Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent, Part 2

Following up on the previous post:

1) You may need to refer to Haggai 2: 7 in addition to 2: 8, depending on your translation.

2) "Healthily Sanguine" asks in what way we are to understand Advent as penitential, since it is so joyful.  I would respond to this with an analogy.  Imagine being separated from someone you love dearly for a long time, especially someone for whom your love is 'romantic'.  As the separation drags out, we can often become careless about our affection for this person.  We might even start noticing other people.  Men 'let themselves go' a bit in these situations, for example: shave more infrequently, wear beat-up clothes and what not.

Now imagine that the person is returning.  We remember how much we love this person, and so we are filled with joy in anticipation of seeing his or her face, hearing that sweet voice again.  On the other hand, the expectation of his or her return focuses us on the ways in which we haven't been totally faithful to his or her memory, how we've let ourselves slide.  "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!"  We are joyful for the coming kingdom, but realize that we need to 'clean ourselves up' a bit to be truly ready in a display of love for Christ the King at his arrival.  I think, for example, of my grandmother, who took fifteen minutes in the afternoon everyday to put on makeup in anticipation of my grandfather's return from the paper mill where he worked. It is an extra effort to show appreciation for the person we love.

The many calls to readiness in Advent remind us that we often get sluggish waiting for Christ's return, and we must repent of the entanglements of life that distract us from watching.  So this calls for a kind of penitential attitude toward the slippage in our lives, but with the focus very much on the joy of the promise of the kingdom.

Tomorrow, another Advent antiphon that I hope you find interesting. 

Please, do send questions.  I am quite happy to try and answer them as I can!

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
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and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
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Origen of Alexandria
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