A blessed Advent! For my friends in the Western Ecclesial traditions, a little explanation: our Eastern Pre-Nativity Fast starts today. Advent is, of course, a Western Name, but we call it the Advent Fast here in America’s mostly-convert communities. Yes it is a bit longer than Western Advent, but for what it’s worth your fast used to be this long as well – and it was a fast, like (or close to) the fast of Lent. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Gawain is treated to a sumptuous feast by his host who, in response to the compliments, reminds his guest, “It is a fast.”
This is the first of my seven Advent Meditations for this year. It’s an annual practice, and it helps the Pre-Christmas focus. The meditations, as always, take a starting place the Great O Antiphons that are recited on the nights leading up to Christmas in the monasteries of the West.
Sapientia, quae ex ore Altissimi prodiisti, attingens a fine usque ad finem fortiter, suaviterque disponens omnia: veni ad docendum nos viam prudentiae.
Wisdom, who proceeds from the mouth of the Most High, reaching out mightily from end to end, and sweetly arranging all things: come to teach us the way of prudence.
I’m a bit flumoxed, I confess, as to what the topic is. So I’ll stick with what’s on my heart: faith.
Faith does not mean simply to verbally or mentally assert that some words are true, but rather, placing all contrary social pressure and fear aside, to act as if those words are true. James 2:26, etc. Many parents tell the kids they believe in Santa, but they go out and buy presents anyway. Woe betide the mother who believes in Santa so much that she sleeps without shopping in December. It dawns on me that most of the time my faith is rather more like that: I’m happy say the Creed, but I make sure to back up my choices with some extra shopping.
If “prudence” means, in part, thrift and conservation, I’m doubling my efforts, as it were, doing one thing and saying another. My Faith is misapplied.
How would I live if what I said I believed was what I really believed?
Who would I treat differently?
Who would I watch over?
Who would I avoid?
What would I do in the world?
What would I buy?
What would I eat?
How would I act?
If, as our Antiphon says, God’s wisdom ordereth all things, then this thing, here, in front of me, now… is a gift form God. I think it might be interesting to ask the question as each situation arises, not WWDJ, but rather WWJHMD? What would Jesus have me do? How do I best work out my salvation in this situation with these people at this time?
How can we make it through Advent as if, at the end, God will meet us?