Sunset comes upon us; and with it, the beginning of a new liturgical year. As the Northern Hemisphere plunges headlong into longer stretches of darkness, humanity seems to take up the battle to bring more light into the world. As I made reference in my first Christmas Eve Reflection, this annual skirmish is a reminder of our fallen nature and the need for redemption.
Plenty of people have completed decorating for Christmas already, while others are still working on it. All the external trappings are welcome, but we as Christians enter a time for interior preparation. While we wait in darkness, we prepare for Light. While we still see lots of green (and red and other colors), purple is the primary color for the next "four" weeks.
We have entered the season of Advent. A time of waiting, of anticipation, of longing, of hope. The focus is on the two arrivals of Jesus Christ: recalling His first appearance on earth and leading up to His second. We know not the day of the latter, but the former has been fixed for quite a while. Now the People of God begin their annual journey toward Bethlehem with prayer and reflection, fasting (for we are readying ourselves for a feast), and counting down the time when the Blessed Virgin Mary's confinement will be complete and the beginning of the end of the salvation promised to us will commence.
Prepare the Advent wreath.
Prepare the creche.
Prepare the gifts.
Prepare the tree.
Prepare the food.
But most of all, prepare your hearts.
"Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight His paths."