Regnum Christi

December 5, 2023

The Vigil of Advent: Awake to Our Need

The Vigil of Advent: Awake to Our Need

By Olivia Steeves

Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi


I was crouched by the coals of a fire, slowly being chilled by a gentle rain, when I rediscovered Advent.


My community “rang in” the new Liturgical Year with a bonfire on a rainy night. Have you ever been wished a “happy new liturgical year”? It fascinates me that, as Catholic Christians, under the surface of the world’s ordinary cycles, there runs a totally other rhythm that is our liturgical life. The rhythm deeper than the rhythm of the world, parallel and complimentary, silently and hiddenly setting the true pace of life. If the liturgy is the Life of Christ, beating and palpitating in the heart of the Church, then this calendar is the truest rhythm we can live by. A spiritual, sacramental calendar of shifting seasons studded with celebrations and memory.


Advent has always been marked for me by two experiences: intense preoccupation and cozy preparation. On one hand: the haste of school projects or university exams and the tiring trek from store to store on the gift-hunt, on the other hand: the coziness of preparing the exterior, traditional “sacramentals” of this Christmas time with dear ones. However, my time in the Candidacy a few years ago, I have discovered an entirely different Advent. An Advent more raw and human than I ever experienced before. In our families, the first mysteries we learn to contemplate are the tenderness of Mother and Child, the intense joy of God-with-us, the richness of receiving a Gift: divinity blessing humanity, the warmth of gathering together around a precious treasure in a manger. I reflect on the elation of being a child in these weeks, the warmth that stirs in the heart when gathering as a  family. More recently, however, I have discovered other mysteries of this great Story that are mixed in amongst the warmth and fulfillment – like a painting with new shades being filled in. Mysteries of God’s great impoverishment, of poor pilgrims weary in the cold, of the austerity of the stable, of the ache and longing of ages crying out with desire: Come, Emmanuel! Come, be a God-with-us!


For me, it is all captured in my experience of watching by the fading fire. The flames were dying low and a light rain had begun to fall, but I remained by the fire just a little longer as the community drifted off to bed. The cold air and the rich scent of wood-smoke reminded me of home. I felt an internal excitement of something new beginning. Sometimes if we sit in a moment long enough, the ordinary-ness fades, all sense of time recedes, and we find ourselves straying into a moment of  existential wonder. It was late and the night was dark, but the coals still glowed intensely hot, like this desire for a Savior glowing in the heart of a lonely world. We keep watch because we have a deep need. The rain was beginning to soak my shoes and the chill was penetrating my layers, but I huddled over the fire’s warmth, filled with a wild joy. We have a hope filled with certainty that our God is coming into the exact location of our deepest needs and our tremendous weakness. He whom I need and desire is coming. To feel the cold, to shiver against the rain, to need the fire’s warmth, to hope for something incredible – it all enabled me to feel that I was truly keeping watch.


This time of Advent is a beautiful moment to approach our deepest needs and sense of personal poverty. Why? Because it is safe. It is safe to do so because the response to our need and the fulfillment of our poverty is around the corner. Perhaps in other moments of our life we can hardly bear the internal vulnerability of discovering where I lack most. But this is precisely the season of Mary and Joseph journeying out into the utter lack and insufficiency of the stable at Bethlehem so that God could be born into the home he has chosen: the lack and insufficiency of the human heart. This is the impoverishment of our God.  How necessary it is to let ourselves step outside into the cold or pause in the midst of a long ride home and become present to that poor, pilgrim family. In doing so, we also become present to our own desire, that hopeful pilgrim, and our poor heart, that insufficient stable .


Keeping watch is being awake – awake to the darkness around and the desire within, awake to my own need and awake to Him whom I need as he comes. These past weeks of Advent I believe my heart has remained by that fire, in the cold like a pilgrim, keeping watch with joyful heart. Despite cold and chill, despite darkness and rain, we are warmed by our desire and kept awake with our certain hope.

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December 5, 2023 – God’s Ways






Tuesday of the First Week of Advent


Luke 10:21-24


Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”


Introductory Prayer: Christ, I believe that you can put my talents to good use. I hope that you will allow me to come to know you better each day. I love you and trust that you are guiding me through life. Not only are you guiding me in my life; you are also letting others be edified by my example.


Petition: Lord, help me to trust in you through every circumstance of life.


  1. God Reveals Himself to the Childlike: We long to know Christ better. How we yearn to understand a little more about God and his infinite love! Our small intellects can barely lay hold of any notion or attribute of the Divine Persons. Even if we were to study long hours, we would conclude that our learning is nothing. True knowledge of Christ and of God doesn’t come by learning from books. True knowledge of Christ and of God is revealed to those who learn to quiet their souls in prayer. We need to imitate the resourceful little child who falls on the ground and then runs to his mother to be scooped up in a loving embrace. If we can remember our littleness on one hand and God’s pure, loving benevolence on the other, we’ll permit—even delight in—his wiping away from our faces the blood and tears caused by our sins. Only when we surrender ourselves into God’s forgiving, tender hands can we say that we know him.


  1. God Chooses the Childlike: Christ singles out each one of us for a particular mission in life. We might think of the many people around us––educated, wise, learned people––who would surely be better suited for the calling at hand, who could do a far better job than we could. However, Christ isn’t looking always for the cleverest person, the one with the quickest wit, or the one with the best education. Many times, he scrutinizes the corners of the globe for the soul that is innocent, open to his plan, and willing to carry it out. Simplicity and humility are the key words when it comes to being chosen by God to participate more actively in his plan of redemption.


  1. The Childlike Can Entrust the Bigger Picture to God: How many prophets and kings longed for the time of Christ, when the work of salvation would be fulfilled! During their time of waiting they left us an example of constancy and dedication to the things of God, despite never seeing many of the things promised them. They played an active role in leading and guiding the people of their time, but they didn’t see the fulfillment of all God’s entire design. God asks us to be like them, planting the seeds of redemption that may not sprout for years. We, like the prophets, aren’t always given the grace to see the entire picture. That is part of being childlike: trusting that God our Father knows what he is doing. St. John Henry Newman prayed in his famous poem, The Pillar of the Cloud:


“Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see

the distant scene—one step enough for me.”


Do I entrust the big picture of my life to God my Father, or do I try to yank the “remote control” from his loving hands?


Conversation with Christ: Christ, I don’t ask for great understanding or knowledge. Help me to accept with the simplicity and trust of a child all that you want to do in me. I don’t ask for great insight into the depths of your divine attributes. I just want to grow in friendship with you, and I know that means I need an unshakeable confidence in your infinite love for me. I want to allow you to love me and direct me according to your good will.


Resolution: I will open my heart more widely to God’s plan for my life.


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Alex Kucera


Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!