Advent: Know and Pray
The first Sunday of Advent always accompanies St. Andrew’s Day. Isn’t it fitting that the first apostle, who led his brother St. Peter to follow Jesus, would lead the Church to the opening of Advent each year? I find it so. In honor of St. Andrew, I give you a painting by Ottavio Vannini and a sculpture by François Duquesnoy; one work of art for each pivotal moment of his life.
Advent is a time of anticipation for Christ’s birth in the season leading up to Christmas. But that is only part of it. The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, which means “coming.” In the Greek translation, it is parousia. During the 4th and 5th centuries, Advent was a season of ‘preparation’ for the baptism of new Christians at the January feast of Epiphany: the celebration of God’s Incarnation represented by the visit of the Magi to baby Jesus (Matthew 2:1), His baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist (John 1:29), and His first miracle at Cana (John 2:1).
During this season of preparation, Christians, anticipating Baptism, would spend 40 days in penance, prayer, and fasting. By the 6th century, however, Advent was no longer simply a time of preparation for Baptism by a few; it was a time to anticipate the Birth of Christ for all. But the “coming” they had in mind was not Christ’s first coming, but His second coming as the Judge of the world! It was not until the Middle Ages when the Advent season was explicitly linked to Christ’s first coming … Christ-mas.
This year, as you anticipate the Birth of Christ and His second coming, add extra prayer time to your day as an anticipatory gift for the new-born King. Following are a few prayers, I hope you will clip and keep close at hand in this busy season.
God of Love,
Your son, Jesus, is your greatest gift to us.
He is a sign of your love.
Help us walk in that love during the weeks of Advent,
As we wait and prepare for his coming.
We pray in the name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen.
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!'
Amen. - Henri J.M. Nouwen
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a wonder at the wisdom and power of Your Father and ours. Receive my prayer as part of my service of the Lord who enlists me in God's own work for justice.
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a hunger for peace: peace in the world, peace in my home, peace in myself.
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me a joy responsive to the Father's joy. I seek His will so I can serve with gladness, singing and love.
Come, long-expected Jesus. Excite in me the joy and love and peace it is right to bring to the manger of my Lord. Raise in me, too, sober reverence for the God who acted there, hearty gratitude for the life begun there, and spirited resolution to serve the Father and Son.
I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, whose advent I hail. Amen.
Peace to you in Christ,
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Father Bill Burk†