I like being called to holiness, and not just reminded of my sins. (Don’t we all?) I was thinking of this lately as I considered the different impact Advent has on my heart and spiritual than that of Lent. They are both penitential seasons, after all; yet they impact me differently, and I started to wonder why.
Lent is heavy. Penance. I am a sinner and Christ died for those sins. I place my hope in his mercy and forgiveness. That sort of thing.
Not to sound casual, just trying to summarize. After all, it’s a beautiful season, and I am always eager for it when we get to that moment of the liturgical season. But it is heavy. I am called to contemplate my sins as I reprove my body with penance and fasting, helping my soul lean in to repentance and transformation by engaging my body in the action. It’s easy to feel the futility of that task, though, until I get to Easter and remember the story that makes the whole endeavor possible. Christ’s unending grace.
Advent, on the other hand, is like “penitential season lite” and it feels so good and right to me, weak and lazy soul that I am. I am reminded that we are a captive people, but that we have an Emmanuel come to save us, to call on, to ask him to come quickly and dispel the night. It’s so tangible, in a meteorological season that is so dark and cold, but brightened by lights on trees and hot, warm, sweet smelling drinks. I’m engaging my body in the action of my faith here, too, but differently, more happily.
I am also called to repentance, but also more than that. The acts of charity that should always accompany penance are, again, more tangible to me, as even secular society encourages me to move outside of myself and practice generosity as I seek and spend hard earned money on gifts for others. I am called to make my love an action.
Most of all, I love the duel nature of Advent. I love that it is simultaneously preparing us for Christ’s two comings. That as we prepare to celebrate his birth, a moment in time that transfixes history with it’s improbably splendor, we also gaze ahead to his second coming, trying to prepare for that as if it is just as imminent as Christmas itself.
Because, after all, it could be.
This is why I think I have an advent heart. The act of preparing for this double advent is the best way for me to understand myself in the narrative of salvation. My life is a moment in history, yet my faith tells me, with meaning that extends far beyond that moment. I am trying to live by the Gospel because of Jesus’s birth into my life and because the choices I make have eternal weight, all the details of which will be made known to me when he comes that second time around.
And despite the fact that that, too, is rather heavy, still my prayer is this:
Love and prayers, friends.