The Joy of Waiting for the Lord

by Aidan McIntosh
“Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,
Comes with pardon down from heaven;
Let us haste, with tears of sorrow,
One and all to be forgiven”
                           (Vox clara ecce intonat)

The Lord Jesus presents us with one simple command during this holy season of Advent: “Watch!” This single command characterizes the entire season and is reflected in the quietness of the liturgies, the modesty of the sanctuary, the penitential practices, and other venerable customs. But what are we watching for?

Watching for Christ’s coming is different from other types of watching. We are not watching a movie or a football game. We are not watching our little siblings play when our parents are away. Instead, what we are watching for is something, or rather some person, who we cannot directly see right now, but whose presence in our souls calls us to turn towards Him. In Advent, the Lord Jesus wants us to wait in hopeful anticipation for His second coming – His parousia – so that our hearts may overflow with joy upon seeing Him in glory.

At the seminary, this time of watching and quietness coincides with the busiest time of the semester, as we are preparing for our final exams and writing a multitude of term papers. However, amidst the toil of studying, we have many things in the life of the house to look forward to: an end-of-the-semester Christmas party, a special Mass for our families, good fraternity, and the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, just to name a few. Our excitement for the Christmas season, when we celebrate our Lord’s birth with great joy, is anticipated in these festivities, while the penance of our studies and intellectual labor disposes our hearts towards His Incarnation.

Additionally, Jesus reveals to us a key principle in the spiritual life: that it is okay to wait for Him. There is a lot of waiting involved in seminary formation: waiting for a specific virtue to be formed, for a sin or bad habit to be removed from us, for a particular grace to understand Latin, etc. More importantly, the process of waiting for our ordination to the holy priesthood, God-willing, is not easy. But that’s okay.

As we keep watch during Advent, Jesus wants to meet us in these awkward, difficult moments of impatience. In the Holy Eucharist, he enables us to meet Him throughout the day in our penances and festivities. By listening to Him in silent, contemplative prayer, He forms our hearts after His own so that we can eagerly hope for heaven and save other souls through the grace of priestly ministry one day. During Advent, in communion with the early Church, let us confidently cry out to the Lord: maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Aidan McIntosh is a 2nd Pre-Theology Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington.


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