The Saviour, who is so soon to be with us and to save us, warns us not only to prepare ourselves to appear before Him, but also to purify our souls. It is most just,’ says St. Bernard, ‘ that the soul, which was the first to fall, should be the first to rise. Let us therefore defer caring for the body, until the day when Jesus Christ will come and reform it by the Resurrection; for, in the first coming, the Precursor says to us: “Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.” Observe, he says not the maladies of the body, nor the miseries of the flesh; he says sins, which are the malady of the soul, and the corruption of the spirit. Take heed, then, thou my body, and wait for thy turn and time* Thou canst hinder the salvation of the soul, and thine own safety is not within thy reach. Let the soul labour for herself, and strive thou too to help her, for if thou sharest in her sufferings thou wilt share in her glory. Retard her perfection, and thou re-tardest thine own. Thou wilt not be regenerated until God. sees His own image restored in the soul. [Sixth Sermon of Advent.] Let us, then, purify our souls. Let us do the works of the spirit, not the deeds of the flesh. Our Saviour’s promise is most clear; He will turn the deep dye of our iniquities into the purest whiteness. He asks but one thing of us : that we sin no more. He says to us : Cease to do perversely, and then come and accuse Me, come and complain against Me, if I do not cleanse you. O Jesus ! we will not defer a single day of this holy season ; we accept, from this moment, the conditions Thou offerest us. We sincerely desire to make our peace with Thee ; to bring the flesh into subjection to our spirit, to make good all the injustice we have committed against our neighbour, and to hush, by the sighs of our heart-felt compunction, that voice of our sins which has so long cried to Thee for vengeance.
–from The Liturgical Year