I will fast every Friday of the year, during Advent and Lent, every eve of the feasts of Our Lord, the Virgin, the Apostles and all other fasts commanded by the Church. I would like to do eight or ten days of retreat, twice a year, namely in the days between Ascension and Pentecost, and in Advent.
Louise de Marillac, Rule of life of Saint Louise, being a widow of 36 years, and having not yet founded the Company of the Daughters of Charity.
- The Church took the word Advent from Latin, previously used to celebrate the coming of the gods to their temples. But, as the God of the Romans was present in the emperor, the imperial cult celebrated the God who appeared in the figure of the emperor and the people of a city greeted his visit to their place as an Advent of their God present in the emperor. For the early Christians, Jesus will also come again at the end of times. In the fourth century, the people in Spain and France began to celebrate the coming of Jesus on Christmas Day. From Spain and France passed to the whole Church. And to prepare this Coming or Advent of Jesus that was born in Bethlehem, the Church asked the Christians to prepare themselves with a conversion, for four weeks.
- In the Bible, when the prophets speak of conversion, they imply three moments: the first involves a change of mind, the second adds a change of will, and the third, a change of acting in practical life. A deep and sincere conversion begins by looking at our past, which we do not like, we grieve and sigh the grief of not having acted according to the will of God, and we approach the sacrament of Penance, the confession. This is the change of mind. Then comes the purpose of seeking henceforth a different way of life, according to the following of Jesus. This is the change of will. It only remains to practice it in such a way, that whoever sees us after the conversion, the confession, concludes that we have changed. To become a Vincentian means to change the heart of stone to another one of flesh that show pity to the poor.
- The central characters for conversion in Advent are John the Baptist and Mary. Each of them sets forth a motive for conversion. The cry of the Baptist: “Prepare the ways of the Lord,” is an invitation to conversion, because a new stage has arrived that requires us to change society for one more just and peaceful, called the Kingdom of God. Mary hear, from God, “rejoice!,” and we also have to listen it ourselves, because we can suffer injustices and setbacks, but God is with us. It is not a forced optimism or a childish self-deception, but a conviction: “We have been blessed by God who is Love.” It is a joy that springs from the faith that God accompanies us and is with us and in us, the joy of knowing that God welcomes us as children and makes us brothers of one another.
Questions for dialogue:
- Do we make room for God in our life?
- What does it mean for you, a Vincentian, to be supportive?
- Do you let God be born, enter into your life? Do not you need God? Maybe you do not need God to be born again in you, to sprout with new light in your conscience, to have his presence in the midst of your struggles and contradictions?
Benito Martínez, C.M.