Advent is one of those Church seasons that people get excited about for many reasons. First of all, there is usually a change in weather for which people seem to be ready. A change in weather calls for a change in clothing bringing out our favorite fall wardrobe! Colder weather and warmer clothing means Christmas and the New Year are right around the corner! But, what happened to Advent?
Advent is a time for preparing for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate the salvation he offers us by coming to us in birth and we may also reflect upon on just how much we are in need of a savior anticipating his second coming. Advent also marks the beginning of the Church year.
Because of the many wonderful things that follow, however, Advent can be challenging time for many to enter into. It is too easy to let Advent mark the beginning of the end of year rush. Too many times I have come to the first Sunday of Advent mass and appreciated the beautifully decorated sanctuary, colorful candles, incense, new music and fresh homilies, without preparing my heart or mind for the short journey ahead. By week two or three I realize I haven’t done anything to really get the most out of it, and now it’s almost over!
So, what’s a good Catholic to do? Let’s begin preparing for Advent now! For private study and reflection there are Advent reflections offered as a free subscriptions by email. Another idea is to order a book for Advent study or reflection, or better yet visit your local Catholic bookstore for ideas. Consider a family Advent wreath in your home or decorate a Jesse Tree. Don’t forget, it takes time to order resources or even go to the local store. The closer to Advent, the more difficult it will be to find the specific candles or wide selection of resources fitted to your interests and needs.
Take the time during Advent to display characters from your Nativity one at a time over the four weeks of Advent to finally place Jesus in the crèche on Christmas day. Dress for Advent by pulling out those purple and rose colors and wear them as subtle external reminders of your internal preparation and faith.
Attend a small group study sponsored by your parish during Advent or create one. Reflect upon the readings that remind us of the faith of the early saints and the hope throughout the history of God’s chosen people. Practice charitable giving and acts of mercy by becoming an example of God’s light to the world. Practice patience during a time when many of us are stressed and too busy thinking about Christmas.
Whatever the action, don’t wait for Advent to begin to get serious about your Advent observance. Advent will be more meaningful if get off on the right foot by preparing now. Then, before you know it, you’ll be ready when the First Sunday of Advent arrives and you won’t be asking, what happened to Advent?