Be watchful! Be alert! Prepare the way! Advent is full of exhortations for us to wake up and get ready. Now is the time to attend to those things that bring healing, wholeness, and reconciliation.
Pope Francis invites us to use Advent to heighten our ability to receive and share love. In his message on 12/3/23 he states, “Dear friends, it will be good for us today to ask ourselves how we can prepare a welcoming heart for the Lord. We can do so by approaching His forgiveness, His Word, His Table, finding space for prayer, welcoming those in need. Let us cultivate His expectation without letting ourselves be distracted by so many pointless things, and without complaining all the time, but keeping our hearts alert, that is, eager for Him, awake and ready, impatient to meet Him.”
What a wonderful image—we are called to be “impatient” to meet our God! So often we are told to be patient—to wait quietly. But here, we are invited to go toward that inner fire that impatience lights inside us. We are invited to embrace the deep eagerness to be in union with the Holy Spirit—to know and share the peace of Christ—to be one with God.
We are invited into a provocative stance of fervent waiting.
Henri Nouwen writes in Bread for the Journey, “Waiting is essential to the spiritual life. But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting. It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for. We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps. As we wait, we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him, we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.”
The waiting of Advent is an active waiting. In our impatience to meet God, we are driven to accompany others on their journey toward healing and hope. In our eagerness for God, we find ways to serve those in need. In our alert state, we seek to defend our sisters and brothers who are oppressed, hurt, or powerless.
Now is the time to be attentive to the state of our community. Our world provides many opportunities to work for peace and reconciliation. We are each invited to see and engage, as our gifts allow.
A quote on my desk calendar continually inspires me on this journey. Created by Pax Chrisi USA, it offers a paraphrase from the Talmud: “It is not your obligation to complete your work, but you are not at liberty to quit.”
In early December, The Basilica held an event focusing on women in the Church. It was a powerful session. Healing requires shining light and exposing harm. Stories were shared courageously—with a desire to transform our community in love. There was deep solidarity and support among those who attended. One woman shared, “My heart is full of deep appreciation and gratitude, if not a bit of sadness and frustration, that at 75 I am still advocating for many of the same issues as I did in my 20’s. But with a deeply held belief… it feels like a personal responsibility to continue shining a light on injustices.”
Indeed, we live, hope, and engage—while trusting and rejoicing in the presence of our God. May this Advent enable us to begin-again and deepen our journey of fervent waiting, embracing our eagerness for union with God.
Director of Christian Life