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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

‘Oh Night Divine’: Why We Observe Advent At All

The night is cold and dark. The circumstances uncomfortable in the extreme. With gentle hands her husband cradles the child and gazes with great love upon His face.

The child who was to sacrifice all to save the world was, at that moment, just a child—a sweet baby, chilled by the desert night air. He hands the swaddled child back to his wife. They both cannot take their eyes off Him. The child softly cries, turns his head, and in the comfort of his mother, finds sleep.

At the moment that the Son of Man took His first breath outside the womb a choir of angels began to sing in the desert. All who heard were at first frightened, and then the beauty of the music and the peace of the words calmed their fear and soothed their souls.

When the message came to them, to go and worship for the child is here and the wait is over, they left. Without thought or question, they left. And as the star grew brighter they followed faster with a sense of urgency they did not quite understand. Great men, learned men were hard on their heels following a star and embracing the wonder.

A child is born, the wait is over. The miracle has occurred and we are saved, we are saved.

This is the beginning. The beginning of everything as far as we are concerned, and the wonder, beauty and miracles (for there were many) of that dark night in that cold, lonely cave still stirs the hearts of humanity.

The season of Advent draws us to that night, a night like no other, a night that changed the world and claimed redemption for us all.

The readings and music of Advent long for the coming of that night and through them, if we open ourselves up to wonder, we too can place ourselves in that cave with those shepherds and wise men, the local people and the curious.

We can kneel down, literally or in our hearts, and gaze upon the face of the child who has come to bring hope to the world.

In the midst of the craziness that our secular culture brings to this time of year, it is difficult to create a sense of wonder in our children. To do so we must block out the noisy busyness of the world, the “gimme” culture, and quiet our homes and our minds and let a sense of wonder grow upon us.

We can turn off the outside and dim the lights. We light candles and pray in unison. We sing songs of anticipation and prepare our hearths for a great celebration.

Jingle Bell Rock and Rudolph are fun and festive and filled with memories for many of us; these are good things, celebratory things, and they have their place, but the first place should be a longing for Christ, a joyful anticipation of the arrival of our hope for eternal bliss.

As Advent winds down, let’s make a conscious effort to wonder. To open ourselves up to the beauty of our faith and to marvel at the love that abounded through that long cold night when a girl lived out her fiat and, in doing so, saved us all.

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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