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The English word, advent, derived from the Latin, adventus, is a translation of the Greek word, parousia. In the classical world, parousia and adventus were technical terms for the appearance, the manifestation of presence of a king, a great ruler, even a god to be worshipped. Arriving, the king gifts his people with his presence.


For us, Advent is the yearly season of reflective observation of the time which begins the presence of God with us, through the Nativity of our Lord. This presence is for humankind, for each of us:


The fact remains that our task is to seek and find Christ in our world as it is, and not as it might be. The fact that the world is other than it might be does not alter the truth that Christ is present in it and that his plan has been neither frustrated nor changed: indeed, all will be done according to his will. Our Advent is the celebration of this hope. What is uncertain is not the “coming” of Christ but our own reception of him, our own response to him, our own readiness and capacity to “go forth and meet Him.”1


May our advent hope be to respond to parousia, Christ’s presence through a quieting of our hearts and the discipline of our thoughts. This experience is what is intended for us through both the joys and sorrows of earthly living. God is there.

1 Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration.