Threefold Advent Preparation

Advent, a nearly four-week season of watchful preparation this liturgical year, began this past Sunday. Without fail, every Advent I think back to one particular reflection I heard more than a dozen years ago. The homilist focused on the word “come,” as it applies to Advent.

That word-focus, in itself, was not surprising or unusual, since among the etymological explanations, the one that rings truest to me, having survived three years of Latin, is this one. The English word Advent comes (no pun intended) from the Latin prefix “ad” (toward) and the Latin verb “venire” (to go or to come), meaning “to go toward” or “to come.”

What was unusual, at least for me, was that the homilist acknowledged and explored the threefold-paradoxical meaning of the word “come” as it applies to the Church’s Liturgical season of Advent.

Come.  During Advent, we prepare for Christ’s birth, for His first coming. We sing and pray “Come, Emmanuel.” For as many years are we are alive on December 25th when the Church celebrates His Birth, He comes to us as a newborn Babe in Bethlehem.

Come. Historically, Christ has already come into the world, and because of that coming, He is constantly available to come into our lives in Word and Sacrament. He stands at the door of our hearts, waiting for us to invite Him, and so in response to His knocking, we offer and request, “Please, Lord, come in.”

This continual present opportunity to experience Christ’s coming into our lives is poignantly depicted in paintings showing the door with no outside knob, the door that can be opened only from the inside. Here is one of those images: Christ knocking at the door via Wikimedia/Sul Art

Come. Lastly, during Advent, as we prepare for Christ’s first coming into this world at Christmas, the Church reminds us that this world is passing away, and that Christ is coming back at a future time, heralding the end of this world and the beginning of a new, fully redeemed world. In that respect, we pray “Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus,” looking ahead to “then” when He comes again for us–both at the end of the world, and at the end of our lives.

At all three “comings,” the one in the past that we relive in the present, the present coming anew each moment of each day, as well as the one that we anticipate in the future, we are called to prepare for Him. That is what the liturgical season of Advent is all about: to “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:3) Who is already come, Who is always coming to and for us, and Who is coming again.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve done the homilist justice in my rendition of his explication of Advent as a season of paradoxical comings in three simultaneous, overlapping time periods. We prepare for the birth that has already happened, for a coming that is always new in our lives, and for a coming again that is a second historical coming in the future that draws nearer, and may, in fact, be present.

When I learned about a “reverso poem” last week thanks to Donna Smith’s Poetry Friday offering, I thought that “finally” I might have a format for giving voice to the Advent “coming” paradox.

While I don’t know if I’ve succeeded with either the poetic format or the theological content, here for your consideration is my first reverso poem.

As the homilist admitted, three complementary, but discrete comings are hard to wrap one’s head around. I hope my poetic attempt hasn’t made it harder….

 

Advent Wreath (2)

Photo Credit: Flickr/Alex Harden

 

coming screengrb (2)

 

If you have just under two minutes to spare, you might enjoy this contemporary theatrical interpretation of the Advent preparation theme via this YouTube video: Godspell Revival- Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord

Happy preparation and many blessings for whatever holy days you will be celebrating in the coming days of December.

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25 responses to “Threefold Advent Preparation

  1. Reading your post echoes how I too was raised and how these ideas of advent have been drilled into me studying in a Catholic School. But I love the poem, it captures these 3 distinct coming. The easiest way to understand is, to God, time does not exist hence the then, again, and now are nothing to him but simply NOW. Wow, i don’t think I did any justice with that explanation. Never mind. I agree, that the reverso structure is a perfect fit to this poem and your poem definitely captures the threefold preparation. 🙂

    • Thank you so very much for taking time to read, to affirm, and especially to add the pivotal insight about God’s eternal NOW. …I never thought of that in terms of Advent and the 3 comings. Glad you didn’t delete that part of your comment. I’m with you–it is a mental gymnastic to try to think or even more to express the three continuous time tenses. …Within all our limitations, I’d say we did our best, and maybe even helped share some light. Hopefully, someone wiser and more articulate than we might move this forward, might clarify even more! God bless you! Happy Advent adventure…

    • Read your post earlier, right before going to Mass. Really resonates with me! Appreciate your sharing what you explained was a very personal post. Although I will comment on your site, I am wondering if I might share more personal reactions via email. If that is okay, please email me at cbhanek@aol.com. No hard feelings if you choose not to email…Peace! Thank you! God bless you!

  2. Thanks for your post and explanation of Advent. I like your use of the reverson form to elucidate the concept.

    • Thank you so much for taking time to read and to share your positive feedback:) …Every time I see your name, I have to smile…The first female picture book character I wrote about (ms. still unpublished), I named “Sally Murphy.” Glad to know that there is a real life Sally Murphy full of life and literature! God bless you. Your reading and reacting honors me!

  3. It’s a thoughtful reflection, and works well in the reverso poem style.

    • Thanks so much for reading and affirming, Linda.. The whole continuous three-tense dynamic makes my head spin; the recursiveness of the reverso poem seemed to be appropriate; so glad you thought it worked well. God bless you!

  4. Thanks for this post and the poem. It just sings and I’m wondering how it would work as a call and response for two voices.

    • Thank you so much for reading and for sharing that compliment and wondering. I would be honored if you took what I’ve done and made it your own in two voices. No need even to refer to “my” original, since it really is what I heard the priest (long deceased) share in reflection. …If you do feel inspired to give it a whirl, I would love just to be able to appreciate seeing the threefold coming handled differently. I’m sure it would give me another dimension–other insights–into Advent. God bless you! Again, I’m very thankful that the poem sang to you!

  5. A fresh take on reversos! Nicely done.

  6. Lovely poem–thanks for sharing it.

  7. Just happened to check back here. Thought I’d commented earlier, but guess not! When I saw that you were doing a reverso, I just had to pop in. Nicely done. A reverso works well for this purpose. Like the repetition!

    • I’m smiling, and my heart is beating a little faster knowing that you read the reverso poem, given that you/your reverso poem last week were the inspiration/introduction to that format. I totally admit that compared with your masterful use of the format, I took a baby step in the direction of creating a “real”/mature “reverso” poem. Given the difference between your mentor text and my text, I am very grateful that you don’t demand a retraction of my mentioning your name; I could understand your disavowal of any connection with mine:) …I hope someday on another topic to try to come closer to doing the kind of amazing reverso poem you created. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure that what I did really qualified as a reverso poem, but, as you seemed to agree, it did seem to work well for the tense/progression/overlap; backwards-forward meaning of the idea of “coming.” Thank you so much for taking time to visit/revisit and especially to leave an affirming comment. I’m looking forward to more inspiration/mentoring from your PF posts. Thanks again. God bless you!!!!

  8. Come is quite the powerful word, isn’t it? Thank you for your thoughts here, and for your poem!

  9. The reverso is a tough form to master, I think. You’ve done an admirable job!

    • Thank you so very much for taking time to read and for giving such much- appreciated positive feedback. Compared with Donna Smith’s mentor text last week, I feel as if I took a baby step…Glad I risked sharing, despite my apprehensions that I hadn’t done a “real”/mature reverso poem. God bless you, and thanks!

  10. Isn’t it freeing when you find the perfect form for your words?

    • Yes! “freeing” is a good word for finding the format that helps liberate the words that hadn’t wanted to commit to being released. …Hope you’ve had a glorious birthday! …Thank you so very much for taking time this birthday weekend to read and to generously comment. God bless you!

  11. Really enjoyed this, both the homily review and the poem. It is such a simple poem, but the kind that, because of its grounding in a grand theme, is durable. I like Joy Acey’s idea of hearing it as a call and response. And as a reverso you’ve done a great job of tackling a tricky form.

    • What a gift! I learn so much every time you read and share a comment. Thank you for introducing me to Joy Acey’s idea of reverso as a call and response poem. Thank you, too, for your encouraging feedback on my first reverso poem. I “worried” it was too simple, yet sensed, as you assured me that the theme that grounds it is grand; thus it is sustainable. God bless you!

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