As we enter this season of Advent, I like to help people realize how this is such a wonderful, amazing, and joyful time that we are entering into. I am going to talk about Advent and use Advent as an acronym, so I am going to give you a word for each letter of Advent and then enter deeply into this mystery.
First of all, A. A is for Advent. What does Advent mean? Advent actually comes from Latin. The etymology of Advent is “ad,” which means to, and “venir,” which means come. Advent means to come. The idea of Advent is that we are celebrating this reality that Christ is coming to us. There are three advents that the Church celebrates over all these millennia. The first Advent is his first coming. The first time that he came was 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. Before that, for thousands of years, the prophets proclaimed and prophesized that he would come. His first coming was in Bethlehem. And now, this Second Advent that we are in, the second epoch we are in, is also waiting for him to come again. We desire, and we long, and we yearn. We can’t wait for Christ to come again. Then, there is this third sense of Advent. We want him to come to us right now in our present moment and in our current state of life. We long for him to come. One of the things I like to ask people during this time of Advent is, “Do you really want him to come?” If you had a choice right now that his second coming could happen right now at this moment, would you want him to come? Would you ask for another couple of weeks? Are we longing and yearning for him to come to us right now at this moment in our present-day life.
The second letter is D. The word for D is dream. Advent is a time of dreaming or being aware of our dreams. Many of the things that happened during the first Advent were angels or messengers coming to people in dreams. Angels came to Joseph in a dream telling him that Mary would be pregnant, that they should not go back to Bethlehem and that they should go to Egypt. All these messengers came to Joseph in the form of a dream. So, for Advent, I invite you to pay attention to your dreams. God can come to us in our dreams and speak to us in our dreams. Not only at night, but also if we daydream during the day. If we think about God during the day and ponder him, he will often come to us in our dream. Pay attention to your dreams. There is a wonderful mystery on how God can come to us in that way.
V is for vigilant or to be vigil. The Church invites us to be vigil during Advent. What vigil means is to be awake all through the night. We are invited during Advent to spend some time being vigil. Consider spending time in darkness, in silence, in prayer. Be vigil and aware of what God is doing in our lives. It is also a time to be vigilant against sin or against anything that would keep us from realizing or recognizing God in our lives. I realize what I have been very vigilant with lately – trying not to get the virus. Think about how vigilant we are with washing and sanitizing our hands or staying six feet apart from people. Think about how vigilant we are with trying to practice all these things to keep the virus from us, but do we have that same vigilance when it comes to sin. Are we vigilant to try to not let any sin into our lives that would keep us from preparing our hearts to receive Christ? V is for vigil – be vigilant all through this season of Advent.
E is for entertain. That may seem like a weird word for Advent because usually for entertainment we think about checking out or entertaining bad thoughts. Here is the etymology of entertain. “Entre” means among and “tenir” is to hold. Entertain is to hold these beautiful thoughts in our minds and, as Mary did, in our hearts. Entertain during Advent is to hold Christ closely in our minds and in our hearts. Just like Mary carried Him in her womb, we also carry Him in our minds and in our hearts. Entertain Christ. Hold him in your mind and in your hearts.
N is for new. Realize that God is doing something new in you during this season of Advent.
He is bringing about a totally new way of life for you. Christ will come to you in a way he never has before. God is doing something new. So, celebrate and rejoice in the newness of Advent.
And, finally, T is for turn. Ultimately, as we hear in the Psalm today, “Lord, make us turn to you. Let us see your face that we may be saved.” Advent is a time of allowing God to turn us toward himself. It is a time to let God reorient us back to him. If we have been on a wrong path in our lives, this is the time to turn back to the Lord. One of the most beautiful ways of turning back to the Lord is the Sacrament of Confession. Advent is often a time when we celebrate the Sacrament more frequently, where we have it available for people. If you’ve been away from the Sacraments, if you haven’t been to confession in a while, this could be a wonderful way to turn back to him. Just like a potter is shaping and molding the clay, right now he is shaping and molding your life. Your life has probably turned and taken directions you have not intended, or planned or even understood, but realize that he is turning you. He is turning all of us towards him.
Let yourself enter deeply and profoundly into the season of Advent. Try to remember all of those acronyms from Advent and really let this be a time of retreat. Let it be a time of prayer. Let it be a time of wonder and awe. Let it be a time where Christ turns us towards him. Let it be a time of joyful anticipation and mystery. Let it ultimately be a time for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord this Christmas.