Advent is here!
What a beautiful, blessed time of year! The Church calls us to prepare ourselves to receive Christ in our hearts anew at Christmas–and to ready ourselves for His return one day in glory.
In some ways it's probably easier to think about preparing for Christmas than preparing for the end of the world. Our heads may spin trying to understand what it will mean for Our Lord to come back to earth to bring history to a close, raise the dead of all the ages, judge all the living and the dead, and establish His kingdom in all its fullness. That event seems so far away (though it could happen any time) . ..
Even so, as the fourth-century Church father St. John Chrysostom reminds us: No matter how far off, or how near, Our Lord's return in glory may be, we must never forget that He comes for each one of us when our time on earth is done. And that time could be tomorrow . . . tonight . . . or only a moment away. In this light, we can see that to observe Advent by preparing for Our Lord's return means that we must ready ourselves to go with Him at any time.
During this beautiful season, we should be asking ourselves: If I knew my life on earth were ending tomorrow, what would I do, without fail, today? If my Lord called me today, would I be ready?
It's a sobering thought, but remember that Advent is intended by the Church to be a penitential season–in many ways like Lent. If during these days we turn again to God from all that would compete with Him for our deepest love and loyalty, then we will be preparing ourselves as we should: for Christmas, for Christ's second coming, and for whatever tomorrow may bring.
P.S.: Our Sunday Visitor publishing company has some great ideas for a more faith-filled observance of Advent. Go online here: http://www.osv.com/OSV4MeNav/ChurchSeasons/AdventResources/DefinitiveGuidetoAdvent/tabid/7301/Default.aspx.