Advent should not be viewed as simply a warm up period for the Christmas festivities; but a time of prayerful preparation for the Advent (coming) of Christ. The Liturgy and traditions of the Church remind us that we are not only thinking of the historical event of our Lord’s birth in Bethlehem, but also of his future coming in glory and most urgently his desire to be born in our hearts now.
So Advent is concerned with Our Lord’s coming in the past (in the flesh and in weakness), in the future (in power and glory) and in the present (in spirit and mystery).
During Advent we spiritually re-live the hopes and expectations of the Old Testament; awaiting the coming Messiah. Many of the ancient prayers of the season start with the invocation “Excita Domine!” literally “Stir up O Lord”; they are an alarm call to awaken us from the sleep of apathy and indifference; a summons to reform and to focus our lives. Advent is a time then of prayer and penance to help us welcome Christ who desires to be born in our hearts.
One text from St Paul’s Letter to the Romans constantly resounds through Advent (Romans 13:11-12): “It is now the hour for you to rise from sleep… the night is far advanced; the day draws near. Let us cast off the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.”
To assist in your preparation please follow the link below to the website of the Southwark Agency for Evangelisation and Catechesis where you will find a comprehensive collection of resources, including the signup page for the Southwark Spirituality Commission daily Advent reflections via email.