Advent is a beautiful season that allows us to slow down, focus, and prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas. But maybe for you this season is filled with stress and noise rather than peace and quiet. But it doesn’t take much to prepare well for Christmas.
Recently on Go Ask Your Father™, Msgr. Stuart Swetland encouraged listeners to truly enter into the season of Advent, and suggested three things you can do to make it a time of true preparation.
“I want to remind you that this is a season of preparation,” he said. “We are preparing to celebrate the Christmas season, preparing so that we might may more worthily celebrate the Christmas season. The goal is that we will be closer to Jesus on Christmas Eve than we’ve ever been before. That’s how we judge a good preparation for Christmas.”
“Yes, it’d be nice if the cookies are all perfect,” he acknowledged. “That the trees are well-trimmed, that the lights are on, that the gifts are wrapped, and every gift is the perfect choice for our relative or friend. But all of that pales in comparison to preparing our hearts and minds to meet again the newborn babe of Bethlehem, and to be renewed in heart, mind, and spirit.”
So how can we make this time a season of true interior preparation, rather than focusing simply on the superficial preparations? Msgr. Swetland offered three suggestions for how to make the most of your Advent season.
Allow Yourself to Be Carried Along
The first is just to allow the season to carry you along. The prayers, the traditions, the Advent wreath, the decorations, and the preparing for Christmas. Here in the United States, the secular world’s already got all the trees up, all the lights up, all the Christmas music playing a little early. But that’s the way it happens. Let it carry you along. And see in every light the light of Christ, see in every Christmas tree a reminder of eternal life. See in every gift a reminder of the generosity and witness of the Magi, and our call to be self-gifts, as Christ was a gift to the world. So let the season carry you along.
Second, and I’m preaching to myself here, is silence. We need a little silence in our day to meditate on the meaning of this season and the meaning of what Christ is calling us to in this new year. This is a time to redouble our efforts, to have a time of daily meditation, a time of depth and substance, prayer of depth and substance when we can be alone with the Lord.
Remember what St. Cardinal Newman taught us. We’re never less alone than when we’re totally alone with the Lord. And so we carve out during this season, this busy season. Some time of silence, some time of meditation, some times of mental prayer each and every day as we prepare for Christmas.
Be Reconciled to Christ
Last but not least, Advent is a great season to visit and to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to go to Confession. And that’s a great gift you can give. That’s what Jesus would want for you to do this year for him is to receive from him the gift of grace through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.