Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Triple A's of Advent

Father John J. Lombardi

Await And Anticipate- the Birth of Christ and His Second Coming

This is the funniest, and yet most stressful Time of Year. It is also one of busiest and joyful parts of our lives. And, too, it's probably the most materialistic and spiritual Season! So what is it all about? Following are some meditations and spiritual suggestions to celebrate Advent and Christmas…

  • Prepare for the Birthday of the Savior: In the Church's Liturgy during this holy Season Christ is to be "born again"-listen to the prayers "As we prepare for the coming birth of our Savior…"). Advent.--the Latin word, advenire, means "to come to"--is a time of preparation, especially thru prayer. Take ten minutes in the morning to talk too Mary and Joseph as they head toward Bethlehem to give us the Child-King. In one of the busiest times of the year, slow down and remove any sinful "old straw" from your heart and put in good straw of virtues for the Christ child to lay His head-in your inner manger-your soul. Some people in this world long for so many earthly things--frivolities-but we are called to long for the Messiah Jesus Christ.
  • Prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus: Our Church teaches that the second theme of Advent is that--Jesus will return in glory to judge the living and the dead: are you ready for Him? Meditate as Christians have for centuries on The Four Last Things to prepare: death (i.e., our time is limited on earth); Judgment (by our faith and deeds), Heaven (unending Paradise), and Hell (everlasting separation from God and friends). Remember as you await His Last Judgment and Second Coming: be prepared, not scared.
  • Practice Simplicity: Make a spring cleaning in your home-give away some possessions-esp. things you like, and possessions that have been there for a while. Buy less and give more. My brother, who is definitely living a simpler life without a lot of things and less money-- said recently so many people stress out over unnecessary things-like excess money, trying to get ahead, keeping up with hectic schedules--while neglecting essential things-family, friends and spiritual life. Simplify and focus this Holy Season.
  • Practice silence: Do not be afraid! Fast for a time from your cell phone, the radio and TV, your palm pilot, computer, iPod: silence is healing. Be with the pregnant Mother Mary in her last month before the birth and listen to Jesus about to come and make your own heart more fertile like the Virgin's.
  • Clean up Your Act: -that's one way to put it. Another is like the waste management company and dump trucks that advertise thru their big signs: "Got Junk? Dial 1-800…" Well, dial Jesus and dump your sins in the Divine Mercy through the Sacrament of reconciliation, Confession. Pride, anger, gluttony, sloth, lust and materialism are sins and tendencies to allow Him to free you from don't 'be a trash can corroded inside by sins. Rather, like the Virgin Mary become a tabernacle to hold Jesus pristinely within. Go to a priest and confess your sins and help yourself and others make the world a better place!
  • Do Good Works: Reid Seligman is a Catholic and was a Duke lacrosse falsely accused years ago with others of harming a lady. His name was only later cleared and after much sorrow--his reaction? He decided to become a lawyer and help others, esp. the poor and minorities, who are wrongly accused. He went and "walked the talk": He spent last summer on Ryker's Island (NY) in a jail, helping men who are in trouble and they wrongly accused. So, you too go out and help Jesus heal the world and plant good seeds in your heart.
  • Shop Simpler: Born to Shop? Well, then get some spiritual gifts (or make them) for others. Buy a Bible or rosary or beautiful icon-picture for another person and celebrate Christ in ChristMass (get it?!). Also: consider beautiful music like Gregorian Chant (an excellent CD is "Chant"-The Monks of Stift Heilgenkreuz Monastary-who made fame thru YouTube and the New York Times). Purchase one of Bach's Masses or Beethoven's ninth Symphony or Handel's Messiah. These are timeless, classic and spiritual works to uplift the soul and help prepare for Christ-Mass. These are gifts that will last and give a spiritual blast to your loved one
  • Make a retreat Day: Or a Half-day. Give yourself-and loved ones, a break. Get away for some time. You can't go three-sixty-five days a year and not take time for Jesus and your soul. This is the best time to do it. Now. Go to a retreat center or simply a place of peace and spend time in prayer, reflection, prayerful walking, learning from the simplicity of winter and waiting: Jesus and spring and New Life! We have a day retreat at our Grotto on Sat Dec 13, 10am-3pm: "Holiness or Hecticness: Praying in Advent". Join and remember the common and comical sense of the saying based upon Jesus: Come apart by yourselves so you don't come apart. (See Mk. 6:31).
  • Reconcile with Someone: Go to that person you've hurt, or who has hurt you and forgive, reconcile. You've been forgiven so give the gift to others. This healing of hearts and souls will be a great preparation for the Birth of the Healer of the World!
  • Read spiritually: the American author Henry Thoreau said, "Read not the times, read the eternities. "Do that by feeding your soul and spirit, body and mind with readings from the Bible--concentrate on the Infancy Narratives of Jesus in Saints Matthew and Luke's gospel-beginning chapters; or read the psalms. Look up the "O Antiphons (O Root of Jesse," "O Wisdom," "O Key of David," which depict the Coming Messiah and thus ferment your heart in holy-longing-desire for the Savior-Messiah.

Remember the Triple A's of Advent:

Await And Anticipate!

Advent-Christmas Gift: :Consider giving us A Pledge to the building of Our new Pilgrim Center which will welcome so many others to our Holy Mountain! In these difficult but also joyful times please help us provide adequate space and amenities for all pilgrims. Your gift-pledge can be paid over five years and you will, through it, become part of the beautiful Heritage of Mary's Mountain Grotto!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi