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advent preparations

December 1, 2009

Advent is one of my favorite liturgical seasons, not only because it marks the beginning of the new liturgical year, but it provides me an opportunity to refocus.

I used to come up with Advent resolutions about a week or so into the season.  I admit, it was a last minute effort.  I was usually too caught up in other things, namely Thanksgiving, to think about Advent a week in advance, but that changed two years ago when my spiritual director suggested I start thinking about Advent and Christmas in early November.   “Start praying right now,” she encouraged me one crisp November evening, “for God to reveal what virtue or aspect of life He wants to be born in you this Christmas.”

I was amazed at how all the extra preparing for the season of preparation enhanced my Advent reflections and Christmas celebrations.  It wasn’t all smooth sailing – the last two Christmases were rather challenging – but they were also the most peaceful and joyful Christmases I can remember.  Without all that groundwork, I would not have been open to the virtues and aspects of life God had for me.

This year, I started preparing for Advent at the prescribed time.  “Advent isn’t so much a time of waiting,” my seminarian brother said to me as we chatted over a Cafe Au Lait and an Italian soda. “It’s more of a time of preparation – the way a couple prepares for a new baby.  You can think of it as nesting.”  I like to think of it as active waiting, to use the words of Henri Nouwen. I am waiting for the second coming, and I am waiting for the celebration of Christmas.  That doesn’t mean I’m sitting around, twiddling my thumbs as I wait – I am actively preparing myself to receive whatever virtue or aspect of life that will be born in me this Christmas.  I am doing Advent devotions and am trying to cut out uncessesary and distracting frivolities.  I did not go overboard when making my resolution list this year.  I was able to discern what to focus on since I had all that extra time to prepare for my Advent preparations.

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