Finding Stillness this Advent

1 Dec
Advent Wreath

Advent Wreath

  The lead up to Christmas is here so it is time to get busy. You know what I am talking about: the shopping, Christmas carols from thanksgiving until the 25th, that annoying habit of people referring to Christmas trees as ‘holiday’ trees, etc. The way most people ‘celebrate’ Christmas is by shopping for a month and then having a one day gift giving extravaganza. I don’t object to all this (I like gifts) but something gets lost. What is missing? Well it has something to do with a forgotten season, Advent.

  You see Catholics don’t just live with your standard 12 month calendar; we have a liturgical year with its own calendar. This Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent and therefore the beginning of the Catholic New Year. And what is one supposed to do doing Advent? Wait. That is right: just wait.

Hang on a sec, waiting is boring, pointless, and passive. We all get stuck waiting in lines to buy gifts (10-15 minutes) to be x-rayed at the airport (an hour unless you are in the rich people line), to download the newest app (.2 seconds). I mean, we all read Oh the Places You’ll Go; the waiting place is the bad place. We are Americans, in the 21st century, during the “Holiday Season” (which holiday? No one knows.) There is no time for waiting, which is why I buy gifts while in line to buy gifts at the Mall of America using my newest app that took a long .2 seconds to download.

So why wait? John Milton once wondered about that as a young man trying to write poetry. And then he suddenly realized something “they also serve who stand and wait.” We think that we have to do everything, buy everything, go everywhere. But God invites us to realize, that our value isn’t in what we do but who we are, His beloved creation. He doesn’t need us to run around, the He wants to offer us peace and goodwill.

In Psalm 46, God tells us to “be still and know that I am God.” Advent is about living this gift of stillness and recognizing that it is God who makes all things possible. So what are we waiting for? For something that already happened, for something that happens, and for something that will happen. We wait to celebrate a baby being born to illiterate peasants in a dirty hovel. Why? Because that baby is the Prince of Peace (stillness) and his mother is the virgin mother of Emanuel (God with us) and his father is Joseph (the righteous man) and because that donkey and cow look so cute in my Mom’s crèche. We wait in stillness now because Jesus was not born once but is born in our hearts when we make room for Him. What does this room look like: a still waiting. And what is going to happen? In the fullness of time, Jesus will come for us all offering us room in the eternal Inn, the Kingdom of God.

This is the heart of advent, waiting with the shepherds, the Magi, the angels, Mary and Joseph and even with the donkey and cow. We are called to set aside all our projects and to be still, to stand and wait. We may still have to run around and buy gifts and go to “holiday” parties but amidst all that, let’s all try to sit in silence a little this season. Pray, go to Church, get an advent wreath or calendar, say the rosary. Make some room in your hearts in this busy season so the Holy Family can dwell in us. Be still and know that God is God and He is with us.

– Terence Sweeney

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One Response to “Finding Stillness this Advent”

  1. Donielle Olson December 2, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    good one

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