by Sarah Damm
We arise this morning, and welcome a new day … a new week … a new season … a new year. All around us, we notice the changes this newness brings.
Sitting on the kitchen table, a wreath of four unlit candles accompanies us, as we sip our morning coffee. A fresh start and clean slate greet us, as we turn the calendar to a new month, filled with prayerful opportunities and seasonal delights. A change of color in the church’s décor invites us to ponder what we desire from the season of preparation and hope. Quiet, solemn melodies encourage us to implore the Lord to come and rescue us. New themes in the Mass readings plead with us to “come,” “walk in the light,” “stay awake,” and “be prepared.”
And all of this newness captures our attention, ignites our imagination, and beckons us to enter into Advent fully—free from distraction, without reservation, and full of anticipation and hope. For Christ is coming, and our salvation is near.
But how do we remain present to the Advent moment, when Christmas décor, music, movies, and parties swirl all around us?
Here are 4 ideas, based on today’s Mass readings, to keep us rooted in the Advent season:
“… come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5)
In your home, place your Advent wreath in a central location. Make it the focal point of your home’s décor, during the Advent season. Bless your wreath, and light it at the same time each day, perhaps during personal or family prayer time. Especially on these dark winter nights, ponder the meaning of Christ as the light of the world, and how “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
“I rejoiced when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (Psalm 122:1)
Advent is a wonderful time to renew our personal prayer time. Decide (today!) when you are going to pray each day, and schedule it in your planner. Also decide what you are going to do during your daily prayer time, and gather prayer materials in one place. Will you pray the daily Mass readings? Do you have a favorite devotional book? Could you add a Eucharistic holy hour to your routine? Guard your prayer time, during this season, especially as the calendar fills up. And rejoice over the time you get to spend with the Lord.
“… it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed …” (Romans 13:11)
Prioritizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of Advent. Confession wakes us up from our slumber, our laziness, and our complacency. It reminds us that our salvation is near—like 24 days away! It also cleanses our souls and creates a welcoming place in our hearts for the Newborn King to rest His head on Christmas Day. Many parishes offer beautiful Reconciliation services with individual Confession, or simply plan on going during one of your parish’s regularly scheduled times.
“… be prepared.” (Matthew 24:44)
Jesus commands us to be prepared for His coming. So, it is a good idea to actively consider what needs to happen between now and December 25, for you to be ready to celebrate His birth. Be intentional about what matters most to you, regarding the traditional holiday preparations (cards, decorating, baking, and gift-giving). What is truly necessary, and what is optional? Invite the Lord into your preparations, and to guard against anxiety, do not be afraid to cross things off of your usual list.
Today, let us rejoice in the new season of Advent and the new liturgical year—with its beautiful simplicity, heart-longing hymns, and readings that beckon us to walk in the light. Let us journey through the Advent season with quietness, prayerfulness, humility, and intention. And when the hustle and bustle of the holiday season swirls around us, let us ask for God’s grace to stay present to the Advent moment, “as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
About the author:
Sarah Damm is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, helping with homework, and keeping up with laundry and the family schedule. Sarah loves her faith, coffee, and good books. You can find out more about her and her writing at sarahdamm.com.