While many of us know how to prepare for Christmas during Advent, I think preparing for Christ’s Second Coming is not always as present to our minds, but this is no less important during these four weeks; in fact, the preparation we make for Christ’s Second Coming are in some way more imperative than the preparations we make for celebrating the memory of His coming at Christmas, because His Second Coming is still yet to occur.
“Advent is a time of preparation and reflection, hope and anticipation. The coming of the eternal Son of God is celebrated in the three ways we experience time: past, present, and future. He came for us in our flesh through the Incarnation; He comes to us in the Church through grace; He will come at the end of time to judge us, living or dead” (Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, Msgr, Peter Elliot, 34).
Advent is a season in which we are called to reflect upon those elements of our faith that pertain to the end of time, what we traditionally call “The Last Things”: Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell. This is why the readings and prayers from the First Sunday of Advent to December 17th do not focus so much on the event of the Nativity, but rather on the event of Christ’s Second Coming: we hear themes of expectation, judgment, and restoration; we behold God’s power and His sovereignty as His Son performs mighty works and teaches with authority, all scenes which prefigure His final coming in glory as Eternal King and Just Judge. The Church calls us during this time to consider our lives and their orientation, to turn from our sins and lift our souls, to rise above the things of this world, stand upon the heights, and watch vigilantly for the Lord, so we might joyfully behold Him when He comes.
In preparation for the Lord, making a good confession during this season is encouraged. Other means of fostering the true spirit of Advent are: daily prayer, reflecting on our relationship with the Lord and how well our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls are conformed to Him; meditating upon Scripture, and the daily Mass readings for Advent provide good selections for this; studying and learning from the examples of various Gospel figures who feature prominently during this season, such as Zechariah and Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, St. Joseph, and of course the Blessed Virgin Mary; and one can never go wrong by spending time in front of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic Adoration, practicing now in this life the adoration and worship which will constitute our life in Heaven. If we would be ready for Him to come at the end of time – whether the end of all time or simply the end of my time – we must strive to be ready for Him to come into our lives already now, through prayer and remaining in His grace, drawing near to Him in the Eucharist as a foretaste of the Heaven for which we long. May God bless you in the week ahead, and may Mother Mary lead you more deeply into the Sacred and Merciful Heart of Jesus.