We are entering the ninth fast of our Cor Unum year, the Advent Fast. The days of each year conveniently totaling 365, we enjoy nine forty-day fasts, with five days remaining at the end of December for reflection and strategizing for the New Year.
As with all things here, this is a personal matter. Forty days without food has never been attempted and isn’t on the horizon! … but we have spent forty days without television and another forty days without desserts and forty days without complaining, and we have gone forty days with extra and concentrated thanksgiving and forty days with ongoing prayer for someone in great need and forty days with increased worship and focus on a particular passage of Scripture.
It is all that simple, and while not always easy, it is never difficult beyond delightful.
Let us be reminded of a most monastic practicality: sometimes in order NOT TO DO LESS, it helps us to devote ourselves to more. Sometimes? Really, for us, that is the cloistered credo, the choice of our consecration. If we were not here, we would be doing much less outside these walls. Instead, we ever call to mind in all we do that “here” we are hidden in the quiet temple of our souls with the abiding Presence of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, and we are here to enjoy our Lord.
So, Advent begins. Its official start will be Sunday, November 30, the First Sunday of Advent, four Sundays before Christmas. Get your Advent Wreaths ready, for we will celebrate traditionally, too, as many as wish to join in, but we always start a little early, with a little preparation before the preparation. Our Thanksgiving Fast is ended, but Thanksgiving is yet to come, so we have a bit of a blending of these two most joyous seasons, these seasons of sharing, giving, of family and pleasures and great gratitude.
What would you wish your Advent fast to look like? In all the planning and making ready before Christmas, with all the baking, buying, busy-ness, and beauty of the season, how will you make sure that the Lord doesn’t go begging … for your company? Of course we know, He doesn’t. He doesn’t need us, He just wants us. We see ourselves, in hope, like the woman who “wasted” the contents of her alabaster jar on her Lord. He doesn’t need anointing for burial either, halleluiah! Heaven is fragrant without our praise! Perhaps we are perfuming Him for His next Advent, His Soon Coming, no matter the length of days beforehand.
But consider this, my dear ones … that while heaven does not require the aroma of our praise and our prayers, it is somehow, gloriously, wonderfully, MORE FRAGRANT with it! It could be truly said that it would not be the same without it! Don’t you think that this might be a moment when the Abbess could rightly say, “Enough said!”
The Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany
Famous for its Nativity Scenes, Gluhwein, and the Christmas Angel that watches at the entrance!