With all the hubbub of the Thanksgiving holiday and getting ready for Christmas, we can easily lose sight of the true spirit of Advent.
The Church gives us this time, calling us to set it aside to prepare in a spirit of repentance for the celebration of the incarnation again at Christmas. The purple vestments and altar cloths usually make us think of the season of Lent with its exhortation to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. I daresay, the violet hues of Advent do not invoke the same reaction. The Advent season, however, is no different from Lent. In both seasons we prepare to mark again the most awesome of events in human history. It is only our culture that diverts our focus as the great feast approaches. We, as Catholics, must battle the cultural tide and fight to follow the lead of the Church during this season.
Praying the new translation of the Penitential Rite, the Confiteor, at Mass this past Sunday provided me with a springboard for embracing this concept. We pray:
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done
and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault,
through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
And there it is: I have greatly sinned, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Yeah, it is my sin through my fault. No one else’s.
Therefore, I issue an Advent call to action. Before the season progresses too much, set aside some time to talk to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you one area of sin that most needs redemption. Then make it your Advent focus to grow in virtue to replace the sin, praying at the beginning of the day and throughout the day, “Holy Spirit, strengthen me in virtue (name the virtue) against my sin (name the sin), for I have greatly sinned through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Oh, Lord, have mercy, and make me whole.”
If we focus on one area, odds are we’ll make progress in spite of the world around us. Then when the great feast arrives, we will be transformed.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! Anne