Opening Ourselves in Desire: Journeying in Advent Towards the Manger
And now we are in Advent, preparing for Christmas, our Lord’s coming. In the beginning, God created heaven and earth; He created us from nothing, by pure love, wanting us to have the joy of participating in His life. But mankind in Adam turned away from Him. God nevertheless did not abandon us. He sent His only son to save us, to bring us back to Himself. Christ came into our world to come back to the Father with us. He taught us the about the Father, about His love, about the great good to which He is calling us; He showed us what we would have to do to go back to the Father. He also, of course, opened the way to the Father by His Passion and Resurrection; and, lastly, He set up the Church and the sacraments to guide us and give us strength for the journey home.
For now, we are in preparation of the celebration of that great event, to be able to approach the manger and the crib as well as possible. As we pray in the second Sunday’s collect: “Stir up our hearts o Lord, to prepare the ways of thine only begotten Son that through his coming, we may be worthy to serve thee with purified minds.” He is coming to us, and we must greet Him. We must open ourselves up to His coming. As St. Augustine said, the soul advances not by physical feet, but by its desires. Our job is to desire Him, our Savior, the most beautiful of the sons of men.
Even though we are in the midst of so many activities in Advent, we must lift up our heart, our gaze. So, let’s not just let ourselves go dispersed on the surface in all directions according to various impressions and impulsions.
We need to realize as best we can who He is; the greatness, the beauty of the one who is coming. And then what He is coming to do for us. He is the Savior God and man, already linking us to the divinity. As St Athanasius said, and so many fathers after Him: “God became man in order to deify us in Himself.”
When we pray the Rosary, let’s particularly focus on this preparation. With Mary at the Annunciation we should adhere, rejoice in His coming; at the visitation think about the invisible presence of the one we want so much to see; at the nativity think of adoring Him at Bethlehem soon. For the luminous mysteries we can think of what He is going to do some day as He teaches and does miracles. And then the sorrowful mysteries teach us how much love is behind the Incarnation, and the glorious mysteries enable us to better to see His greatness, as He arises and sits on high on the Father’s throne. Let’s walk with Mary. She will teach us how to look toward Jesus, to desire His coming, to prepare our hearts for His presence.
A bit of pertinent reading would help immensely, of course, to nurture our thoughts. And then the liturgy is the great means, blessed by the Church, to help us lift up our gaze towards Christ’s mystery. It’s good to think about the different texts of the Masses of Advent.
Let’s use everything to help us aim at Christ. We should come already to a silent adoration of Him who is to come. Faith is a light that is seeking its adequate object. Scripture, Church teaching and the liturgy orientate faith and purify its aim, but the one we are waiting for is beyond them. They only point to Him. We have to learn to use them to get closer to Him.