Dear Sacred Heart of Jesus Family,
After Mass here, there are—delightfully—many little children who run around in the Narthex. I am so inspired by and jealous of them! I think to myself, if I had that energy and joy, I would be thinner, happier, and more joyful! And this is why God gave us Advent. What craziness is Fr. Lundberg talking about? Advent is a time to rediscover joy, and prepare for the most glorious breakthrough of joy that ever happened in history. I beg your permission to unpack this.
An axiom attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas states that “joy is the noblest human act.” Discovering joy is one of the primary needs of disciples today. The world is starving for joy and love. This is why God gives us Advent. Advent is God’s antibiotic for the “spiritual cold & flu” of life in a good, but fallen world. We bathe regularly, even daily, because we get dirty by daily living and activity. Advent is like a rich bath to wash away the grime and sadness of a year where we may have lost hope. It’s a new chapter in a story that is richer as the book unfolds. But since the world doesn’t know Jesus, it doesn’t know the gift of the Mass, and it doesn’t understand Christmas. Our society definitely misses out on Advent. That is why God gives us a month to prepare for an intense experience of personal joy with Jesus.
We are called, in the midst of this confused, well-meaning, but misdirected society, to anticipate and reawaken childlike wonder and joy. We are meant to be healed of our sadness and isolation by becoming acquainted with the Best of Friends. In this sacred season, we are called to remaster ourselves, to prepare for Christmas. God wishes us to “balance out” our “out of kilter” lives, by contemplating our weakness, woundedness, sinfulness, and recalibrate: by realizing that the One who strengthens, heals and forgives is about to arrive!
Sports enthusiasts never tire of bowl games, playoffs, and victories. Chefs never tire of gourmet meals. Musicians and artists yearn to perform their masterpiece once again. And so God is with us. The Good Lord wants to revitalize us. He yearns to see us thrive, achieve, celebrate, and rekindle our joy. G.K. Chesterton observed the following: “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
We adults have perhaps grown old, and we look at the child who dances and plays after Mass and say, could I be like that again? If we want to be truly renewed, then please take advantage of Advent. If we wish to remain the same, grow old in spirit, and lose joy, then please ignore Advent. Our culture doesn’t understand Advent at all, but then again it doesn’t understand Jesus. If we want authentic joy amidst the challenges of life, if we want richer friendships and transformed relationships, if we want a reason to unpack the riches of life, then turn to Our Blessed Lady and Saint Joseph during the next four weeks. Accompany them to Bethlehem, keep company with them, count the blessings of past years, and ask our Guardian Angels and the Holy Spirit to help us dive into Advent. The twelve days of Christmas begin on December 25th. Let’s spend these precious days beforehand anticipating the One Who is to Come.
In Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart,
Fr. Bjorn Lundberg,