Every Advent we enter into the life of the Israelites who for centuries waited in great anticipation for the coming of the Messiah. Advent is a time to step back from the busyness of our lives and focus on what is most important - faith and family. The Advent wreath, the beautiful music, the rich liturgical prayers help create a deep desire to once again encounter our Savior.
Advent is fundamentally the season of desire, first of all of God’s desire for us and then of our desire for God. “We have come to know and believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn. 4:16). All other religions are man’s search for God. Catholicism is God’s search for man. We can neither understand nor celebrate the Advent mysteries in all their fullness, without this fundamental conviction. God desires your love.
Here are some ideas to help you cultivate your desire for God.
May God give each of us a deeper longing and desire to encounter His merciful love this Advent!
The question is: Is the humanity of our time still waiting for a Savior? One has the feeling that many consider God as foreign to their own interests. Apparently, they do not need him. They live as though he did not exist and, worse still, as though he were an “obstacle” to remove in order to fulfill themselves. Even among believers—we are sure of it—some let themselves be attracted by enticing dreams and distracted by misleading doctrines that suggest deceptive shortcuts to happiness. Yet, despite its contradictions, worries and tragedies, and perhaps precisely because of them, humanity today seeks a path of renewal, of salvation, it seeks a Savior and awaits, sometimes unconsciously, the coming of the Savior who renews the world and our life, the coming of Christ, the one true Redeemer of man and of the whole of man.
---Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience December 20, 2006
A few memories of waiting fill me with dread. Waiting in the DMV or at the Soggiorno office in Rome trying to sort out my visa when I studied there. I imagine all of us have those memories of wasted time waiting on things we would rather not be doing in the first place. This is not the waiting we are talking about in Advent, thankfully.
There are other memories of waiting that were exciting. The time I waited in the airport for a loved one to arrive home for Christmas. The morning I was waiting in excitement to be ordained a priest. This type of waiting in excitement is precisely the waiting of Advent. A waiting that creates in us excitement and longing. An active waiting of preparation for the good I desire. I spent years in preparation for the day of ordination preparing my heart and mind for the gift of the priesthood. In a similar way, we enter into a period of active waiting, a period of preparation for the greatest gift - Jesus.
Are we conscious our desire and need for a Savior? This Advent actively wait for the greatest gift you could ever imagine. Prepare your heart for Jesus' arrival for He is the gift you may not have known you need or want or desire. He is the balm for the ache of love and life that in the quiet of your life wells up from the very core of your heart.