The beginning of the calendar year in the church is an exciting time to celebrate each year for Catholics. Advent is when we prepare for the coming of Christ both within our hearts and more importantly in our lives (and the Parousia). It is when we remove from our hearts all that distracts us from what is of most relevant and fundamental and that is having God at the center of our hearts. Advent is a time of clearing the way so that we can joyfully celebrate Christ, our savior. Here are three simple ways to prepare well.
Step one is reflection. Reflection is an integral aspect of growth in the spiritual life, and this stage is necessary for growth. Reflecting and meditating upon the Mass readings in advent is helpful as we transition from the end of the liturgical year to a brand-new season. Advent is a time of waiting. What areas of your life are you perhaps waiting upon? Think about those areas and bring them directly to the Lord. Trust him during this time of reflection as you wait upon the him. God will guide you as you wait both in your daily life and on his coming during the season.
Find a good book
There are many books and websites to aid in growing closer to Christ in preparation before the advent season and during it. Research and find a good meditational book which will draw you deeper into the readings during advent. As you read, immerse yourself in the season itself and trust in God as you wait for his coming in this season and beyond. There is much wisdom to gain during advent, so take advantage of this time of preparation. In addition, partake in Lectio Divina, which is a practice of reflecting and praying through the scriptures to deepen your relationship with him.
Engage your family and friends
Children are usually excited for Christmas and for all the celebrations, but what about advent? Advent is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the real meaning of the season as a family. Practice short 15-minute meditations on the mass readings of the day as a family during advent, decorate a Jesse tree, and read and meditate as a family on the O antiphons which are series of seven antiphons in preparation for Christmas Eve. Use this time as a learning experience for your family as well to grow in understanding of the sacredness of the season. If not as a family unit, invite friends to partake in special advent prayer gatherings. Your friends will thank you as you create memories together during the season of waiting on the Lord’s coming.
There are many more ideas to grow during advent. These are just a few. Depending on your life situation, time, and creativity, you may have other ideas which work best for you. Whatever you decide, place your trust in God that he will guide you during the season to deepen your prayer life and love of him. Not only will Christmas be more meaningful but so will your love of God, of others, and of your Catholic Faith.
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