Renewing Your Advent Season
This past Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, we took a moment to celebrate the hope and joy of the coming birth of Christ during the normally penitential season of Advent. The rose-colored candle, lit for Gaudete Sunday, represents this joy. Yet, we still have a long way to go before the celebration of Christmas begins, especially during this year’s long Advent season—and we return to a final purple candle next Sunday.
It can be easy to fall into a slump at this point in the season. Now, as we get down to the wire, it is nearly impossible not to be distracted by all our obligations, from wrapping gifts to hanging decorations to preparing for family gatherings. All these distractions keep us from fulfilling our duty of Advent: to prepare the way for the Lord.
Perhaps it is this idea of “getting down to the wire” that is the problem. When we think of Christmas as a deadline or a responsibility we have, we risk doing something worse than just forgetting to honor Christ. On top of that, we begin to try to give ourselves the same importance of God. We make Christmas about ourselves. Viewing Christmas as something we must do, we forget that Jesus gave himself freely to us, by no merit of our own. This is the beautiful gift we are meant to celebrate.
Of course, this is a good time of year to be charitable toward our family, friends, and neighbors, and we can be stewards of God’s love in this way. But, at the same time, our first step during Advent should be to humble our hearts to receive Jesus.
Here are a few practices to try during these last weeks of Advent:
- Pray the Rosary. Advent is a wonderful time to remember and honor Mary for her joyful “Yes” to God. During this season, we have celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and these feast days are timely. As we approach Christmas, pray especially the Joyful Mysteries and meditate on Mary’s obedience and humble service to God.
- Listen to (and pray with) Christian hymns. Lots of radio stations have been dominated by secular Christmas music for weeks now. Try listening to Christian hymns as well. This can help focus your priorities, even in the midst of busy preparations. Keep in mind, also, the hymns we sing specifically for Advent to prepare for Christmas. These include hymns like “People Look East,” “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “O Come Divine Messiah,” and plenty more.
- Pray around your Advent wreath. If you have an Advent wreath at home, light the candles and pray every day. You can do this alone or with family and friends. Try offering up intentions, reading scripture, or just meditating silently. Taking just a few minutes to do this will make sure you are actively preparing for Jesus every day during Advent.
- Learn more about how we worship. This month, CatholicTV is featuring a special programming block called Why We Worship with Father Gregory Usselmann and Dan Egan. The series describes and explains our liturgical traditions for both the Advent and Christmas seasons. You can watch this series to participate more fully in worship. Why We Worship airs Sundays at 5:30am ET, Tuesdays at 8:30am, Thursdays at 9pm, and Saturdays at 5pm, and is available on demand. You can also learn more about our traditions in the December issue of the CatholicTV Monthly Magazine.
We prayerfully wish you a peaceful conclusion of Advent and a joyful entrance into the season of Christmas.