Church Life,  Faith and Life

Beginning With O

It’s like the final step before something wonderful happens. The Advent season is moving forward, toward that moment for which we have patiently waited; just a little longer now.

Tomorrow, the special antiphons will commence, beginning with ‘O’, and these will announce to us that it is almost time. We will pray “O Wisdom.. O Adonai.. O Root of Jesse.. O Key of David.. O Dayspring.. O King of the Nations.. O Emmanuel”.

For me, this is the moment at which the real excitement begins to gather pace; up till this point, I know it is coming, but from now on, it is truly imminent and Christmas is just a breath away.

And that Christmas is not about the gifts or anything else – these do not interest me and have no meaning except in relation to this one thing. It’s all about that one thing, the coming of Christ, stepping into our humanity, touching it with His own divinity and sanctifying it. Redeeming it.

But the moment is not quite here yet.

There is still work to be done. It’s the work you do before welcoming a special guest into your home; you clean and make sure everything is ready, you do not simply sit and wait for that guest to knock upon the door. You prepare. And that is what this moment is – it is preparation for the arrival of that guest whom you cannot wait to see and to welcome.

The preparation is spiritual, of course, more than anything else.

The ‘home’ is the heart and it needs to be made ready, brushed out and swept clean, a fire lit there so the guest feels warmth and welcomed. The ‘door’ is the human will, which determines to open itself to that guest, to welcome him in, to lay out everything before him for his comfort and pleasure. And the ‘Guest’ is – of course – none other than Christ, coming to us as a little Child.

This preparation needs a little help as I cannot do it alone.

The first source of that help is in the Sacraments of the Church – and in this moment, particularly that of Reconciliation, so that my heart is purified for Him to enter there and wish to remain. My heart needs to be like that little crib – simple, empty of everything except the straw which gives Him warmth and comfort. And so the second source of help is His own Mother, the Blessed Virgin, who prepared that first crib so very exquisitely for Him in Bethlehem; I shall ask Her to do the same with my little heart in much the same way, and I am confident that She will do so.

I need to hurry now. There isn’t much time left till He arrives and there is still the sweeping and cleaning to be done.


A Catholic writer living in the United Kingdom

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