MILLARE: Advent is a time of preparation, participation in the Liturgy

December 10, 2019

“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” (Mark 1:3). Life is full of beautiful moments, which come to fruition after serious and conscious preparation: the moment when a groom sees his beautiful bride for the first time on the day of their wedding, a festive meal with family and friends during a holiday, or an inspiring commencement speech.

These occasions were all preceded by sincere preparation. Similarly, there is no better way to prepare the way of the Lord than the celebration of the sacred Liturgy.

The Liturgy was defined by the Second Vatican Council as “an action of Christ the Priest and of His Body, which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, no. 7). As we prepare for the coming of the Lord during the season of Advent, there is simply no better way to get ready then by actively (or actually) participating in the Liturgy.

Each year the Church offers us the gift of the liturgical year to remind us that Jesus’ life is meant to become our own life. Christ went through moments of joyful anticipation, penance, suffering, death, resurrection and ordinary moments of daily life.

The Benedictine Blessed Columba Marmion highlights this union, which characterizes the life of a Christian: “The mysteries of Christ are ours; the union that Jesus Christ wishes to contract with us is one in which everything He has becomes ours.

With a divine liberality, He wants us to share in the inexhaustible graces of salvation and sanctification that He has merited for us by each of His mysteries, so as to communicate to us the spirit of His states and thus to bring about in each of us a resemblance to Him — the infallible pledge of our destiny planned from eternity.” Jesus’ life is meant to become my own life.

The Liturgy mysteriously makes this possible for us.

We are all in need of daily conversion. Each day we need to turn away from sin and vice and face the Lord Jesus with humility, perseverance and faith. The celebration of the Liturgy offers us opportunities for discipline and preparation.
We need to decrease and allow the Lord to increase by sharing in the prayer of the Church by consciously engaging in the same liturgical gestures as everyone else: sitting, standing and kneeling.

We should listen attentively to God’s word.

Above all, we should focus on the gift of the Lord’s real presence upon the altar in the Eucharist and prepare well for Holy Communion. Following the celebration of the Liturgy, we are called to remember that the Liturgy continues by how we live our lives.

“Wisdom! Be Attentive!” These words proclaimed within the celebration of Liturgy in the Eastern churches remind us about what we need to surrender, especially during this season of Advent: attentiveness.

During the hustle and bustle of this time of year, we need to be attentive by making time for silence, spiritual reading (especially the Bible), mental prayer, a sincere examination of conscience/good confession, the Rosary and resting in the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist in adoration.

As we continue to redirect our lives to the Lord within the Liturgy and beyond, we will be prepared to imitate the Blessed Mother, who is a perfect model of surrender: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

As we begin a new liturgical year, let us prepare the way of the Lord by fully, consciously and actively participating in the Eucharist and be being attentive to the direction of our lives. †

Dr. Roland Millare is the chair of the theology department at St. John XXIII College Preparatory in Katy.