Here we are, the first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year. If you are anything like me, Advent has gone by in years past as one of those seasons where you knew you were supposed to be preparing spiritually somehow for Christmas, but really it was just a nebulous idea of doing different things in prayer, different types of readings during the liturgy, an advent wreath, and of course all the stuff you do to get ready to celebrate Christmas.
I don't know that I can put any of this in words just now, but I am getting a completely new sense of Advent this year. If you are Catholic and pay attention to the readings at Mass on Sundays and during the week, you know that the Church emphasizes the end of the world, Jesus' return in glory nearly as much as the time of His birth during the Advent season.
I continue to read the Volumes from Direction for our Times, and the graces continue to flow into the rest of my life. Perhaps it is still too fresh to have words for, but I am sensing the connection between preparing for the last days and preparing for the birth of Jesus. Quiet. Meditation. Prayer. Calm. Love. Trust. Watching. Alertness. Wholly given over to the desires of the Holy Spirit, not carried away in "drunkeness, carousing and the anxieties of life" as today's gospel said.
There is some way in which the Church now is to be like Mary, to bring forth Jesus into this world, completely in the power of His grace.
Our family tradition for the Sundays of Advent, which we are observing for the third year in a row now, is to have "picnic" food, eaten in the living room with the light from the crèche and the Advent wreath, before prayers. The darkness and light make quite an impression on the little ones. And tonight, it all made quite an impression on me, as well -- the need for calm, simple preparations, how little we can do in the dark, how drowsy it makes us. But how good it is to praise Him who is Light.
Right now it's ineffable, but not nebulous.