By Dr. Samuel Torres
Prayers for a meaningful Advent season. We are grateful for our teachers, volunteers, staff and administrators who continue to nurture our students. Our students are reminded daily the reason for the season.
The Advent wreath is used to countdown the weeks prior to Christmas. The Advent calendar is used to count down the days to Christmas to help children anticipate patiently and to focus on waiting for the baby Jesus to be born.
Advent is a time for reflection and pause. The Advent season is a very special time of year that sometimes gets lost in the bright lights of the Christmas season it precedes. The end of the year brings with it a flurry of activities: the busiest shopping season, a busy social calendar for families and friends. The Advent season invites us to consider how we commemorate the birth of Jesus, one of the holiest times in Christian faith.
The Advent season is all about reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in the world as it is today. It is a time for our community and families to remember, through prayer and reflections, the true meaning of Jesus’ birth.
To hear the word of the Lord we must pay attention. And that is one way of describing what the season of Advent is all about: paying attention. Attention is the optimal word here. It is paying attention to the presence of God. It is a great time to pay attention to the presence and needs of our neighbor.
The great figures of the Advent liturgy (Isaiah the prophet, John the Baptist and Mary the mother of Jesus) are all models of paying attention, concentrating on what is important, being single-minded in its pursuit as Isaiah and John were, and waiting in hope as Mary did. All three of these Advent figures suggest ways to clear the clutter from our lives and focus more freely on what really deserves our attention.
As this year comes to a close, we reaffirm our belief in all that Jesus has promised and has already accomplished in us, and we see in this promise a reason to hope for so much more, for a deepening of our own faith and love and for the power to overcome evil in ourselves and in our world. May we experience prayerful penance and spiritual preparation, live in hopeful longing and anticipate joyful expectation.
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.