Monday, December 14, 2015

Advent - It's Never Too Late To Celebrate

Yesterday was, according to my little guys, Pink Candle Sunday.  Not having any sisters, the boys have declared pink, and every shade of it, to be a girls only color.  That is why, every year at this time, in total humiliation, I must offer our priest the "forgive us our trespasses" look during Holy Mass as my boys try to contain their giggles over father's rose pink vestments.

Oy vey, and pass the eggnog.

Really, Pink Sunday, better known as Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of joy, is ever a sweet reminder for us to remain hopeful and joyful in the very meaning of Advent - adventus - coming.

He is coming!

Perhaps, if you are reading this, you might feel as though it is too late to even consider celebrating Advent with your family.  I say, it's never too late! Why? Because Advent is not about the external decorating for yet another holiday, but rather it is first and foremost about the interior disposition of the heart.

Sure, the external reminders that we place about the home, or traditions often practiced, such as the hanging of the Jesse Tree ornaments or lighting of the candles on the Advent wreath, are all wonderful, but truly not necessary for one to live fully the beauty of Advent.  Why? Because one of the primary goals of living Advent as a season of preparation (usually through sacrifice and prayer), is to foster a longing for Christ.  We await His coming.  We long for Him as the Israelites longed for their Savior.  We take the time to reflect upon our lives, to look deep inside our hearts seeking to find those very things that we may have placed there in priority above Jesus, those temporary comforts and distractions that we may have accepted as an artificial substitute for the only One that can truly satisfy.

So, here we are, just two weeks before the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas, and I say, it's not too late to lay aside the pre-Christmas party that our culture has declared to be the norm, and begin living the true meaning of Advent!

If you are ready today to focus your mind and heart on Advent through prayer or spiritual reading, but have also resolved to make a better attempt at experiencing the Advent journey in your home next year (I do this every year!), here are just a few things to consider as we approach this holy season in 2016:

1. Silence It - Those voices in your head that you hear after reading every blog post and Pinterest page about the very best way Advent happen in your home? The ones that leave you feeling like it should be doing something more, or different, or better than the way you're currently doing it? Yeah, go ahead and shush those babies. {Struggling? You gotta read this!} 

Silence the distractions - the voices that tell you you're inadequate, the overkill of television and social media reminders of what we really need this Christmas, whatever it may be that keeps you from finding that moment of quiet where you can really hear God speak to your heart.

3. Sanctify It - Ora et Labora! Yes, this can be such a crazy busy time of year.  Maybe you're just longing to sit like a monk during vespers, completely recollected three times a day in perfect silence to pray, but if you're not wearing a habit, that's not going to happen, right?  So, we pray while we work - while we fold laundry, bake cookies, clean our homes and run the carpool.

And, if there is a moment somewhere in between all of the activity, hopefully the graces we so desperately need to help us devote those precious moments to prayer will be lavished upon us. I started praying this novena prayer a couple of years ago, and finally memorized it.  Since it is said fifteen times a day, I can meditate upon it's words while doing any of my chores throughout the day.

2.  See It - If you like, place a few reminders around your home, those special things that are meant to help keep our hearts and minds focused on the meaning of the season. But, don't feel like you have to do everything or do everything everyone else is doing! Do what is meaningful to you, and make the most of it!

I've been trying for years to be that "great" mom that make the homemade Jesse Tree Ornaments for her children, and have never even come close.  Finally, one of my brilliant offspring suggested I just buy some instead.  Genius!

In addition to the Advent wreath, our read-aloud book basket, and Jesse Tree, we're trying out two new traditions. First, the Advent Tree.  
This is a simple way to make your traditional Christmas tree pull double duty.  We strung up lights on what will soon become the Christmas tree, and then adorned it with a beautiful ribbon (thank you Hobby Lobby) that has every name of Jesus inscribed upon it. Simple! We will add our family ornaments and the angel on Christmas Eve.
Second, instead of setting out the nativity (we will wait until Christmas!), this year I created a special place on our buffet for the beautiful hand carved statue that my family gave me for my birthday. Meditating upon Mary's serenity as she cradles her son, is a reminder to me that Jesus is everything. Only in Him will I find true peace and joy.

4.  Savor It - Instead of just getting through Advent, why not to savor it?  For me this means putting the phone down, setting the camera aside (I know, it can be second nature to capture every cuteness, but sometimes it's wonderful just to let the picture leave its mark on your heart!), minimizing shopping and decorating, and saying no to unnecessary activities and obligations if I can.

Breathe in God's peace, breathe out the stress. Maybe there are only two weeks left of Advent, a time that can truly inspire a deeper longing and greater anticipation for the Christ Child in our souls, but it's never too late to make the most of it!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! This is beautiful and much needed on my end. I planned an Advent focused on Jesus, the all the kids got sick, and everything piled up and nothing has been do and I an starting to freak out. Thank you for reminding me that I don't have to make things "perfect" it only needs to be right for us! I really enjoy your blog, thank you again and a blessed last days of Advent and a Holy Christmas to you and your family


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