Sunday, December 1, 2013

Keeping Advent Well

As our family, alone in our neighborhood (probably alone in our city, maybe even our state—it is awfully hard to find purple lights, after all), puts up our Advent decorations today, I think of my friend Joan. She, who is a thousand times more organized than I, once told me that she aimed to get all her Christmas shopping done before Advent. That way she could focus on the spiritual aspects of the season, getting her heart ready for the coming of Jesus. 
     Every year, I think that would be such a great thing to do. And every year I remember it just before or just as Advent begins. *Sigh.* 
      Well, it's not too late to make some liturgical new year's resolutions. Here are some ideas:
  1. Put out a bowl of straw next to the creche as a reminder to make little sacrifices for Jesus, putting a straw in his manger for each one. Aim to make it very cushy for him by Christmas.
  2. Commit to some extra prayer this season, a few times a week if not daily. Pay Jesus a brief visit at a church during every shopping expedition, for instance. Pray Advent prayers every evening, especially the O antiphons.
  3. Simplify as much as possible. Buy everyone something yummy made by some monks or cloistered nuns, for example. That will make shopping much easier, while also supporting a very worthy cause, a part of our larger, Church family.
  4. Think about what you can give Jesus this year for his birthday. He probably wants something super personal--like that little corner of the heart that self is clinging to--rather than something material.
  5. Don't forget the poor. Whatever we do for them, we do for Him.
  6. Think outside the box. Consider if there is some self-indulgent tradition that you or your family could replace with a new, more outward-oriented tradition.
  7. Hold Christmas parties during the Christmas season rather than during Advent.
Come, O come, Emmanuel!