“Neglect” is not a word we normally associate with the liturgical season of Advent, but we should! Advent is supposed to be a time of “hope” and “preparation” and “joyful expectation” — but, sadly, for a growing number of Catholic Americans, Advent has also become a time of neglect.
Of course, there are a number of things that most Americans do not neglect during this holy season — ever! They definitely do not neglect shopping (although they might wait until the last minute to do it). They don’t neglect cooking and baking (they’ve just got to make those special Christmas cookies for everybody in the family). They don’t neglect socializing. They don’t neglect decorating (even if they don’t like to do it). And they certainly don’t neglect eating — and eating — and eating!
But, at the same time, many of these same people do neglect their souls! They neglect the spiritual dimension of their lives. They neglect, for example, to spend extra time in prayer and reflection. They neglect the extra opportunities they have to make a good examination of conscience and go to confession. They may even neglect to attend a Sunday or holy day Mass if they have a lot of shopping and baking to do.
They make extra time for everything and for everybody during this holy season — except Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (who just happens to be the reason for the season!).
Since we’re at the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church, we all should make a common resolution today. We should resolve to do our best not to neglect our spiritual lives in any way during the four weeks of Advent we’re currently experiencing.
Then we should pray that, by the grace of God, we will be able to extend this resolution to the other 48 weeks of the year.