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Advent and the sense of beginning

Fr. Roy Cimagala
Candidly speaking

With the celebration of the Solemnity of the Christ the King, we ended another liturgical year. We are now beginning a new one with the season of Advent, the proximate preparation for the birth of Christ at Christmas.

The immediate thought that comes to mind in this transition of the old and new liturgical years is that while we should have the mind of ending well and also beginning well, we should neither forget that this cycle of life is meant to catapult us to the eternal life where there will be no more changes of seasons and shifts of days and nights.

For this, a prayer that we need to retrieve from the recesses of our memory can be very helpful. It’s the Glory Be, where we find the words, “As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.”

Let’s put our mind and heart into these words if only to remind ourselves strongly that we need to have a good sense of continuity and consistency between our beginning and end, between the past, present and future, and between time and eternity.

The words come after a previous part of the prayer where we say, “Glory be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” which reminds us that the Triune God is the foundation of this continuity and consistency. Otherwise, we would simply be dependent on our estimation of things and our own powers, and would most likely getconfused, mistaken and lost.

We need to develop a strong and correct sense of beginning. At the moment, many of us seem oblivious to this need. We appear to live only for the present. The past and the future are merely given a lick and a promise, that is, a shallow and fleeting consideration.

It could be because our contemporary conditions often lead us to act only for the moment. The problems and pressures of modern life badger us to mind only what is at hand at present. They tend to erode our sense of time. They seem to keep us narrow-minded, short-sighted and Pavlovian in our reactions.

It’s one of the urgent challenges nowadays to develop this abiding sense of beginning. It’s what gives us a greater perspective and depth in life, a guide to help us assess things properly as we go on and encounter all sorts of situations.

In fact, I would say that this sense of beginning should be a crucial element in everyone’s character. All of us should have a permanent, abiding sense of where we came from, for that would tell us who and what we are, what our proper end is, how we ought to behave.

In short, it’s important that we always have an accompanying sense of the ideal goals we need to pursue. We just can’t have an anything-goes, free-for-all attitude in life. Peculiar to our human condition is the effort to conform our life to an ideal, no matter how puzzling and difficult to get that ideal may be.

We are not just what we are at the moment, as-is-where-is. While there is something permanent in us, we also have something dynamic that needs to be always worked out, defended, renewed, etc. The sense of beginning imbues our life with meaning and direction.

We have to exert no insignificant effort to develop this sense of beginning, continuity and consistency since with our growing power to dominate the world in all its aspects, we always have the tendency to convert our legitimate autonomy due to our freedom into total independence and separation from God, our Father and Creator.

For this, we need to exert no insignificant effort to grow deep and strong in humility, because pride can easily grip us and can even trick us blind by appearing to us under the guise of humility—false humility, of course. Without humility, the gift of faith which we need cannot take root and function in us.

It’s important that whatever we do here on earth, starting with our thoughts and desires all the way to our big enterprises and projects, should be developed and pursued always in the context of the beginning of things, during the creation of the universe, with God as the source and creator of everything.

It’s there where we can find the pristine state of things in general or the integrity of creation in its original state still unspoiled by us with our sins. It’s there where we get to know the nature of things and their purpose, where all the laws—physical, natural and moral—can be gleaned.

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