by Meredith Kelly, Baylor Class of 2023
Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.St. Augustine
Is your soul weary? Some tiredness seeps deeper than mere lack of sleep. Sometimes exhaustion feels like its own substance, which works its way into bones and souls until they are suffocated. After 2020, I have a feeling all of our souls are weary. There are souls that have hovered on the brink of despair for many months and days which all blend together, and some are wading through a swamp of rage and disappointment. Yet, despite the extraordinary challenges of this year, Advent is a reminder to us of the joy of following Christ in His Catholic Church. It is a literal liturgical reset, as Advent marks the beginning of a new liturgical year. Let this Advent be a time of renewal as we await the coming of the Child Jesus.
“Watch and Wait”
Being a Catholic is many beautiful things. Living the faith brings peace, joy, virtue, and inflames the heart with a supernatural charity, and it makes us glorious saints. Yet, it is not easy, nor is it relaxing. We were not made to live life in cruise control, thinking that we control everything. In the readings for the first week of Advent, Our Lord gave us an explicit warning to watch and wait for the Kingdom of God. “Therefore, be vigilant” (Matthew 24:42).
If this year has taught me anything, it is that I do not control nearly as much as I thought I did. That thought is a terrifying one, to put it lightly. Yet, what is even more worthy of our awe and holy fear is this truth: He is much closer than we think. His Kingdom is at hand. Yes, there is a lot we can’t control. However, there is one thing we can do, and it is the most important task of all time. We can be Catholic, keeping watch and adoring His Sacred Heart until He comes again.
Godhead, Here in Hiding
There are two mind-shattering truths in Catholicism, and they are deeply intertwined: 1) The Incarnation, and 2) the True Presence in the Eucharist. When I try to meditate on the Incarnation, I cannot comprehend the magnitude of God becoming man, of “Emmanuel, which means: God is with us” (Matthew 1: 23).
It is even more jarring to realize that He came as a tiny infant, the same size as the babies one sees at Mass or in the grocery store. He made Himself dependent, even though He is the One on Whom all things are dependent. This infant was God, the Second Person of the Trinity, unspotted Lamb, Creator of the world.
And this Infant’s body is not dead and gone. The same blood which gave life to His tiny body in the manger, which coursed through His holy veins through adulthood, which was shed at the hands of evil which scoffs at mercy, and the blood that pumps through His risen Body—this flesh and blood is present in the Eucharist. The Heart still beats, although it is veiled under the appearance of bread and wine.
This year, we experienced the grief of not receiving the Sacraments for several months. For me, this trial opened my eyes even more to how much the Church is the one true way and how integral the Sacraments are to salvation. As churches re-open (Deo gratias!), visit the Lord in His humble disguise and thank Him for coming for us men and our salvation. He is always waiting for you, and He wants to show you the reality of His consuming fire.
Meditate on the Nativity and the Holy Child
“Meditation” is one of those words that has lost nearly all meaning in conversation. Most of the time, when I say I’ll “meditate” on something, I merely mean that I’ll think about it in passing. However, this is not what Christian meditation is. Meditating upon Christ and the mysteries means entering into them and asking Christ to illuminate truths of the faith.
As we do penance and acts of charity throughout Advent, let us meditate upon the Incarnation and the events surrounding it. The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary are a fantastic resource for meditation. These mysteries are ideal for Advent preparation because they include such key events as the conception of Christ in the Virgin’s womb, Our Lady’s Magnificat, and Our Lord’s birth. I have struggled with the rosary since the beginning of my conversion, but there is no denying the benefits and graces that come from meditating upon the mysteries of the faith contained in it.
I especially like to meditate through the Ignatian method. The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises immerse one’s imagination in a scene from Our Lord’s life. One way to unleash your “inner Ignatian” is by imagining yourself at Christ’s nativity. Imagine yourself coming face to face with the Infant Lord, imagine His Holy eyes looking up at you. Imagine Our Lady and St. Joseph also looking on the Lord with intense love.
Finally, Lectio Divina is a classic method of Catholic contemplation. In Lectio Divina, one chooses a passage of Scripture and reads it meditatively, contemplating on the meanings of the text. One of my favorite passages from Scripture,and an especially good one for meditating on the Incarnation,is the first chapter of the Gospel of St. John. The accounts of Christ’s birth in the Gospel of St. Luke is another great place to start. Here’s to a fruitful reading!
Above all, make this Advent a time to recommit yourself to the Church and Christ. Rejoice with the angels and saints and His Holy Mother at the holy birth.
Rex est Christus,