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Bishop Paul Sirba: Advent waiting is a time to enter the mystery of God’s ways

Dec 11, 2018

We have become accustomed to instant answers and ready responses. Just say, “OK, Google.” Except, of course, when there aren’t any. Sometimes we are deprived of support, stressed by the unfairness of a situation, and uncertain about what to do next, and no simple answer is available. In faith, then, the soul is given the choice of the long view and the ultimate promises held out to us by God. We practice the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. We trust in God. Some answers will be given only in heaven.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

Advent waiting is an opportunity for us to enter into the mystery of the ways of God. Along with the prophets of old and contemporaneously with our fellow travelers on the pilgrimage of faith, we seek God and look forward to His return in glory.

The “Hid Divinity,” to use a term coined by Dionysius the Areopagite in the early Church in connection with the Nativity of Jesus Christ, we meditate on the reality of religion that the most important things in faith come to us in disguise. The God of heaven and earth comes to us as a baby in swaddling clothes, as a prisoner hanging on a cross, as a piece of unleavened bread.

Why? Couldn’t our salvation have been worked out in another way? We believe this is the best way because it is the way God chose to do it.

Holy Mother Church offers us the days of Advent to reflect on and enter into the mystery of salvation history. Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, we ponder truths that we cannot fully understand. With God’s grace and a lived faith we can penetrate the truths of our faith more deeply, it is true, but the mystery of God remains. Our little human minds cannot comprehend God.

Set some goals for yourself this Advent. Ask God to give you the grace to celebrate the season well. Pray that God will bless you and your family and help you to enter into Christmas with joy.

Schedule time for silence. Just as we make doctor’s appointments, plan shopping sprees and pickups and drop-offs, so we can schedule a few moments of Advent silence. Set aside an hour of Eucharistic Adoration, commit to coming to Sunday Mass a few minutes early, pray with your family using Sacred Scripture, and pause for a few minutes of silence after reading passages from the Old Testament or New that tell of the Good News of the coming of Jesus.

Go to confession. Our parishes add additional times during Advent for the celebration of this great Sacrament. St. John the Baptism challenged the people to prepare the way of the Lord by clearing a straight path to their hearts. We as Catholics prepare by going to confession. “The whole power of the Sacrament of Penance consists in restoring us to God’s grace and joining us with him in an intimate friendship” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1468).

Reach out in love to a neighbor. Examples abound, and opportunities are endless. Try to be open about your faith and why you find joy in Christ’s love and mercy this Advent. Invite someone to Mass or RCIA. Especially be mindful of the poor.

“When a profound silence covered all things and night was in the middle of its course, your all-powerful Word, O Lord, bounded from heaven’s royal throne” (Wisdom 18:14-15).

Bishop Paul Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.