Tag Archives: Advent

Make a Catholic Advent

Patrick Novecosky writes that Catholics need to embrace the real meaning of Advent . . .

Patrick Novecosky

Patrick Novecosky

You probably share my frustration. A week or so after Labor Day, you’re walking through The Home Depot or Walmart and you hear “Jingle Bells,” and as you round the corner: Christmas trees and tinsel.

I get it. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. Wouldn’t it be great to have the Christmas feeling all year-round!? Yes… and no. All good things are worth waiting for, and Christmas is one of them.

First, let’s get the language right. We need to celebrate Advent and Christmas, not “the holidays.” The incarnation of the second person of the Holy Trinity is not merely a “holiday,” but rather the launch of God’s ultimate rescue plan for the human race.

Advent is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.” Adventus is the translation of the Greek parousia, which means the second coming of Christ. Advent anticipates Christ’s coming from two different perspectives: We share in the ancient longing for the Messiah’s coming, and we develop a heightened alert for his return.

The four weeks of Advent are a time to “prepare the way of the Lord.” The Catechism teaches that “when the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (#524).

What does this mean in practical terms? December is a busy month for everyone, so prioritize. Sift out what’s important and what’s not. In doing so, you can make time to embrace this essential season. That doesn’t mean shopping online so you have more time for baking or entertainment. It means cutting out the non-essentials so you have time to pray and ponder Jesus. Go to Mass during the week. Go to Confession. Make an Advent retreat (yes, they exist). Read a spiritual book. Ponder the empty manger (keep Baby Jesus put away until Christmas).

If you keep a Catholic Advent, you can be sure that when Christmas Day arrives, your heart will be overwhelmed with thanksgiving for what God has done for us through Jesus. One last thing: Christmas doesn’t end on Dec. 25. It begins. The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Be countercultural. Keep the decorations up a little longer this year. When the neighbors notice, tell them it’s still Christmas!

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

Advent and real, Godly men

Fr. Robert McTeigue, SJ, writes that the world suffers for lack of Godly men . . .

Fr. Robert McTeigue

Fr. Robert McTeigue

What do you want for Christmas? No doubt you’ve been asked that question many times in recent weeks, and you have surely asked that question of your family and other loved ones.

I want to pose another question: “What do you want for Advent?” To some, that question is scarcely intelligible. Let me ask it this way: “What would you like to receive from the Lord, and what would you like to offer Him?”

To answer those questions, let’s turn to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the pastor who heroically resisted the Nazis. “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes — and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside — is not a bad picture of Advent.”

Waiting for the door of freedom to be opened, waiting to be liberated from our captivity, from our limitations — those are very fine images of Advent. We’re like Lazarus in the tomb, waiting to be called forth. But once the prison door is opened, what shall we do with our undeserved second chance? I want to relate those Bonhoeffer-inspired questions to my earlier query: “What do you want for Advent?” To answer that, I would like to address primarily men.

My brothers, what I want for Advent is to be freed to unite with a strong company of Godly men, men who know that they are called to be husbands, fathers, priests and heroes. I want to walk out of the tomb into the light with other Godly men who are ready and eager to use their God-given manly freedom and strength to stand up for the honor of faith, family and community.

Our nation, our Church, our culture, and our communities suffer from the lack of such Godly men. Why do we lack such men? To answer that question, consider these words from French Cardinal Louis Pie (1815-1880) and his Christmas homily of 1871:

“Is not ours an age of mis-lived lives, of un-manned men? Why? Because Jesus Christ has disappeared. Wherever the people are true Christians, there are men to be found in large numbers, but everywhere and always, if Christianity wilts, the men wilt. Look closely: They are no longer men but shadows of men. Thus what do you hear on all sides today? The world is dwindling away for lack of men; the nations are perishing for scarcity of men, for the rareness of men. I do believe there are no men where there is no character; there is no character where there are no principles, doctrines, stands taken; there are no stands taken, no doctrines, no principles, where there is no religious faith and consequently no religion of society. Do what you will; only from God you will get men.”

We need real, Godly men. What we see around us is a generation of not men but merely “boys who shave” — males who are unwilling to shoulder the cross of being a true man, a man who sacrifices, leads and provides. We suffer from a lack of men willing to take responsibility for the children they beget, for the women who love them, or for the civil liberties they enjoy. They’re not the entire problem, but these Peter Pans who live in their parents’ basements, spending their days smoking dope, watching porn, and demanding a free ride are surely not now ready to be part of the solution.

What is the solution? First, we must turn to the Lord and cry out, we must clamor for our liberation, we must ask for the cells and tombs of our lives to be opened. Second, we must obey the call to emerge from the darkness and live as free men, men made in the image and likeness of God — men redeemed at a terrible cost and consecrated for a greater glory. Finally, all of us — men and women, young and old — must prepare our boys to be Godly men. We can begin to do so by honoring the heroic fathers of our past and present; we can do so by proclaiming Jesus who is true God and true man; we can do so by insisting again and again that God is a great and loving Father.

What should we want for Advent? We should turn to the Lord and ask Him to liberate males and call them to be Godly men who can provide for, protect, and serve all who are entrusted to their care. And when we see the blessings that flow from Godly men who have become true husbands, fathers, priests and heroes, then we can echo the words of the psalmist: “The plan of the Lord stands forever; the design of his heart, through all generations.”

FR. ROBERT MCTEIGUE, SJ, is a professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University.