Advent is that time of the year in which we recall the birth of Christ. But it is also the time in which we think beyond time, as the liturgy repeats the words of the book of Revelation: “come, Lord Jesus!”
In the weeks before Christmas many Christians around the world celebrate a season of preparation called “Advent.” However, few know what this word actually means.
The word “Advent” stems from the Latin word adventus, which literally means “coming” or “arrival.” In context, this commonly refers to the coming of Jesus on Christmas day.
St. Jerome, when composing the Latin Vulgate, also used adventus when translating the Greek word parousia. This word has a similar meaning, but in a broader context refers to Jesus’ second coming at the end of time.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this double meaning, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming” (CCC 524).
A single word can summarize what the Advent season is about: preparation. Advent is that time of the year in which we recall the birth of Christ, over two thousand years ago. But it is also the time in which we think beyond time, as the liturgy repeats the words of the book of Revelation: “come, Lord Jesus!”. That is, Advent is a time in which Christians experience a unique temporal tension not too different from that which Augustine already referred to in the famous eleventh book of the Confessions: that of a present that is always constituted of memory (as we remember Christ’s birth) and expectation (as we wait for His Second Coming at the end of time).
We hope you find this very brief e-book not only informative, intellectually useful, but also spiritually inspiring and uplifting, as we prepare to receive the Child Jesus once again amongst us, not only in liturgy, but in our everyday encounters with others, specially those who suffer, those who need us the most.