Slowing Down for Advent

Advent begins this Sunday, but it seems like most of the culture is already in the full swing of Christmas. Why is Advent important? What is its purpose, and how can we live it more fully?

“We know we’re at our best in life when we’re in rhythm … we know what we need to do to be at peace. But the lead-up to Christmas has a thing about it that can blow that up. It just gets so darn busy—you have the tree, the baked goods, the presents—it’s just an overall rush and haste,” says Jack Beers, Team Leader for Dynamic Catholic. He challenges us to not give in to the chaos, but rather, make a point to prepare your heart for the birth of the Savior.

“There’s something about the … quiet stillness of the Church during Advent. There’s lots of dim lighting and candles and people saying ‘you need to prepare your heart and take a lot of time to be quiet,” says Beers. “If you can really enter into the quiet of Advent and the quiet of the night that Jesus is born into, it really can be a powerful experience.”

Heidi Hess Saxton, author and blogger, finds lessons of Saint Teresa of Calcutta to be particularly encouraging in our spiritual journey during this season. “In Advent, it’s the beginning of the new liturgical season. It’s time to begin again,” says Saxton.

“The season of Advent is like springtime in nature, when everything is renewed and is fresh and healthy. Advent is also meant to do this to us–to refresh us and make us healthy, to be able to receive Christ in whatever form he may come to us,” said St. Teresa.

“One of the first things [Mother Teresa] taught was that unless we have Jesus, we cannot give Him to others. So we begin through prayer and encountering Jesus in the Eucharist and simple daily ‘yeses’ that we give to God within our vocations,” explains Saxton. These lessons from St. Teresa can help to transform our Advent as a time of anticipation, quiet, and encounter.