At the end of their annual Passover dinner, our Jewish brothers and sisters exclaim, “Next year, Jerusalem!” This is not a wish for a change in venue, but rather a bold prayer that the next Passover will be the Final One – the one that is celebrated in the fullness of God’s Reign, in the fullness of God’s Presence.
We Catholics have a similar prayer: “Come, O Come Emmanuel!” It is a prayer we invoke every Advent, that our Lord Jesus come once again in power, might, and glory, and bring about the fullness of God’s Kingdom. We experience glimpses of this Kingdom already, at Mass, in the Sacraments, in ordinary family life, in loving service to our neighbors in need, and in other similar, graced moments.
The thing is, we so often forget this, don’t we? Because we tend to be a bit too comfortable, we don’t realize that, because we don’t yet live fully in the Kingdom of God, our lives are incomplete. There is a deep restlessness within each heart that can only be healed by Christ’s coming again, both in one’s daily life and into the world.
Advent is that time of year that makes our deep longing for the coming of Emmanuel tangible once again. During Advent, most plants and trees are bare, leaving only the sharp needles on evergreens, which we use to fashion garlands and wreaths. A few candles on the Advent wreath shed more light than we would have thought possible, and create a glow of hope. The darkness of each day envelops us, inviting us to look inward. Overall, there is a sense that something “different” is happening, soon and very soon.
Advent, the start of a new liturgical year, passionately beckons us to come to a new place, a holy place, a darkened place where our Lord will meet us in the stillness.
How might a family or parish become re-connected and re-engaged in this holy season so they might prepare their hearts and minds to meet Jesus once again at Christmas? There are many ways to do this, and you can find wonderful resources to assist in this process at Samples.RCLBenziger.com.
On this Web site, you will find RCL Benziger’s new books, Our Family Prays: Catholic Prayers and Traditions, as well as Catholic Prayers and Practices for Young Disciples. Both resources help families explore Catholic customs and traditions for the Advent season, such as using an Advent wreath at home, blessing and welcoming a new liturgical year, practicing hospitality through Las Posadas, and praying a novena to the Divine Child. Simple yet profound home rituals like these will inspire a deeper understanding of Advent, and strengthen a family’s relationship with the Lord.
May this Advent season be a time for all of us to participate in and prepare for the coming of Emmanuel. Marantha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Scott Rutan serves Harrisburg, Erie, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton areas in Pennsylvania, along with Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse areas in New York.
From western New York State, he has always been in professional catechetical ministry serving both the parish and diocesan levels for more than 29 years. He and his wife raised two fine, adult sons with their parish’s family education program. This makes Scott passionate about building family engagement in Faith and community with RCL Benziger resources.Sign Up for Our E-Newsletter!