Our Advent Journey - Preparing our Hearts and Lives for Christ
by Deacon Thomas Frankenfield
My heart is full of joy this evening as I write to you. I am an "Advent
person." I love Advent! It is not something I do alone, no it is a great
honor for me to journey together with all of you-the Catholic Christian
Community. From the marvelous liturgical opportunities building toward the
birth of Christ to being part of a people who focus on making life better
for others, I revel in every part of this experience. The holiness of the
season is summarized in, the ancient Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel"
which is based upon the seven Great "O" Antiphons. (These "O" Antiphons are
recited or sung before at Evening Prayer from December 17 through 23.)
The Spirituality of Waiting - O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive
Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here
The beginning of the hymn calls forth the emotions of a community yearning
for deliverance from the evils of the world. This desire was clearly
expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt crying in their severe oppression. In
many ways we are slaves today. We are Israel, needing ransom from a culture
that has our hearts and minds captured in its grasp. We are crying out for
deliverance from the problems of the world and our places amongst these
tribulations. As God has delivered people throughout human history, we hope
to be delivered in our time. We are a people of waiting and the Messiah is
The Lived Hope of Advent - until the Son of God appears.
One of the most splendid aspects of Advent is our living this atmosphere of
hope. We pilgrims journey together, not in fear but in the hope of God
deliverance. As we await the redemptive presence of a Messiah, we find time
to look anew our relationships at many levels: home, church and community.
The pain of daily life lessens with the thought that the Divine Creator will
send us healing to these areas of our lives. Our parish communities offer
the Sacrament of Reconciliation to clean our slates and return to a state of
Pope Benedict XVI often calls our Christian way of life, countercultural.
Our Advent life of hope is getting the chance to be countercultural in the
face of a society entrenched with a Christmas season of commercialism and
materialism. We are countercultural when we say "no" to greed and then
reflect on Gospels calling us to change. Together, we have the opportunity
to change our hearts and the real treasures in life; those given by Christ.
That is true hope!
A Time Of Joy Because Christ Is Coming - Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel, Shall
come to thee, O Israel!
These are times of joy my brothers and sisters, regardless of our individual
pain and suffering. We need to look beyond the evils of commercial
Christmas, to see the good amongst us. Symbols of our faith abound as
people freely adorn their properties with Nativity scenes, stars, and images
of Jesus. They may not be our preferred Advent-centered rituals but with
the eyes of hope and a loving heart, even a plastic blow-up baby Jesus can
become a point of light in a darkened world.
My brothers and sisters take my hand and walk with me on an Advent journey
to the Star of Bethlehem.
For Your Reflection
From a Ministry Perspective:
- In my ministry, how do I witness an Advent hope to those who struggle and are obvious examples of pain caused by our culture's sinful ways?
- In my personal relationship with God, what obstacles do I have to overcome to find the hope in Advent?
From a Family Perspective:
- In our Domestic Church, am I a witness of Advent hope to those whom I love?
- In our Domestic Church's as parent, sibling, widow or single, how can I assist those who struggle with the pain caused by our culture's sinful ways?
I would love your feedback, thoughts, stories and ideas. Please email me.
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