How do you feel about spoilers? Do they ruin a book or movie for you? Or does it not bother you at all? For some, they get more out of the journey or the story than they do out of the ending.
Josh Raymond began a segment of The Inner Life by recalling one of Shakespeare’s most famous works: Romeo and Juliet. In this play, Shakespeare included a prologue that explained some background about the families and the two titular characters. And in that prologue, Shakespeare makes five references to the death of Romeo and Juliet which will take place at the end of the play. He doesn’t try to hide it or surprise the audience. He wanted the audience to watch the play, knowing the outcome.
To Josh, that’s how this past Sunday felt. It felt like the beginning of a story that we all know the outcome of. Advent is the preparation for an event that we all know is coming on December 25th. But Sunday wasn’t the warm, fuzzy welcoming to the Advent season that maybe we expected. Josh welcomed Father Brian Fallon onto the show to talk about what we should get out of Advent in treating it as a time for preparation, maturation, and growth in the spiritual life.
“They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Matthew 24:39-44)
We are not greeted by the season with snowflakes, cheerful music, gifts, and holiday cheer. We are greeted with a warning. Be vigilant. Be prepared for the Lord’s coming. We are not worthy to receive Him, so we must prepare ourselves through penance, spiritual resolutions, and fasting.
Based on the way our culture treats Christmas, it’s very easy to get lost in the anticipation and excitement of the materialistic side of the holiday. However, Advent is actually supposed to be a season of penance. But while the season of Lent is predicated on the three tenants of fasting, praying, and almsgiving, the season of Advent is not as structured. Penitential acts can have a more personal touch if you don’t feel called to practice fasting.
Father Fallon suggested acts like leaving your phone in another room or not playing as much Christmas music as you would like. Things like this can help us be more present and aware of the Advent season and allow God to speak to us through His favorite language: silence. Embrace moderation so that we can more fully embrace the anticipation of Christ’s arrival.
And finally, one more thing suggested by Father Fallon and Josh is to engage in spiritual resolutions. Spiritual resolutions are like New Year’s resolutions, except we start them at the beginning of the Liturgical year, and they are based on intentions to grow in our relationship with the Lord.
“‘I want to receive God more and more into my life. I love the Lord. I want to grow in a relationship with Him.’ And that’s what He wants, too, so then when we start to [incorporate] some discipline in our lives and make some changes, we’re allowing what the Church says to have grace build upon nature.”
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