10 December 2012

Advent: Waiting

So the first week or two of December sounded incredibly exciting to me about a month ago. I'd never celebrated Advent before and was excited by the challenge of it. Here was something else new I could learn about. But Advent is more than just a "something." It is an entire season of the liturgical year leading up to Christmas. 
Going into the season, it reminded me of Lent. I was all prepared to feel anticipation, and likely impatience, even excited about the anticipation. Waiting makes not waiting worth it. And that's how it has felt: waiting has just made me want Christmas to come all the more. It has made me excited, probably more excited than if I had been baking cookies and singing songs and decorating all Christmas-like all along. 
But there was something else I was not excited about for the first couple of weeks of December: the end of the semester. Last minute papers, projects and exams hit my desk all at once. The darkness and struggle I was vaguely expecting with Advent became very tangible with end of the year stress. This was especially exaggerated by the trip I would take after exams to the East coast, where I will be spending Christmas with my boyfriend and his family.
Why I was surprised by this, I don't know. I knew exams were coming up. I also had welcomed any struggle that came my way at the start of Advent. In the middle of deadlines, the third Sunday of Advent came and reminded me that the darkness will end. Exams will end, waiting will end. Christmas will come. 
Another thing that brightened my week was Mass on Tuesday. The parish I attend does Latin Mass in the evenings and I have enjoyed getting used to the language and imagining this is what it must have been like to attend Mass years ago. However, this week everything was in English! I didn't despair too much, though, because after Adoration occurs before Mass, the hymn "Holy God We Praise Thy Name" is sung a capella. It has become one of my favorite hymns an it is absolutely beautiful. It always turns my mind toward God and reminds me that He will reign justly and perfectly forever. There is a great deal of peace that comes with that thought. It brought me a glimpse once again of the light I am expecting at the end of Advent.

"Holy God, We Praise Thy name,
Lord of all, we now before Thee,
All on Earth Thy scepter claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee,
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign."

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