Friday, December 2, 2011

The Season of Advent - Fr.Jerry Fernandes s.j

The Season of Advent
The Latin word “Adventus” means “The Coming”. The Catholic liturgical year ends with the feast of Christ the King. And now the Church celebrates “Advent”, preparing herself for the coming of Jesus, that is, in a state of a “Grace of Waiting”. Very much like the Earth in winter longing for the arrival of Spring, we await our Savior. Advent is not a penitential season like Lent, it is more a happy and optimistic anticipation of the coming of Jesus in the world and in our hearts.
The origins of the season of advent began in the early church when Christmas and the feast of the Epiphany (3 Kings) were celebrated together.  In fact, in the early church, the feast of Epiphany (the Glorious Manifestation of God to the whole world symbolized in the 3 Kings) was more important then the feast of Christmas. Later for some centuries, the church kept advent on a fixed date, November 11th since it was also the feast St. Martin of Tours.  It is only recently about 1000 years ago that December became the season of Advent.
The liturgy of the Sundays in advent stress on different aspects of waiting for Christ and that is why the colours of the vestments keep changing from purple (a deep longing for the redeemer) to crimson rose (a symbol of strong hope like the early rays of the Sun at dawn) to white which is a time of grace to change one’s life and turn to God, the Light of the World. At this stage it is interesting to note that till December 16th the early church waited for the 2nd coming of Christ at the end of time. The final lap of waiting in advent is from December17th to 24th which is the last week preceding Christmas that the liturgy focuses on God coming in the form of flesh and blood through Jesus to enter human history.
But what does advent mean to us in our daily lives?  Advent is a time for cultivating and respecting the Sacrament of waiting.  Waiting is a common experience in life. We stand in queues and wait, we wait for a phone call from our loved ones, and we wait for the dawn to come after a cold, dark night. There is also a sense of certitude that even if the night is dark and lonely we are sure that the dawn will come.  And therefore with faith and hope we wait for the God of Love who rules our lives to bring a light at the end of our dark tunnels of our life experiences.

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