Advent is a penitential time for reflection, conversion of heart, kenosis (an emptying out of self), metanoia (spiritual conversion) and the preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The timeless and enduring character of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has to be considered one of the pre-eminent examples of the most intense, condensed, (albeit involuntary) three-dimensional Advent examinations of conscience on record — or, at the very least, in literary history. And it all transpires under the supervision of four unexpected “spiritual directors” in both the literal and figurative senses.
Since 1843, Scrooge has been the recipient of a mysterious series of very personal, nightmarish visions combined with a sprinkling of pleasant, nostalgic reminiscences geared toward the complete breakdown and rebuilding of his conscience, his outlook and his perceptions. The spectral forces behind this one-night journey coerce him to re-examine his choices, decisions and motivations, ultimately challenging him for his own existential and spiritual benefit.
Instead of taking the normally-allotted time between the First Sunday of Advent and Christmas Eve to accomplish this task like the rest of us, Scrooge is pigeonholed into a three-phased, crash-course program to do something he has never done before. He thoroughly examines his conscience in preparation for the birth of the Infant Savior between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and sunrise on Christmas Day.
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