Advent gives us a perspective to look at life.
We can get caught up in the cares of life, the busyness, that prevents us seeing beyond the immediate. Advent takes us further than the immediate.
“Sometimes we get caught up in this world thinking this is all we have, we have to fight with one another for this, we have to grab this and hoard that,… our minds are so totally earth bound we lose perspective and we think everything we have here is so important,” said Chair of the Liturgical Commission Msgr Michael de Verteuil.
Advent reminds “who we are and what we were created for, the object of our lives [is] to live with God now and forever because that will happen when Christ comes again”. He urged the faithful to guard against their hearts becoming “coarsened by the cares of life”.
Msgr de Verteuil gave a presentation on ‘What is this season called Advent” on the Catholics Return programme aired on Trinity Television December 2012. He explained the reason for every season of the Church: Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter, is Jesus.
“We unfold all these mysteries of Christ in Ordinary Time as we listen to what God in Jesus Christ said and did,” Msgr de Verteuil said. It is not just a celebration of all the great acts of God in Jesus Christ but also remembering all that God has done. He added, “We are being formed and fashioned; our formation is continuing.”
Celebrating the Paschal mystery
The liturgical year starts with the season of Advent with the unfolding of the mystery of Christ’s coming again. He noted that each season in some way celebrates the Paschal mystery. Msgr de Verteuil stated Advent is “looking at the triumph of the Kingdom when Christ comes again, celebrates the fulfilment of this Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ, celebrates the fulfilment of what we celebrate at Easter”.
He referred to the Our Father prayer and the line “Your Kingdom come”. The Kingdom as shown in Genesis 2 is a place of peace and unity. He said human beings were created to share life with God. Jesus gave His life for the Kingdom and the assurance given that it will come about tells that history is not aimless. “We know that it is accomplished because we know as we celebrate the death and Resurrection of Jesus, as we celebrate the fact that the Lord will come again, we know history is going somewhere,” Msgr de Verteuil said.
Catholics are also reminded during Advent that life is not meaningless; it has purpose. As people of hope it is not wishful thinking to believe that God will one day bring everything to perfection.
“Advent is very much that period of hope,” he said. It is also a period of joy because God is in charge and one day the faithful will enjoy being with God living in the heavenly Jerusalem where there will be eternal happiness, no more tears, and no more death.
The two-fold character of Advent
The Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar states: “Advent has a twofold character, for it is a time of preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God to humanity is remembered, and likewise a time when, by remembrance of this, minds and hearts are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. For these two reasons, Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight.”
Msgr de Verteuil explained that from the first Sunday in Advent to December 16 the focus is on remembering Christ and His coming. “The first readings for the Sundays in Advent….deal with messianic prophecies, from the prophets, the prophecies they gave on what would happen when the messiah came”.
December 17 to December 24 is preparation to celebrate the first coming of Jesus.
“From the 17 December, all our prayers and readings change to looking at those events immediately before the birth of Jesus, the annunciation to Mary, the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptist,” Msgr de Verteuil said. It is time of preparation and reflection looking forward to celebrating Christmas.
“It is also a period of joy because we remember what we are going to celebrate, this tremendous time the Word becoming flesh for our sake …to reflecting joy, to reflecting gratitude, to reflecting repentance,” he said.