Advent – The Season of Anticipation
By Caoimhe Ní Chathail
As the first purple candle is lit and the month of December dawns, I can’t help but reflect on the weeks ahead. Advent is most definitely one of my favourite times of year. I have always loved the season, the season of waiting.
For me, Advent allows me to register the true meaning of Christmas. We may be surrounded by a commercialised Christmas-which I of course enjoy-but my daily episodes of prayer and the lighting of each Sunday’s candle provide deeper meaning. Because of this, my experience of Christmas is heightened I believe. Behind every present, every carol and every moment shared with family, there is a sense of God’s presence.
Adventus or ‘coming’ in English lends itself to this idea of anticipating the arrival of something. In my own heart and home, this is very much the baby Jesus. I have always been surrounded by a strong sense of faith in my family and have carried this faith with me as I near the end of my teenage years. Faith is an extremely important element of my life; one which guides, consoles and enriches.
Advent allows for this time of reflection. The central theme of Advent is that of hope. How anything but positives can be attributed to these weeks ahead baffles me. The very lighting of the first candle and each other candle is symbolic of hope as each new flame welcomes new words of scripture and an increasing sense of excitement.
The first Sunday’s readings clearly implore us to wake up and pay attention. This call at the beginning of Advent is a call for the remainder of the season. To wake up, question, explore and anticipate. In the world of today, a world filled with a determination to access everything in a quicker and easier manner, this waiting is a novelty. Our world is one which is being made increasingly accessible and fast paced. Advent’s journey to Christmas however, is one which is to be taken slowly. Each day has new thoughts to ponder and a sense that we will reach our destination only when the time is right.
There’s never a football final without qualifying rounds, there’s never a marathon run without serious training and there’s never a play performed without hours of rehearsal. Advent is our chance to qualify, to train and to rehearse.
The end result in this case, is of course Christmas. Christmas with faith means it’s not just ‘Christmas’ we’re celebrating, but the birth of Jesus. Without my faith, I think I would feel as if I was celebrating just for the sake of celebrating. After weeks of anticipation, the destination of the journey undertaken is one which doesn’t begin and finish in one day but is celebrated for the 12 days of Christmas. Without this prolonged celebration, there would only be one day of celebration, which would quite frankly be a complete anti-climax.