Let’s Prepare for the Big Party
By Megan Lacourrege
To be honest, I’m only starting to understand Advent as being a penitential time. With the Christmas carols, yummy treats and fun traditions of the season, it certainly doesn’t seem like a time dedicated to tackling sin, but it is. It is a perfect time to address our appetites so that we are ready for the big day: Christmas.
What I mean by appetites is not simply what we want to eat, but what we desire. I think a lot of us would say that we desire to love others and be loved. Yet, how many of us are taking concrete actions to do so?
Our appetites make themselves known by our actions. For example, we might say that it would be upsetting for someone to gossip about us, but then we gossip about other people with the understanding that, when we do it, it’s not so bad. We also tend to pass our own appetites to our children. We can get impatient with our children for their shortcomings, thinking that our impatience will spur them to do the right thing. Yet, that action would actually be teaching a child how to be impatient, not teaching them virtue.
We can think that we’re being loving, but be acting in self-interest. If that is where are hearts are when Christmas arrives, how can we truly have a merry Christmas? We will only be concerned about how we feel and getting what we want, even if it would be detrimental to others or our souls.
Penance is the key to us really enjoying the holiday itself.
Similarly, our entire lives are a preparation for the party of heaven, where people will only love and be loved. We could also feel like we desire heaven, but if we don’t have concrete actions that demonstrate selfless love, then we don’t desire heaven as much as we think. I think it would sort of be like showing up to a dance party where the one standard is that everybody should be dancing, but you refuse. That would be pretty awkward, if not miserable, for you.
Penance is also the key to open our hearts to every good thing God is offering us, both in this life and the next.