Advent is a chance to take a step back, retreat into silence and penance, reflecting on our sins so that we can be rid of them and make way for the Savior to come. Even as we recall the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was made incarnate at His conception, we look toward His second coming, knowing that one day we must stand alone before Him in our own particular judgment.
It is so easy to get caught up in our lives, to argue that we need this or that knowledge from our jobs or those things for our children (if we are parents). We need to calculate our budgets and remember all the activities that pertain to our loved ones so that we can either get others to those points or get there ourselves. It is so easy to say that our spiritual lives aren't important in the face of all the things we have to "know" to get by every day.
We forget that were it not for God's grace, we would cease to exist. Were He not holding us, breathing life into us continually, none of our paltry concerns would come to fruition. Were it not for our final ends, the moment we forget God, we would fade away.
We need Advent, for Advent forces us to take stock of the condition of our souls, to step back and recognize those things that make us impure, and calls us to especially return to Confession with a strong intent to make amends and start afresh, keeping in mind our final ends.
“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. Do you understand that? When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband, rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness. Do you see?”
I first saw this movie while working on my Master's degree, and spoke of it with the Director of our program, a theologian of note.
I told him I hadn't considered sin in this manner, and knowing it came from a Muslim philosophy (as the characters in the book follow Islam) I was especially struck by the Truth of the statement.
Truly, when we tell a lie, we are depriving another of the truth to which they are entitled. (See St. Thomas Aquinas for more commentary on this.)
Truly, when we kill another, from the womb to old age, we are stealing life.
When we disobey our parents, we are stealing the honor and respect due to them.
When we refuse to go to Mass on Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation (of which we have so few), we steal time and worship from God Himself.
Yes, every sin is indeed a variation of theft; I agree with this, and I've stolen a great deal in my life. I begin Advent with a reflection upon this spiritual and actual crime, and pray not only for forgiveness, but for the grace to recognize all my instances of theft so that I can eradicate them and be reconciled to the Infant Christ who invites us to receive Him if we are "worthy" to do so.
I am far from pure, but thank God for the gift of self-knowledge that brings me to His Throne of Mercy.
I bring to Him this one sin in all its facets, and pray for the grace to overcome them all in accordance with His Will.
Blessed Advent to you all, and may you respond to the call of spiritual renewal in union with the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, experience the grace of conversion, and be open to receive the Infant Christ in your heart and soul when we celebrate His birth on Christmas Day.