A Guide to Advent Reflection
A challenge we all face today is developing a
love of silence and understanding the vital role of
silence in our lives. When was the last time you
stayed silent for a minute or more? The bulletin
offers some suggestions about how we can use
Advent to quiet ourselves spiritually. Advent in
the real sense is a spiritual state that helps us to
contemplate Christ in our lives.
When he was the archbishop of Milwaukee,
Cardinal Dolan wrote about advent reflection.
He gave various examples of living in advent.
When a patient waits in the doctor’s office for
the test to be conducted, that is advent. When a
family watches over their loved one in the hospital
emergency room, the family remains in advent.
Advent then becomes a time of expectation, of
hope, of endurance. This time becomes decidedly
more meaningful when we involve Christ.
The Advent season in our Catholic faith involves
silence especially in a time when we experience
Christmas noise. So, the moments of Advent which
involve Christ are better realized when we undergo
a holy silence. It is a practice, a way of life that
requires humility, self-renunciation, and self-
discipline. A self-disciplined practice could involve
almsgiving or refraining from saying bad things
about others. A practice of self-denial would be
doing something simple that denies emotional
happiness in order to grow in holiness. Silence
also involves humility. Humility recognizes that
everything I have is a gift, that God is so good
and blesses my life. Advent then involves an
active meditation on the life of Christ.
While most liturgical seasons focus mainly on the
gospel, the first weeks of Advent (up to December 16)
focus on daily readings from the prophet Isaiah.
With eyes of faith, the writer foretells the coming
of the Messiah. Rather than a continuous gospel
narrative familiar to us for most of the year, this
part of Advent offers a variety of gospel readings,
each supporting the readings from Isaiah for the
day. After almost two weeks of Isaiah readings,
we hear the foretelling of a Messiah from other
prophets from the Hebrew Scriptures--Sirach,
Numbers, and Zephaniah--before returning to
Isaiah once again. With each passing week, the
prophets speak more plainly of the coming of a
Savior. So for the first part of Advent, in the first
reading, we listen to the anticipation, expectation,
hope, and promise. In the second reading, we
listen for the fulfillment or connection with the
During the last eight days before Christmas
(December 17 to Christmas Eve), the relationship
between the readings changes. Now the gospels
bring us to our celebration of Christmas. They are
taken from the infancy narratives of Matthew and
Luke. Each of these days, the first reading from
the Hebrew Scriptures is chosen to match the
gospel. We might imagine Matthew or Luke
having the first reading open on their desks while
they wrote their gospels. We might even read
the gospel first and then the first reading. The
sense of anticipation and fulfillment builds as
we read the story of the preparation for Jesus'
first coming into this world for us.
As we look through our Christmas shopping list, let
us think in a prayerful way of the people for whom
we purchase gifts. May the gifts we choose bring
people joy and holiness. At the same time, let us
pray for those who are less fortunate in material
things and do not have money to buy gifts. Finally,
thank you for taking time to buy a gift for a needy
person from our angel tree.
May the good Lord bless you and give you peace.
With you a Christian, for you a priest.