Third Wednesday in Advent

“Rabbi Heschel” by Pamela Chatterton-Purdy

Advent is the season for acts of faith. It starts with the awareness of the presence of Christ within us. It is quite incredible to think that God is really present in me. “My God, I believe that you are within me.” This act of faith brings peace; it silences the noise of distraction; the loud business of fear. It is the stilling of the waters. It gathers our thoughts into a circle like a crown of flowers; it crowns us with peace.Caryll Houselander, woodcarver and mystic

“I am the LORD, there is no other; I form the light, and create the darkness, I make well being and create woe; I, the LORD, do all these things. Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above, like gentle rain let the skies drop it down. Let the earth open and salvation bud forth; let justice also spring up! I, the LORD, have created this.”Isaiah 45:6b-8

“The Almighty has not created the universe that we may have opportunities to satisfy our greed, envy and ambition,” wrote Rabbi Abraham Heschel. “We have not survived that we may waste our years in vulgar vanities… When Israel approached Sinai, God lifted up the mountain and held it over their heads, saying: ‘Either you accept the Torah or be crushed beneath the mountain.’”

Here’s how it stands in America today. Over the past three years, the political and corporate classes in the United States have secured for themselves more than $2 trillion in tax cuts. More than half of them are going to the wealthiest one percent. The Congressional Budget Office predicts deficits totaling more than $2.75 trillion over the next 10 years. America has more children growing up in poverty than any other industrial nation.  One in 37 adults living in the United States are in prison or have served time there, the highest incarceration level in the world.

“The mountain of history is over our heads again,” proclaims Rabbi Heschel. “Shall we now renew the covenant with God?”

How are charity and justice made real in your life?

Breathe in. Breathe out. Ad…..vent.

With gratitude to Pax Christi USA where some of these reflections first appeared in print.


First Sunday of Advent

“There is great virtue in practicing patience in small things until the habit of Advent returns to us.” Caryll Houselander, woodcarver and mystic

“Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers.”—Romans 13:11

Gathered around the Advent wreath, the youngest child asks: Why do we light this candle? The elder answers: We light the first Advent candle to remind us of the promise of the prophets that a Messiah would come, bringing peace with justice and love to the world.

Advent is about knowing what time it is. Though we try to stay spiritually awake, we are human. We fall asleep. We are lulled into the addictive habits and patterns of the world. We begin to act and think and live like unbelievers—like those whose vision is not shaped by God.

There are basic question that every human will eventually ask. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? These are the essential questions of the human spirit. They are the questions that launch the quest into the nature of our mystery. Advent is a time specifically set aside in the liturgical year to accompany those questions.

It will require us to walk in dark places, sometimes without even a flicker of light. We will listen to prophets railing about the end of time—exploding our known and familiar world, our moral and cognitive self-understanding—until we are blown back to our essential elements. Advent will reduce us to atoms, bits of stardust. “We are only syllables of the Perfect Word,” says Caryll Houselander. We will be uncreated. We will be made feminine, until our nothingness becomes a nest.

On the first Sunday of Advent we must get ready to get ready. The alarm clock is about to go off. We are about to be roughly roused. We will be shaken to the very depths, so that we may wake up to the truth of ourselves. For this, we must prepare. God invites us on a journey. We are only lacking one piece of information. We have no idea where we are going.

What do you need to do to prepare?

Ad……vent. A d v e n t (slowly breathe in on the “Ad” part and out on the “vent” part)…There! You prayed today. Keep it up!

With gratitude to Pax Christi USA where some of these reflections first appeared in print..