Reflecting on Advent: “Wait for me!”

By Christopher J. Stravitsch, LPC, LMFT

“Wait for me!” As one of the youngest kids growing up on my street, this was an appeal I often made to the others. My cul-de-sac was filled with little rascals, chasing one another for a game of tag, playing baseball where we spray painted the baseball diamond onto the road, or darting in and out of each other’s houses. Childhood was full of adventure. We were always on the go, and I was intent on keeping up with the action. “I’m coming! Wait for me!”

The season of Advent is a time of expectant waiting, in which we prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord.   St. Ephrem tells us, “He promised that he would come but did not say when he would come, and so all generations and ages await him eagerly…As holy men and prophets waited for him, thinking that he would reveal himself in their own day, so today each of the faithful longs to welcome him in his own day.” We may not hear a resounding and youthful “Wait for me!” from Jesus, nevertheless, He wants us to pause and wait for Him. Christ desires to be part of our lives—to be included in the action.

God’s presence has the power to break through our loneliness, calm our anxieties, heal our grief, and lift our depression. As Catholic Christian therapists, we can help you finding healing in these areas in a way that brings together the best counseling techniques and the grace of Christ. Our counselors will remain at your side and welcome the healing gifts of Jesus.

At the beginning of this new liturgical year, Jesus beautifully appeals to our hearts, inviting us to learn how to wait for him. He is coming.

It was an act of kindness whenever one of the bigger kids lagged behind until I caught up. It reminded me that they valued my presence and friendship. Christ desires the same generosity from us. Advent is an appropriate season to take a little extra time with our prayers. You might consider lingering for a few minutes of silence after Mass. With expectant faith, quietly pray, “O come, O come, Emanuel…” This will be an antidote to the hustle and bustle of the holidays, which can easily distract us from what is truly important. By doing this you will open your arms and your heart to welcome the Christ Child.   Essentially, you will be preparing yourself for the coming of Christ.

As a youth, if I was going to keep up with the other kids, I had to be ready. At any given moment our activities could change. So, I learned to be prepared. For example, if we were nearing the end of a video game and I heard murmurs of playing outside next, I might position myself near the door. Then, once the swarm took flight, I could slip my shoes on (which I never untied) and get a head start outside.

As we draw near the Nativity of our Lord, we also need to remain vigilant and spiritually prepared. Saint Ephrem helps us to reflect on Advent by considering His second coming, “Christ said: About that hour no one knows, neither the angels nor the Son. It is not for you to know times or moments. He has kept those things hidden so that we may keep watch, each of us thinking that he will come in our own day.” A wise priest I know often counsels, “God wants to surprise us.” He wants to enter our lives in the ways we most need Him and where we least expect Him. Our responsibility, as Jesus exhorted His disciples, is to “‘Be watchful! Be alert!’” (Mark 13:33). St. Charles Borromeo explains, “our hearts should be as much prepared for the coming of Christ as if he were still to come into this world.” As people of faith we believe Christ desires to come to us daily, yet we need to be prepared to receive Him.

Sometimes our personal issues (i.e., anxiety, stress, anger, depression), relationship problems, or family conflicts can be a hindrance or distraction for our faith. Getting the help you need through professional counseling, relationship advice, or family therapy, can be important steps for growing in faith. Oftentimes, people discover God’s amazing love through the counseling process, and this helps them believe even more that Christ wants to come and be with them.

During Advent we are invited to focus more intentionally on preparing ourselves to welcome the Incarnate Christ. Some practical tips for you and your family may include the following: 1) Remove any obstacles that distract you from the spiritual life. 2) Embrace a little more silence as a way to listen and to create space for Christ entering your life. 3) Make use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 4) Explore new ways to pray on your own and with your family (i.e., reading Scripture, rosary, singing Christmas hymns). 5) Show some excitement for the coming presence of Christ, so that your children are not solely focused on the coming presents.

“The Church asks us to understand that Christ, who came once in the flesh, is prepared to come again. When we remove all obstacles to his presence he will come, at any hour and moment, to dwell spiritually in our hearts, bringing with him the riches of his grace” (St. Charles Borromeo). May we be spiritually prepared as we wait for the greatest gift God has ever given us—the Babe of Bethlehem.