I don’t know about you, but I have been seeing quite a few stories on the news and ads on TV that talk about upcoming sales and the best strategy to get just the right present at the cheapest price … how some stores are having “black Friday” prices the weekend BEFORE Thanksgiving etc. (And no, this is not going to be a story about the commercialization of Christmas, although you might just want to reflect on what the real meaning of Christmas is). This is a blog post about the need to prepare to prepare… Those preparing for a commercialized Christmas are preparing to go shopping, making their lists, surfing the web for the latest gadget with all the right features and strategizing for the most economical way to get all the loot they plan to purchase. Should we not put in a little effort to plan our spiritual preparation to welcome Christ?
Advent, which starts November 28 (!) marks the beginning of our liturgical year and is the season to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth at Christmas, as well as looking forward to Christ’s coming at the end of time. It is a season of preparation. How are you preparing to prepare? Do you have a plan? You can think of it as making a liturgical new year’s resolution.
Find out what is going on in your parish:
- Our parish is offering a variety of programs specifically for Advent. On the Fridays of Advent, Dec 3, 10 and 17, there will be Friday evening Masses at St. Bernard Church which will include a homily reflection on St. Therese of Lisieux, followed by Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions.
- The Catholic Faith Formation Center will be starting a weekly Lectio Divina, which is an excellent way to prepare for the upcoming Sunday Mass. Lectio Divina will start on November 30 and continue Mondays at 2pm.
- On December 4, there is an Advent Morning of Reflection with Deacon Arnold, beginning with 8 AM Mass at St. Bernard and ending with bag lunch at noon.
- On Sunday, December 12, there is a community bus trip planned to go to LaSalette Shrine in Enfield to see the Christmas lights, pray and sing carols together, and share a picnic supper.
Ideas you can do by yourself or together with friends:
- Get something to read for Advent: of course you can’t go wrong with Scripture, but perhaps get a daily devotional which has readings and meditations specifically for the season. For example Word Among Us, or Magnificat usually have issues specifically geared to Advent.
- Write religious Christmas cards: rather than getting a box of cards and just sticking on a label and signing your name, write one Christmas card a day during Advent, taking time to pray for the person or family you are sending the card to and really taking time with each card to write a personal message.
- Go to daily Mass – there really is no better way to prepare – because each liturgy during the Advent season is geared to prepare you for Christmas!
- Make an Advent wreath or a Jesse tree
- Check various online sites for daily prayer/inspiration such as Sacred Space or Creighton’s Advent Prayer site or for your mp3 player check out Pray-as-you-Go
- Starting Dec 16 meditate on the O Antiphons and pray a Christmas Novena (for example, here is a family Christmas Novena)
Mainly, try to remember that ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ and rather than worrying about giving people “things”, take time for prayer and reflection and find a way to give them a little of yourself, be it through spending time, or helping out, or just being truly present to those you love and care about.