The season of Advent, which began yesterday, is a time of spiritual renewal – a chance to start again and to rediscover the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. Source: Melbourne Catholic.
Advent is not only one of the great seasons of the Church’s year; it’s the beginning of the new liturgical year, though maybe it doesn’t always feel that way. For some of us, perhaps, Advent is not a season we fully engage with. As the work year hurtles towards its conclusion and we get caught up in all the busyness, Advent tends to recede into the background.
But Advent is supposed to be a time of spiritual renewal: a chance to start again, to come home if we’ve drifted away, to rediscover the joy of knowing Jesus Christ. Jesus comes to make his home among us and within us. Advent offers us a chance to rediscover this.
So it’s worth spending some time thinking about what Advent is, why it exists and how we might enter into it more intentionally.
The word advent comes from the old Latin word adventus, which refers to an “arrival, an approach or a coming”. In the context of the leadup to Christmas, it refers to the coming of Christ.
Which coming though? Traditionally, as St Bernard of Clairvaux pointed out, there are three “comings” of Christ at the heart of Advent spirituality:
We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold … The first coming was in flesh and weakness, the middle coming is in spirit and power, and the final coming will be in glory and majesty.
During Advent, as we remember the first coming of Christ in the Incarnation, we enter into the experience of Old Testament Israel, recalling the many years of waiting for the Messiah, and the fulfilment of their hopes in the little baby in Nazareth.
We also look ahead to the final coming of Christ “in glory and majesty”, anticipating the transfiguration of all creation in Christ, the Last Judgment and the joy of heaven.
What St Bernard refers to as the “middle coming” is Christ’s coming here and now, especially through the sacrament of the Eucharist.
So while Advent was inspired by Lent, its spirituality is quite different. There is a sense of both waiting and preparation, ideas that are both captured in the concept of anticipation.
In Advent, this anticipation means to actively prepare our home in the knowledge that Christ approaches.
Advent: a guide for the perplexed (Melbourne Catholic)