The little child asked her catechism teacher: Why Advent? Can’t we go straight to Christmas?

St Charles Borromeo in one of his pastoral letters has an answer. He says we need Advent at least once a year so we don’t forget: “The Church urges us to renew the memory of the great love God has shown us.” In school terms, it’s an annual teachable moment.

We forget things so easily, don’t we– birthdays, passwords, meds–often at our peril. Advent comes to the rescue, like the string of old tied around the finger to remind us to do something important. Not once, but in the course of four weeks.

That something important is savoring the awesome event of Jesus coming to be one with us. Four weeks is hardly enough time to prepare for that, but we do our best. The Scripture readings each day are a gold mine. They express the longing of nations for the Promised One. They tell of a new age about to dawn. Isaiah consolingly predicts, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”

Each Advent the dream is remembered again. This year, let’s “climb the Lord’s mountain,” you and I, and make it happen!

—Fr. Paul Faulstich, SJ spent many years in India and is now doing pastoral ministry at Loyola University in Chicago.