Advent is always a busy time in the parish. There are numerous Advent Reconciliation Services to attend, many parish formation events, school prayer services, and of course many parties and receptions. Even though our day is grounded in common prayer and Mass, in many ways our Advent as priests is no different from that of our families. We too struggle to find time to set aside to prepare for the Lord's coming. It can be so easy to busy ourselves with preparing liturgies, worship aids, and giving trees that we forget to prepare ourselves for the arrival of the Lord.
Advent calls us all to take a step back and refocus our attention on the coming of the Lord. This is not to suggest that Christmas shopping or decorating is bad, for us in ministry what takes up or time during Advent is often good and holy, but even in the midst of these things we are called to leave them for a few moments to nourish our spiritual lives in quiet contemplation, to reflect on how our actions make way for the Lord. It's these moments of quiet reflection that help us understand the rest of our Advent activity in their proper context.
Although this push and pull between our interior life and our active life is often highlighted in Advent, it is usually a struggle we encounter throughout our entire lives. Especially for those of us in ministry, it can be easy to get caught up in everyone else's needs and ignore our own. All that we do in offering charity and love to others is sustained by the relationship we have with the Lord.
Our preparation for the Lord's coming is not limited to the Advent season, rather it is an essential part of who we are as Christians. Advent serves as a reminder for us of the need to step back regularly from the business and tasks of our day to spend time reflecting on how we are living the Lord's mission and how our lives proclaim "Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!"
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y., and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School. He entered seminary while a student at the University of Notre Dame. He professed Final Vows in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2013. Learn more about Holy Cross parish ministry here.