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Father Muench Says...

Preparing to receive the Lord

Dec. 7, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

It is Advent! Advent is good! Advent is good for us!

Our Catholic Church wants us to realize that Advent is a perfect time to prepare us, Christians, for the celebration of the Feast of the Lord’s birth, our Christmas. Each year, we all have a long list of things to do as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas – there are cards to write, a tree to decorate, decorations to put up around the house, presents to purchase. I must tell you that I enjoy all these things.

However, there is one more thing to add to our list. We need to prepare our hearts to receive the Lord, who came to be one of us. This means we need Advent. We need this wonderful time of spirituality to prepare ourselves – a time to strengthen our faith in the Lord, a time that will truly make our Christmas more meaningful and joyful.

I am truly grateful to God and the Church for the time of Advent. Advent is a gift that challenges us to do something – times of prayer and activities to truly open our hearts that we will receive the Lord who chose to be born and become one of us. I have experienced Advent all these years, so I want you to know that it always makes my Christmas celebration such a special and happy time.

Advent is meant to be a special wake up. Unless we are spiritually awake, we are only half living. Too often, our minds are narrow and closed. Too often, our hearts are hardened. Spirituality is about waking up. It is understanding things, seeing things, hearing things. To be spiritually awake means to be attentive to God and others – to be living in the love of our God.

Personally, I believe this means we begin with enthusiasm. Advent’s hope is that we awake each day with enthusiasm – feeling good to be alive, thankful for the gift of a new day – so that we can use well each opportunity that is ours.

So, I want to urge you to join me in finding this new energy during this time of Advent. This begins with and demands listening. I believe that the Lord has a message and a challenge for each of us each day. So, during Advent, I ask you to give the Lord five minutes each day. That is enough.

Find a quiet place, a special quiet place, possibly five quiet minutes in your parish Church. Make this five minutes quiet – no prayers to say, no words to say, simply silence. Give God the opportunity to find you. I believe that it is in times like this that the Lord will help us to find a new strength, a new and stronger faith and will help us be ready to celebrate the Birth of the Savior.

It is all about peace, finding our own peace and bringing peace to our part of this world. At the Mass on the First Sunday of Advent, the First reading is from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah, who wrote many centuries before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah wrote that in the time of Messiah there will be peace. Isaiah calls upon us to bring peace into our hearts and to lead others to be people of peace, even in a divided world. Advent is a perfect time for prayer for peace, a time for praying that Christmas will be a time of peace, that the Lord of all who became one of us will bring this peace – his peace – to this world.

Do you read the Sunday comic strips in the newspaper? well, I do! I noticed a perfect one this week called “Grand Avenue,” by Mike Thompson. In the first panel there is a young girl – the one with large glasses – visiting a Santa Claus. She begins by asking, “I want a solid gold in ground swimming pool for Christmas.” Santa says, “That’s a pretty big ask.” In the next panel, the girl says, “Okay. Then I want peace on earth.” Then Santa answers, “What size swimming pool?”

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