I closed my eyes for just a second … the briefest of moments … and then when I opened them again I realized that somehow the season of Advent had begun. OK, so I wasn’t actually THAT unprepared, but it certainly feels as if the season suddenly appeared. Wasn’t it JUST Halloween? And Thanksgiving? And here we are … The irony is that this sensation is exactly what I wanted to blog about. Of course, I meant to type away on this topic a few days ago, but I closed my eyes for just a second … 😉
Advent is a time of preparation. Just like Lent prepares us for the Passion of our Lord, so Advent prepares us for His arrival in time, God made man. Yet Advent, more than any other time of the year, can be so incredibly overwhelming and busy, with anything and everything that really has nothing (or very little) to do with our preparation. What I am suggesting here is very simple: Treat Advent like Lent – at least from the perspective of focus, a little bit of sacrifice, and change. Let me explain …
It’s easy to get caught up in the crush of holiday shopping, wrapping gifts, baking, planning for visitors or travel — perhaps even both, as well as feeling the strain on your budget and your personal space. When do we decorate? How do we fit in the time we need to gather all of our holiday supplies? How many social commitments do we need to fit onto your calendars? It can be incredibly overwhelming. Even for those who feel like they operate best under pressure and are certain they have all of the stresses listed above under control, the question then becomes — but what about ADVENT? Where is THAT fitting into our day? And this is the priority that we really need to have this time of year.
Here are a few suggestions: First, make time each and every day (set a time!) for prayer. It’s way too easy to let our prayer life suffer when we have so much else to do. We fall into the trap of assuming we will get to it at the end of our day – but when the end of the day arrives, we are tired and forgetful. If prayer isn’t your strong suit, sign up for one of the various online Advent programs that send the prayer right to your inbox — they may include a wee bit of Sacred Scripture, perhaps a video, some questions to ponder … but the catch is to set aside the time and follow through, every day. You may want to set your alarm for fifteen minutes earlier each day and do the prayer part right away, before the day carries you away. Dynamic Catholic has a nice little Advent program you sign up for by clicking HERE.
Second, get out your Advent Candles and RESOLVE that each day you and your household will sit down around the table with the candles and enjoy a meal together. Take the time. Talk. Laugh. Share. Sure dinner would be the most traditional time to do this, but if it’s lunch, so be it. Breakfast? Ok that works. Just do it. Pray together. Eat together. Then go about your business of the rest of the day.
Third, don’t forget that we do have a Holy Day of Obligation coming up for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. This holy day falls on a Saturday this year but we are STILL obliged to go to Mass because this is the feast day of our nation. Don’t miss out. Don’t skip out. Go. Honor the Mother of God.
Fourth, make time for Reconciliation. Remember we are preparing for the coming of our Lord during Advent, and we should also be preparing ourselves for His second coming. Take advantage of the additional times and days that parishes in your diocese will offer this wonderful sacrament of forgiveness. But also prepare for it! Remember, we are PREPARING. So do an Examen. Pray for the ability to make a good confession. Don’t wing it! But go and receive the grace available to you in this sacrament.
Finally, make and effort to spend some time with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. During this season, we need to slow it down — take time — focus — breathe — pray. Repose in the presence of our Lord and give Him thanks for all of the wonders of this season that you are experiencing! Share with Him your frustrations and victories. Revel in the silence. The peace. The Love. Even if not exposed, when the Blessed Sacrament is in the tabernacle during Advent, ponder on the tabernacle of Mary’s womb.
Above all, remember the ‘reason for the season’ — not to be too cliche — and prioritize accordingly. Your entire perspective can and will change for the better. Bring a little peace into your Advent and Christmas season. Or rather, let His peace in.