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How Advent fights the nihilism of today’s culture


Melanie Kirk-Mechtel | Pixabay CC0

Philip Kosloski - published on 12/04/23

Advent is a season of hope, calling us to reject the modern philosophy of nihilism, which does not see any hope in this world or in the next.
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There are many beautiful spiritual themes of Advent, and among the greatest is the theme of hope.

Advent is centered on hope, as the Jewish people longed and hoped for a Messiah to come and rescue them. That hope was finally fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, today’s modern culture does not look forward in hope, as it too often seeing nothingness as the future.

Pope Benedict XVI commented on this reality in a homily at the start of Advent in 2007:

In writing to the Ephesians, St Paul reminds them that before embracing faith in Christ, they had “no hope and [were] without God in the world” (2: 12). This appears an especially apt description for the paganism of our day: in particular, we might compare it with the contemporary nihilism that corrodes the hope in man’s heart, inducing him to think that within and around him nothingness prevails: nothing before birth and nothing after death. In fact, if God is lacking, hope is lacking.

Without a belief in God and the afterlife, life holds no purpose and everything is flat.

Everything loses its “substance.” It is as if the dimension of depth were missing and everything were flattened out and deprived of its symbolic relief, its “projection” in comparison with mere materiality. 

Advent, on the other hand, urges us to hope. It is a hope that not only will Jesus come again to save us, but that is he already here:

Every child born is a sign of trust in God and man and a confirmation, at least implicit, of the hope in a future open to God’s eternity that is nourished by men and women. God has responded to this human hope, concealing himself in time as a tiny human being. 

As we progress through Advent, may we retain our hope in God, trusting that there is something after death, a reality that is full of God’s love.

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