“Anticipation! Anticipation! Is making me late. Is keeping me waiting.”

Is perhaps the best song by Carly Simon that incorporates all of my personal sentiments regarding the Advent season. Indeed, Advent is the greatest period of anticipation before the celebration of the birth of the Messiah at Christmas.

Advent is not only anticipation, but it is also a period of waiting. Anticipation and waiting go hand in hand for the Catholic Church and its liturgical celebrations. In some sense Advent not only makes us wait, but teasingly provides a taste of the joy of the Incarnation because our waiting and preparations are such a rich tapestry of prayers, colors, rituals and celebration.

I love the premature ability to wish my fellow Catholics, “Happy New Year!” when the First Sunday of Advent rolls around each year. Besides the unusual reactions and often a loss for words, most people just smile and respond in kind, “Happy New Year!” to you as well. The New Year is not the chronological beginning of the secular year but the beginning of a new spiritual year in our journey of faith.

The celebration of the new Catholic liturgical calendar is anticipatory of the new life of the Incarnation. In Advent, we celebrate the pregnant pause of our spirituality, by combining our Catholic liturgical calendar with our harried secular lives and live in joyful; “Anticipation!” of Christ’s coming as an Infant Redeemer.

Why is it that when we celebrate our Catholic New Year, we don’t celebrate with all of the fervor and joyful outbursts that accompanies the ringing in of the secular New Year? Perhaps, we have forgotten as a faithful People of God to recall the fact that we co-exist as Catholics in chronological time and kairotic time, namely sacred time, God’s time. As Catholics we constantly live a dualistic purpose, namely one that anticipates the coming of God’s Kingdom and our spiritual reward & our daily mundane and secular activities that lead us through our lives.

Both activities, secular and sacred are causes for both celebration and anticipation. Both aspects of our dualistic Catholic spiritual and secular lives provide opportunities for us to prematurely celebrate the Church’s New Year with the same fervor of the secular New Year’s Eve because we are indeed a People of Faithful Anticipation, in our daily lives and in our journey towards eternity with God.

Advent compels us to live a spiritual “time outside of time,” as we live our daily lives with the constant magnetic attraction of our spiritual journey of faith. Both aspects of our lives are cause for reflection, celebration and renewal coupled with the ever so close notion of, “Anticipation!” of the great things that are coming when we celebrate Christmas and the Birth of Jesus Christ.

When we participate in the Liturgy this weekend, the colors will be muted, purple vestments in anticipation of the white vestments of Christmas celebration. As part of our own spiritual journey and our earthly pilgrimage, let’s celebrate the dawn of Advent with the New Year fervor and anticipation intended as we prepare to celebrate the New Dawn, Christ Jesus in the Incarnation.

So, this weekend, when you meet and greet your friends, neighbors and fellow parishioners give them a robust, “Happy New Year!”, so they can participate in the anticipation and preparation of this sacred and holy time! I guarantee you will receive confused responses, but it is worth the effort to celebrate our spiritual New Year, and life in Christ.

MARANATHA, Come Lord Jesus! Happy New Year!

Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist that muses on Catholic topics and issues. Hugh studied both philosophy and theology at Philadelphia’s Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. He is currently in an advanced theology degree program at Villanova University in suburban Philadelphia.
Hugh writes daily at http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com , http://catholicsacredarts.blogspot.com . He writes on his Irish Catholic parochial experiences at http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com.
Hugh also contributes writings to The Irish Catholic, Dublin, British Broadcasting Company, and provides Catholic book reviews for multiple Catholic periodicals and publishers, including Vatican Publishing House.
Hugh lives in Delaware’s Brandywine Valley with his wife and daughter.
Hugh welcomes your comments via hugh.mcnichol@verizon.net.

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