Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Advent: A Time of Preparation and Reflection

by M. J. Joachim
Amidst Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, football on Sunday and Cyber Monday, the liturgical season of Advent silently waits to arrive. It is no accident that this season often gets glossed or passed over these days. Without a second thought, many of us delight our taste buds with scrumptious treats – all in the name of being social and festive. We spend our time, maximizing efforts to shop, decorate and visit. 

Christmas is well on its way, and our task is to make it bigger and brighter than ever.

Yes, Christmas is well on its way – and Christians throughout the world are preparing for the Birth of Christ, not the arrival of Santa Claus.

Nothing against Santa, mind you. He’s one of my all-time favorite people; the history of St. Nicholas is definitely worthy of more than a few words. However, “When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Ah, but this gives us an entirely different perspective on the Christmas season, doesn’t it? As with the birth of any child, there is growing anticipation in the pregnancy of events to occur. Labor has yet to take place, and rushing it could do more harm than good, because an innocent little baby is fulfilling his journey to be born into our world.

Indeed, the third trimester of any pregnancy is one of calm reflection, energized anticipation and precarious caution over the changes that will automatically take place in our lives, once the newborn child arrives. Mama, for her part, is taking more care than ever, to assure the safest possible arrival of her baby; everyone is getting ready to welcome him into a warm and loving home, full of joy and good cheer. Things are busy to be sure, as nothing can be overlooked during the preparations for such a blessed event. And yet, there is a solemn spirit of reflection on the mystery of it all – a gentle stirring in our hearts, because a miracle is taking place, right before our very eyes.

Advent 2012 begins on December 2. “The beginning of Advent always falls nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, November 30.” (Catholic Customs & Traditions) The word itself means coming or arrival.  Candles symbolize light in the darkness. “The Advent wreath, with its four candles, symbolizes the end of darkness and the turning toward light in the coming of the Lord.” (The Everything Catholicism Book) Colors of Advent are purple (or very dark blue) and rose, quite a contrast to the greens, reds, silver and gold tones of Christmastime.

I’ve much more to share with you about the intriguing, historical season of Advent, a time influenced by many peoples, traditions and customs throughout the years. I’m curious though. How do you celebrate the season of Advent in your home, community, parish etc.? Please, leave a note in the comments and encourage others with your faith. Advent is a season of preparation, and there’s positively no logical reason I can think of, for doing so alone.

That’s all for now, kind followers. Until next time, I bid you peace J

M. J.

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Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution