The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Advent

By Jennifer Gregory Miller (bio - articles - email) | Dec 19, 2014

(With my apologies to the author Judith Viorst.)

How does your Advent grow?

How does mine grow? Thanks for asking. I'd say it isn't growing too much.

Christmas still comes on the 25th, ready or not. And I'm not ready, either on the interior or exterior. The decorations are only halfway done. While they are pretty, I do feel closed-in by the extra "things" around the house.

Throughout Advent I see glimpses and glimmers of spiritual growth, preparation, desire for the Christ Child to reign in the hearts of our family.

And then all the snarling, selfishness, bickering, and yelling reappears.

My youngest who just turned 7 is independent and very, very strong-willed. He's playing in first piano recital tomorrow and it's been so difficult trying to urge him along and to help him correct his mistakes. It finally clicked Wednesday, but I'm a wreck.

And I'm not going to elaborate on meal times. But let's just say indigestion and headaches reign for every single meal.

I only have two children, and I'm failing in those two charges.

I'm feeling like I'm a piece of meat that has been highly tenderized.

I'm not putting the blame on my sons. The blame falls directly on my shoulders. I've failed them in so many ways. This will be the second Advent in a row where my medical issues needed to be in the forefront, resulting in struggling to stay afloat. Housework and schoolwork have fallen by the wayside. If any of our Advent traditions continue, it's only because I did the planning and printing years ago and they can run without much assistance from me.

My cardiologist told me to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which makes it harder on these days when all I want to do is have a little treat of coffee or enjoy a glass of wine with my husband and just unwind.

My youngest son told me today's window in the Advent calendar said "No room for them at the inn." He's been pondering that today (see, a little glimmer). Today I'm feeling what Joseph and Mary felt. Rejection. Isolation. No consolation, including favorite beverages. I'm trying to put it all in the manger.

And I continue my longing for Christ's coming. I was rereading the chapter "The Spiritual Advent and the Return of the Lord" from The Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine from 1260, (trans. Ryan and Ripperger, 1941) emphasis mine:

With regard to the advent in the flesh, three things should be considered: its timeliness, its necessity, and its usefulness. Its timeliness is due first to the fact that man, condemned by his nature to an imperfect knowledge of God, had fallen into the worst errors of idolatry, and was forced to cry out, 'Enlighten my eyes.' Secondly, the Lord came in the 'fulness of time,' as Saint Paul says in the Epistle to the Galatians. Thirdly, He came at a time when the whole world was ailing, as Saint Augustine says: 'The great physician came at a moment when the entire world lay like a great invalid.' That is why the Church, in the seven antiphons which are sung before the Feast of the Nativity, recalls the variety of our ills and the timeliness and the divine remedy. Before the coming of God in the flesh, we were ignorant, subject to eternal punishment, slaves of the devil, shackled with sinful habits, lost in darkness, exiled from our true country. Hence the ancient antiphons announce Jesus in turn as our Teacher, our Redeemer, our Liberator, our Guide, our Enlightener, and our Savior.

As to the usefulness of Christ's coming, different authorities define it differently. Our Lord Himself, in the Gospel of Saint Luke, tells us that He came for seven reasons: to console the poor, to heal the afflicted, to free the captives, to enlighten the ignorant, to pardon sinners, to redeem the human race, and to reward everyone according to his merits. And Saint Bernard says 'We suffer from a three-fold sickness: we are easily misled, weak in action, and feeble in resistance. Consequently the coming of the Lord is necessary, first to enlighten our blindness, second to succour our weakness, and third to shield our fragility.'

St. Bernard pretty much sums it up. I've been describing my weakness, my feebleness, my fragility, all the reasons I need Jesus to come, just like St. Bernard mentions. So maybe my Advent is right on target.

My heart is echoing throughout the day the current O Antiphon. I've been thinking about how in each O Antiphon, Jesus comes to us in a different manifestation, answering my soul's needs and desires. Wednesday I was turning to Him as Teacher on O Wisdom, to teach me how to deal with my sons. Yesterday for O Adonai I was asking for guidance, for Him to rule my heart and not let other distractions overcome it. Today, O Root of Jesse, I am begging guidance for our family, who needs to be rooted in Christ. Tomorrow for the Key of David I am asking for the key to unlock our hearts as captives to sin and end the bickering!

And so it continues. O Come Emmanuel, do not delay!!!!

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, home schooler, and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org's liturgical year section. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: ForOthers8614 - Dec. 22, 2014 7:29 AM ET USA

    Thank you for a good reminder. Come, O Wisdom...!