Sunday, November 27th, is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent is a holy season for the Church and the beginning of the new Church year. The better we spiritually prepare this Advent, the more joyful our celebration of Christmas can be. We, Christians, often lament the commercialization of Christmas, but what do we do about it? Perhaps the best thing we can do to combat this commercialization so that Christmas does not become more about Santa Claus than the birth of our Savior is to spiritually prepare during Advent.
How can we do this?
- Get an Advent wreath. You also can make your own Advent wreath. Click here for a picture: All it takes is a wreath (real or artificial) and four candles – three purple and one rose colored. Then pray with your family before every evening meal lighting one candle for the first week, two for the second, etc., for the four weeks. The rose candle gets lit for the third week symbolizing the joy of Christmas getting closer. It is a good way to build the sense of anticipation and looking forward to the coming of Christ at Christmas.
- Your church or religious store might offer Advent prayers. You could use the Advent prayer from the Mass for each day using a Mass booklet such as Magnificat. The United States Catholic Bishops Conferencewebsite, the Creighton University website, or our MUHS website are also good resources. There are many other forms of Advent prayer.
- Going to your Church every Sunday to experience the Advent Liturgy is a given.
- Give up something for Advent. Making a small sacrifice like giving up dessert or a favorite treat during Advent is a customary way to spiritually prepare. It can heighten the sense of celebration when Christmas arrives.
- Doing something extra during Advent such as attending a week-day Mass once a week, attending Eucharistic adoration, or doing some extra volunteer service work are good ways. Going to confession (the Sacrament of Reconciliation) during Advent is a helpful way to prepare.
These are just a few suggestions. However you do it, the important thing is to use Advent as a time to prepare your heart and soul to joyfully receive Christ as God’s Christmas gift to you on December 25th – a far greater gift than any other imaginable.
Have a Blessed Advent!
The above message is revised from a letter written by a friend and mentor, Father Saz, SJ.