Preparing for Advent
It’s the season of joy and of light. A time to decorate the house, put up the lights, trim the tree, purchase gifts in overcrowded and busy shopping centres, where you have to fight for a parking spot and meander through a sea of people to get that “perfect gift.” This is it folks! Christmas time is here. Time for happiness, joy, and cheer—or not.
“Advent” comes from the Latin adventus which means “coming.” As we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, it is easy for us to get caught up in the pre-Christmas preparation and frenzy, and to neglect our spiritual and sacred preparation for the Advent season because there is so much going on all at once.
While demands are made on our time, it is important for us to balance the sacred with the secular. We complain that time passes so quickly, yet oddly enough it is the same amount of time each year. We are just too busy and easily distracted. As we prepare for the season of Advent, we should take time to slow down and prepare ourselves spiritually. Here are some tips to help guide you through these days of preparation:
Read Your Church Bulletin: The weekly bulletin is an excellent way to stay informed on upcoming events that are taking place at the parish. There may be events or activities you can participate in that will help get you spiritually ready for Christmas.
Spend Time in Quiet Reflection: Remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the outside world and pray quietly. Prayer is an excellent way to bring you closer to Jesus.
Prepare an Advent Wreath: Purchase one or make one. Set it up in a central area of your home and with your family say the Advent Wreath Prayer for the week. It is easy to find guidelines online for this family activity. Lighting the candle together and saying the prayers is an awesome tradition to start with your family.
Go to Confession: Advent is an excellent time to prepare for the new liturgical year by going to confession. This will help cleanse your spirit and to get you ready for the season and for the year.
Help the Less Fortunate: Advent is a time when we as Catholics are encouraged to help the poor. Consider adopting a family in need. Purchase gifts that they could make use of. Prepare a meal for someone less fortunate. Visit the elderly who may be alone. Involving your children in these activities teaches them the importance of giving back and helps reinforce our connection to God and each other.
Create an Advent Calendar: I am not advocating for the chocolate treats or candies, but create a calendar that is a countdown to Christmas. Each day will reveal a special bible verse or prayer, or a suggestion for a random act of kindness that can be bestowed on someone. It’s a great way to spread love during the season.
Set Aside Time to Pray: Make it a goal this Advent to set aside 15 to 20 minutes each day to pray. This can help you to create a routine for praying, and then it becomes a regular part of your day.
Be Present: Tone down the distractions and spend quality time with your friends and family. This is easy to do. Simply get together for a games night, an activity, bake together, or tea time. It’s about time spent together. That is the greatest “present.”
Spend Time in Prayer Near a Nativity Scene: Is there anything more beautiful to look at than an nativity scene in a church? Take a few minutes and pray near the nativity scene set up at your church. This is sure to bring you some peace and comfort especially at this time of year.
Open Your Heart: Amid the chaos and the noise, open your heart to the Holy Family. Take comfort in the sacrifice they gave for the birth of our Saviour. Remember them and keep them close to you when you feel distracted. This will keep you centred and focused on the true meaning of Christmas.
Let the light that is Jesus into your heart. Let it plant that seed within you. Take it with you throughout the year. Be that light to the world.
Rema Celio is a happily married mom of two young boys and lives in Toronto. She is an active member of St. Benedict Parish.