By Kayla Johnson
Advent is one of my FAVORITE liturgical seasons. There is something so special about preparing our hearts for the coming of Christ. It is a time of hope and peaceful preparation, but Advent can sometimes get lost in the commercialized “Christmas craze.” Here are a few ways I like to celebrate Advent and prepare my heart for the coming of a Savior:
We all know someone who starts listening to Christmas music as soon as Halloween is over. Although I enjoy Christmas music (I am not the Grinch), I also like to listen to Advent music as a way to prepare my heart for the coming of Christ. One of my all-time favorite Advent playlists was created by Superior Disciple’s very own—Isaiah Schick. Check it out here.
St. Andrew Christmas Novena
My mom introduced me to this prayer when I was in college. It is a beautiful prayer that is traditionally said 15 times a day starting on the Feast of St. Andrew (November 30th) until Christmas. I have also heard of people saying it as a traditional 9-day novena leading up to Christmas, so it is not too late to start! In college some friends and I got in the habit of gathering together at the end of the day to pray this prayer together. It was a great way to journey through Advent together. Here is the prayer:
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
As that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires.
[mention request(s) here]
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.
Advent is also a great time to practice spiritual and corporal acts of mercy. I often think of the innkeeper who let Mary and Joseph stay in the stable where Jesus was born. Although his inn was full, he offered what he had. How are you being called to be generous this Advent? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Write Christmas cards to the homebound. If you don’t know anyone who is homebound, you can contact your local nursing home’s activity director and they are usually more than happy to have someone volunteer their time in that way.
- Christmas shop for someone in need. There are typically a handful of local initiatives that ask for gift donations this time of year. Check with your church to see if they have a giving tree.
- Donate to your local food pantry. Check with your food pantry to see what they are most in need of.
I try to make a point of going to confession sometime during the Advent season. Just as we prepare our homes for Christmas, by cleaning and decorating, confession is how we clean our hearts for the coming of Christ. Check with your church to see when they are offering confession. If you have not been to confession in a while, you can read about how to make a good confession here.
I hope these ideas get you in the Advent spirit and that your journey through this season will prepare your soul for the coming of Christ.
“During Advent we do not just live in anticipation of Christmas; we are also called to rekindle the anticipation of the glorious return of Christ, when he will return at the end of time , preparing ourselves, with consistent and courageous choices, for the final encounter with him. We remember Christmas, we await the glorious return of Christ, and also our personal encounter: the day in which the Lord will call.”