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Advent Series: Holy Anticipation

O heavenly king, the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph forsook their homes on the road to Bethlehem. Teach us to forsake the vanity of this world and retreat to the quiet of the soul. O sweet savior, the shepherds waited in the stillness of the pastures where they listened to angelic chant. Allow us to enter blessed stillness, that we may tune our hearts to thy transforming grace. O blessed Lord, the magi lay gold, frankincense, and myrrh at your feet. I pledge to thee the gold of my heart’s love, the incense of my prayers, the myrrh of my willingness to bear my cross. Nurturing Anticipation: O Come, O Come Emmanuel ❖ In the Prison Cell • During his imprisonment, Dietrich Bonheoffer compared the prison cell to Advent: “A prison cell like this is a good analogy for Advent. One waits, hopes, does this or that—ultimately negligible things—the door is locked and can only be opened from the outside.” • “The celebration of Advent is possible only to those troubled in soul, who know themselves to be poor and imperfect, and who look forward to something greater to come.” ❖ Recognize Our Emptiness • We are part of the “age of secularism” / “age of disenchantment.” • "A disenchanted world has been drained of magic, of any supernatural presences, of spirits and God and transcendence. A disenchanted world is a material world, where what you see is what you get. It's not a world entirely without God or a world without religion. Rather, it's a world where God and religion are superfluous." ~ Mike Cosper, Recapturing the Wonder • "What the phones are taking away is the ability to just sit there. That's being a person. Because underneath everything in your life there is that thing, that empty, forever empty. That knowledge that it's all for nothing and that you're alone." ~ Comedian Louis CK ❖ Called to Look Through It All • Advent calls us to pierce through the disenchantment, to nurture lives of anticipation. • Can we re-evaluate our life and find new focus. ❖ The Theotokos: Archetype of Advent • “[No one] knows better than anyone what it means to wait for Christ…she experiences in her own body that God does wonderful things.” ~ Bonheoffer • “What you will find in your heart is not heaven but a picture of heaven, a silhouette of heaven, a heaven-shaped shadow, a longing unsatisfiable by anything on earth…What you will find in your heart is not heaven but a heavenly hole, a womblike emptiness crying out to be filled, impregnated by your divine lover.” ~ Peter Kreeft ❖ Moses: Archetype of Advent • Moses knows God’s promises will be fulfilled. Yet, he also knows he will not see them in his life. He dies on Mount Nebo, gazing across the river to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 32:48-52). • We have to join Moses on Mount Nebo in our own life, as a way of life, always fixing our heart on the life to come. ❖ Nurturing the Anticipation A. Call towards Asceticism • Lady Insensitivity: - “Those who are under my sway…at prayer they are stony, hard, and blinded. In front of the altar they feel nothing. They receive the Holy Gift as if it were ordinary bread….I am the mother of Laughter, the nurse of Sleep, the friend of the Full Stomach…Big meals keep me going, time adds to my stature and bad habit fixes me in such a way that he who possesses me will never be rid of me. But if you are always on the watch and think of eternal judgment, maybe I shall let go of you…If you discover why I came to be within you, it will be possible for you to do battle…Pray often where the dead are laid out and paint in your heart and indelible image of the, traced there with the brush of fasting. For otherwise you will never defeat me.” ~ St. John Climacus B. Review: A focused life • G – Get Concerned • R – Re-evaluate Lifestyle • A – Avoid Multitasking • C – Create Rituals • E – Enjoy God C. The 12 Days of Christmas and Beyond • “A secularized mind is blind to the inherent holiness of life. Maintaining our traditions is one way to avoid this debilitating malady. Christmas is not just "Jesus' birthday" (an impoverished notion heard more and more even among Orthodox faithful), but much more. The birth of Christ and His baptism ought never to be divorced. Both events define the Christmas season. It imparts to the Christian the knowledge that Christ's coming into the world and Christ's sanctification of the waters makes our new life possible -- a sonship by adoption accomplished through baptism.” ~ Fr. Johannes L. Jacobse • Secular society is brilliant at thwarting the power of the holy seasons. Advent becomes obsessed with consumerism and dazzling distractions. Christmas lasts for a day and vanishes into the thin soup of our busy lives. • The Church presents us with an utterly different path. Advent is a time of holy anticipation. The season of Christmastide stretches out till the 2nd of February. Through this holy season, our task is to become incarnational souls, to cherish and delight in the beauty of creation, as one cosmic liturgy of awe and wonder.

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