Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent, Parousia, Panim

If looked up in an English dictionary, the word Advent will be defined as: a coming of an event, a person, or place. Indeed Advent is an event, a great event, and likewise a coming, a person. The word ‘Advent’ is derived from the Latin word ‘Adventus’ which means coming. In the Liturgical season of Advent, we await in joyful expectation the coming of our Lord. Not only do we commemorate Christ’s first coming in the flesh, but as we find ourselves in these ‘last days’, we also await his 2nd coming in glory, in which He will consummate His Eternal Kingdom. However, the Latin word Adventus is actually a translation of the New Testament Greek word Parousia(παρουσία). I would argue the word Parousia is much richer than the word Adventus. The meaning of the word Parousia is two-fold in nature; it contains a double entendre. Not only does it mean coming or arrival but it also means presence. Know going even a step further back into the Old Testament Hebrew word used in place of Parousia is Panim(פָּנִים). This word absolutely blows my mind! This is not only the word for presence, but… it is also the word for ‘face’, actually this word is plural, so in essence ‘panim’ also means ‘faces’.

Why all the buildup of these three words? Indeed we await joyfully the Advent of our Lord, but there is more than just the coming of an event, the mere commemoration of what happened at a ‘place’. Advent is the expectation of not only some abstract idea or commemoration of Christ. A true advent, namely, a parousia, is the celebration of a panim, a presence, a person, a face[s]… Christ! Does not this happen everyday at the sacred Liturgy? Does not Christ come in the fullness of His glory… with His presence, with His Face, with the other two persons of the Most Holy Trinity that are consubstantially united and inseparable with Him? Does not this Panim of Christ reside in our brother, in every Church, in every tabernacle throughout the world? This Advent, let us celebrated the sacred mystery of his True presence. Let us enter into this presence, this person, with a face, truly present, really present, substantially present for you, for me, for all. He has come, He is here, and He is coming into the world.

+ Br. Roch Mary Greiner, CFR
Yonkers, NY

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