Expectant Hope

‘Vita Consecrata’ series Part 3 of 12
Vita Consecrata Chapter I Section II  #23-28 
The Advent preparations are in full swing, the altars in each convent are adorned in violet, a healthy competition over the most beautiful Advent wreath has begun and the cantors are practicing the Advent antiphons for the Liturgy of the Hours.  
While these customs have become the “norm” for us, we recognize this is a stark contrast from what most experience this season…Long lines at the mall, the Christmas songs which have been blasted since October, rushing to get Christmas cards in the mail, and the countless Christmas parties with various themes such as “wear your tacky Christmas sweater.”   In all the commotion, it’s important to remember that the time of Advent is purposeful and precious.   This time of preparation allows us to enter with great reverence into what is an AWESOME MYSTERY!  Within each of us begins a stirring of expectant hope, wonder and awe over the Incarnation, the Word Made Flesh, the Christ Child.  God Himself comes to be with us  As we’ve sung over and over again “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”.  Emmanuel – God is with us!!
As Christians we are given this precious time each year to prepare for the coming of our Lord!  To some degree, those called to Religious Consecration live this active expectation each and everyday.  Blessed John Paul II says in Vita Consecrata “Those who have dedicated their lives to Christ cannot fail to live in the hope of meeting Him, in order to be with Him forever.  Hence the ardent expectation and desire to ‘be plunged into the fire of love which burns in them and which is none other than the Holy Spirit.’”   This same “fire of love” which conceived Christ in the womb of Mary entered us at Baptism and was sealed in us at Confirmation. With Mary as our model we are each asked to surrender all that we are, as we are, to this Divine Flame, the Spirit of Love, in order that our lives may bear Christ into the world – our world, aworld desperate to know Love.    
As Consecrated Religious faithfully live their vows they become a sign and reminder not only of Christ’s coming, but of His tremendous love for each individual even now.  The witness of commitment and watchfulness for the Lord of Lords and King of Kings calls all to remember that “here we have no lasting city” (Heb13:14) for “our commonwealth is in heaven.” (Phil3:20)  The one thing necessary is to seek God alone; to seek Him with a heart open to receiving. Blessed John Paul II goes on to say that “the contemplative life is a constant reminder that the primacy of God gives full meaning and joy to human lives, because men and women are made for God, and their hearts are restless until they rest in Him.”
Giving primacy to God means entrusting our entire selves to Him – our heart, our desires, our hopes, our fears.  It means dispelling all forms of discouragement and lies that the culture feeds us, and clinging to the Hope founded on God’s promises “contained in the revealed Word”.  
This Christmas let us approach the “revealed Word” in all humility, let us kneel before the manger in awe and wonder at a God who comes in love to heal us, redeem us, and set us free.  
O Holy Night
Truly he taught us to love one another;
His law is love and his gospel is peace.
Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother
And in his Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His Holy Name

This meditation is part 4 of 12 in our series on Blessed John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata.  You can download a copy of this document from the Vatican’s website: www.vatican.va