I know many of you are preparing for family and friends at your Thanksgiving table in a few days. Some of you are anxious at the thought of Christmas and some have already started decorating, while others don’t even want to think about the next celebration. The stress and obligations that this season has imposed can be overwhelming and Christ gets lost in all the commercialization. For me, next weekend is very important as it’s the first weekend of Advent, one of my favorite liturgical seasons. If I want to enjoy Christmas the way that I should, I need to marinate my spirit in the four weeks of Advent.
What does that mean? It means, I have to make the time to clear the fog from my life, the buildup and residue piled up over the past year that has obscured my vision, my senses, and my reason. I need to take my cues from Mother Mary, and pause, rest and enjoy with joy the present moment. Advent Anglicized from the Latin word adventus means “coming” (translation) there’s something bigger than me, and my present situations, that is coming to change my life.
If you’re a woman you recall the nesting that takes place before giving birth and if you’re a man you understand this nesting from your wife, mother or friend. There is a lot to do, but there is also a time in between for sitting and rubbing the belly holding the baby about to enter the world. To bask in the joy in anticipation of what happiness and joy this life will bring into yours. To think of the “yes” that Mary gave to give God life, and to consider my “yes”, yours, and others to birth him into the world. To think about mirroring Mary in holiness, to quote Keith Fournier, “Holiness is not about being religious or looking pious. It is about being selfless. Mary was holy. Her life shows us how to be holy too.” “Mary’s way is to become an ark within, when we do this, the same God who became incarnate within her takes up His residence in us. He comes to dwell in all men and women who say “yes” to Him.”
This is huge, exciting, and I need to make this time a priority over the shopping, baking, cooking, decorating, wrapping, Christmas cards, etc. All of those things WILL get done, even if I make time to slow down, pause, reflect and absorb what God is speaking during this season. It’s an amazing Grace God gives to you when you place him first. I usually journey the four weeks with Mary and prayerfully meditate on the joyful mysteries. I put together and advent wreath and light it with my family each Sunday at dinner when it is dark. This represents the light of Christ coming into the world. I make time to sit before the Blessed Sacrament absorbing the rays of his peace and I go to confession to clean my soul. I spend time volunteering to help my church and do those little extra things to assist the poor. These are traditional things that I do at Advent and share with you.
What are some traditions that you do to celebrate Advent? How does the peace of celebrating Advent affect you and your family at Christmas? Do you find these to strengthen your faith, and confirm his word within you?