Regnum Christi

The Vigil of Advent: Awake to Our Need

The Vigil of Advent: Awake to Our Need
The Vigil of Advent: Awake to Our Need

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, since beginning Candidacy last year, 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.

All the Regnum Christi news, delivered each week

Scroll to Top

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!