“Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from heaven,” says St. Benedict in the Prologue to the Rule. Christ is the Light and the Voice to which we are instructed to open ourselves. This “opening,” while it is something we are to be doing daily, is specifically the summons of the Advent season: “Prepare the way for the Lord!” (Is. 40:3).
As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, which proclaims God’s salvation-bringing activity. Both the Incarnation and the Resurrection ushered in a whole new dimension of life for us—fullness of life in an eternal covenant of love. Borrowing more imagery from Isaiah, “A feast of rich food and choice wines,/ juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines” is now available for all. And, “the veil that veils all peoples,/ The web that is woven over all nations” has been destroyed (Is. 25:6-7). The verdant pastures of Psalm 23 and the feeding of the multitude in Mt. 15:36-37 are other images that convey the bounty of blessings already received from the hand of God through Jesus Christ.
During Advent we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas as well as Christ’s Second Coming while not forgetting the victory of life already present—if only we would open our eyes and our ears to it.
Just as we delight in the splendor of glowing Christmas trees and nativity scenes all the more when the overhead lights are darkened, the brilliance of God’s activity is better savored when we “turn off” the many distractions that impede our seeing it clearly. Turn off the 24/7 news channel, take a break from social media, silence the phone for a period of time, leave the laptops and tablets in stand-by mode, and let a moment of silent stillness awaken you to the presence of Divine Mystery.
As mentioned in last week’s blog, all monastic practices, such as silence, solitude, common prayer, manual labor, common ownership, have the singular goal of awakening practitioners to the awesome mystery of salvation in Christ. This mystery is real. This mystery is already present. We only have to open ourselves to it.
May these days before the celebration of Christmas truly be an “Advent-ure”—a graced journey filled with new ways of opening ourselves to the Light that comes from God and the Voice of the Lord calling out to us today.
By Sister Therese Haydel, OSB