Its hard to believe Advent has already arrived. If Im not mistaken, this is the longest observance of Advent we celebrate because Christmas falls on a Sunday this year. It seems Advent is one of the seasons that happens, and usually goes quicker than we would like! We are always in a hustle and a bustle preparing for Christmas that we do not slow down enough to take in the purpose of these Advent days of waiting. As we wait for the birth of Jesus on Christmas day, here are four Advent attitudes we can strive to foster.
The season of Advent demands patience because it is a time of waiting and expectation. Mary, a daughter of Israel, patiently waited for the coming of the Messiah with all her brothers and sisters. On the feast of the Annunciation, the angel came to her, and announced the good news that the time of waiting was over! She was to give birth to the Messiah. For nine months, she patiently waited for the fulfillment of the promised one. As a Church, we now journey with Mary through the final days of her pregnancy, as she travels to Bethlehem and gives birth to the one who will save us from our sins.
Seek to cultivate an attitude of patience during these next four weeks of Advent. Its a busy time of the year. Lots of activities are planned and many things need to be accomplished. You will be invited to many Christmas parties. Some people there might not be your best friend. They might overwhelm you or cause you angst. How do you deal with them? Short responses? A lack of love? This advent be patient with them. Going out shopping? Stores will be busy as people make their final preparations for Christmas. Instead of becoming agitated while waiting in line, wait patiently with Mary, knowing that everyone around you is preparing to celebrate Jesus birth.
The Advent season provides ample opportunities for service. This is another way we imitate Mary during the Advent season because she was a woman of service. After she received word that Elizabeth was with child, she set out in haste to serve her cousin.
During this Advent season look for an opportunity to serve the less fortunate. Prepare a meal or volunteer at the local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. In this way, you can help to bring the light of Christs birth to their life. Visit nursing homes with your family or Church and sing the songs of Christmas for the elderly. Bring them the warmth of Christs love. The opportunities for service are endless. Have an attentive and charitable heart like Mary, and serve others this Advent season.
The Advent season allows us to become like Mary who pondered much and treasured many things in her heart. Even before the birth of Christ, Mary had a lot to reflect onthe angelic visitation, her visit to Elizabeth, and now her journey to Bethlehem. After Jesus birth her heart continues to treasure all her experiences.
During the Advent season take a few moments each day to ponder what we are about to celebrate, God becoming man. The joyful mysteries of the rosary allow us to focus on the events leading up to Christmas. And if I may, could I recommend my rosary devotional A Rosary Litany. In this method of praying the rosary, phrases are inserted after the name of Jesus, focusing ones meditation, and allowing us to ponder Jesus role in salvation history. Praying the rosary in this fashion will provide a new appreciation for the incarnation. Another way to ponder each day would be through the Angelus, which I have proposed in the past to be a perfect prayer for the Advent season. Try to daily remember the season of Advent and contemplate the one for whom we wait.
This Advent comes on the heels of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The reality is the Year of Mercy does not have to end, but was a way for us to live mercy every year for the rest of our lives. During the Year of Mercy many people engaged the corporal and spiritual works of mercy or received mercy in the confessional.
Unfortunately, in many families or among friends there are divisions. Words or actions from the past that remain unforgiven. Maybe this is the year to reconcile. After receiving and showing mercy to others, why not continue to live mercy by extending it to those in our lives from whom we are estranged. Consider reaching out to whoever it is and invite them for a conversation over a cup of Christmas cheer at the local coffeehouse. Is there a family member whom you have not talked to in years? Invite them to your family Christmas. Jesus came to bring peace to the world. Allow him to bring peace to your heart through the sacrament of Penance and peace to your family relationships and friendships through reconciliation.
During these Advent days we prepare for Christmas, the mystery of God becoming man. In the weeks ahead, try not to get ahead of yourself, but live the Advent season. Develop these four Advent attitudes and you will be ready to welcome Christ in the manger on Christmas morning.