December 5, 2015

Where the Prayer of Advent is Forged

Advent Prayer is forged in the darkness of this world's injustice, hatred and cold disregard. It is not a convenient or comfortable offering. It is crucified and bound to those who need a word of hope.

To be truly Christian, this prayer must suffer all kinds of difficulties and face seemingly insurmountable challenges with generous readiness. This cry of faith must not allow itself to be overcome by distress or anxiety, but instead patiently endure all kinds of sorrow with trust. The more love such prayer costs, the more love it brings -- but it has the power to find love where there is no love, because it puts love there.

Even when no more than a gentle invocation of the Name of the Lord, its gentle persistence is not crushed down even by the most coercive hostility. When exhaustion and shock leave one with no words to say or spiritual feelings at all, this hidden act of piety remains a beacon of human dignity in determined silence -- an offering in hope that does not disappoint.

This humble prayer stands on what is faithful and true. It finds invincible confidence in the face of heartrending disappointment and unbearable grievances. By believing in the coming of the love of God, even more than the malice and apathy of men, this simple movement of heart remains on firm ground, the only ground that can bear the weight of human existence.

Such love consumed prayer can hear Divine Whispers above even the oppressive rancor of cold contempt. The unfamiliar light that this contemplation knows can open up a sanctifying gaze deep into every terrifying shadow of our culture. It makes straight a pathway through confusion. It levels mountains of doubt and despair. It sings with a joyful praise that can still even the clamor of the public square. It always rejoices to welcome the quiet fullness of the Word even in the midst of tears. When it is fully mature, this cry of recognition and love echoes forth from such depths that not even death can silence it forever.

If we desire our Advent Prayer, in the end, there are no tricks to teach, no shortcuts to take. In the cold hard path where we stumble on our neighbor broken in the dirt of daily life, this prayer begins when we surrender our own plans and appeal to the mercy of God with humble trust. When this happens, when our Advent Prayer takes on the proportions of real love, something worthy of the One crucified by love is born in us and we have begun at last to prepare for His coming.