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[ad-ventnoun
  1. a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.
  2. ( usually initial capital letter ) the coming of Christ into the world.
  3. ( initial capital letter )  the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.
  4. ( usually initial capital letter ) Second Coming.
I will be the first to admit that my spiritual journey has stagnated significantly the past few months. Somehow in the rush and flurry of the past semester (and even summer), I lost the drive to really do more than follow the habits I’ve accumulated over my many years of Catholic/Sunday school. I’ve lapsed back into simply going through the motions. Maybe I’ll read a couple of passages from the Bible or glance at the daily verse on my phone, but I don’t absorb it. My reflections rarely scrape past the surface context of the reading.

The new liturgical year begins this weekend with the start of Advent. The first candle on the wreath is lit today at Mass, reminding us that Jesus is the light of the world, coming
to dispel the darkness to bring new life and hope for the new year. Each new flame lit over the course of Advent symbolizes more and more of the darkness of fear receding as His light is shed on the world.
  It marks the passage of time as we wait for the coming of Christ—both the anniversary of the first and the hope for the second. 

But beyond the countdown to Jesus’s coming, the candles mark our own progression as we spiritually ready ourselves to go to God as well. We have four weeks dedicated to becoming more spiritually aware, spiritually prepared, and spiritually able to move toward the table and partake in His perfection and holiness. Perhaps Advent is not nearly as “intense” as Lent, but it is still a time of reflection as the darkness of our fears and regrets of the past year is dispelled and cast away by the growing light.

Today at Mass, I really felt myself struggling to pay attention to the reading. I wavered between listening to God’s word and staring at the frayed ribbon on the little girl’s bow in front of me. But then a line from Isaiah prompted me to focus… 

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?

I have wandered far this year. And though it’s frustrating to think that my own free will and fault has led me away, it’s calming to think He is always there waiting. There will not always be “mountains quaking” and “awesome deeds… such as [we have] not heard of from old” that will jolt us back into line, but maybe there will little nudges, little pulls asking us to come back. Asking us to begin growing again. Asking us to learn more about ourselves and our relationship with God. 

The whole first reading today was ridiculously poignant and pertinent to where I am in my life right now. It’s kind of amazing how the little things in life work out. 

Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

So this season, I pray that I am ready for the new year. I pray that I allow myself to be molded into someone better. I pray that I move against my tendency toward complacency. I pray that I find in the emptiness and darkness of Advent room to be reborn, recreated, and renewed. I pray that I will look past the trivial cultural traditions of the season and find happiness in the quiet. I pray that you, dear friend, find the courage to change as we both struggle to prepare ourselves to come to the Lord, and that we find we have brought our best selves to His table.
The Meaning of Advent:
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