As the days of Advent fly by, you may be feeling that this holy season is slipping away and time is running out to prepare our hearts for Christ’s birth. Elizabeth Ficocelli, bestselling author of 15 books, has created a list of small tips to keep Advent holy and to make the most of this short time of preparation.
A is for Adoration. “Just like the shepherds and the kings adored Jesus when he was born, we get to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament,” says Ficocelli. She recommends that we find just one hour this Advent to go before the Lord in Adoration. “Open your heart and listen. Don’t bring an agenda with you—just be there. Open yourself and see what the Holy Spirit wants to fill you with.”
D is for Divine Word. “God’s word in Holy Scripture is amazing, it’s living, you can never exhaust it. That’s why sometimes you hear bible verses that you’ve heard over and over at Mass and then suddenly one day, wow that really applies to me right now.” Take 10 minutes to read and pray with Holy Scripture, says Ficocelli, and especially focus on the readings during this Advent season.
V is for the Virgin Mary. “She is an amazing model of virtue for us … but she is also a powerful adversary against the evil one and we absolutely need her intercession, not just during Advent but all year long,” says Ficocelli. Invite the Virgin Mary into your Advent this year; celebrate her two special feast days of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. “Give her a little more time and devotion this Advent, and you will be rewarded.”
E is for Examination of Conscience. “Advent is a really great time to search our souls and see how we need to make straight our paths to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. Confession is just beautiful for this time of year,” says Ficocelli. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you make a heartfelt confession and see what in your life you need to bring to the Lord.
N is for Neighborliness. “Advent gives us so many opportunities to look around and see those who are less fortunate and those who are struggling this holiday season instead of looking forward to it with joy and anticipation.” Look around you and see those who need extra prayers, love, and support. Be the hands and feet of Our Lord to those in need through the Corporal Works of Mercy, says Ficocelli.
T is for Traditions. “Traditions give us a sense of identity and they bond us, especially as a family,” says Ficocelli. Don’t try to take on too many at once, but find a tradition that your family can practice each Advent season. You might have your own family Advent wreath, Jesse tree, or decorate the house in purple. Anything to “remind you that we are in this liturgical season that all unto itself—it’s separate from the Christmas season.”