Getting Ready

Source: torontostar

There is something about the season of Advent that draws me into a holy waiting. I vibrate with an awareness of a dark and broken world, so in need of light, and love, and peace, and new life. Who other than the infant Jesus can give us those gifts?

It seems like Almighty God is requesting the honor of my presence at the birthday of his Son. I accept the invitation to be alert, and so prepare to receive Jesus, and the gifts he brings.

This year however, there is a very different waiting – the hope that the Covid-19 pandemic will soon be over, or at least a good vaccine is available to protect us from the deadly virus.

As I get in touch with my longing for deeper meaning in my life, I remember that all of the Advent people were waiting – Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, and even Simeon and Anna.

Henri Nouwen eloquently said, “the spirituality of waiting is not simply our waiting for God. It is also participating in God’s own waiting for us, and in that way coming to share in the deepest love, which is God’s love.”

I realize that Mary is an essential part of the story, because if there was no Virgin Mary, then there would be no Incarnation, and obviously no Advent. She pondered quietly the many questions that surfaced, and is a role model of a handmaid of the Lord.

When the angel Gabriel delivered his message, God waited for Mary’s YES. Her reply wasn’t a passive act of obedience, rather a courageous step in faith, as the Holy Spirit impregnated her with the Word of God.

I find myself walking with Mary in this unusual Advent. Prior to the Annunciation, Mary was set to marry Joseph and raise a family. God’s plan threw hers out, and instead of panicking, and resenting her unusual situation, she trusted God, and willingly surrendered herself with the words, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

At the start of the pandemic, I was initially upset like many of us, until I learned to adapt to the changes, and adopt another way of praying. “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything” has become my constant prayer, especially this Advent, as I follow the contemplative Mother of God, and my mother too.

It is customary for us to have an Advent Taize prayer service when we sit in a candle lit church, sing Taize music, read Scripture, and listen in silence to the Lord.

St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Jesus is always waiting for us in silence. In that silence he will listen to us, there he will speak to our soul, and there we will hear his voice.” Waiting and praying in Advent silence will better prepare us for the birthday of the King.

Over the years I have enjoyed singing Advent and Christmas music with various choirs. The Coronavirus has forced us to hit the pause button, since no choir singing is allowed.

As I set up the Advent wreath with four candles and contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation, I find myself singing familiar tunes. Placing the first purple candle in its slot, I sing the plaintive “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” remembering that this is called the “Prophet’s Candle” symbolizing Hope, for Isaiah waited in hope for the Messiah’s arrival.

“O Come, Divine Messiah” springs forth as the second purple candle slips into place. It is called “Bethlehem’s Candle” representing Faith. The prophet Micah foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The music beat quickens with “We are waiting, for the Lord is near” as the rose-colored candle of Joy called the “Shepherd’s Candle” reminds me of the angels’ message tothe shepherds, that Jesus came from humble people like them.

By now I am lifted in anticipation with the song “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King,” for the third purple candle called the “Angel’s Candle” represents the Peace that Jesus brings.

Getting ready in this short liturgical season, means to skip what distracts us, and savor each sweet moment of faith building, for we are called to prepare the way of the Lord. May we allow the many themes of Advent – repentance, hope, promise, joy, expectancy, and waiting, expand us, so that we make a home in our hearts for the infant Jesus.

Imitating Mary, I prayerfully ponder some of the promises Jesus has made to us: his grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 12:9), to be with us till the end of time (Matthew 28:20), and to hold us in the palm of his hand (John 10:28). I nod in agreement with Bishop Robert Barron that, “there’s a permanent Advent quality to Christian life. We wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior.”

Viola Athaide, a student of Theology, is actively involved in parish life, leading Bible courses, the Prayer Group, and the Ministry with Maturing Adults.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 02:00h, 07 December Reply

    Thank you Viola!

  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 02:42h, 07 December Reply

    An inspiring reminder of the deep meaning behind Advent, brimming with promise and expectation!

  • graeme quinlan
    Posted at 05:17h, 07 December Reply

    Yes without a doubt this year has presented us with a whole lot of different situations and confrontations in our lives. We have had to adapt to so many restrictions, limitations, conditions ,that have come to govern the way we have been able to live and move, But I believe that we have managed to handle all of these things. We, I believe, have grown to be a stronger more resillient people. We have come to know that we are not alone , that the God of Love is with us and will never abandon us. I alway’s take the experience of Mary who trusted in the Divine intervention of God in her life, to guide her life and the outcome for all of mankind. Yes Emanuel is with us and will always be with us. We are not alone. God Loves us and will never leave us. We are so Loved.

  • Lorraine Majcen
    Posted at 09:01h, 07 December Reply

    Thank you Viola, for your rich message of Advent, during these different and difficult times, that we are facing. We can only experience peace, as we contemplate God in our silence and our surrender, as you so aptly mentioned.
    Oh God thy will be done.

  • Catherine von Zuben
    Posted at 12:01h, 07 December Reply

    Thank you, Viola, for this very beautiful reflection. What a lovely gift as we begin this 2nd week of Advent. I love that you reminded us of Henri Nouwen’s spirituality of waiting with reference to God also waiting for us.
    Church choirs have been silenced throughout the world and how difficult this is for you and all choir members as we walk through Advent longing for the return of choir practice and the beautiful harmonies of our beloved Christmas hymns. Let us in the style of Taize chant,”Wait for the Lord, whose day is near. Wait for the Lord: be strong, take heart.”

  • Edlyn de Souza
    Posted at 17:25h, 07 December Reply

    Thanks Viola.

    You have covered our MARANATHA for every week of Advent. Yes, the prayersongs are so beautiful and appropriate. Others are

    God Bless

  • Ana Maria Rodriguez
    Posted at 17:51h, 07 December Reply

    I felt the fresh air of a waiting for our saviour to be born when reading your poem Viola. Bravo!!!!! You transmitted us the message beautifully!!!! It gave us the motivation to wait without hesitation!!!
    Mother Mary was an example for Jesus too!!!! She also deserves our effort in following her virtues!!!!
    We are sooooo lucky to have their example!!!!
    Let’s Be courageous and keep it up!!!!

  • Fay Vaz
    Posted at 00:11h, 08 December Reply

    Thank You Viola for taking us through Advent so very well narrated
    as we await the coming of our Lord – what a different way to celebrate Christmas, one we will never forget.

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 00:52h, 08 December Reply

    “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King ..”

    Thank you Viola for sharing your experience and feelings so truefully. To us, Advent is always a season of hope, joy and love.

    Happy Advent !

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 00:56h, 08 December Reply

    “Soon and very soon, we are going to see the King ..”

    Thank you Viola for sharing your experience and feelings so truefully. To us, Advent is always a season of hope, joy and love.

    Happy Advent !

  • Doreen Pinto
    Posted at 08:46h, 08 December Reply

    Beautiful reflection Viola. One can only read it and be silent. Thank you. God Bless.

  • Susana P Que
    Posted at 10:00h, 08 December Reply

    Thank you Viola for this beautiful article, very aptly in this day of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception…I missed our Taize celebration… truly, God is with us all the time. He gives us faith and hope that this present pandemic will end, it will and we believe and trust in our Lord’s promise. God bless.

  • Rosa Scarpino
    Posted at 18:37h, 08 December Reply

    I’m grateful for this beautiful reflection on Advent. During these difficult times we have the opportunity to come closer to our Lord and wait with expectation for His coming. Thank you Viola a may God continue to bless you.

  • Tonis
    Posted at 16:20h, 09 December Reply

    Thank you Viola, what a thought provoking poem, thank you for sharing, we will all have time to reflect this year on what the season is actually for “he is the reason for the season” many blessings to all and may God protect all of us, silvia and tonis.

  • Bad boy
    Posted at 19:28h, 09 December Reply

    Viola, I wish that I could train my thoughts along the lines of yours. All that I find myself thinking about is rum-soaked plum cake, sorpotel, kal kals, neuris, almond, vanilla and chocolate fudge, shortbread cookies and all the other goodies that baby Jesus brings me to celebrate his birthday!

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