not want to come to the desert, the Desert comes to us as long as we want and ask for it and we want it more than anything else…
Maria Kozakiewicz, Edmonton