I want to begin by acknowledging the difficulty of entering into the Advent season this year. I almost forgot it was the first week of Advent between the Thanksgiving travels and the craziness of the secular world that started celebrating the holidays weeks ago. Gone is the “PSL” craze, quickly replaced by everything flavored peppermint and dyed red in mid-November.
Mass this Sunday was sufficiently awkward since no one knew the Mass parts yet and everyone was still in Thanksgiving mode.
My confusion was exacerbated because I forgot that Advent starts with contemplating the second coming rather than the first two Joyful Mysteries.
I found myself overwhelmed, not knowing what to pray with or how to live fully this season which is supposed to be a time of peace. I thought, how can I begin to appreciate the Advent Season in such a noisy environment?
For those of us who work for the Church, in ministry, or in catechesis this is an especially busy time of year. The thought of finding and contemplating the silence of Advent and the Nativity only leaves us jealous of the Holy Family.
Here are a few tips that might be helpful for me and for you when it is difficult to live Advent.
1. Journaling. Sharing your thoughts with Jesus, I believe, is the first step towards sorting out the confusing and conflicting emotions of the secular world and its holiday season that started before Thanksgiving and ends on Christmas day.
Not a journaler? Try something else new such as an Advent devotional or making a gratitude list, something that can become a springboard to contemplation when your prayer feels dry or empty and you are tempted to quit because you have so many other commitments.
2. Liturgy. The Church has great tools for entering into Advent aside from the obvious Advent calendars and candles. The First Readings from Isaiah serve as great daily meditation for us to gain access to what the Lord has in store for each of us. I have found it helpful to see how the Prophet’s words are fulfilled in our own lives and in our own hearts.
3. Patience. The last thing Jesus wants is for us to be worried and anxious about doing Advent “wrong.” This year might feel different from other years, but that is because it is! It is a brand new opportunity for us to receive grace and deeper insight into the Love God has for each and every soul.