How to celebrate Advent like a Catholic

Does it seem to you that each year the holiday season gets busier and busier, and we get further and further away from the true meaning of Advent and Christmas?

The best way to combat this tendency is to adopt or renew Advent traditions in the home. Whether you are single, a busy parent with kids, or empty-nesters, you can celebrate Advent like you are actually anticipating the coming of Christ—which is the whole point. It’s a spiritual journey!

Remember the reason for the season; Advent and Christmas are Christian liturgical seasons. When you know what the season is meant to be, you will more likely do the kinds of things that emphasize that purpose.

First, some basics:

Advent derives from the Latin adventus meaning ‘arrival’ or ‘approach’. For thousands of years the world waited for the coming of the Messiah to redeem and to save the human race, restoring mankind’s relationship to God.

We, too, experience this same longing for the coming of Christ. Spiritually, we long for the coming of Christ into our hearts as the Holy Spirit draws us into ever deepening relationship with Him; we also long for Christ in his Second Coming, when He will return physically to earth—as He promised—to restore all things to Himself.

Therefore the Advent season has these characteristics: It is a season of 1) Hopeful longing, 2) Joyful expectation, 3) Prayerful penance, and 4) Spiritual preparation.

It looks to, 1) Salvation history of the past, 2) Our present redemption being accomplished, and 3) the future coming of Christ. Advent connects us spiritually with God’s whole plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.

When does Advent begin? Advent is the liturgical season we celebrate as the precursor to the Christmas season. Don’t skip it! It’s there for a reason. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (Nov. 30) and ends on Dec. 24. Christmas begins Dec. 25 at midnight and continues until the
Feast of the Baptism of Jesus.

Advent is our liturgically built-in time of spiritual preparation for Christmas. If you want to get the most out of the Christmas season and fill up your soul with love for Christ, the best way to do that is to “let every heart prepare Him room” – and celebrating Advent is the Church’s way to do it!

Here are three ways to celebrate Advent like a Catholic:

Advent Wreath: One of the most popular ways to celebrate Advent is with an Advent wreath or Advent candle holders. Four candles (three purple and one pink), are used to count down the weeks until Christmas. Each Sunday of Advent one of the candles is lit and special prayers are said. Each Sunday of Advent has a particular theme leading up to the birth of Christ.

Advent Dinners: Make the Sundays of Advent into something special. Prepare a nice dinner or host a potluck and invite over family & friends. This would be a great time to light the candles on your Advent wreath and invite all to join in the special prayers for that week.

Small Sacrifices for the Christ Child: Because Advent is known as the “little Lent,” prayer, alms and sacrifices are also a part of Advent season. Just as the Magi labored through a long journey to worship and gave precious gifts to the Christ Child, so we can do the same; we can give the Baby Jesus our sacrifices during the Advent season.

Adults can do this alone, but with kids a visual aid goes along well with the practice. Two popular ways are Jesus Stockings and a Baby Jesus crèche. For the stocking, small sacrifices are written on little slips of paper and placed into the stocking; for the crèche, a piece of straw is added for each good deed. These add up each day of Advent as birthday presents for the newborn King. When Jesus is born, and the baby Jesus is placed in the crèche, the prayers and sacrifices have prepared Him room in our hearts. A beautiful visual!

By Gretchen Filz ~ Condensed from www.CatholicCompany.com

(Please go to https://goo.gl/gbo884 for the complete article and list of 15 Advent suggestions. Advent begins on Dec. 2.)