Advent is a very busy time for parish staff and volunteers. This year, although very different, Advent will still be a time full of activity.
The word “Advent” is the root of the Latin adventus which means “arrival.” How we prepare for the arrival of Christ in our hearts, in the world, and into God’s extraordinary plan for our salvation is our choice. We can better enjoy Christmas — all 12 days of it — if we revive Advent as a period of preparation.
We cannot provide opportunities for people to encounter Jesus, foster growth as disciples, or help parishioners to be witnesses to God’s mercy if we are not taking care of our own spiritual lives. How can we slow down and personally experience the joy of the Church’s new Liturgical year?
Commit to some sort of short, daily devotion. Find something for spiritual nourishment like the Little Blue Book from the Diocese of Saginaw or the Advent Gospel Reflections By Bishop Robert Barron. You can walk the journey with the Holy Family, Mary or St. Joseph with the Rejoice Advent Meditation Series from Ascension Press.
Take some quiet time. Even though this year is very different, there will be shopping and preparation around your house and parish. Seek out some quiet time. Repeat the prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus" to yourself, slowly as you breathe in and out with your eyes closed.
Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Advent is all about preparing, and there is no better way to prepare your heart for the arrival of Jesus than putting yourself in a posture of humility with the grace of this sacrament.
Be intentional about the Advent Wreath this year. This is a simple way to strengthen your domestic Church. Whether you live alone or with many people your home is the domestic
Church. Try this prayer from the U.S. bishops when you light it for the first time.
Join the Advent Prayer Challenge from #52Sundays! Each day includes the antiphon from Evening prayer, a reflection, and an additional prayer for your whole family to pray. Text ADVENT20 to 33777 to get started.
Remember: it is okay to say no. Discern which activities are essential and which can be skipped.
Listen to some Advent music. Spotify has a playlist of Catholic Advent hymns to play instead of the Christmas music on the radio.
Support organizations that work for social justice. Our gifts help further the building of the kingdom of God on Earth. In addition to incredible, independent agencies all over the country, our own local Catholic Charities agencies and Catholic Relief Services are reliably great nonprofits.
These are just a few ways to slow down and make the weeks of Advent a time to prepare to invite the Spirit into our lives. With some intentionality and some spiritual discipline, we can be ready to respond in hope, love, joy and peace to the gifts from God that the Christmas Season will bring.