Advent begins today – and this weekend signaled the end of Ordinary Time in the liturgical seasons. At Mass this morning, the vestments had changed, the first candle of the Advent wreath was lighted, and at home the decorations are being set up. Today I crank up the Christmas music – with some of the same intent as someone might crank up a hard rock soundtrack before entering the boxing ring. Seasons in the church –metaphysical seasons as regular and full of impact in our lives as the physical seasons. Just as autumn prompts a series of necessary changes and duties – from unpacking winter clothes to hauling in wood to putting up the storm windows – so a changing liturgical season prompts changes, visible and invisible. For me all of these changes serve one overriding function – they are a prompt, a reminder, an admonishment to realign priorities, to get focused. To reengage in the struggle on the highest level possible. The notion of getting focused feels particularly apt – it means seeing clearly. Taking off your glasses and giving them a good polishing. Jesus said in the Beatitudes, blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. So that polishing that allows one to see clearly is a lava-rock-scrubbing-up of the soul; it stings some. All these wonderful Advent trappings ease the struggle that accompanies the end of Ordinary Time – the struggle that accompanies the effort to prioritize, to see clearly, to rise from a languorous stretch of sleepwalking and face the terrifying and wonderful notion that God is real, and because He is, that the world is real and that everything matters, and action, both internal and external, physical and metaphysical is required of us. Wish me luck. I’ll do the same for you, and wish you also a merry, merry Advent and Christmas season.