Advent is once again upon us, and we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child. This often takes a lot of soul searching and causes us to question what things in our lives are holding us back from a true relationship with God and welcoming Him into our lives. This is much like Lent, and Advent is indeed a “mini-Lent.” It is a preparation for Lent in the sense that we are getting ready to welcome Christ into our lives before we have to prepare to follow Him to His Death and Resurrection on Easter. Getting ready to accept His Incarnation as man can be challenging and it’s meant to be, but it can also be life changing and draw us closer to Christ.
What holds you back from welcoming Jesus into your life? It might be a lack of humility and feeling that you’re too good to be submissive to someone else. It might be fear due to trauma from a past relationship and not knowing what to expect from God because what you’ve seen from others is all you know. Whatever it is, Advent is a time to reflect on and pinpoint these reasons so that you can begin to break down the walls that have been keeping you from God. Meditating on the events of Christmas that we are preparing to celebrate can help also. If you’re proud, consider the humility with which God Himself came down from heaven in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is God and yet did not consider Himself too good or powerful to become a humble man in order to save His people. If you’re fearful, consider how much God must love us in order to abandon His throne in heaven and become man for us. He is not like other people in our lives who hurt us. He wants to love you and He sees you as if there were no other person on earth. Additional prayers, such as the Litany of Humility and the prayer to St. Michael to dispel fear, are also great tools to begin breaking down walls.
Fasting and/or doing some other form of penance during Advent coupled with your prayer and meditation is beneficial as it draws your heart from earthly things, particularly during this time when secular society wants to jump straight to Christmas, and points it toward God, reminding you to slow down and take advantage of this time of preparation so to experience Christmas in its fullness. If we prepare properly and challenge ourselves to uproot what holds us back from welcoming Christ, then we can truly experience the joy of His Coming on Christmas Day.