As I sit to write this post, I’m at the kitchen counter in our new house. We’re in the midst of a move. I’ve moved more than a dozen times in my life and this is the first one that can be considered a local move. It’s an experience I’m familiar with, but one that I still don’t particularly enjoy.
The weeks leading up to the move were quite stressful. I had my normal duties along with common moving tasks like lining up housing, coordinating schedules, and handling utilities. Of course, I still took care of the kids and managed schoolwork throughout the day. I also layered on additional preparation jobs, like sorting and organizing. I’m glad to be very near the end of this journey.
As I worked among the boxes, both before the move and while unpacking, there were many times that I was struck by the sheer quantity of things that we’ve gathered. We’re a family of six, so packing light isn’t exactly possible, but the accumulation is remarkable. On an ordinary day, we might walk into a store and buy something, only to still have that thing five or ten years later. We pick things up, but so rarely lay them down.
Advent, like Lent, is a season of preparation. It’s a season in which the liturgy points us towards the hope that is the Incarnation, God with us. But it’s also a penitential season. St. John the Baptist is still in the wilderness, crying out to us to make straight the path of the Lord. Advent is another opportunity for us in our year to lay things down.
Original sin is with each of us, and from it we derive our inclination to sin. This is known as concupiscence, a sort of tendency towards sin away from virtue. In our lives, as we go about our days, we pick up vices. We take on these bad habits like holding a grudge or giving into road rage. We pick up vices big and small, never really laying them down.
Advent is the time to lay down our sinful habits, big and small. It’s a call to reorient ourselves towards God, to be reminded of our identity as His children. It’s an excuse to break even the smallest of vices that keeps us from living in the true freedom of God’s law.