"If you desire to receive Jesus Christ you must search the foldings of your soul, that you may discover if any secret sin, which could wound the eyes of His Divine Majesty, lies hid in the depths of your conscience."
-- Saint Augustine

By Advent is meant the four weeks before Christmas, appointed by the Church to prepare us for the worthy celebration of our Saviour's birth. We should endeavour by prayer, the practice of virtues, fasting, and a good confession, to have Jesus formed anew in our hearts at this holy season. For this reason the Gospel read at mass on the first Sunday treats of His coming at the Last Day. The Church seems to say to us,

"If you wish to behold without fear the arrival of that God Whom I announce to you, when He shall come as the supreme Judge of the living and the dead, prepare to receive Him now that He comes as a Saviour."

On the Second Sunday of Advent the Church continues her instructions. The Gospel sets before us the Precursor, John the Baptist, pointing out in the person of Christ the Redeemer expected for four thousand years.

We ought during this season to make use of frequent ejaculations inviting our Lord into our hearts. "O divine Infant Jesus, come to be born in my heart, to drive out sin and to plant Thy virtues there."

Great Judge of hearts, Thou dost discern
our ills, and all our weakness know,
again to Thee with tears we turn
again to us Thy mercy show.

And grant us, while by fasts we strive
this mortal body to control,
to fast from all the food of sin
and so to purify the soul.

Example -- Saint Philip Neri

A young man named Spazzara, who lived in Rome, visited Saint Philip Neri one day, and entered into long details about the study of law, which he had just commenced. He described the course which he meant to pursue in order to obtain the degree of Doctor.

"And then?" demanded the saint. "Then," replied the young man, much encouraged, "I will plead causes, and I hope successfully."

"And then?" added the saint again. "And then people will begin to speak of me, and I shall enjoy a reputation."

"And then?" continued Saint Philip, smiling. "And then," continued the young man, a little embarrassed, "I shall live at my ease, and I shall be happy."

"And what then?" "Well, then -- I shall die."

"And then?" resumed the saint, raising his voice. "What shall you do when your own trial comes, when you, yourself, shall be the accused, Satan the accuser, and the Almighty your judge?" the young man, who little expected such a conclusion, hung his head and began to consider within himself. After this interview, he endeavoured, by consecrating his life to the service of God, to prepare seriously for the final judgement on which eternity depends.

Taken from Catholic Life (pages 8-10), available from The Neumann Press.