When you say the word “Advent,” what immediately pops into mind? A feast of color, a traditional manger scene bathed in soft candlelight, glistening snowflakes falling on festive trees, a yearning for the One who is to come, and so on.
But sometimes, the season brings other images: crowded stores, treats that tempt us to too many calories, limitless to-do and to-buy lists. Yet in the back of our minds, we hear the call to conversion. Christ is calling us to be good caretakers of all that we have and all that we are. How can we keep our Advent focused on spiritual growth and preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ as well being good custodians of our gifts from God? Here are a few suggestions, not meant to be another to-do list, but rather a way to remind ourselves daily of our call to prepare a way for the Lord in our lives.
- Pray for patience. As you drive over icy, snowy, or busy streets or navigate through a crowded store, take time to pray for those around you and for those who struggle with much less. Become aware of people around you and lift them in prayer rather than see them as obstacles to your goals.
- Prioritize what you really want spiritually, and in relation to friends and family, from Advent. Discard all the “extras” and the fantasy of the perfect Hallmark Christmas. List clear goals that bring growth, peace, and quality time.
- Take time to read the daily readings each day of Advent. The beautiful words of Isaiah are guaranteed to inspire, and the commitment will guarantee you a bit of quiet and reflective time.
- Do you send Christmas cards? Even if they are the standard signature only or newsletter variety, try to personalize one a day, writing a nice note to an elderly relative or a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.
- Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This will encourage you to reflect on your life, your gifts and where you fail to utilize them for the good of others. It’s a beautiful preparation for the coming of Jesus and the beginning of a new year.
- In the midst of a season of abundance, do not forget the poor in your community.