Excerpts from a reflection on Advent given by Mother Maria-Michael Newe to the community of nuns of the Abbey of St. Walburga.
Today is the end and the beginning; we stand on the threshold. We have a chance at a new beginning. At None* we finished the last prayer of the liturgical year. We've accomplished it, the marathon has happpened. We can hand the baton over now to the other hand and go again full of vigor. We have made it and that's the important part. The year is past and over. What have we gained? What have we put into this past year? And what do we go forward with? What are the things that we learned this year that we can take with us for the sake of all? And how do we begin Advent?
What are we doing today as we look to Advent? We pray, "The King shall come." In the beginning the focus is on the second coming. We need to realize that it hasn't happened yet. He will come again to take His reigh and we need to pray for all those who are tempeted not to allow His reign. We need to pray that those things that are not of God, those ways that do not speak of the reign of God, those things that tear people away from Him may be rejected by the people of God. We need to pray that the people of God will stand up for what is right-- stand up for life in every aspect of what that life means, especially eternal life. We must not become lukewarm to the fact that we must run the race. Not one of us is going to get out of having to choose life. Christ is LIfe, the Bread of Life, the Son of God, the Living Water. He is the King of Kings.
In preparing for Advent, I was looking at the First Letter of St. Peter. I see Peter as an apostle of love. He had to go through so many trials and be so humbled and yet he died full of love. He was able to die on a cross to follow the one he loved. He never let go of the one he loved. I think Christ delighted in the humility of Peter. He was a man who fell before his brethren and had to rise again-- it was Christ's life that picked him up. I think that what Peter says on mutual love is one of the most important parts of his letter because that is what evil is attacking right now-- our love for one another. "Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth, for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely, from a pure heart. You have been born anew, not from perishable gold but from imperishable seed through the living and abiding word of God." In the narcissistic world in which we live today, we need to look to our neighbor. That's why we live in community. Not only do we serve one another, but when when we serve one another, we serve the King. When we love one another, it's the King we love. We are the loving servants of the King of Kings.
St. Peter also says to keep yourself pure. This advent, work hard to keep yourself pure. Receive the sacraments with love. Let them build up what needs to be built up within you so that you may take your part in the Body of Christ. We need that from one another. We need the example of virtue. If you want to be listened to, listen to your sister. If you want to be loved, love your sister. Be an example that will lead others to good, because this is what's asked of you and you will be judged on this. Do what is in Scripture, for this is essential for eternal life.
Long for God. This season is about longing for the coming of Christ. Our whole focus is on the coming of Christ. Are we ready? Do we await Him? We should have a silence of anticipation. We live with our hearts focused on Christ, so there should be a special amount of silence because we're praying for His coming. In the silence of your heart during your work, sing the psalms of anticipation. Sing the hymns that we pray in the Office-- know them, let them come to your mind. Repeat: "Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! Come! Please come to your people! Redeem us! Show us your love that we can show your love to one another." It's imperative that we live with fervor. Have some fire in what you do. Do it with purposefulness. Don't let lukewarmness be a part of your heart. Bring back the coals of the fire of love. How do you do that? Recognize what brings devotion in your life. Recognize the things that you love. God to those things that bring your heart to life-- visit them, sit with them, let them stir within you. Read the Scriptures, sing in your heart, chase evil away. Whatever it be that is leading you away from fervor, I beg of you, pray that the Blood of Christ may run over that and rejuvenate it and change it into the glory of God within you.
What Christ said in the book of Revelation, I say to you, "Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the Churches." This Advent, listen well!
*None is the third of the three Midday Offices that are prayed in the Liturgy of the Hours.