by Jay Chin
Four Sundays before December 25, the Church restarts its liturgical year with the season of Advent, when the faithful await the arrival of Immanuel, God with us, the Lord Jesus Christ. The priestly vestments change from green to purple, Christmas-related songs are sung, canned food and warm clothes are collected for the poor. All these things are meant to remind us of this season of joy and fraternity.
If one has attended a Sunday liturgy, one has surely heard a sermon saying that historically Jesus has already been born and has ascended and that what we truly strive for is for Him to be born
in our hearts once again. But Advent comes every single year, and we are supposed do this spiritual exercise every single year. What happens to the newborn Christ over the course of a year? Do we
forget Him? Or was He never really born?
The Church has provided us with the tools we need to prepare ourselves for this arrival. They are almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. Almsgiving reminds us of the material blessings God has granted us and how we are obliged to share those blessings with those that have not received them directly. In giving to those in need, we manifest God’s providential love, giving hope to those who are persecuted, suffer injustices, and struggle in their battles against temptation. Fasting is a more personal exercise. It mortifies the flesh. It is when one rejects the pleasures that one obtains in food and begs God for spiritual nourishment. When one fasts, when one’s stomach aches, one does not speak of the matter but instead remains silent. One tames the flesh and comes closer to the Mysteries of God, which nothing attached to this world can approach. Prayer aligns our souls with the Divine. There are Christmas novenas, special prayers for Adoration, and the Divine Office. Of paramount importance is reflection on one’s sinful life, confession, and reparations. Also indispensable is the Rosary, which, when we pray it faithfully, brings us closer to Mary, the God-Bearer, from whom Jesus was born. In the Rosary we contemplate the joys and sufferings of Mary and the glory of her Son, all culminating with Him assuming her into the Heavenly Kingdom.
Throughout the whole year, Christ must live in our hearts. He must grow, preach, die, rise, and ascend, and we must be witnesses to this. We must not return to our ordinary lives, but live with assumed hearts, living the Divine Mystery now and always and unto the ages of ages.