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How to celebrate Advent like a Catholic

By Gretchen Filz, Condensed from www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/how-tocelebrate-advent-like-a-catholic/
Please visit the website for the complete article and full explanations of the 15 traditions.)

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. 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: hopeful longing, joyful expectation, prayerful penance, and spiritual preparation.

It looks to: salvation history of the past, our present redemption being accomplished, and the future coming of Christ.

Advent connects us spiritually with God’s whole plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.

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!

Below are some ways to celebrate Advent like a Catholic: (This is a condensation. Please find the complete list of 15 ways and the article at www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/how-to-celebrate-advent-like-a-catholic/)

  • Advent Wreath: One of the most popular ways to celebrate Advent is with an Advent wreath or Advent candleholders. Four candles (three purple and one pink), are used to count down the weeks until Christmas.
  • Advent Devotional Reading: There are lots of great Advent books that take you deeper into the profound theology of Advent. God comes to us as a Child, and this is amazing to think about!
  • Jesse Tree: If you have kids, the Jesse Tree (named after the father of King David, the ancestor of Jesus) is a fun biblical activity during the Advent season which prepares for the birth of Christ and his mission.
  • Advent Penance Services: Advent is known as the “little Lent” and is therefore a time for penitential practices. Many Catholic parishes have special penance services for Advent. Confession is an important part of preparing room for the coming of Christ into our hearts, that is, allowing Him to draw us into deeper conversion.
  • Small Sacrifices for the Christ Child: Because Advent is known as the “little Lent,” prayer, alms, and sacrifices are also a also 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.
  • Celebrate the Advent Saint Feast Days: Celebrate the saints of the Advent and Christmas season. Among them: St. Nicholas Day is on Dec. 6. The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (a Holy Day of Obligation) is Dec. 8. (Masses at SFB at 7 a.m., 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.)
  • Adopt a Cultural Tradition: There are also other Advent traditions that you can incorporate into your celebrations this year, such as the Oplatki Christmas wafer from Eastern Europe. (You can purchase oplatki in the SFB office during business hours and at the Cookie & Bake Sale on Dec. 2-3.)