Let us Prepare

By John Mallon

The Sooner Catholic, December 1, 1996

As the Church mourns one of her foremost leaders in the United States, Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin, the Church quietly moves into the season of Advent. Cardinal Bernardin certainly gave us a beautiful witness of how to die well as a Christian. He welcomed death as a friend, and worked as long as his strength allowed. One of his last acts was writing a letter to the Supreme Court of the United States exhorting them that a so-called “right to die” had no place in a civilized system of government. His message was all the more forceful and poignant coming from a man who himself was dying, and dying with enormous dignity. He lived trying to heal rifts and resolve differences between people, and died witnessing to the fact that death can be greeted as a gift from the Lord, in God’s timing, as the time to go home to Heaven, but never to be inflicted by man at his own convenience.

So from witnessing this holy death, we give thanks to God on Thanksgiving day, and face Advent, the time that we prepare for The Birth that made it possible for life and death to be transformed into holy things. As the cold of winter overtakes us it creates the desire in our hearts for the comforting warmth and light of the Baby Jesus. Our hearts, so often stony, cold, dark and empty from sin prepare for the coming of the Light of the World. 

Advent is a time where we clean out the stony, cold cave of our hearts, tidy them, sweep them, shovel out the manure, and make a cozy place for the Holy Babe to arrive and be nurtured. We don the purple of repentance and royalty, and light the candles of the Advent wreath in vigil and anticipation until the angel chorus breaks the cold night air with glad tidings of great joy, for a child is born. Color and light and warmth and song burst forth with the glorious news. Joy to the world! The Prince of Peace, the Wonder Counselor, the One Who Has Come and Will Come Again wishes to reign in our hearts. Let us prepare.