Anyone who has made homemade bread knows that it generally is a time-intensive process.
Mix the water and yeast. Ferment. Add more ingredients. Allow time for the dough to rise. Then comes the actual baking.
It could be said that baking carries with it a great deal of waiting and anticipation, as noted by Dominican Brother Joseph Paul Albin, who in this week’s issue described his role as baker-in-residence at St. Dominic Priory in St. Louis. He also linked the process of baking with another important season of anticipation in the Church — Advent.
We find this same anticipation in the season of Advent as we wait for the coming of the Christ child — the Bread of Life. Advent not only is an annual time of waiting for the arrival of the Messiah and our anticipation of His eventual second coming at the end of time, but it’s also an invitation to renew our relationship with the Lord in our own lives.
Christians “are called to keep and spread the joy of anticipation: We await God, Who loves us infinitely, and Who, at the same time, waits for us” to be with Him forever in Heaven, Pope Francis said last year during Advent.
Certainly, we see this theme of anticipation in other ways in the life of the Church. Take for example the Mass, in which we first listen to the Word of God, leading to the pinnacle moment of the liturgy, with the consecration of bread and wine into our Lord’s Body and Blood.
Anticipating positive events has the ability to sustain the output of dopamine, a neurochemical that boosts our mood and gives us more energy in our lives. As humans, we need things to look forward to and become excited about.
So what are you looking forward to this Advent? Perhaps it’s the anticipation of attending Christmas Midnight Mass with your family. Attending the Way of Lights Christmas display at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows. Displaying a Jesse tree or an Advent wreath in your home. Or reading the O Antiphons together as a family.
All of these things can help build upon the excitement of what lies before us as we journey toward Christmas. The joy of the birth of our Savior is unlike anything else that we could anticipate in this life. And it’s something to hold on to as we anticipate his second coming at the end of time. Because through his divinity and humanity, our Lord has paved the way for our salvation, if we follow Him.