Why is Advent needed more than ever this year?
The answer is found in the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.
“Men,” it states “should take heed not to entrust themselves only to the efforts of some, while not caring about their own attitudes. For government officials who must at one and the same time guarantee the good of their own people and promote the universal good are very greatly dependent on public opinion and feeling.
“It does them no good to work for peace as long as feelings of hostility, contempt and distrust, as well as racial hatred and unbending ideologies, continue to divide men and place them in opposing camps. …
“Those who are dedicated to the work of education, particularly of the young, or who mold public opinion, should consider it their most weighty task to instruct all in fresh sentiments of peace” (No. 82).
More than ever, safeguarding peace, and the unity it generates, is at stake. Much of today’s divisiveness is reducing us to second-rate citizens by proliferating cynicism and disunity to the detriment of trust and harmony.
Inspiration is best when we are at our best and no better time exists than celebrating peace and its harmony on earth at Christ’s coming. What, then, should we practice in particular this season?
Two excellent exercises Lent and Advent encourage are undertaking acts of supererogation and self-denial. In today’s world this translates into being, more than ever, well-disposed to life, government, church and friends and to sedulously avoid whatever diminishes a healthy spirituality.
This Advent, we should especially focus on the sacredness of words we employ. This can make all the difference between achieving unity and peace or promoting division and enmity. Here we might begin the day dedicating ourselves to the careful selection of words that generate courtesy and peacefulness.
Another good Advent exercise might be self-denial that encourages us to shun the divisiveness and indignities that fill the internet networks we use: to avoid the barrage of indecencies reducing us to second-class citizens.
Advent is a special opportunity for becoming the first-rate people God intended us to be.