Advent is a hangover.
Hear me out now. “There are only two philosophies of life: one is first the feast, then the headache; the other is first the fast and then the feast.”
Alright, so that was not me, technically. It was Fulton Sheen, who you could (and should) argue is a surer authority. What’s the Venerable Servant of God getting at?
Advent is a time of preparation, preparation for a love that comes seeking each of us as though we were the only human ever to exist. Faced with the call to receive this sublimely profound love, perhaps we better understand the quality of this season. This is a time to sit still, as in the early morning just before sunrise with the horizon on the verge of bursting into light.
Advent is a time of silence, of prayer, of acts of self-denial, all for the sake of quieting ourselves and emptying ourselves of what will not satisfy, making room for what will satisfy: a hangover conducted soberly, if you will, a time for the soul to feel an ache that nothing can satisfy but that soul’s Creator.
No one should practice mortification for its own sake. Sacrifice is always for something. In Advent it is for the sake of opening yourself up more to the mystery of the Incarnation. God united himself to man so that man might be united to God.
Think of it as cleaning house for a Christmas celebration.
People, look east. The time is near
Of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.
(“People, Look East,” Eleanor Farjeon)
Photo by Jad Limcaco