One of the less appealing characteristics of American culture is that it doesn’t seriously prepare for many things. We are an instantaneous culture. We don’t like to wait for things: we have fast food, fast delivery, fast cash and on-demand banking. We have Fed Ex “when it absolutely has to be delivered overnight” and instant just-about-everything. Patience is not a virtue in this culture because we can have it all and have it now – or at least we think so.
But God isn’t that way.
He has a time for everything under the sun, and no one rushes Him to meet deadlines. His Plan has been stored up for an eternity and presses on to completion with divine serenity. All things operate in their proper order and arrive at their completion in His time. Most importantly, God prepared this Plan of salvation with divine foresight. The Archangel Gabriel told Zechariah with utter certitude, “All I have said will come true in due course.” But the question is always the type of reception God’s Plan will find in our world. As the Virgin Mary and Joseph prepared a manger with swaddling clothes to receive the Son of God into the world, so every man must prepare his heart to receive the Son spiritually.
The Church gives us the great event of Advent to help us get over the cultural sloth and make our hearts ready for Christ. Here are three simple but effective ways to prepare the throne of your heart to better welcome the King on the great Feast of Christmas:
- Walk with Mary: the best preparation for the feast of the Son is to live well the feasts of the Mother. Ah, if we would only treat the Immaculate Conception (this coming Monday) not as a day of dutiful “obligation” but as a chance to bind ourselves to this pregnant mother in purity and faith. We need to see the sublime Mystery of Christ through Her eyes. Next Friday is the feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the evangelizer of the Americas. How we need Her zeal for Christ to conquer our culture of death just like She did for the Aztec culture in the 16th century! Let us walk with Her this Advent, and She will help us in the preparation of our hearts. Show your desire for preparation by praying the Rosary regularly or making a consecration to the Virgin this Advent.
- Pray more: there is no better antidote to cultural lethargy than to admit to ourselves that we are not spiritual enough. Yes, we have to live in this world but often we are too much of this world! Prayer pulls us out of the work-a-day world of instant everything and places us before the serene Plan of God to see that all reality is not material. Faith grows, hope strengthens and charity inflames when we are prayerful. We just need to pray more in Advent, and we will be more spiritually prepared to receive Him. Why not make special visits to the Blessed Sacrament or, lacking that, dedicate a time each day for silent prayer.
- Devotion to duty: finally, and not least, is the need to do what God has asked us to do with deepest fidelity and zeal. Are there natural responsibilities that you have been neglecting? Now is the time to renew your fervor for them. Have you been apathetic or cowardly towards the difficult dimensions of your Christian duty? Has your family suffered because you have been involved in too many trivial matters that put family in second place? Return with all your heart and increase your enthusiasm toward those things He asks you to do for His Kingdom. A season of grace and favor awaits those who dedicate themselves with blessed ardor to their God-given callings.
Thank God for Advent! We are purified and challenged by the message of salvation preached to us by the Church in this great season. If we live it well and prepare our hearts to receive Him, we will know the Truth in a new way at Christmas and beyond, and the Truth will set us free.