As we begin the second week of Advent, we focus on preparing for the Lord. Let every heart, prepare Him room!
By: Deacon Marques Silva
Ever wonder if the retail Christmas season will eventually begin on the Fourth of July? It feels like it’s starting earlier each and every year. The season of Advent (from the Latin word “adventus,” meaning “coming”) is the time of preparation the Church sets apart for the birth of Christ. It is supposed to be a time of longing in our hearts for our Lord. And yet, Advent has become a rushed shopping blitz celebrating Christmas before its time. For me, if I am not intentional about it, Advent will pass me by in the blink of an eye – and that is terrible! Especially for my family.
So how do we as parents recapture the season of Advent while society seems to be brushing it aside? Here are seven suggestions that my household practices to assist in redeeming this season of anticipation:
Read a scripturally based Advent devotional – My family and I use a meditation that walks us through the history and mystery of salvation. We read the meditation during Grace and discuss it over dinner.
Use a Jesse Tree – A Jesse Tree is great for children. It connects various scriptural symbols and stories to the Advent season. It teaches that God the Father was not only intentional, but patient in preparing for and executing His plan of salvation.
Decorate your house with intention and progressive solemnity – Your home is the domestic church, so fill it with the signs and symbols of the Christian Catholic tradition and build up to Christmas.
Teach the signs and symbols of the season – Society is going to jump the gun, but that doesn’t mean we need to avert our eyes. Instead, we should catechize. Each Christmas symbol is replete with meaning and Christian tradition. During Advent, use them to prepare our hearts for Christmas Day. Discuss with your kids its meaning and rich history. Connect it with the longing of our hearts – not just for the first coming of the Christ (the last two weeks of Advent), but the second coming, as well (the first two weeks of Advent).
Make the Crèche a focal point of your decorating – In our home, on Christmas morning, we first enthrone Christ in His manger and pray. Then we open our gifts. He is the reason for the season.
Celebrate the “O Antiphons” – Starting December 17, the antiphons used during Vespers the last seven days of Advent build anticipation for the Solemnity of the Nativity. Reproduce the symbols and place them in a place of prominence as a Christmas countdown.
Participate in your parish’s Penance Service – What gift may we offer our King for His birthday? Scripture seems to indicate that all He wants is our sin. He is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. I know it’s counter-intuitive, but gifts are not about what we want to gift; they are about what the receiver wants to receive. Jesus? He wants our sins.
Advent should be joy-filled and a time of preparation. Let’s show society that there is a better way to prepare. If we take the time to prepare, we will be able to experience all that the Lord has for us – not what we have frantically thrown together. Besides, who wants to be exhausted on Christmas Day?
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full (Jn 15:11).
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