Well, God has granted me another year, perhaps, of grumbling about the communists and perverts, or perhaps He might inspire me to something better. We, or should we say “I,” do not make good use of our time, and this starts in Advent.

The Christian seasons were otherwise designed than for wasting. They begin, up here in the frigid north, with winter, which is usually supplied from the end of November by the weather gods. In the olden time, which is to say the day before yesterday, we did not try to appease these gods in the “pagan” way, or in the post-Christian savage manner, where we assume that we are responsible even for the sea level. We aren’t — it is among the many things in the universe over which we have no control — and it will continue to surprise us, just as Advent is surprising.

It is the surprise of the parousia, or what is referred to, awkwardly, in English, as the “Second Coming.” Christ’s first coming into the world was preceded by the coming of Messiah — who is subtly present to the Jews throughout the Old Testament. Before that parousia we are told to expect, also, a second coming of Christ: in our reception of grace.

But for us, now, it is a little death, at the end of the long summer. Death is meant to be arresting. We were unprepared — as we are generally unprepared — for that fell sergeant, that rap upon the door of our being. But it is just a little death, in this season; though larger, it seemed, when the last generation, for instance my parents, took their leave on the argument of November, and did not wait for the hibernal chill.

Advent is the liturgical season when thoughtful Christians consider the parousia, which is easier to do with abstinence and fasting, with prayer, repentence, and almsgiving, than when gorging on sweets. We have entered the paramony, or preparation, for Christmas; and the Eve of the Nativity will be, by holy convention, among the strictest of fasts.

For this is the doctrine of the liturgy: to everything there is a season.