Wow, it’s already December, and yesterday marked the start of the Advent season. When I was little, Advent was just a way of counting down until Christmas. As I’ve grown, though, I’ve come to appreciate it much more.
I see Advent as a beautiful time of the year. The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word meaning “coming,” and its literal definition is the coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important. How fitting is that definition? We are waiting the coming of Jesus, who of course is very important! We as Catholics are taking this time to prepare for the coming of Christ, our Savior. We are getting ready to celebrate His birth, and also prepare for His Second Coming. Many of the readings during this time tell us to stay awake and to be ready for our Lord’s arrival. I personally love this annual reminder. It highlights one of the crucial elements of our faith: that we should exemplify Christ’s love and spread His message all the time, in every aspect of our lives. If we are to be truly ready, we need to be alert and live every single moment for Christ. We cannot be fair-weather Catholics; we need to live out our faith constantly.
Advent also happens to be the start of the liturgical year, and I think it’s the perfect beginning. It gives us a chance to reflect on how prepared we are for the coming of Christ, and to discern ways to become even more prepared throughout the coming liturgical year. Our faith is constantly changing and we are always growing, and Advent is a great time to reflect on where we are in our spiritual journey. Do you remember those paper Advent chains you would make in school when you were little? I think I’m going to make myself one this year, and set some Advent goals for each day. These might not be huge acts; it may be simply smiling at a stranger or participating in a food or toy drive. Living a life for Christ, though, doesn’t mean big acts all the time; it means doing things with love and compassion, no matter how big or small the act is.
I encourage you, as this Advent season begins, to spend some time reflecting on your relationship with Christ and the way you live out your faith. Are there aspects you’d like to change? Is there something you would like to do this Advent season to strengthen your faith? Perhaps you would also benefit from a paper Advent chain, or maybe you’ll strive to read the Bible daily. St. Monica-St. George is giving away a small book with daily Advent reflections that has some great thoughts; maybe you’ll pick one up. Really use this season, though, to prepare for Christ and live out your faith.