Amid the rush of preparation for Christmas, I’m seeking hints of Advent which lead me out of glaring lights into a dark, quiet place – where God’s Light and his “still, small voice” can penetrate my soul and engender a longing for Him. This longing is the heart of Advent. Where can it be found?

The heart of Advent can be found in the beauty of darkness before dawn, as the black of the night sky gives way to deep violet, then a brightening rose, finally exploding in a burst of gold and white as the sun pierces the horizon. We see this progression in our liturgical colors – purple throughout Advent, rose on “Gaudete” Sunday (the 3rd Sunday when we’re called to “Rejoice!”), and finally the gold and white of Christmas.

The heart of Advent can be found in the peace that comes from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. At Advent Penance services around the Deanery and in regular Confession at our own parish, there is a palpable sense of Christ’s mercy and peace settling over our city, like the clouds of heaven which “rain down the Just One.”

The heart of Advent can be found in sacred liturgical music of longing, filled with hope – in the beautiful Gregorian “Kyrie” from the ancient Missa “Orbis Factor” (“Creator of the World”); in the plaintive melody of “Conditor alme siderum” (Creator of the Stars of Night); and especially in the silence after Communion when we give solemn thanks to God for the gift of his Son in the Eucharist, Christ truly present – “Emmanuel,” God-with-us. Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Have you found the heart of Advent? Have you given your own heart the time, space, and quiet to prepare…to wait…to pray? It’s not too late.

Alex Hill

Alex Hill

Director of music and liturgy