Growing Apologist

Becoming a Defender of Truth

The Meaning of Advent

Lëtzebuergesch: Adventskranz um drëtten Advent...

In the Catholic mass, Advent has been our focus ever since November 27th.  We have had bible readings and homilies, the churches are decked in with purple, and there’s a call to repentance and to “prepare a way for the Lord”.  But what does Advent really mean?

Here is a list outlining the different meanings of Advent.

  1. Dictionary.com defines advent as: “a coming into place, view, or being; arrival; the coming of Christ into the world; the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world; Second Coming”. [1]
  2. Most obviously it is the season of preparation for the anniversary of Christ’s birthday. We consider the annunciation by the angel Gabriel to Mary; Mary’s acceptance of the Lord’s will; the Holy Spirit preparing her womb to be immaculate to receive Christ; the birth of Jesus. [2]
  3. It is also the season of rigorous preparation for the Second Coming of Christ into the world. For this, we consider John the Baptist and his cry to make straight a path for the Lord; the Prophet Isaiah’s encouragement for all to be vigilant in prayer and to recognize the signs of the coming of Christ. [3] We should always be preparing for the Second Coming of Christ for we do not know the day or the hour of his coming; however, this is the season to renew the effort and refresh ourselves in the mysteries of our God.
  4. Lastly, it is the season of preparation for the “third” coming of Christ, namely the descent of the Holy Spirit and the dwelling of the Lord in our own flesh. [2]  Upon baptism (and confirmation for the Catholics), the Holy Spirit enters into us and lives with us.  Advent is the time of the year when we should slow down and consider our lives, how we have been living it with the Holy Spirit, and how we can do better.

When I read this list, my heart almost sunk to my stomach.  There is so much that we do during this season—Christmas shopping, parties, decorating, baking, big meals, and so forth—and yet according to the Church, this is a very important season of spiritual growth.  Advent is already half over.  If you are like me, the list above is daunting to add on top of everything else.

We must remember that we are still in the season, and there is still time to focus on what really matters.  Even if we just take a few minutes a day to read a little scripture, to say a quick prayer, or to listen to Advent music or lectures in the car.  It does not take much to re-focus our lives this season.  My next posts will cover the list above and easy ways to incorporate the meaning of Advent in our lives.

Remember:  Advent may be officially celebrated during these four weeks, but it really should be celebrated every day of our lives.  [3]

References

[1] Definition of Advent, Dictionary.com 
[2] See Advent’s Meaning Through Mary, Pope Benedict XVI, Catholic Culture 
[3] Our Whole Life Should Be An ‘Advent’, Pope John Paul II, Catholic Culture 

Additional Reading

Advent: The Divine Silence Broken by Bellaverita blog
Advent – Luke 1:47-55 Mary’s Magnificent Response by Praying the Lectionary blog
Devotions for Advent Week 3 Tuesday Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13 Matthew 11:1-6 by Broad Meadow blog
Considering Eternity by Mark Mathia blog

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Is Halloween Evil?

the celebration of All Hallows eve (oct 31), all saints day (Nov 1) and all souls day (nov 2)

It’s a tough question, one that I discovered to be a great debate in the Christian community.  When I started up my car yesterday (October 31st), Christmas music blasted out my radio.  The Christian station claimed that they were attempting to brighten my day and focus me on life instead of death on such a gloomy day.  I frowned.  Personally, I love Halloween.  It gives me a great excuse to carve pumpkins with my boyfriend, have a party with my friends, and see my excited nephews dressed in their skeleton and pirate costumes.  It did not seem like a gloomy day to me.

I suppose that the Christian radio was basing their claim on the fact that Halloween used to be the day that pagans thought the dead came back to haunt the people unless they lit their hearths with the new fire blessed by the druids [1].  However, in my opinion that doesn’t make Halloween inherently evil.  It is not as if the adults and children are worshiping the pagan gods by celebrating Halloween.

Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven 1428-3...

In Catholicism, today (November 1st) is called All Saints Day, a feast day where we celebrate the life and death of the many martyrs for Christ [1].  And this month in the Church Liturgical year is the last month before the start of the new year on November 27th [2].  We are called to remember the Saints and the people who have died, to think about our own death, consider how we can do better as Christians, and ponder upon the Second Coming of Christ [1].  As I researched this Catholic feast day, the history of Halloween (or All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of the celebration of hallowed or saintly people) came up often, and I began to wonder why the Christian radio feared to think about death.  Or why Christians in general feared Halloween, as if the devil himself would enter into anyone who celebrates this holiday.

Do we not have the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?  Do we not know where we are going when we die?  If we will be worshipping Jesus for all of eternity, then doesn’t that make death sacred and not something to be feared?  Is the devil more powerful than the God that dwells in and among us?

It seemed to me that the Christmas music blasting out of the Christian radio was equivalent to people sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling ‘la la la’ to the thought of death.  We Christians should always seek to sanctify life in honor of God, but like the many Saints martyred on this day, we must also remember that the grave holds no power over us and that we should not be afraid of that which Jesus won the Victory against.  I invite you my readers to explore the life and death of Christ, of the Saints who mirrored Him, to consider your own life, and think about the Second Coming of Christ this month as we prepare to celebrate Christmas.

Happy Saints day.

References

[1] Ordinary Time: October 31st, Catholic Culture

[2]  Advent Calendar, About.com on Catholicism

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