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Advent – a time of contradictions

Dr Kevin Hargaden, Social Justice Theologian at the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice and Presbyterian Elder, spoke with Pat Coyle of Irish Jesuit Communications about the importance of spiritual nourishment during the often-difficult time of Advent.

He refers to the many contradictions of this period of waiting before Christmas, noting differences between light and darkness, optimism and hope, and happiness and joy.

Aware that the Advent season can trigger traumatic memories for people, Dr Hargaden stresses the need to be rooted in Christian spirituality. He gives the Examen prayer as an example of a helpful reflective tool: “It’s an Ignatian spiritual tradition that ultimately guides us to recognise where God is active in our life.” The different stages include reflecting on where God has been present in the day, giving thanks, reviewing the day, facing shortcomings and anticipating the coming day.

Dr Hargaden offers hope for those not looking forward to Christmas. Referring to the story of the infant Jesus, he says: “I think there is great solace and consolation in remembering that God has surprised us before, and we can trust that he will surprise us again… so keep the faith.”